Does Ephesians 5:3 mean that it’s wrong to even mention sin?


I’ve heard some people say that Ephesians 5:3 means that it’s sinful to even talk about sin. Is this true? What is the meaning of the verse?


If it were sinful to talk about sin, why would St. Paul have talked about sin in writing Ephesians 5, 3?

In any event, given your earlier comments about your struggle with OCD, it’s best if you don’t post these questions here. It will only exacerbate your condition. You will get a lot of contradictory opinions that will only increase your uncertainty. You need to discuss these things with your priest and mental health professional.

You are in my prayers.



So then what does Eph 5:3 mean?

I’ve read many reliable Bible commentaries that go with the “don’t talk about sin” interpretation.


It isn’t talking about sin in general. “Immorality or any impurity” refers specifically to offenses against chastity. It doesn’t mean don’t talk about sin at all. It wouldn’t even mean don’t talk about sexual sin–if that were the case, then St. John Paul II was one of the most notorious sinners ever, since he wrote Theology of the Body, about chastity, against sexual sin.

What this means is not to speak of unchaste behavior approvingly or even jokingly. It couldn’t possibly mean “don’t talk about sin,” as that’s a contradiction in terms.

Again, you really need to avoid asking these kinds of questions on here. It’s not going to help you. The problem is not one of Biblical scholarship or interpretation, it’s one of making sure that you don’t act in such a way as to exacerbate your condition.



Catholic or Protestant?

I must refer you to the Rev. George Leo Haydock commentary, which has this to say:

Ver. 3. Covetousness.[1]
The Latin word is generally taken for a coveting or immoderate
desire of money and riches. S. Jerom and others observe, that the
Greek word in this and divers other places in the New Testament may
signify any unsatiable desire, or the lusts of sensual pleasures; and
on this account, S. Jerom thinks that it is here joined with
fornication and uncleanness. But S. Chrys. in the last
chapter, (v. 19. hom. xiii. and on this chap. v. 3.) shews that by
the Greek word is understood avarice, or an immoderate desire
of riches, when he tells (hom. xviii) that this sin is condemned by
those words of Christ, Luke xvi. 13. You cannot serve God and
mammon. Wi.

Ver. 4. Nor
obscenity.[2] What is here meant by this word, S. Chrys. tells
us at large in the moral exhortation after his 17th homily; to
wit, jests with immodest suggestions or a double meaning, and
raillery or buffoonery against the rules of good conversation, scarce
made use of by any but by men of low condition and of a mean genius,
which is not to the purpose of a Christian, who must give an
account to God of all his words. Wi.

Rather clearly, it is best not to joke or speak lightly of sin.

You are addressing the OCD, are you not?


I’m an aspiring author, and I wanted to know if it was a sin to depict sin in my stories.


You need a good spiritual director to answer your questions.



This is not very appropriate for someone who struggles with the issues that Ambasea does. Flagged.


Read the detective mysteries penned by Monsignor Ronald A. Knox, priest and theologian and sole translator of the Knox Bible.


From Ephesians 5 NABRE (USCCB):

Put it in context:

So be imitators of God, as beloved children,
and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma..
Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones,
no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.
Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Maybe I’m wrong, & I ask my fellow brothers & sisters to correct me on this if I am, but this to me basically is saying that if we are God’s children, then we are to live our lives imitating/following Christ. Christ did not live an immoral life, & therefore, we are to live as He did. We are to imitate His life. It is a call to be Christ-like. Follow His lead in life.

From the Knox Bible:


No, it’s not wrong. The Bible, even Jesus Himself, mentions sin all the time as an illustration of what not to do.

I think Eph 5:3 means that you should not make light of sin, or hold it up as something to be admired, or encourage others to engage in sin. You also shouldn’t revel in sin and talk about it just to enjoy talking about it.

Bring this up with your counselor and explain your worries. God bless.


“Must not even be mentioned among you”…

Isn’t that plainly stating that we must not even mention sin?


I don’t read it as such. I read it as someone informing me that immorality is something that should not be spoken of me as a follower of Christ. Like a bad reputation - if people even consider bad reps anymore…

Like St. Paul speaks of here in Romans 2 (BibleHub):

23 You who boast in the Law, do you dishonor God by breaking the Law?
24 As it is written: “- God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

We are called to live a life of holiness, & immorality is not consistent with that calling.

If we live our lives imitating Christ, then immorality should not be spoken of about us. Our lives should be holy - not immoral.

Read the verse in context - not in isolation.

The Knox Bible puts it this way:

3 As for debauchery, and impurity of every kind, and covetousness, there must be no whisper of it among you; it would ill become saints;
4 no indecent behaviour, no ribaldry or smartness in talk; that is not your business, your business is to give thanks to God.


Here’s what’s Aquinas has to say:
But here he says let it not so much as be named among you because in the spiritual battle carnal sins must first be conquered. In vain would anyone struggle against internal sins unless he had first overcome external, carnal ones—against which there will always be a struggle. Therefore he says let it not so much as be named among you, as becomes saints who refrain from such actions, thoughts and words. “I will destroy the name of Babylon, and the remains, and the bud, and the offspring” (Is. 14:22). “Take care of a good name” (Sirach 41:15) since this is fitting for saints. “In all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God” (2 Cor. 6:4).

That definitely sounds like a prohibition of speaking about sin to me.


“…let it not so much as be named among you, as becomes saints who refrain from such actions, thoughts and words.”

“Take care of a good name” (Sirach 41:15)

That is like your reputation. You model Christ. When you do something in contradiction to Christ’s life, you do not practice what you preach.


St. Paul speaks in hyperbole. It’s a rhetorical device whereby he exaggerates to call attention to something, in this case, to call attention to how serious sexual sin is and how it should not be made light of.

That said, you really need to stop asking these kinds of questions here and take these issues to your priest and mental health professional. It’s just going to keep feeding your compulsions for you to keep posting about things like this.



Think about it. Both Paul and Jesus Himself talked about sin. It cannot be a sin to talk about sin. You are focusing like a laser on the meaning of one sentence divorced from the whole of Scripture, which if you have OCD should be a clue that your condition is messing with you.



If we open up the passage we find the correct exegesis:

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: 4 Or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose; but rather giving of thanks. 5 For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. 7 Be ye not therefore partakers with them. (Ephesians 5)

What is being Taught is that being in Fellowship with God means giving up immorality–the sinful life must be removed from the Christian heart and mind; we must not engage sin, encourage others to sin, and not even associate ourselves with sin/people who embrace sin.

Any sin is an act against God, our neighbor, and ourselves. We know from the various scandals that the Church has faltered greatly; we know from our own personal experiences how we have faltered greatly. We must remain pristine in the Presence of God, at all times. Yet, since we are imperfect we falter. God does not condone failure. Yet, He Forgives. Still, our responsibility is not to engage sin or support it in anyway. We must shun it; rebuke it, eradicated it from our midst.

Maran atha!



Really? So reading the Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia would be sinful?


This is not a helpful answer for someone with OCD.

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