If sex between a husband and wife is not a sin, then why/how are we conceived in sin?
ESV - 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
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I believe the psalmist is referring to the moment of conception, the point at which the egg is fertilized and a new life has begun. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Romans 5:12) So, we are not sinners because we sin but sin because we are sinners. ALL of humanity (except the Lord Jesus) are born with a sin nature. The psalmist also wrote: "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." (Psalms 58:3) I have 9 "darling" grandchildren and from first-hand experience can wholeheartedly say, AMEN!
Bible scholars and philosophers have debated the meaning of Psalm 51:5 for centuries and conflicting conclusion and doctrines resulted from these debates. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) believed that Adam’s sin is being transmitted by lustful desires from generation to generations; however, more important is what the Bible teaches and the context of these teachings. We know that Psalm 51 is part of the so called Penitential Psalms that include Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. In Psalm 51, David expresses deep sorrow for his sins and asks God for forgiveness and guidance. It is believed that David wrote Psalm 51 soon after his adulterous encounter with Bathsheba and verse five contain language figurative in nature, supposedly expressed by a child conceived by that illicit affair (2 Samuel 11:5), and thus the sinfulness is attributed to this particular encounter. There is little Bible evidence to indicate that sexual intercourse between married couples or the act of conception is sinful.
At the time of David (c.1000 BC) the iniquity of the fathers would be passed on down to the third or fourth generation (Ex 34:6-7, Deut 5:8-10, Lev 26:39). This didn't mean that a son would be actually punished by the king or others because of a known sin of the father (Deut 4:16, 2 Kings 14:6). This hereditary curse of iniquity was nullified later in Ezek 18:20. The Jews have never believed in the Christian doctrine of original sin. David's mother's sin is unclear because of the couplet nature of the verse, and also because David may not have clearly distinguished between sin and iniquity, as many verses in the bible also don't. Perhaps it can be understood that iniquity refers to an inherent propensity to sin, not a particular sin and its required punishment. Iniquity or wickedness becomes clear because of known sins. The sin mentioned here may have had nothing to do with the mother, but sin within the household of the father or his forefathers, which would form the basis for hereditary iniquity. In any event, there was no sin involved in sex between husband and wife, although they were both considered unclean until evening (Lev 15:18), and a mother giving birth to a child was considered unclean for a certain period of time (Lev 12:2-5) under Mosaic law.
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