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What is the Difference Between Transgression and Sin?


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.

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


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