Playfully Hurting/Injuring Others?

The topic title probably sounds extreme, but it’s the best thing I could come up with, without making it excessively long.

Oftentimes, while spending time with friends and acquaintances, we will playfully hurt/injure each other. Think Three Stooges-esque slapping, pinching, and maybe occasionally punching, or other pain compliance techniques. It’s all done in good fun, and nobody ever really gets upset about it.

However, reading through an Examination of Conscience, I see “unjustly injuring another” listed under the mortal sin category. Aside from the occasional bruise or cut, we never really do any sort of physical damage to one another. Still, I am concerned that this behavior may be considered mortally sinful, or perhaps just venially sinful, given the relative lack of severity.

Does anyone have any input on this matter?

I think you and your friends need to stop this kind of behavior. You are not the three stooges who were trained to act that way. If people are ending up with bruises and cuts then it has gone too far and needs to stop. You are treading on thin ice.

Friends roughhouse all the time.

The Examination of Conscience is referring more towards bullying, attacking, things done with malicious intent. If your friends are asking you to stop, and you intentionally assault them, you might be doing something that qualifies as mortal sin. But that doesn’t sound like what you described.

You and your friends need to stop this. This kind of thing can go very tragically wrong in an instant. One turn of the head, or trip over someone’s foot, or infected cut, can lead to serious injury or even death. This is not normal fun, so please stop.

One time some friends wanted to “kidnap” me during the night. It was an initiation prank for the swim team. My dad said no. He told them he knew I would fight to escape if I especially did not know what was going on, and if someone in the house did not try to help me. He knew I would assume the worst and fight for my life, even to death.

One of the reason’s he was so aware of this possibility was something that happened when he was a young boy. Some kids “kidnapped” a girl from school as part of a graduation prank. She jumped out of the bed of the truck, landed on her head and died at the scene.

So, scaring people, slapping or punching in fun, is not a good idea. It can go wrong. Try to find something else to do. Avoid an unnecessary tragedy.

I’d add two thoughts:

  1. Injury is not just physical - it can be emotional, financial, etc.

  2. There is a middle ground between doing something justly and unjustly. It may not be just to playfully hit friends, but does that necessarily make it unjust? I would think it was morally neutral, so long as no one took offense (i.e. if someone asks you to stop and you do not relent).

You know, there is no such thing as “playfully hurting.” There is an underlying intent to cause pain and physical discomfort. I think you need new friends or stop post haste as it is a serious behavior in ANY relationship. Do you think Jesus went around whacking on the 12 Apostles? Nope, and you shouldn’t either. Think WWJD.

What part of this behavior is fun? It becomes too easy for someone to hit you too hard and then say “I was only kidding”.

You need to stop this behavior. Besides the physical (which sounds like overdone abuse) people will not say when they don’t like a behavior so you will assume that they don’t have any problem with it. Think! This is not normal behavior and would be a venial sin at best.

It becomes a sin, when one punches too hard, but does not own up with an apology.

Hitting each other to the point of having cuts and bruises is not normal behaviour even for friends…if you did that to a stranger in the street or to a spouse it would be classed as abuse and assault and you would be arrested…

You need to get away from these friends…if they make you think this behaviour is normal or harmless then they are a bad influence for you


Well stated.

I’m not quite sure what the OP means, but I’ll suggest that it may not be as black and white as some comments so far suggest. Consider for example the morality of being involved in certain sports. Putting aside things like boxing or MMA, more thinking about sports like soccer, football (American, Rugby League, Rugby Union, etc), basketball, etc, where there is a high level of physicality and yes injuries, cuts and bruises, etc, are inevitable. No one seriously suggests that being involved in these sports is sinful (though they can be played in a sinful manner), yet they incur precisely the sort of “occasional bruise or cut” that the OP refers to. And this goes for both organised games or “pick-up” games.

So it depends somewhat on the context of this “rough-housing”. If you’re sitting around punching each other for no real reason, it just sounds dumb and I’d agree with others that you should cut it out, but if you’re playing some games in a slightly rough way, it may be understandable.

And others make fair points too about whether the injuries are purely physical, or whether some people might be hurt on other ways by all this. Some people aren’t cut out for the emotional impact of high contact sports (if that’s the context here) and care must be taken. If it’s not in the context of some sport or game, then cut it out.

It can be a lot of fun. Male friendship contains this element in may things. We punch each other on the arms, dare each other to take gut shots. Childish? sure, but still part of men’s friendships. At least some friendships. Many of my friends and I will go paintballing. And I assure you it freaking hurts! But yet we have weapons that inflict quite a bit of pain. Sometimes breaking the skin but definitely leaving welts. Is paintballing sinful? I sure hope not!

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