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What is the Difference Between Transgression and Sin?

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Question: What is the Difference Between Transgression and Sin?

The second Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states:

"We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression."
But what is a transgression and how is that different from sin?

 

Answer: Two definitions of transgression are:

  1. A violation of a law, command, or duty;
  2. The exceeding of due bounds or limits.1
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
"Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a [driver’s] license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited."2
An example of this is when parents tell their children that they can't have a cookie until after dinner. This is a rule (or law) set by the parents, but eating a cookie before dinner, in and of itself, is not evil or a sin. Thus, if a child ate a cookie before dinner they would have transgressed- violated the parents' rule- but not sinned.

Elder Oaks also said:
"Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited."2
Learn more about the Fall of Adam and Eve from God's Plan of Salvation and what Mormons Believe about Original Sin.

Notes:
1. transgression. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved February 20, 2010, from Dictionary.com website:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/transgression
2. "'The Great Plan of Happiness'," Ensign, Nov 1993, 72.

 

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