Can verbal arguments be mortally sinful?

Hey everyone. Can verbal arguments be mortally sinful? If so, when do they become sinful? I just had a friendship-ending argument with a now former friend. I tried to remain as civil as I could but I am afraid I might have sinned mortally. I’m not sure though. Therefore I ask, when do verbal arguments such as arguments solely on the phone become mortally sinful?

Did you say “I hate you”, “God damn you” or anything like that? If not then it was at most a venial sin.

It all depends upon how hurtful your words to the other person were, and the feelings in your heart when you uttered these words.
You need to talk to a priest in the confessional about this. Only he will be able to give you correct advice.
There is an old adage I learned as a boy from a Jesuit priest: “When in doubt, confess!”, and confess frequently (i.e. weekly).

Mortal sin would involve you saying something very seriously wrong, hurtful, etc.

But it would also require you to have said it with sufficient reflection (also put as “deliberate consent”). Typically, things said in the heat of an argument lack this important requirement, because we would not have said these things if we had properly reflected on them. No doubt you regret them now, as is often the case when we look back on what we’ve said in an argument, which is often a sign that you didn’t have the sort of sufficient reflection before saying them that would be required for mortal sin.

Not only that, but your very question indicates that you lack the knowledge of whether what was said was seriously sinful, so again I think it’s unlikely you’ve met the criteria for mortal sin.

Of course, as George says, talking to a priest about this via confession is the best option either way.

Hey everyone. I am pretty sure that I am not in a state of mortal sin. I looked at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church had to say about anger and it seemed to say that it could only be mortally sinful if I desired vengeance or if I hated him. Neither of those things were true. I also made sure to temper my words and I didn’t really say anything seriously offensive. I did get angry with him and I spoke my mind to him and told him honestly what I felt as calmly as I could but I did not try to be offensive to him.

There were a couple of times in the argument when I said some things I shouldn’t have said but again, they were not overly offensive things and they were objectively truthful as far as I can recall. Also, the things that I did say in this regard were said in the heat of the moment. I really don’t feel like I had full and deliberate consent of the will for any of the argument. That’s because I was being very defensive and it just happened on the spur of a moment. I didn’t really even have time to consider the morality or immorality of arguing before I began defending myself. Also, my emotions largely took control. I think all of these things combined with the fact that my mental illnesses have been acting up means that I only committed a venial sin.

As long as you don’t curse anyone and let them walk away with a intact dignity and you are ready to forgive them later on it is not a sin. But you need to confess, IMHO.

Well, I didn’t curse him and I don’t feel like I said anything which would have damaged his dignity. I did try to stay as calm as I could and I did not deliberately say anything hurtful to him. I tried to give him advice and while were were still irritated with each other when the phone call ended, I would not say that we are enemies. I would say that we are no longer friends but not that we are enemies.

Also, I sincerely do not believe that I have committed a mortal sin. I read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the issue and I cannot see that I committed any grave sin.

But anyway, I will defer to the opinion of the people here on the forums since I am sure that you are all wiser than I. Do you all think that I committed a mortal sin or not?

I am sure you will get a better answer from someone else because if it would be me I would have called back ten minutes later and say “I am sorry, let’s be friends again”.

Well, I don’t think you understand the situation. This person has a history of hounding me on things when he thinks I am not doing something right. The argument tonight was about my scrupulosity. He told me I was becoming paranoid of sinning and I told him that yes, my scrupulosity is an issue and that it isn’t good my health. I agreed with him on that. But he continued to hound me on it even after I asked him politely several times to just drop the subject. He even told me I should get rid of my spiritual director because my spiritual director is just bossing me around. I then told this person that he has no spiritual authority over me because he is not even a Christian and how can a non-Christian have spiritual authority over a Catholic Christian. He was basically telling me what to do and demanding that I do it. He kept telling me basically that I was going insane and stuff. I did call him back 10 minutes after I had hung up on him and apologized to him and told him that I understood his concerns and then we discussed it for a little and that discussion was over.

The conversation then somehow turned in to him throwing my past mistakes against him in my face because he wanted to make me feel guilty. I became very upset because he refuses to forgive me for these past mistakes despite the fact that I have apologized for them several times and I am sincerely sorry. He told me that the things I did in the past still hurt and I acknowledged that fact but I told him that I can’t change the past. Again, I apologized to him and I offered to do what I could to make him feel better and asked him what I could do to make amends for the past but he didn’t have any suggestions.

The thing that bothered me the most though is that he honestly felt justified in throwing my past in my face to make me feel guilty. He has done this repeatedly over and over in the time that I have known him despite the fact that I have apologized, even in tears, several times. I then tried to explain to him that he is not justified in throwing these things in my face all the time. I explained to him that it really hurts a lot when he does that because I can’t go back and change the past but that I am indeed sorry for it.

But anyway, things with him and I have been very rocky for a very long time and I have tried desperately to improve the friendship with him but nothing has worked. I have prayed and begged God to help the friendship do better but things never improve for more than a week at a time. So basically tonight I just gave up and decided to move on.

But anyway, I have forgiven him for hounding me tonight and all that. I also apologized to him for being rude to him during the argument. I have forgiven him of everything he’s ever done against me and I told him I hope he eventually forgives me as well. I really don’t see that happening though as it seems that he holds a lot of bitterness towards me.

Well, I am incredibly depressed right now. I am really saddened because while I really do not think I have committed a mortal sin it would seem that some people do think that I have committed a mortal sin. Its just that this is an extremely complex situation and I have no idea how to explain it.

