Is thinking hypothetically of committing a mortal sin a mortal sin?


#1

I’m a scrupulous person who used to struggle a lot with masturbation. Thankfully I have been able to live free of this sin for some time and plan on never doing it again(as well as any mortal sin). But my scrupulous self had a problem yesterday. I’ma college theology student and I was sitting in my sacraments class and my professor was talking about the sacrament of reconciliation and mortal vs. venial sin. I was thinking to myself how I never want to commit a mortal sin again but that I know I will commit venial sins again and for some reason a thought popped into my head “If masturbation was only a venial sin, would you do it?” Immediately a voice inside my head (i’m not sure if it was even 100% voluntary, it happened so fast) said "well I guess I would" And immediately I felt really guilty for that thought since masturbation is a mortal sin. and intending to commit a mortal sin is a mortal sin. So now I’m worried that by thinking I would do it if it were venial, I’ve still consented to mortal sin. I know this sounds silly cause I know that masturbation will never be a venial sin since it is grave matter. But I’m a very hypothetical person, I constantly think of “what if” situations and this was just one of them

I keep telling myself that I’m not in mortal sin though because:

  1. I wasn’t actually intneding on masturbating

  2. The thought happened pretty fast and I didn’t have sufficient reflection

  3. deep down I have decided I will never masturbate again cause I don’t want to ever go down that road again and God knows that

  4. My hypothetical thought was based on a condition,a condition that masturbation was a venial sin and (even though I know that’s never going to be) if we stay in that hypothetical situation for a moment I wasn’t planning on sinning mortally


#2

Sounds rather like a pesky scruple.

In order to commit a mortal sin one needs all three aspects -grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate (complete) consent. All sorts of thoughts can happen to one out of the blue and there not be any sin (one just turns to something else and does not consent).

On an aside: If I think sitting here - "if stealing from a bank was not a sin I would do it?" - Would that be a sin? - well I do not think that would be a sin per se. Though I would not suggest asking deliberately "if it was venial would I do it". And certainly theft is less tempting than things contrary to the 6th and 9th commandments -so I would not deliberately engage such questions.

Such "what if" thinking as you noted is not a road to go down. Those sorts of questions.

But in this case it sounds like the thoughts just "happened" and as you realized what they were you did not consent but continued in virtue...

Make sure you have a* regular confessor *to assist you as you note you struggle with scrupulosity. He can direct you in this and assist you in your path ahead.


#3

[quote="singer878, post:1, topic:342898"]
I'm a scrupulous person who used to struggle a lot with masturbation. Thankfully I have been able to live free of this sin for some time and plan on never doing it again(as well as any mortal sin).

[/quote]

Congratulations on overcoming this sin. :thumbsup:

But my scrupulous self had a problem yesterday. I'ma college theology student and I was sitting in my sacraments class and my professor was talking about the sacrament of reconciliation and mortal vs. venial sin. I was thinking to myself how I never want to commit a mortal sin again but that I know I will commit venial sins again and for some reason a thought popped into my head "If masturbation was only a venial sin, would you do it?" Immediately a voice inside my head (i'm not sure if it was even 100% voluntary, it happened so fast) said "well I guess I would"

I know what you mean here about thoughts coming so fast...This sort of thing happens to all of us. No need to be worried at this point.

And immediately I felt really guilty for that thought since masturbation is a mortal sin. and intending to commit a mortal sin is a mortal sin.

Actually this is inaccurate...in the "what if" scenario you "intended" to commit a venial sin... not a mortal one.

So now I'm worried that by thinking I would do it if it were venial, I've still consented to mortal sin. I know this sounds silly cause I know that masturbation will never be a venial sin since it is grave matter. But I'm a very hypothetical person, I constantly think of "what if" situations and this was just one of them

I keep telling myself that I'm not in mortal sin though because:

  1. I wasn't actually intneding on masturbating

  2. The thought happened pretty fast and I didn't have sufficient reflection

  3. deep down I have decided I will never masturbate again cause I don't want to ever go down that road again and God knows that

  4. My hypothetical thought was based on a condition,a condition that masturbation was a venial sin and (even though I know that's never going to be) if we stay in that hypothetical situation for a moment I wasn't planning on sinning mortally

You have obviously thought this through and done so properly. No need to worry...

As BC says above, do take this to your regular confessor. If you express your thinking to him like you have to us (points 1-4) I'm sure he will totally agree.

Also - this kind of good reasoning shows good growth and coming to terms with your scruples.

Congratulations on that.

Peace
James


#4

Singer878, I don't mean to hijack your thread, but I have a question that is similar to yours. What if you intend to commit a mortal sin, but then you don't follow through with it? Have you still committed a sin?


#5

Yes that's a no brainer. If you're fully intending to commit a mortal sin but don't do it, you've already turned away from God and consented to separating yourself from him and his love.


#6

[quote="lalindsay225, post:4, topic:342898"]
Singer878, I don't mean to hijack your thread, but I have a question that is similar to yours. What if you intend to commit a mortal sin, but then you don't follow through with it? Have you still committed a sin?

[/quote]

If I intend to say knock off a bank -- with full knowledge and deliberate consent then all things being equal that is a moral sin.

Even if I later repent of it or am prevented from doing so.

The first is better than the later (for one stopped oneself! and is turning again towards God) but I will still need to bring the matter to confession.


#7

From the Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

  1. When does one commit a mortal sin?

1855-1861
1874

One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

  1. When does one commit a venial sin?

1862-1864
1875

One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html


#8

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