A new sin?

In Mark 7;21, Jesus lists a number of sins, one of which is folly. I have never heard of folly as being a sin before. I looked up the word folly and found this…

In 1 Corinthians 11:1 it is used by Paul of himself in an ironic sense meaning egotism or recklessness while in 2 Timothy 3:9 regarding false teachers, it comes from a Greek word meaning stupidity or madness.

I’ve never heard of this sin being in any list to exam one’s conscience. I’ve never heard of anyone speaking of the sin of folly.

What would this be comparable in today’s sins? What would one do to commit the sin of folly? How would one recogize the sin of folly?

Αφροσυνη (afrosunē) is essentially ‘mindlessness’, or ‘recklessness’: acting without thinking. Thus, the comment that “All these things … debase the person” (7:23) includes it because people who act mindlesslessly do tend to harm themselves or others.

Avoiding it is relatively simple: think about what you are doing (and, possibly, do not get so drunk as to become mindless).

I found this:

Regarding Sin as Folly:

Sin is stupid. We break a law of God and expect to find happiness in doing so. And that is the height of folly. This is obvious enough with physical laws. A man who jumps off a roof because it’s too much trouble to go downstairs is a fool. He doesn’t find a more convenient way down. He smashes himself to pieces because he comes up against the law of gravity.

Everybody sees this when it is a question of physical laws. But in the case of sin, which is a breach of the moral law, we try to persuade ourselves that the consequences don’t follow. But the moral law of God is a law just as much as the others. Break the moral law and disaster follows either here or hereafter.

Makes sense to me. :shrug:

Maybe doing things we are not prepared to do…like rock climbing, racing cars…? Foolish things. But wouldn’t that be more like imprudence?

But in the case of Jesus’ list of sins, folly seems to be a particular sin …not a general breaking of the moral law. At least that is the way it strikes me.

The KJV, NASB, DR, RSVCE, all translate this as “foolishness.”
So to go back into the old testament, in order to find context, the fool is usually someone that is immoral and pernicious. Usually denying that there is a God and easily seduced by temptation. So here I think that if you cross reference between the old and new testaments then what catches my eye here is:

Ephesians 5:17-19Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

17** Therefore do not be foolish,** but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,

Thus, I think that our Lord is telling us to keep our wits around us, do not be easily led into sin, and be mindful of God’s plan for our salvation.

However, I’m no bible scholar by any means. :slight_smile:

The “not prepared” part seems to be the right idea, judging by the Greek usage: it is mostly about doing things without thought. So, spontaneous street-racing yes, but also driving down the road whilst reading facebook.

In other words, it pretty much seems to be the fairly basic advice that we should put some thought into what we do.

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Catechism covers some instances of acting rashly, which seems more akin to indifference:
[/size][/FONT]* Charity

2093 Faith in God’s love encompasses the call and the obligation to respond with sincere love to divine charity. The first commandment enjoins us to love God above everything and all creatures for him and because of him.12

2094 One can sin against God’s love in various ways: [INDENT] - *indifference *neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.

  • *ingratitude *fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love.

  • *lukewarmness *is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.

  • *acedia *or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness.

  • hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.

The different responses are interesting.

I could see that someone could live a life of folly…without purpose and responsibility.
Or “the folly of it all”…stupid, dumb, careless.

But then wouldn’t the sin be in the action which would tie it to a particular sin.
Like … he doesn’t show up for work on time… what folly. But this sin would be laziness, or lack of respect, or something else.

So I guess the question is… is there really a sin of folly, or does this just describe a situation in which another sin is committed?

I have never heard of the sin of folly ever mentioned in the pulpit or in any exam of conscience.

Maybe it was that Jesus was just describing all the stupid stuff people do without thinking.

Try St. Thomas Aquinas: “Therefore the folly which is a sin, arises chiefly from lust.”


We must be careful, since in other passages Scripture speaks well of folly (or foolishness or stupidity). This one comes to mind (1 Corinthians 1:18-25):

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I will set aside.”
Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

I noticed that the Greek word is different in the above passage.

The word appearing in 1 Corinthians is μωρία (moria).

The word appearing in Mark and 2 Corinthians (as Mystophilus noted previously) is ἀφροσύνη (aphrosyne).

Folly is sometimes though of as clumsy, compulsive, or rash decision making. Or not clearly thinking out an action, cause, well, we can’t be our best all the time, can we?

However, those lines of thinking tend to abdicate culpability and responsibility.
As it occurred in my life, folly is a practiced art, resulting from the practice of vice that runs unchecked through a life lacking in virtue, corrupting the conscience and will, leading to foolish justifications, presumptions, decisions, and actions.

We don’t become fools by clumsy or overzealous accidents. It requires work, just like prudence does.

That description, while specifically focusing on Latin terms, does cohere with Greek usage of αφροσυνη. Note particularly article 2, wherein he differentiates between naturally-limited intellect (not a sin) and thoughtlessness about higher things induced by focus on lower things (sin).

This is from the summa you made reference to.

As already stated (2), folly, in so far as it is a sin, is caused by the spiritual sense being dulled, so as to be incapable of judging spiritual things. Now man’s sense is plunged into earthly things chiefly by lust, which is about the greatest of pleasures; and these absorb the mind more than any others. Therefore the folly which is a sin, arises chiefly from lust.

Thanks for the reference.

He says “the spiritual sense being dulled”. And it seems that each time a person indulges in lust, he is committing the sin of folly as well. So lust becomes a twofold sin.

It might also help to realize that while aphrosyne is a sin, euphrosyne is a good thing. (And that’s why it was once a common Christian given name, and the name of at least one female martyr.)

Euphrosyne is “joyfulness, merriment, gladness.” It shows up in Acts 2:28 (quoting a Psalm) and Acts 14:17.

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