Why did Adam and Eve sin?

1 min read
Adam and Eve

Question: In reflecting on the creation story, it seems odd that Adam and Eve sinned though they had perfect intellects and wills unencumbered by the lower passions. I wonder what it was that led to their sin. Did they lack something? 

Mrs. Nupur Tustin, via email 

Answer: You refer to what we often call the “mystery of iniquity.” We have a similar question regarding the angels who fell. They had so much: superior intellects, a knowledge of God and a strong sense of his presence. But they sinned! Your description of Adam and Eve adds to this mystery. Apparently, even with preternatural gifts, there are still temptations. In a way, it had to be so if there was to be true freedom for them. Things must exist that are real choices, having some appeal that made them tempting. Without this, there can be no real choice or virtue. Jesus, though sinless, was tempted as we are (cf. Heb 4:15). Jesus, of course, did not sin, and neither did Mary. But angels and Adam and Eve did, despite having amazing gifts of intellect and will. Why? It is mysterious. But God seems to test each of us at a certain point to ascertain our decision. Surely, angels and Adam and Eve have less excuse, but even many perfections do not remove us from the need for grace. We are easily wayward and will only see it end after our death, when our decision becomes final.  

Msgr. Charles Pope

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. at blog.adw.org. Send questions to msgrpope@osv.com.