We are all born broken. Objections to this notion come next week.
1 It has been shown, then, in the points set down that what the Catholic faith preaches about the Incarnation of the Son of God is not impossible. And the next thing is to make plain the suitability of the Son of God’s assumption of human nature.
2 Now, the reason for this suitability the Apostle seems to situate in original sin, which is passed on to all men; be says: “As by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners: so also by the obedience of one many shall be made just” (Rom. 5:19). However, since the Pelagian heretics denied original sin, we must now show that men are born with original sin.
3 First, indeed, one must take up what Genesis (2:15-17) says: “The Lord God took man and put him into the paradise of pleasure, saying: Of every tree of paradise you shall eat but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. For in what day soever you shall eat of it, you shall die the death.”
But, since it was not on the very day that he ate that Adam actually died, one has to understand the words “you shall die the death” as “you will be handed over to the necessity of death.” And this would be said pointlessly if man from the institution of his nature had the necessity of dying.
One must, then, say that death and the necessity of dying is a penalty inflicted on man for sin. But a penalty is not justly inflicted except for a fault. Therefore, in every single one of those in whom one finds this penalty one must of necessity find a fault. But this penalty is found in all men, even from the very moment of birth, for since that day man is born handed over to the necessity of death.
Hence, too, some are immediately after birth, “carried from the womb to the grave” (Job 10:19). In them, therefore, there is some sin. But it is not actual sin, for children do not have the use of free will, and without this nothing is imputed to man as sin (which is clear from the things said in Book II). One must, therefore, say that sin is in them, passed on to them in their origin.
Notes Consider what he said about children (and below) and about how we die. Death entered the world via sin. Our natures were changed by sin; or, rather, by just punishment. If you like (although I take it as a metaphor), our DNA was altered by sin.
4 This is also, made clear and explicit by the Apostle’s words: “As by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death, and so death pawed upon all men, in whom all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
5 Of course, one cannot say that by one man sin entered the world by way of imitation. For, thus, sin would have reached only those who in sinning imitate the first man; and, since death entered the world by sin, death would reach only those who sin in the likeness of the first man sinning. It is to exclude this that the Apostle adds that “death reigned from Adam unto Moses even over them also who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam” (Rom. 5:14). Therefore, the understanding of the Apostle is not that sin entered the world through one man by way of imitation, but by way of origin.
6 There is more. If the Apostle were speaking of the entry of sin into the world by way of imitation, he should rather have said that sin entered the world by the devil than by one man; as is said also expressly in Wisdom (2:24-25): “By the envy of the devil death came into the world: they follow him that are of his side.”
7 David says furthermore, in a Psalm (50:7): “Behold I was conceived in iniquities and in sins did my mother conceive me “ But this cannot be understood of actual sin, since David is said to be conceived and born of a legitimate marriage. Therefore, this must be referred to original sin.
8 Moreover, Job says (14:4): “Who can make him clean that is conceived of unclean seed? Is it not You only?” One gathers clearly from this that from the uncleanness of human seed there extends an uncleanness to the man conceived of the seed. One must understand this of the uncleanness of sin, the only one for which a man is brought into judgment, for Job (14:3) had already said: “And dost You think it meet to open your eyes upon such a one, and to bring him into judgment with You.” Thus, then, there is a sin contracted by man in his very origin which is called “original.”
9 Once again; baptism and the other sacraments of the Church are remedies of a sort against sin, as will be clarified later. But baptism, according to the common custom of the Church, is given to children recently born. It would be given quite in vain unless there were sin in them. But there is no actual sin in them, for they lack the exercise of free will—without which no act is imputed to a man as a fault. Therefore, one must say that there is in them a sin transmitted on by their origin, since in the works of God and the Church there is nothing futile or in vain.
10 But one may say: Baptism is given to infants not to cleanse them from sin, but to admit them to the kingdom of God, to which there is no admission without baptism, since our Lord says: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
This objection is in vain. For no one is excluded from the kingdom of God except for some fault. The end of every rational creature is to arrive at beatitude, and this cannot be save in the kingdom of God. And this, in turn, is nothing but the ordered society of those who enjoy the divine vision, in which true beatitude consists, which is clear from the points made in Book III. But nothing fails its end except through a sin. Therefore, if children not yet baptized cannot reach the kingdom of God, one must say there is some sin in them.
11 Thus, then, according to the tradition of the Catholic faith one must hold that men are born with original sin.