Intentional sin and confession

I did a quick search on this but I wasn’t really sure what to search for, so I’m sorry if this has been well covered.

My question is: is confession valid if you intentionally sin and then go to confession? In other words, during the act of sinning, you have confession in mind. I ask this because it seems hypocritical to me to do this. But on the other hand, confession forgives mortal sin. Perhaps when you go to confession, if you confess that not only did you sin but you sinned with confession in mind, then that might be two separate mortal sins?

I don’t think I’ve been very clear so I’ll give an example. A man is tempted to fornicate, and he knows this is a bad thing. But then he think to himself “well it’s ok, I’ll just go to confession tomorrow and I’ll be fine”. And off he goes… And then the next day he goes to confession and confesses that he has fornicated with a woman.

Hopefully I’ve explained enough. Thanks in advance for all of your replies!! :wink:

I’ve heard of people with this attitude, and yes, it’s Hypocritical. I remember as a young kid overhearing my mom’s cousin (not Catholic) saying there were women she worked with saying, ‘So what if we’re sinning, we’ll go to confession this weekend and be OK.’ :confused:

Of course when we sin, it is a deliberate act on our part. But then on reflection we realize,"I gave in to temptation again. :frowning: I must confess my sin and ask God for forgivness.

Kotton :thumbsup:

This is a criticism of Catholicism I often heard from my family growing up. (We were Wesleyan Holiness folks and saw both Baptists and Catholics as practicing a “sinning religion.”) My grandparents had done quite a lot of evangelistic work in the industrial cities of northern England, where there’s a strong working-class Catholic presence. Many of the young people they worked with seemed to have some such attitude–they could fornicate and do drugs and what not, but they still saw themselves as Catholics and were wary of my grandparents’ efforts to help them. Those aspects of my family’s anticatholicism that were not just generic Protestant prejudice stemmed from this experience.

Anyway, I think the correct answer to your question is that yes, you would need to repent both of fornication and of the sin of presumption (presuming, that is, that God would give you the grace of repentance rather than cutting you off in your sins). If you truly repented of both these things, then God would forgive you. But here’s the catch–the more you sinned in that kind of deliberate, presumptuous way, the more your heart would harden and the harder it would be to repent. Eventually you might reach a point of such contempt for God’s grace that you were no longer capable of repenting. And that’s a truly terrifying thought.

Edwin

[quote=Contarini]Anyway, I think the correct answer to your question is that yes, you would need to repent both of fornication and of the sin of presumption (presuming, that is, that God would give you the grace of repentance rather than cutting you off in your sins). If you truly repented of both these things, then God would forgive you. But here’s the catch–the more you sinned in that kind of deliberate, presumptuous way, the more your heart would harden and the harder it would be to repent. Eventually you might reach a point of such contempt for God’s grace that you were no longer capable of repenting. And that’s a truly terrifying thought.

Edwin
[/quote]

Very well stated. The sin of presumption is also the assuming that God will save you no matter what you do - a common thought among Protestants. Something that seems always forgotten concerning confession is that the valid reception of the sacrament is a response to God’s grace. The origin of the action is not in you, you are cooperating with the Holy Spirit working in you. Another forgotten element is the sinner must be intent on not sinning again. If for some reason a sinner goes to confession with the intent to sin again, thinking confession is a free ticket to sin again because you can always go to confession… the confession is invalid and a sin against the sacrament - sacrilege.

The sin of presumption is terrible for both Catholics and Protestants.

Thanks for the responses guys, I think I pretty much understand. And it’s pretty much what I thought it would be, too! Thanks again.

Yes, it is unfortunately common, and it is perhaps the greatest heresy prevalent among Protestants (with the possible exception of the “prosperity Gospel”). However, the major Protestant traditions agree that it is a heresy. The mainstream Reformed and Lutherans agree that someone with true faith will make progress in sanctification and will not remain wilfully in a state of serious sin. The more “Arminian” traditions such as Wesleyans (the tradition from which I come) and Anabaptists are closer to the Catholic view. Not even all Baptists hold the view you mention–many of them are much closer to the Reformed, saying that if someone persists in serious sin they were “never saved in the first place.”

That isn’t contradicting your point at all. I say it only because many Catholics think that the heretical views voiced by some contemporary evangelicals (especially Baptists) are mainstream Protestantism (this often stems from a misreading of Luther’s rhetoric).

