Confession - Is doubting your faith a sin?


#1

I’m considering going to confession today for the first time in probably six or seven months. During that time, I had a lot of doubts about my faith/the church/Jesus/etc. I wasn’t intentionally trying to defy God or anything, but I just had honest doubts.

Is this a sin?


#2

I have list of venial sins. One listed is entertaining doubts against the faith. Given that it is venial, it doesn't have to be confessed. However, it is a good practice to confess venial sins, especially if something is bothering you. If you say this has been occurring a lot and that you need guidance, Father may give you some recommendations for prayer and/or reading that can help you.


#3

May I suggest that you ask God in prayer to strengthen your faith. That’s what I do. Many saints have had moments of doubt, even great struggles with doubt. So there is hope for us all.


#4

No :shrug:

We are asked to give consent of mind and will to the teachings of the Holy Church who, being led by Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit, does not err in her teachings of faith and morals. One can doubt in bona fide, either because some teachings are quite hard and require more learning, or because we are being tempted in a more or less strong way, but one would not be sinning if he does not give assent to the thought: “on this I think the Church is wrong”. That cannot work.

Remember always these two apostolic quotes :slight_smile:

you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim 3:15)

And our Lord was adding unto the church everyday those who were to be saved. (Acts 2:47)

A confessor once told me: just as a body without food weakens and becomes less steady as time goes, so a soul far from prayer and the Sacraments weakens and becomes less steady as time goes.

Also: you have not confessed yet, and in a significant amount of time (ideally one must strive to confess around every 2 weeks even if he can live a virtuous life and remain free of mortal sin for a significant amount of time). This means that the spirit against Christ (meaning the spirit of the world, the law of the flesh, and the temptations of our enemies) is now doing what he does best: trying to keep you away from Christ through lies, fear, and anxiety - neither of which ever come from God.

Thus do not worry, confess to God’s priest and be at peace! Remember that we do today what the Apostles did yesterday, especially on matters of confession.

Didache, 70 AD: “Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure

Letter of Barnabas, 74 AD: “You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light.

Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD: "*For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ.

See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop.

Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

Whatsoever [the bishop] shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. Let all things therefore be done by you with good order in Christ. Let the laity be subject to the deacons; the deacons to the presbyters; the presbyters to the bishop; the bishop to Christ, even as He is to the Father.*"

Basil the Great, 374 AD: “It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist, but in Acts they confessed to the apostles

John Chrysostom, 387 AD: “Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed.’… ‘Whose sins you shall forgive,’ he says, ‘they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men.


#5

[quote="lllj, post:1, topic:329098"]
I'm considering going to confession today for the first time in probably six or seven months. During that time, I had a lot of doubts about my faith/the church/Jesus/etc. I wasn't intentionally trying to defy God or anything, but I just had honest doubts.

Is this a sin?

[/quote]

Doubt is not a sin (although deliberately hunting for reasons to disbelieve probably would be). But discussing it with your confessor would still be a good thing.

JMHO
Sally


#6

If you denied it, it's mortal. If you doubted it, it's venial.

God Bless. :highprayer:


#7

From my experience, Satan casts doubt constantly and also tempts me often. Temptation (which I consider the temptation to doubt) is not a sin.

But St. Thomas truly doubted (I will not believe unless I put my hands into his side…) and Jesus said Believe, and do not be disbelieving.

There is a difference between the temptations to doubt (from the Devil) and actual doubt on your behalf.

Leave it to the confessor to decide if it’s a sin or not.


#8

If you were tempted to doubt but stopped the thought, it is neither! :)

Seriously, you have gotten some really good replies here. Read them over and apply what advice seems to speak to you the most.

It is normal to have doubts, especially when we are younger and are "making our faith our own" rather that that we just accepted whole cloth as children. The adult faculty of thinking is an important part of our responsibility in growing our faith. In my opinion, that needs to be accompanied by prayer and study and frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.

Even as an old person, I sometimes have doubts. I consider these as temptations and just disregard them and say a prayer. These are the work of "old scratch". That is probably true of younger people too, although I do not remember that so much back then.

When I say study, I mean getting in adult ed at your parish, be it bible study, other offerings, reading the Sunday scriptures ahead of time and meditating on them. Also reading books on Catholic/Christian ideas. My own attempt was to read the most difficult books I could understand. If you are near a Catholic college, you could also take a course, perhaps even online.

The Rosary is a wonderful prayer, especially if you use it as a form of meditation and ask the Blessed Mother to help you know her Son better while praying it. Mary always takes us to Jesus.

And as someone mentioned, asking God to increase your faith is a good daily practice. When saying the Rosary, the three Hail Mary bead at the beginning are related to Faith, Hope and Charity, the three cardinal virtues. You can say before them in order: I believe Lord, help my unbelief; I hope Lord, help my lack of trust; and I love Lord, help my lack of charity.

God Bless! :)


#9

Doubting is a sign that human rationality works. No sin there, only that you should not be entertained from your points of disagreeing or misunderstanding.
Get spiritual guidance from an authoritative personnel.

