Sin – What is it, concept, original sin and cardinal sins

We explain what sin is according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, what is original sin and what are the cardinal sins.

Christianity understands sin as a departure from God.

What is sin?

A sin is a willful and knowing violation of a religious law, that is, the act of failing to comply with the commandments proposed by the creed or the doctrine of a religion. Generally, these laws are considered sacred or divine, that is, by the desire or instruction of God to human beings, and therefore to each sin. some kind of punishment or compensation is due, either in life or in the afterlife.

The word sin comes from Latin peccatum, a term that the ancient Romans originally used as a synonym for slip or mistake, without the same religious connotations, since classical Roman culture revolved around the notion of honor, and not around guilt.

The concept of sin as we understand it today arose with Christianity, a religion that had roots in Jewish tradition (in Hebrew the word for sin is jattá’th, translatable as “err”). As Christianity became the dominant religion in the West, it began to change the meaning of many Latin words, giving them a new moral, social and religious meaning.

According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, sin must be understood as the distancing of the human being from God, or at least from the path that God has traced for him. However, in the vision of humanity that the New Testament raises, we are all sinners to some extent, and it is precisely the role of religion to offer us comfort and compensation, that is, to return us to the right path through penance and prayer.

At its time of greatest cultural influence in the West and the world, Christianity not only defended this vision of the world, but also developed a whole classification of sins, differentiating them according to their severity, their nature, their motive or their way: there was mortal sins, sins of action and sins of thought, etc.

Thus was composed a moral and cultural code that was of great importance in the history of Europe and America, which represented the appearance of guilt and atonement as supreme religious values ​​in the West.

The original sin

original sin
Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise for disobeying God.

One of the most important forms of sin in the Christian imagination is the so-called “original sin” or “ancestral sin”, from which no human being is exempt. According to this doctrine, human beings carry the blame for our fall from grace and expulsion from paradise, occurred at the beginning of time, and as a consequence of the first human beings (Adam and Eve) disobeying the express will of God.

According to the biblical account said disobedience consisted of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, which was forbidden by God, offering them the rest of the Garden of Eden in exchange. Tempted by the serpent, which was a malevolent spirit, Eve ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to Adam as well, and consequently both were expelled from paradise, losing their immortality and being punished with labor and painful childbirth.

The idea of ​​this primal sin arose around the second century, and is attributed to the bishop of Lyon, Saint Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 202). It has been the object of study, interpretation and debate by different experts and religious authorities of Christianity throughout the centuries, and it is what gives meaning to Christian baptism, a rite with which infants or new Christians are freed from weight. original sin, starting them on the path of redemption.

The deadly sins

In the Christian hierarchy of human sins, capital sins, cardinal sins or mortal sins are the most serious, since they are considered as the sins that engender other sins.

This category of sins has been defined and redefined in the history of Christianity, varying the number and name of the sins: for John Cassian in the 5th century there were eight, while for Pope Gregory I in the 6th century there were only seven. This last vision is the one that has been held to this day.

The cardinal sins are as follows:

  • Pride or arrogance. The most serious and primordial of the seven deadly sins is pride, since it is considered that from it all others are born, in one way or another. It is Lucifer’s sin when he wants to dethrone God, and it consists precisely in believing himself more or better than he is, putting himself above God and his divine commandments.
  • Anger, anger, or rage. Sin understood as excessive anger or inability to contain it, being able to act as a consequence in a violent, intolerant or resentful manner. It is considered a sin because it contradicts the divine command to love others as oneself.
  • Avarice. A sin of excess, characterized by the irrepressible and insatiable desire to accumulate wealth, or the fear of letting go of one’s own, that is, the diametrically opposed to generosity.
  • Envy. Similar in nature to greed, it is understood as the insatiable desire for the things of others, reaching the extreme of rejoicing or promoting the misfortune of others, to deprive others of what they possess. It is a sin that goes against the love of neighbor.
  • Lust. Sin understood as an excess of sexual desire, or an uncontrolled sexual desire that cannot be satisfied, without pursuing reproduction, but pleasure for the sake of pleasure itself. This sin manifests itself in behaviors such as adultery, promiscuity, or rape.
  • Gluttony. This sin consists of an insatiable appetite or thirst, or what is the same, the desire to eat, drink and consume substances (such as drugs) without being thirsty or hungry, pursuing the pure pleasure of consuming. Far from moderation and survival, it is expressed in behaviors such as drunkenness, gluttony or addiction.
  • Laziness. This sin is understood as the inability to take charge of one’s own existence, not due to lack of resources, but of motivation or courage. It manifests itself through abandonment and passivity, behaviors that violate the divine order to take care of one’s life.