Does mental illness give a ‘free pass’ for sin?


If one is delusional or severely manic (or depressed), do their actions somehow not constitute sin?

e.g. if they lacked the discernment to control the behavior


They would not know right from wrong I suppose so it is not intentional sin


They know right from wrong. It’s their will which gets affected

Btw OP I wouldn’t call it a free pass.


I think it would depend on if a person’s free will has been compromised. If it has, I don’t know if it would completely absolve the person of guilt, and it definitely wouldn’t change anything for the person(s) harmed by the act in question, but it might be a mitigating factor, and perhaps a reason to send the mentally ill person to a hospital where they’ll be treated as a patient instead of to a prison where they’ll be treated as a criminal.


Mortal sin requires free consent of the will to commit evil. To the extent that mental illness interferes with consent, their culpability is diminished.

Merely having a mental illness does not excuse sin, but diminished capacity to consent.


I have a cousin who’s mentally impaired and I’ve wondered this myself. I don’t think she realizes what she does most of the time.

I get depressed sometimes and bad thoughts come up. I guess self-hatred is a sin? I just assume loving oneself is self-centered, narcissistic, and prideful.


I get that feeling a lot, too. Less so in the past few years, as I’ve made considerable progress towards dealing with my issues, but it still crops up from time to time. Loving someone else is easy; loving yourself is often much more difficult.


I think about this. I would never tell someone else the things I tell myself. I would never wish that upon another person. So… Why do I say those things to myself?


Maybe there’s less guilt when you’re only hurting yourself instead of someone else? Or sometimes there’s worse guilt. I guess it’s different for all of us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about mental illness, it’s that it doesn’t behave rationally. I often know the thoughts going through my head are irrational…but that doesn’t stop them from existing, and unlike my mind, my emotions don’t listen to reason.


That’s the thing, one shouldn’t act off emotions/feelings alone because then you’re just a mess. I’ve been thinking about some things more logically. Though still doesn’t help all the time, when I feel down I still feel down. I can reason on why I feel this way and reason against using bad coping mechanisms.


I’m sure Jesus judges completely fairly and also provides grace to these people just as He does to everyone else. It would be impossible for us to confidently answer this question because there are so many different types of mental illness and mental impairments.

By the way jtwp5 loving yourself is not prideful etc, it is healthy and wonderful. Remember God made you, so how can God make anything useless or worthwhile or unlovable? He is after all perfect. He made you to be loved, even by yourself. You aren’t wrong though, as certain ways people act in society (which is disordered and generally pretty unhappy so don’t listen to them!! listen to the Bible instead) when they think they love themselves is not attractive… but real love, like Jesus shows us is healthy and good and good for you. It does not depend on looking good or having things, it depends on the dignity of being human, something God gave us that no one can take from us and any one who tries is not behaving well. Every human has that dignity, no matter who they are or are not. Every one of us deserves to be loved, just because we are God’s creatures and for no other reason (even though there are other reasons - that is enough).


I’m epileptic. People like me in Jesus’ day (or really until within the last century or so) would have thought me insane, possessed, deserving of this as punishment for sin, or evil. My body does not do this of free will for sure, but that was not established until recently. Even then we have virtually no idea of how to stop epilepsy all we do is treat the symptoms. Some of these drugs were developed for, or found to be effective for, such other things as bipolarism to name one. Some are pretty crude and I’ve been on a combination before that caused me to completely lose any sense of balance; I’d get up and literally slump to the floor even though I could crawl around and do anything else.

So, I’d implore you to keep that in mind and there are still conditions I’d suspect are of a more subtle but none the less similar nature.


If a man has a mental illness that prevents him from understanding or controlling his actions then he is not morally responsible for them. That’s why most countries have an Insanity Defense in court; it’s wrong to punish someone for something he can’t control.

Having said that, I’d hardly call that a “free pass”. Having a disability of that severity sounds more like a heavy cross.


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