Cogito, ergo sum” (I doubt, therefore I am) - Rene Descartes


#10

According to the CCC, doubt is a sin against the First Commandment (my emphasis added):

2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. **If deliberately cultivated **doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”


#11

The matter is doubting, not anything else. The question comes as to what you rise with as a solution to your doubt as the answer.

Both heresy and schism are not met in a mere doubt but “official denial of the revealed and taught truths” or “official declaration of antagonist stand” including refusal or suppression of attempts or acts of correcting or reconciliation.

If you do not doubt on anything, you are dead!
And to how much possibility can this “anything” exclude our orthodoxy Faith!?
The problem is when your solution to a doubt contradicts this orthodoxy Faith.


#12

When in “doubt” talk to your priest about it. He can best advise you.


#13

I ended up confessing it.

I had never been to confession at this church before, and there was actually a line, so this was a little different than my past confessions in that there wasn’t really a whole lot of discussion/advice.

But that’s okay, because I already have spent a lot of time thinking about it on my own. I was avoiding the sacraments until I felt like I could truly say I believed in the Catholic teachings. After a lot of soul searching, I am feeling a lot more confident in my faith than I have in quite a long time.


#14

I would definitely say this was an involuntary doubt.

My doubts have never been with God Himself (at least not in years) but rather with the story of Jesus and particular church teachings. There has never been any intention to disbelieve. Instead, I have been constantly praying, for a long time, for God to help me see the truth and to help me feel a connection to Jesus. However, sometimes, it has been a struggle. Happy to say though, after a lot soul searching and praying, I am feeling a lot more confident in my faith than I have in quite some time.


#15

[quote="lllj, post:14, topic:329098"]
I would definitely say this was an involuntary doubt.

My doubts have never been with God Himself (at least not in years) but rather with the story of Jesus and particular church teachings. There has never been any intention to disbelieve. Instead, I have been constantly praying, for a long time, for God to help me see the truth and to help me feel a connection to Jesus. However, sometimes, it has been a struggle. Happy to say though, after a lot soul searching and praying, I am feeling a lot more confident in my faith than I have in quite some time.

[/quote]

Thanks be to God!


#16

I sure hope not.
That would mean you weren’t allowed to ever think about or question anything.
And that would be mind-prison.


#17

[quote="DaddyGirl, post:16, topic:329098"]
I sure hope not.
That would mean you weren't allowed to ever think about or question anything.
And that would be mind-prison.

[/quote]

"Doubting" is not the same as "thinking" or "questioning."

My confessor told me: a doubt is a temptation. When you reject the doubt, you gain in virtue. When you entertain the doubt, it can be a venial sin. When you take the doubt as your own--when you agree to the proposition of the doubt--it is probably a mortal sin.

Interestingly, he says that most temptations you should engage with your intellect. When you are tempted to envy, or pride, for example, engage with your intellect. He says that with two particular temptations, you should flee. These are doubt, and lust. They are too strong and can overwhelm you. Which is exactly what the tempter intends.

There is a world of difference between wondering about a particular Church teaching, while continuing to submit your intellect and will to the teaching--and holding a doubt which rejects that teaching.


#18

[quote="GwenL, post:17, topic:329098"]
"Doubting" is not the same as "thinking" or "questioning."

My confessor told me: a doubt is a temptation. When you reject the doubt, you gain in virtue. When you entertain the doubt, it can be a venial sin. When you take the doubt as your own--when you agree to the proposition of the doubt--it is probably a mortal sin.

Interestingly, he says that most temptations you should engage with your intellect. When you are tempted to envy, or pride, for example, engage with your intellect. He says that with two particular temptations, you should flee. These are doubt, and lust. They are too strong and can overwhelm you. Which is exactly what the tempter intends.
There is a world of difference between wondering about a particular Church teaching, while continuing to submit your intellect and will to the teaching--and holding a doubt which rejects that teaching.

[/quote]

Yes. Those three words each mean something different.

I don't think doubt is always a "temptation". Your friend doesn't seem to make sense saying that.
Often, the feeling of doubt shows a person they need more information or they are not understanding something correctly or they have a gut instinct that something is not right.

Doubt is a natural instinct that we have to help us navigate our way thru this world and even to protect us. If you just ignore it, it doesn't mean it will go away. It's there for a reason. You have to face doubts.

And the thing about doubt is...a person doesn't do it on purpose. It arises organically.
.


#19

[quote="GwenL, post:17, topic:329098"]
"Doubting" is not the same as "thinking" or "questioning."

[/quote]

So, what is the difference between doubting and questioning? And if doubting is not a sin, is questioning?


#20

[quote="AnneTeresa, post:19, topic:329098"]
So, what is the difference between doubting and questioning? And if doubting is not a sin, is questioning?

[/quote]

Sin involves rejection of God.

"Doubt" in the theological sense is not exactly the same as the way we use "doubt" in common English.

So questioning, struggling to understand, those are things we in common English might describe as "doubt." But to "doubt" in a way that would be sinful means to come to the conclusion that God cannot/does not be or do what He has revealed as Truth.

So to struggle to understand how, if God is love, innocents still suffer, is not doubt. It is the action of the faculty of reason which God gave us when He created us in His image.

It would be doubt if you came to the conclusion that God is NOT love, or is NOT good, because of the problem of evil/suffering.

HTH

Sally


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