If a person is coerced into committing a sin, does God still hold him as culpable?

Here is the scenario. Say someone is forced to commit a mortal sin (such as murder), maybe him is told by the person forcing him that if he did not do it than his family will be killed. Will they still be held accountable in the eyes of God?

And for the sake of the scenario, let’s say that the only way to ensure the safety of the family is to do what the person holding them hostage asked.

If the man complies to save his family, is he guilty of sin?

If the man refuses, does he share responsibility for the death of his family?

Serious sin is always evil. He would be guilty of mortal sin. But, would he be fully culpable?Only God would know! We are not allowed to do a bad thing even for a good outcome. The person would not be consenting fully, so that might reduce his culpability, but he would need to see a priest for confession.

He would not be responsible for the death of his family if he refused to commit a mortal sin. The act of killing his family is committed by another person and he did not participate in it. If his family died as a result, that would be out of his hands.

That’s not a good example of forcing someone to sin so let’s change it up. Someone puts a gun to your head and tells you to kill your family or he will kill you. Now that’s using force. However, there are three conditions in order to commit a mortal sin: Grave matter, full knowledge, and full consent of the will. The latter condition is not satisfied under duress and so it is not possible for this sin to be mortal if you should kill your family to save yourself.

You know how they say there are no stupid questions? Yeah, that doesn’t apply here.

I’m just kidding friend. But seriously, why are you wasting time with questions like this. Go pray or something. Go read Sacred Scripture or do good works or study the lives of the Saints.

Did God hold Adam responsible? Yes. That is your answer for most any coercion scenario you’ll run into. Unless you’re a super spy or drug runner or something.

Peace and love to you -


In order for it be considered a Mortal Sin, he would need to meet the ‘culpability’ criteria which he doesn’t because he was placed under duress.

If he killed an innocent person (in contrast to somebody who is a mortal threat) he is responsible for murder. If he did it under extreme stress, his culpability would probably be lessened. It’s not the same thing to commit per-meditated murder versus “in the heat of the moment.” Even man’s law recognizes as much. But it’s still murder, either way.

If the man chose not to murder and his own family was murdered instead, his choice not to murder in no way caused his family’s murder. The moral culpability rests on the one doing the murdering. There’s a saying “the buck stops here.” The moral responsibility of your actions lies on you, not anyone else.

Consider that the person who murdered the others’ family might have anyway, no matter what actions the other person would have taken. The actions of one man are not directly responsible for the actions of the other.

You’re going to get the same answers as you did in the other thread with a different scenario. If this is something you a really concerned about might I suggest submitting your direct question to one of the apologists here.

For the sake of the scenario, lets say the man falls down in prayer and seeks guidance from God. God responds by telling him if he does not comply, he doesn’t have to worry about the question in the first place.

too bad everyone doesn’t have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, they’d find the answer to questions like this right there - in black and white.

It would be better to say that it is possible for the sin to not be mortal. Committing a mortal sin under duress does not automatically absolve you of responsibility. It might reduce your guilt but that’s not the same thing.

I responded to a very similar thread. Is this the same poster? If so you need more serious spiritual advice than you can obtain here.
My response is the same as my last. It is morally wrong to do evil to achieve good. You cannot kill your family which you have an absolute duty to protect because someone is threatening your life. Your only option is to die fighting for their lives even if all is fruitless. This requires courage, but is the only option.

No, I stand by what I said. All three conditions must be unambiguously satisfied before a sin can be considered mortal. If one of the conditions is lacking then it is not possible for the sin to be mortal.

:thumbsup: Exactly what my Priest said about Mortal Sin.

this sounds like a contradiction to me
its like saying if i did a sin but i didnt know did i still sin
well yes, because you did a sin as you just said

This might be important in an academic, theological conversation, but let us not lose sight of the fact that we are not called to be average or “not too sinful”, but to be saints. Regardless of the status as mortal sin or not, killing, raping or otherwise hurting someone, even under duress, for whatever purpose, is not saintly, nor what we are called to do as Christians.

Yes, exactly. There is a possibility, but that possibility is in no way a guarantee. It also is not a possibility a person should be willing to take, especially considering the person would be further victimizing and innocent person when they can refuse.

If there is no consent of the will, than logic would dictate that he is not committing a sin. Thanks for answering my question.

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