No, I definitely did not say anything like that to him. As I said, I remained as calm as I could be although there were a few times when I was crying and such. Nevertheless, I was not cruel to him at all.

First, I am not a priest, but I think you have not commit a mortal sin.

When people disagree words are thrown around without any or very little, intention to really mean what you say. Anger cause much grief, and maybe that is why it is a sin. I do believe that you have done what you can, and maybe it would be better if you just call him and tell him that you are sorry for what you did say. That leaves you with a clean table and the rest is up to him. If you forgive him, you do God’s will. If he does not forgive you/accept your apoligize it is not your problem anymore. But you still need to confess.

I remember from my childhood that my grandmother and her sister was not the greatest friends, and I recall how often my granny did cry after they had speak to each other on phone. When her sister, who was one year older, did die, she was not really sorry. (Sometimes I wonder if my granny went to her sisters funeral only to be absolutely sure she was dead.) Later on, however, I could sense that she become sorry and felt bad. But that was to late. So I think the old saying “don’t let the sun set over our anger” is more then true. There comes a time when “sorry” is not anymore possible to say. So maybe you would feel better if you do forgive, there is nothin that you can lose doing that, but much to gain. So please, forgive him. He may not deserve it, but non of us can be the judge in that case. Christ did teach us to forgive, so call him and forgive him. It is the best thing you can do because you are doing God’s will, and nothing can be better.

Frankly, from your account I’m struggling to see any sin on your part at all. Certainly no mortal sin based on what you’ve said.

You have been as kind as possible to this person, and he has thrown it back in your face. It has been unpleasant and your scrupulosity is now playing on your conscience to convince you that there is serious sin here, when at most there may be a few very minor venial sins (which is more an assumption on my part than a conclusion based on your accont).

I’m not sure why Lasting faith is telling you that you need to confess (despite also saying that they think you have not committed mortal sin). You do not. But you mention a spiritual director, so simply raise this with him in your next visit.

Are you taking on personal fault / responsibility for your friend’s meanness?

No one is required to remain a doormat merely to maintain a close relationship.

Did he apologize at all to you?

Holly I believe the issue that is causing your present emotional instability and obsessive thoughts is probably your new awareness of the shaky basis of your relationship.

I suggest it is time to slowly distance yourself from this person if they cannot forgive you - his need (from his own past hurt) to keep hurting you is going to pull you down. You do not sound like the sort of person who can easily ride out that sort of negativity in the medium long term.

No doubt you are emotionally dependent on this person to a significant degree - which is why you have not already left this mildly toxic situation. Developing another relationship will help.

Recognise the obsession with God and mortal sin for what it really is - you seem to be merely falling back into yourself in a terribly lonely, self-obsessed compulsive manner in which you no doubt find a certain “consolation” … but it is an illusion, do not take comfort in this destructive behaviour. You probably intuit deep down already that it is irrational.

Good luck.

I think his behavior is abusive and unhealthy for you. He knows exactly how to push your buttons, how to hurt you, how to get a strong reaction. I suspect he feels a need to exercise power over you. When you argue, plead, cry, and apologize, it unfortunately feeds his need for power and reinforces (rewards) his abusive behavior.

Look, I am not a therapist or anything like that, but I think you need to break that cycle. There are two phases of the cycle: he throws a guilt trip at you, and you respond defensively. Look for ways to interrupt the cycle at any point.

One way is to avoid contact with him. If he can’t talk to you, he can’t remind you of all the ways he feels offended. You may still worry about it, but it will help to not have him actively re-energizing your defensive/guilty feelings.

Another choice is to interrupt him just as soon as he starts to bring up past mistakes. For example, you could cut right in and tell him “I’m done with that. Any time you bring that up, I’ll have to hang up.” No further explaining or apologizing is necessary. Then you have to actually hang up. And hang up any time he tries it again.

This may be difficult for you, and you may think it is unkind, but it is actually a compassionate approach. By interrupting the cycle at that point, you deny him the unhealthy pleasure he draws from hearing your emotional response, which he has no right to hear, and which reinforces his bad behavior.

Afterwards you will have to calm yourself. Pray for inner peace. Reassure yourself that you are doing the right thing. Pray for his peace. Try to forgive him. And of course speak to your spiritual director or confessor as needed.

Oh well, I have the habit of giving too much advice. Forgive me if I have overstepped.

I pray that the Holy Spirit assist you and guide you to a life of greater peace and love.

Hey everyone. I also felt like his behavior towards me was abusive. I felt this way for a long time but I kept on hanging on as best I could in the hopes that he would change and stop the behavior which made me feel so bad. Well, the other night I finally decided it was enough and ended the friendship. I have did this a few times before but always went back to him. This time, its for good. I can’t take his behavior towards me any more. He doesn’t do it all the time but he does it frequently and it is definitely not good for my mental health. I realize he’s not going to change. Therefore, I forgive him but I can no longer be his friend.

It seems that he is correct.

He is correct on that. That was not the problem. I told him that his concern was justified. My problem was that when I politely asked him to drop the subject he refused to drop the subject. He even told me he would refuse to drop the subject. I told him I am working on the scrupulosity with my spiritual director and I asked him to let me work on it with my spiritual director but he still refused to drop the subject. He was angry and he somehow seemed like he felt he could talk me into not being scrupulous. Its not that simple. I am working on being less scrupulous but it is very difficult. Berating me and preaching at me over and over and refusing to drop the subject like he was doing wasn’t going to help me at all and so I asked him to please stop it but he refused. That was the problem, not that he brought up that it is a problem.

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