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  Where did the desire to sin come from before Adam?

This week's question was sent with the caveat that it seemed to be a fundamental question for the faith: "Where did the desire or will that Adam and Eve had to sin came from? The church says that this desire could not come from God, the Creator. So where did this desire came from?"

It is always difficult to speak for the "church," especially when we don't know to which "church" our writer is referring. However, in my experience, most of the time when someone claims the "church" has said this or that, they mean either the Roman Catholic Church, which speaks of itself as "the church," or they mean the "traditions" of the church. In reality, many of the "traditions" of the church have come from the Catholic Church. However, the origins of desire is rooted deeply in both Catholic and Protestant traditions and theology.

To begin with, our writer claims that "the church says that this desire could not come from God, the Creator." However, in my research I didn't find this actually to be so, at least not in any official dogma that I could find. The word "desire" means "to long or hope for" (Webster's), and though the object of our desire may indeed be something good, desire can also be for something wrong, unhelpful, destructive, or even evil. That we would be created to desire good is universally acceptable, but to desire something other than good seems to imply we were created with a flaw-which somehow makes God responsible.

However, according to the Roman Catholic Church, God is responsible not only for the creation of will and desire, but God is the causative being for the existence of all manner of both good and evil, with the exception of "moral evil" which results from wrongful choices, i.e., actually giving in to wrongful desires (see "Sin" in the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia).

For many, this might be hard to swallow, but not only is it a logically assertion, it is biblically accurate as well.

First, let's look at the logical explanation. According to Judeo-Christian thought, God is the creator of all that exists and nothing exists without God having created it (e.g., Genesis 1, John 1). When it came to the creation of humanity, God chose to create us with "free will." Free will means that humans have choices, choices to behave as we see fit, even if those choices result in evil. The alternative to God's decision to create us this way was to create us without free will. The problem is that such a creation would be but an automaton-at best a robot and at worst a puppet. By giving us free will, God gave us the opportunity to rebel and disobey, but to withhold free will would have been to create well-behaved, obedient pets. As we look at our society today, and at recorded history both biblical and extra-biblical, it is evident God created us with free will.

The Bible too asserts that God is responsible for the creation of our will and desires and is thus the causative being for the existence of evil. Again, both the Old Testament creation account in Genesis and the prologue to John's gospel claim that God is the creator of everything. Further, in Colossians 1 we read ". for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him" (15b-16).

As creator, God created a cosmos with infinite possibilities, and then created humanity with infinite choices-and the desire to find fulfillment. With that desire came the opportunity, or not, to be obedient to God in seeking that fulfillment. Indeed, those choices are spelled out for us in Deuteronomy, "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.. therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30.15, 19b). God has given us the choice to do good or to do evil. It's up to us how we choose.

On the other hand, though God created us with choices, with free will, and with desires-and even though God created all things, even the objects of our desires, it is not accurate to say that God is the one tempting us to do evil. Those temptations are borne within our own hearts. James wrote, "Each person is tempted when they are lured and enticed by their own desire" (James 1.14). Remember, desire comes from our need to be fulfilled, and we have the choice how to find fulfillment-through God or not.

So, although God created the opportunity for us to choose evil, it is up to us whether or not we will succumb. In the words of Joshua, "Choose this day whom you will serve.but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24.15).

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