Are we still adopted children of God in mortal sin?

I was curious about this. If we lose sanctifying grace through mortal sin are we still adopted sons?

Without a divine revelation one can never certain of one’s salvation. A state of sanctifying grace (justification) brings adoption which can be lost with the loss of sanctifying grace (mortal sin). See below:

whereby an unjust man becomes a just man, and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be “an heir according to hope of life everlasting”

Per the Council of Trent, justification is identified with adoption. Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma (old numbering)

The Council of Trent, Session VI (Jan. 13, 1547) – Decree On Justification
Chap. 7. In What the Justification of the Sinner Consists, and What are its Causes

799 Justification itself follows this disposition or preparation, which is not merely remission of sins [can. II], but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts, whereby an unjust man becomes a just man, and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be “an heir according to hope of life everlasting” [Tit. 3:7]. The causes of this justification are: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Christ and life eternal; the efficient cause is truly a merciful God who gratuitously “washes and sanctifies” [1 Cor. 6:11], “signing and anointing with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance” [Eph. 1:13f.]; but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, “who when we were enemies” [cf. Rom. 5:10], “for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us” [Eph. 2:4], merited justification for us [can. 10] by His most holy passion on the wood of the Cross, and made satisfaction for us to God the Father; the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the "sacrament of faith,’’* without which no one is ever justified. Finally the unique formal cause is the “justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but by which He makes us just” * [can. 10 and 11], that, namely, by which, when we are endowed with it by him, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed, but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the “Holy Spirit distributes to everyone as he wills” [1. Cor. 12:11], and according to each one’s own disposition and cooperation.

What do you mean by adopted sons as a Catholic theological concept. I’m confused.

I could be wrong but I think adoption occurs at baptism, so we are still sons but our relationship with our Father is severed.

Ephesians 1:4-6

4 as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love 5 he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ in accord with the favor of his will, 6 for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.

We are all adopted sons as daughters of God. And just like the prodigal son we never stop being that. When you have a child and they turn away from the path you want them in they don’t cease being your child.

This question is intermixing precise theological language (mortal sin) with language used by the sacred author. In Catholic hermeneutics there tends to be less emphasis on prooftexting isolated verses in scripture and more emphasis on how it all comes together.

A person in mortal sin has committed a grave sin intentionally and with full knowledge. This means they’ve separated themselves from God of their own free will.

1 Like

I understand that part. I just wasn’t sure if it changes our identity to as if we were never adopted or if we remain “sons of God” (elected) just in bad standing. I hope this makes sense.

Adopted sons of God is not a precise defined theological term. It’s an analogy. Mortal sin has a precise theological definition. We are all God’s Children, we are not all in a state of grace.

For what?

So everyone is an adopted son of God whether Christian or not? Or Christians are, but not all Christians are in a state of grace?

I guess what I’m wondering is if losing sanctifying grace puts us on even keel with non-baptised pagans? Or is there still something good about being baptized if not in a state of grace?

1 Like

So here is a link from this website. God is Father. The first person of the Trinity is the Father. He is Our Father. He created us in His likeness. That being said, lets take the stricter definition of a babptized person being the adoped son of God. In that case, in your example your sin does not invalidate your baptism. It does however separate you from the Father. Again, in the Prodigal Son parable we see that he “Thought his son was dead” but now He lives. So it is when we lose our state of Grace. We are told that we die in our sin. The Wages of sin is death. So we are still adopted sons, but we are dead when we are out of grace. The advantage here for a non Catholic Christian would be ignorance of the fullness of the Truth. When you are in mortal sin in the True Church, you cannot claim ignorance. Because one of the criteria for something to be a mortal sin you are culpable of is knowledge. A protestant may not know that something is sinful because they are separated.

Yes, we are. We receive the spirit of adoption at Baptism, which leaves an indelible mark on our souls. We remain adopted children of God even if in mortal sin; it’s what enables us to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation (the unbaptized cannot receive sacramental absolution).

1 Like

God never turns His back on us. We turn our backs on Him. #prodigalson

There is a story out of the Fathers of the Desert;
There was a young monk who saw a beautiful girl who was the daughter of a pagan priest. He fell in love with her and he wanted to marry her. The priest prayed to the demon and the demon told him to tell the young monk to renounce his monks vow and to renounce Christ. This the young monk did. The priest went to the demon and asked him again. The demon said no. Although the young monk had renounced Christ, Christ had renounced him.

This saying is trustworthy:

If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;

if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:11-13

This does not answer the question, but hopefully offers some insight. If God remains faithful, does that mean he accepts our infidelity, by respecting our choices, or rejects Infidelity, by remaining faithful to his children?

We are always children of Our Father, or I understand It that way. We have a greater responsibility because we have been given more, but God is faithful to his role as Our Father.

No, only Christians are adopted children of God, through baptism. Of course not all Christians are in a state of grace.
Losing sanctifying grace/being in unrepentant mortal sin does and doesn’t put us on the same level as unbaptised pagans.
It does in the sense that we are potentially heading for hell if we persist in our unrepentant mortal sin and it doesn’t in the sense that we as baptised Christians have access to the sacraments and reconciliation which the unbaptised pagan doesn’t.
In saying that, a baptised Catholic in a state of unrepentant mortal sin is essentially in a worse state than a virtuous unbaptised pagan.

I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church does attempt to make it clear saying in No. 1279 that the adoptive son of the Father is “a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit”.

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit