Kinsella, The Wife Desired p. 77 claims:

It has been stated that money is the root of all evil. [1 Tim. 6:10: "the desire of money is the root of all evils"; cf. Summa Theologica I-II q. 84 a. 1] Money represents the material possessions of this world, the things which militate against the spirit and the good in mankind. Because money and selfishness are boon companions and because there is selfishness or lack of love in all evil, the truth of the statement becomes clearer.

Money is a consequence of original sin. We never should have had to bother with it except for Adam’s disloyalty and fall. We could almost say that money in itself is an evil. Yet, out of evil good often comes. [St. Augustine does say that "to use evil well is not a sin."] Christ and Redemption was a good to come out of the evil of Adam’s sin.

According to Catholic theologians, is money a consequence of Original Sin?

This seems related to whether the Church-State distinction is a consequence of Original Sin: "The Augustinian tradition has in fact presented the state, having solely in mind the supernatural order, as a punishment for original sin." (Jaki, O.S.B., New Trends in Ecclesiology p. 18); Integralism ch. 5 thesis "(ii) The distinction in title to temporal and spiritual authority results from the Fall of man." Yet, even before the Fall, there still would have been a hierarchical temporal order; however, it would've been strictly patriarchal (fathers of families the only political leaders): thesis "(xvi) The need for non-patriarchal rule derives from the Fall of man." (ibid., ch. 3). Thus, it seems money could have existed before the Fall, but it would've been restricted to direct commerce between families. On the other hand, why would money, trade, or private property even be needed before the Fall, if there were no scarce resources Garden of Eden?

  • I suspect the answer is no (or at least not necessarily) because private property is not considered an effect of the fall.
    – eques
    Commented Apr 23 at 0:14
  • @eques "private property is not considered an effect of the fall" Really? I thought there wouldn't need to be private property in Eden due to there being no scarce resources.
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 23 at 0:23
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    The Bible states that it is the LOVE of money that is a root of all kinds of evil, warning those claiming faith in Christ that many have stabbed themselves all over with many griefs due to loving money. Temptation to be rich leads to lusts and snares. But money is neutral. Before the idea of 'money' was invented, people spoke of gold, silver, jewels etc as what to measure wealth by. Job was an ancient whose wealth was detailed via domestic animals and servants, but 'money' is not mentioned in that oldest of Bible books.
    – Anne
    Commented Apr 23 at 15:15
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    There was no scarcity in Eden thus money wouldn't have been needed before the fall? I don't understand that. Prior to the fall there was just Adam and Eve. Surely they weren't buying and selling amongst themselves. Commented Apr 23 at 21:31
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    @MikeBorden Had Adam not sinned and had he progeny, would've there been need of money?
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 23 at 22:01

4 Answers 4


It's the love of money that is the root of all evil things. Money, in and of itself, is just a means of barter. Simple exchange might be apples for oranges. Pears for bananas. Shoes for a sweater. A basket for a blanket.

But when a community grows and the needs of many individuals grows with it, the guy who grows oranges may want some shoes, but the guy who makes shoes has no need or want of oranges. So a rare object, like gold, was introduced as a proxy for a good or service. A certain amount of gold stood proxy for an orange, and a certain amount of gold stood proxy for shoes. So, if the guy who made oranges wanted to barter for shoes, and the guy who made shoes didn't want oranges, the guy who grew oranges could sell the oranges to the guy who grew lemons in exchange for proxy tokens, and then use those tokens to buy shoes. The guy who makes shoes could then use the tokens to buy lemons.

That's all money is. It is a means of facilitating complicated barter in a large community. It has nothing to do with sin.

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    Without disagreeing with your answer, Scripture also says of the early apostles: "[A]ll who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need." (Acts 2:44-45) This implies that they didn't keep track, that is, didn't barter, but gave freely. Would this system have also existed/worked pre-Fall? Answering that seems to be relevant.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 23 at 16:13
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    Yes, early Christians had a communal society. But they didn't eschew money. They used it. It was simply not individually hoarded or possessed. Like everything else, it was communal. What things they were unable to produce themselves, they still had to buy. That was the whole point of selling their possessions. I doubt they sold their houses for dates or figs. They sold them for money. And that money was put in a communal fund. Pre-fall, I suspect that if there were enough people, a form of money would have eventually been created. It's about the only way to facilitate complex trade.
    – AFrazier
    Commented Apr 23 at 16:24
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    Of course they used money; they still had to deal with non-Christians, and still had to live in a resource-scarce society. Note, however, how the use of money exists at the boundary of their community where it interfaces with outsiders, not within the community. Pre-Fall, what do I need that I don't have? And even if such a thing exists, why don't you just give it to me, trusting that you will be repaid as needed, if you even want to be repaid?
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 23 at 16:59
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    @Matthew im quite sure there would have been some sort of scarcity that would warrant barter/money. for example, works of art, or maybe your oranges are extra delicious. even in the garden of eden, they still had to tend the garden, which implies some form of work, albeit not to the degree that we do today. either way, this is pure speculation, as we cannot know how it could have been with the fall happening so soon after creation
    – Seggan
    Commented Apr 24 at 16:10
  • @Seggan, not being selfish, I would not horde art for myself only or take more than my share of the extra-delicious oranges. Not being selfish, you would gladly distribute them equitably. In terms of goods, what is "scarcity" on the scale of eternity when things don't wear out? If I need some item that needs time to make, I'll just wait; I have patience. Yes, we're speculating, but it's actually hard for me to imagine why we would need money in the New Creation. (Gene Roddenberry could imagine an imperfect society without money; why would a perfect society need it?)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 24 at 17:20

Keeping in mind that the continuation of the original, un-fallen creation was not plan A and our current world plan B: That is to say, God did not respond to the Fall by sacrificing His Son but rather the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world because the Fall was foreknown ...

