This is a more technical question regarding habitual sin and its status as Mortal.
The three conditions which make a sin mortal are:
- The sin must be of a grave and serious nature
- There must be full knowledge (that it is a grave sin)
- There must be full consent of the will (in committing the sin)
This kind of sin is called mortal because it destroys the life of the Holy Spirit within our souls, and leaves us disconnected from God in a broken relationship with Him. It is therefore necessary that these three things be present in the act. It must be deeply offensive to Him, we must be aware that what we are doing is deeply offensive to Him, and we must act in full disregard that what we are doing deeply offends Him, or in deliberate defiance of and hatred toward Him.
My question concerns the third condition and its presence in habitual sins. I am wondering if, in habitual sin, full consent of the will is present? It seems to me that it cannot be.
I consider this to be an extremely relevant question in today’s world. Often, especially in men, sexual sins like the viewing of pornography and masturbation, which are both very grave sins, begin to become habitual during early adolescence. Such habits may remain with them for their entire lives, despite giving serious and prolonged effort to overcome them.
Can people in such circumstances, who have had such grievous sins become daily or weekly habit, be thought to be committing mortal sin when they, despite working hard to avoid the sin, fall into it anyway? Might we argue that they have not desired to cut themselves off from God, to hate Him, nor have they meant to disregard the fact that the sin offends Him?
I do not mean to make excuses for indulging a habit. Rather, I call to question whether such people ought to avoid Communion, wherein they may receive the greatest strengths and graces to overcome such sins. I would continue to encourage regular confession, and continue to fight the urge to indulge, but could the case be made that, if having fallen to the sin, and being unable to go to confession prior to Sunday Mass, due to whatever circumstances, such people might be able to receive in good conscience?
It’s a question that has been on my mind for some time now, and I appreciate whatever thoughts are offered.