Edwin

I don’t think I really have anything to add that hasn’t been said before, but there’s a verse in the book of Sirach that I thought applied to this situation:

“Do not be so confident of forgiveness that you add sin to sin” (Sirach 5:5).

Let’s tease out the elements in this:

[list]
*]I’m tempted to fornicate
*]“This is a bad thing - fornication is a sin
*]…and I know it is
*]…and I admit it is…”
*]"…It’s confession tomorrow - I’ll be fine…"
*]…“I’ll do it”
*]I fornicate
*]I go to confession
*]“Father, I committed fornication, yesterday”
[/list]I would not like to be me in that frame of mind :slight_smile:

Because sinning with the intention of getting the sin absolved is itself sinful - and the sin is made worse if one realises what one is doing.

The sacrament of reconciliation is a worthless sham, if the penitent lacks true sorrow for sin committed - he will not have his sins forgiven if he abuses the sacrament in this manner; far from it: his guilt will be increased, because he is using a holy ordinance of Christ in a frivolous manner, and is committing a sacrilege by confessing sins without sorrow for them. And sorrow for sin includes all sins, leaving none of them out - either one repents for all sins committed; or is not repentant at all. What one is doing, is making a bad confession, and trampling the Blood of Christ underfoot. Sorrow for sin is so necessary for this sacrament, that without it, the sacrament does not exist.

This assumes, of course, that the fornicator has not repented by the time he goes to the sacrament. He is committing a sin by intending to fornicate and then to go to confession, so that sin needs confessing; but he will not be committing a sacrilege (see above) provided that he is sorry for all his sins (including his fornication and the sin of thought just described) by the time he enters the confessional.

To sin with the thought that one can be forgiven, is to presume that God will forgive one - & that one will have the opportunity to repent. God owes us:
[list]
*]neither forgiveness
*]nor opportunity to repent
*]nor the grace of repentance:
[/list]so such a thought is itself sinful & rash.

Obviously one can’t confess every sin one has ever committed - so the sorrow for sin includes being sorry for all sins. So if one remembers a sin after being absolved, that sorrow means one will not intend to do it, and that one will intend to avoid all occasions of it so far as, aided by God, one can. The point being, that absolution is valid only if one intends to avoid sin in the future - so absolution of a Christian who has no firm intention to turn from his sins, is worthless; we do not have to be successful in not sinning again: that’s blindingly obvious - but there must be the intention not to sin again, and reliance on God to help us to avoid it.

ISTM that we would have a far better understanding of sin if we avoid the sort of minimalism that requires us to keep clear of mortal sin and do little more than that; as if that were the whole of Christian life. Maybe this minimalism has gone - one can hope so

To go to confession in the frame of mind you describe is worrying; it implies one has forgotten that God is Holy, and can’t be deceived. It implies that one forgets that Christ died for our sins - and if they had that effect, they must be terrible indeed. The sacrament is not like a drive-through car wash - it’s a means of interior renewal, by the grace of Christ, by grace which He merited for us through His Passion, and which He secures for us by His unceasing intercession as our High Priest in Heaven. We have every reason to treat this sacrament with enormous reverence. And if we do what your description describes, we aren’t showing much reverence for it - if anything, we are showing the hatred we have for Christ, because we are treating Him as a deadly enemy. Which is not exactly compatible with loving Him, as He requires of us :frowning: ##

I completely agree. However, in case someone is reading this and starts to despair because they know they’ve done this, I thought I’d chime in. I think that one of the key words you used above is “rash.” If you’re habitually sinning with the constant presumption that God will forgive you, i.e., you’re acting like God owes you something, then there’s a huge problem. If you’re sorely tempted to the point of compulsion and not allowing yourself to think straight, though, then it’s very possible for your mind to jump to all kinds of rationalizations. It doesn’t lessen the wrongness of the thinking, but I think it changes the situation a little. I think someone in the latter situation is more likely after the fact to recognize and feel sorrow for the sinfulness of both the act and the rationalization.

I just want to add - for my own piece of mind - that my question was not one of my own experience. It was a “what if” question rather than an “I’ve done this” question… I know it doesn’t really matter but a couple of the replies have worried me a little bit… Like I said the replies were basically what I was expecting, I just didn’t know the official teaching and was enquiring as to what it was. I once read in a book somebody acting in this matter, and thought at the time how hypocritical it was. Also my dad has expressed his disgust at people who do this but his thinking was that the Church allows it. Now I can tell him that the Church does not allow it, but rather condemns it. Thanks again everyone.

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