The economics of an un-fallen world are entirely speculation but the thought of no trade of any kind seems ridiculous, especially as Adam and Eve's progeny multiply and fill the whole earth. Surely milk and bread and cloth were not simply laying around on the ground or hanging from the trees? Is it not fair and equitable for the farmer to offer grain to the shepherd in exchange for milk and wool?

Let's not forget that Adam was placed in the garden to do work (Genesis 2:15). Work, just like marriage, preceded the fall. It is not work that is consequence of the fall but fruitlessness in work (Genesis 3:17-18).

Additionally, the whole notion presupposes that money, that is to say trade, is inherently evil which introduces the notion that specialization in work is inherently evil. All of that leads to a picture of an un-fallen economy wherein each person/family either gathers all resources necessary and manufactures all products necessary for prosperity or finds them lying around.

If the shepherd simply gives away his wool and milk and the farmer simply gives away his vegetables and grain, isn't this simply equitable trade? I give you what you need and you give me what I need. Why would we see evil in this?

To top it all off, Scripture condemns dishonest trade (just as it condemns misuse of anything) but it does not condemn trade itself. The law does not declare any such thing. Scales are not forbidden but unjust scales are:

The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. - Proverbs 11:1.

The source of all evil is the human heart: Not trade, not money, not food, not sex, etc. Whatever is unclean is such because it is marred and misused by humanity. The human heart is the well-spring of evil. We covet. We lust. We are discontent. We boast. We leverage. We contend. We are desperately wicked and need new hearts and a new birth ... a new humanity. We need Jesus living his life in us.

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. - Romans 14:14

The one whose focus is primarily on the physical will find nearly everything unclean.

  • Milk, no. Bread-as-a-baked-grain-product, probably not. "Bread" as in food? It absolutely was "simply ... hanging from the trees"! Cloth? How much cloth do you need? Remember, no one is wearing clothes, and if someone does make something out of cloth, it doesn't wear out, so demand is likely to never be very high. Okay, so I ask a shepherd for some wool... does he really want something in exchange, or is he happy to share, knowing that I would do the same for him if he needs anything? How much of "fair trade" is rooted in distrust and a lack of charity? (Continued...)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 24 at 15:26
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    (...continued) It's not that trade is "evil", per se, but in a perfect world, it's not hard to imagine "trade" that consists of "you give me what I need, I give you what I need" without those needing to happen at the same time. For that matter, even in this Fallen world, there exist instances of charity where I... just give you what you need, because you are in need, without expectation that you will repay me. Scripture implies that early Christians lived this way. How much easier would doing so be in a world without scarcity where everyone can be trusted implicitly?
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 24 at 15:29
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    @Matthew I can see that you don't favor this answer, which is fine. I do mean literal bread, not food as in fruit from trees. And I do suppose that as Adam's progeny expand across the globe they might encounter cold weather, requiring clothing. Not sure why you think nothing would wear out. Would there be no friction? Imagine a worldwide system of commerce where no one is aiming for personal profit...at all. Commerce without sin. Commented Apr 24 at 17:15
  • Deuteronomy 29:5. If God supplied His full sustaining power in this small way for Israel, why would He not supply it in full in the New Creation? See also Matthew 6:20. Wearing out, in general, is a result of the Fall. Just how natural laws work without clothes wearing out is not something anyone, to my knowledge, understands; nonetheless, Scripture says it's possible. (Also, the pre-Flood climate was very different; we don't know that there was anywhere on Earth where clothes would have been necessary because of climate.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 24 at 17:29
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    God tasked Man with maintaining the Garden. Why wouldn't that include expanding it as necessary? (How do you know food is only plentiful inside the Garden?)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 25 at 20:36


As another user noted, money itself isn't evil, but is merely a facilitator for barter. Therefore, the proper question is whether barter would have existed were it not for the Fall. I suspect it's also fair to ask if barter will exist in the New Creation, as the answers are likely the same.

To that end, consider Acts 2:44-45:

[A]ll who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

This suggests that, within the community of early believers at least, there was no barter and perhaps even little notion of "private" property.

Indeed, in an existence where resources are not scarce and everyone is perfectly loving and perfectly charitable, why would I withhold anything from my brother or sister that they need? For that matter, consider families and even communities (especially in poorer parts of the world where money is less prevalent and true barter still the 'rule'); how many of them share with each other according to need with little regard for "keeping track" of debts? (How many of us Christians have at least once followed Jesus' command in Luke 6:35 and have "lent" money without carefully recording it that we might be repaid?)

Personally, I think there's a very good reason why humans are attracted to Socialism; that is, I think it's the ideal human condition. In this life, of course, it can't work because human nature is corrupt and full of selfishness, greed and malice, and because this world is resource-scarce, but it seems a natural fit for God's New Creation. If this is indeed the case, then it seems likely that there would be no need for money in the New Creation.

  • Good idea to fix on bartering as a key element. I suppose since nobody would be in need of anything, this might eliminate bartering as well.
    – Mike
    Commented Apr 25 at 23:30

You can say that. The love of wealth or possessions is a means to lessen or eliminate the toil and exertion for livelihood, and worries of life, to gain pleasure of the flesh by transgressing the law of God. Since such interpretations are subjective commentary, you don't need to find exact reference for this angle from scholars which you are implying. Toil entails obtaining of basic needs, which also implies trade and money.

RSV Gen 3:17

And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, `You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

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