General sins of thought

Hi there.

I was reading information on the internet from a website regarding mortal sins of though and at what stage a thought becomes a mortal sin.

The scenario used is that of a business man who is thinking about carrying out mortally sinful revenge on his competition in business.

In the scenario it was said that the business man, despite how long he imagines this scenario, taking sinful enjoyment in the thought will not be guilty of mortal sin unless he either:

  • thinks in his mind that what he is doing is sinful and refuses to put it from his mind, or
  • makes a definite decision to actually carry out the revenge.

There are other scenarios mentioned, like if the thought was further planning of a previous decision that it would automatically become a mortal sin.

My question is, what if the business man was not aware that it was gravely sinful to take pleasure in such thoughts and therefore he would never make a conscious decision that he should put those thoughts out of his mind. His conscience might be aware that it would be sinful to actually carry out the act, but he might not be aware of the sinfulness of actually THNKING about revenge.

In this case is it a mortal sin.

I don’t think the same situation would arise in purposely thinking impure thoughts as I would imagine that we would all have some idea of the gravity of the act.

What are your thoughts…

if he is catholic, he should be aware. if he isn’t aware, then it’s not a sin, iirc. this is my biggest temptation, sins of thought, usually in lust. i didn’t know it was sinful until i became catholic. now i have to constantly be aware, pray and confess, if they get the better of me.

So someone planning to rob a bank, when, how, getaway etc. breaks his leg & can’t go ahead with the job…hasn’t sinned? …nah, I don’t think so! :dts:

A guy looking at a girl & imagining how she looks naked has already “lusted in his heart.”

That’s not how I was taught. I was taught that taking pleasure in it - consciously and deliberately - would be sinful. Maybe only venially, though. Being tempted to do it, or tempted to take pleasure in thinking about it, however, would only be temptations if not willfully given into. It’s a subtle difference, but it depends on whether you “savor” it or fight against it and do your best to put it out of your mind. And it may try to come back, but if you resist, again, no sin.

Possibly. But it sounds like already a bad choice was made. Expanding on it is just adding a new sin. Or maybe it’s taking a venial sin to a mortal sin - example, your competitor owns a hardware store and you go in and steal a few small nuts and bolts out of the bins because your store is out of stock and you can make a sale at your competitor’s expense. Venial. OR . . . you commit arson and burn his building down. Mortal. Both revenge, but drastically different levels of wrong.

No, if he didn’t know it was wrong to entertain the thoughts, then he isn’t guilty. He’s resisting the temptation to commit the acts, so for the level of conscience development he has (i.e., not knowing the subtleties about bad thoughts) he’s doing okay. He could be doing better, because he’s unwittingly putting himself in a near occasion of sin, but he hasn’t yet actually sinned.

That depends on the person. We all have our individual areas of strength and weakness. Think of the Seven Deadly Sins and how some struggle more with one than another. Some may not have much trouble with lust or gluttony, but a terrible time with envy, anger, or greed - and others may have trouble with pride and sloth. And all sorts of combinations.

What if someone knows that something is wrong but is not aware that it is seriously wrong . I.e. is not aware of the gravity

Due to your noted scrupulosity - it can be best for you to discuss this all in terms of yourself -with your regular confessor. A regular confessor is the age old practice in terms of such. And those with scrupulosity may need to be given particular principles that others would not follow. General principles to apply due to their particular scruples.

not culpable. but if there is any question in their mind…

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