The effect of original sin on humanity

By Annie-Rose Keith


In a recent work entitled “(Un)Certain,” author Olivia Jackson presents a collection of data and narratives that center around a popular trend called deconstruction. This concept focuses on individuals who have immersed themselves in studying the faith tradition and doctrine that formed them because they have found something disagreeable, or they have become unfulfilled. This results in the individual becoming more comfortable within their religious sphere or choosing another doctrine to follow; or they divest themselves from church and faith altogether.

Deconstruction is an example of the effect of original sin on humanity. While it might seem that deconstruction is benefitting the individual, it is detrimental to others – especially if the individual invites others into their journey via social media outlets or published writing. Searching the voluminous history of Christianity is a welcome and encouraged practice for Christians. However, the posture of the individual delving into the study (i.e. to see if this particular doctrine is right for them) must be called into question. If one is looking for a reason to leave, they will likely find it in Christianity because following Jesus and the magisterium is difficult. Humans are naturally prone to wanting to take the easiest path. An individual choosing to leave their practiced doctrine for another tradition or faith is acting on a natural desire to obtain fulfillment in things other than God. Through the sacraments, salvation is available. However, the rising popularity and ease of indulging in pleasures of the flesh, seen in rapidly changing cultural practices, is an effect of the inheritance of original sin.

Understanding the effect of original sin on humanity begins with an examination of the idea of man having dominion over himself and thus over the world. Adam and Eve begin their stay in the garden with original perfection – God's original design for man. Pope John Paul II expounded on this idea in a series of public audiences during his papacy. In one address, he writes, "If we ask what was the source of this perfection, the answer is that it was found above all in friendship with God through sanctifying grace…and preternatural gift…which were lost through sin."   Before this loss, man maintained an interior balance that enabled a higher level of integrity within existence. This naturally occurring, well-ordered existence was easily preserved because man was better able to overcome the pleasures of the senses and was less likely to fall into sin.

The more mainstream earthly desires become, the more comfortable society is with them. This growing comfort is evident especially on social media – where actions, routines, and practices go viral for any number of reasons. These trends usually fall under the categories of charitable, whimsical or heavily involved.  A trend goes viral when a large number of individuals are participating at once, causing much of the produced content that showcases this trend to be lost to the ether. To stand out, creators often try to add an individualized element to their submissions. This is dangerous. For example, the recent blackout challenge encouraged individuals to hold their breath for as long as possible until fainting.  Participating in a challenge to raise awareness of a specific issue facing the world is admirable; however, an individual's motives for participating in any source of popular practice should, generally, always be questioned to avoid enabling others to fall into the sins Christians should strive to avoid.

Acting on sinful natures was made easier by Adam and Eve’s disobedience – the original sin. Humanity continues this cycle because of the alluring nature of (temporarily) satiated desires, the fear of missing out and a false understanding of pleasure. This is visually unfolding, especially through social media.  This need for acceptance in things other than God jeopardizes not only the individual’s soul, but the souls of others. Through the sacraments, however, the bridge to beatific vision is available for the baptized Christian.