Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mother and Child: Joined but Separate

I was listening to a podcast discussion on inherited sin which stimulated some divergent thoughts.  We start by defining inherited sin.  The following comes from Sid Litke at
1. Definitions:
- Inherited sin is simply “the sinful state into which all people are born” (Ryrie). We have a constant bent toward sin.
- Inherited sin is also called the “sin nature” (it affected our entire being), and it is called “original sin” (emphasizing that Adam’s sin caused the corrupted nature we each inherit).
- “Total depravity” is a related term expressing our total lack of merit in God’s sight. Total depravity does not mean we are as “bad” as we can be but that we are as “bad off” as we can be because we all have a totally sinful nature.
2. Scripture
- Psalm 51:5 “…in sin my mother conceived me.”
- Ephesians 2:3 “…by nature children (objects) of wrath”
- Our emotions (Romans 1:26), our intellect Romans 1:28) and our will (Romans 7:20) are all enslaved to sin and opposed to God.
3. Penalty.
The penalty of inherited sin is spiritual death. Man is born spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:3) and will be eternally separated from God in hell if our sinful condition is not remedied (Revelation 20:11-15).
This accurately describes the doctrine, but there is a question that invariably arises: what about Jesus, since he was born of a woman?  The question is legitimate, because the sin nature is passed from parent to child without interruption.  One solution I have heard more than once is that the Holy Spirit miraculously intervened so that the sin nature would not be passed to Jesus.  It is an explanation, but there is no support for it.  Scripture simply gives no such explanation, not that God has to give one, but we should base doctrine on factual statements when available rather than inferences or logical conclusions.

Another solution appears to be more workable.  While Adam was clearly made from in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27), Adam's descendents are said to come forth in his image and likeness (Gen 5:3).  This supports the idea that inheritance of sin comes through the man, so that, though woman inherits sin, she does not pass that nature to her offspring.  If sin is inherited from the father, there is no logical requirement for sin to also come through the mother.

If this explanation holds there are two immediate applications.  The first is that Roman Catholics did not need to develop the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.  There was no need for Mary to be sinless before Jesus was born.  Nothing of Jesus' nature needed protection since sin would not be inherited through her.

The second application touches more than points of doctrine and goes to the diverging thought I had.  Even though the baby is living in the mother's womb, they are individual people, though nutrients and waste are sent back and forth between mother and child.  And though ingested foods and chemicals carried in some form via the bloodstream to the baby, there is ample clinical evidence of mothers developing conditions that did not directly affect him or her.  They are separate, distinct living human beings regardless of the question of viability outside the womb.

If my scriptural basis and logic is correct (and feel free to correct me), the obvious ramification is that a woman can talk about the right to do with her body as she pleases, but in the end she has no right to kill the child.  It is living within the mother but is not the mother.  The two are bound by an intimate connection, but they are still two.  No amount of rationalization can alter this.

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