Lies: When Are They Grave Matter?

I’m having a very hard time understanding this. When are lies considered Grave Matter?

Here are two examples. Are either of these grave matter?

1.) A man is selling gas at a gas window at the gas station. A customer comes up and says “It sure is cold out here! It’s sure warm in there! Don’t you guys have a wood stove?” The gas attendant says “Yep!” But the attendant really didn’t know.

2.) A man is approached by two beggars in a car. They ask him if he can give them some money for gas, but the man says he doesn’t really have any. The man had money, but was afraid of the beggars.

Lies: When Are They Grave Matter?


2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

(one classic example is if one lied with an oath in court)

So with that little snippet/cheat sheet from the Catechism it would seem (from my probably poor interpretation) that the first example I posted would only be Venial. The second one has me more confused though. :confused:

For the umpteenth time-- get some spiritual direction from your pastor regarding your spiritual confusion. It is the best way to begin understanding these things and dealing with scruples.

The second is still venial; I don’t like to give money to homeless on the streets in case they spend it on drugs (a debate for another day, but I’d rather buy them a coffee and sandwich which I do sometimes do).

An example of a lie being a mortal sin might be if you stole a car and then lied that your friend was the actual thief. Or, if you lied about being a qualified nurse and got a job in a hospital.

Edited to remove first sentance…**

Would u have thought telling a homeless stranger,–" yes I have money but don’t want to give it to you" helpful in any way?
That’s being honest…but not wise,at all, and may have put you in danger.

You have to see the effects of your words and actions to discern if they are sinful or not.

You have to use common sense–When determining if something is sinful, grave or venial.

If the lie is directed towards something which is itself gravely unjust or uncharitable, as the CCC alludes to.

If you are trying to hurt someone badly with a lie, or there is a special condition (like you took an oath not to lie, such as in court,) then it is mortal sin.

OP - If you want to worry about something that **might **be sinful, consider the sloth and foolishness that is present in failing to heed literally a hundred iterations of the same advice to go be proactive in educating yourself and getting someone to talk to in real life.

My 2 cents. :shrug:

Or if an innocent man was being tried for a capitol offense, and you testified against him despite knowing he is innocent.

The point is that telling a white lie to avoid an awkward conversation is not something God will send you to Hell over.

Sometimes you need to use common sense.

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