Question about mortal sin?

I’ve had some discussions about mortal sin in the past. I once characterized mortal sin as a semi-regular thing whereby Catholics believe they lose their salvation and regain it through confession to a priest. The response was that Catholics don’t commit mortal sin very frequently; after all, it’s only some of the really serious stuff like, say, murder or adultery. The average Catholic (according to this person) will commit mortal sin, at most, around three to five times in a lifetime. If that. Many will be in the zero to three range.

This brought to mind some of the things Jesus said in the Beatitudes, specifically looking in Matthew 5. Among other things, he said this:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

And, of course, this:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Does this put lust/masturbation on the level of mortal sin, along with anger toward a brother? Surely murder and adultery are mortal sins by Catholic definition, and if that’s the case, Jesus’ statements about being “subject to judgment” and “in danger of the fire of hell” must, at some level, be seen as equating anger with the sin of murder, and on the flip side, lust with adultery. Does this mean these things, equated with murder and adultery, are mortal sins along with them? Or do you somehow see the former being equated with the latter at one level, yet not included with them among mortal sins? If that’s the case, can you explain how that works?

If anger for your brother and lusting after a woman are mortal sins, just as murder and adultery are, would this cause you to significantly elevate your estimate for the number of mortal sins committed by the average Catholic throughout their life? What kind of range does that wind up falling in? I suppose it all depends on how you define “mortal sin” in light of these parts of the Beatitudes. If you want to look at it in context a little more, Jesus tells you other things like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and “let you yes be yes and your no be no.” You pretty much take it at face value and go with what He says. Just throwing that out there.

I guess this is the main question when it’s all said and done: Does Matthew 5 wind up contributing to your view of what mortal sin is?

The distinction between mortal and venial sin is not defined by the beaitudes. However, this passage has “some” import on the issue. First, a mere act, no matter how “grave” is not necessarily a mortal sin. The Catechism explains it fairly well:

**1854 **Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.
**1855 **Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.
Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.
**1856 **Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:
When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130
*1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131 *
**1858 **Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
**1859 **Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.
**1860 **Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.
**1861 **Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
**1862 **One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.
**1863 **Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. "Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness."134
While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.135 **1864 **"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."136 There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.137 Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.

The issue of “how many” mortal sin, or what is the “range” of mortal sins that a Catholic may commit in a lifetime is not merely dependant upon whether the act is “grave” but also whether it was done with “full knowledge and deliberate consent”. Some theologians speculate that it is very difficult to commit a mortal sin because of these factors (I tend to disagree). However these factors certainly make it a more difficult determination, if say someone commits an act considered “grave” out of passion, or addiction, or ignorance, or . . . well you get the picture.

The Catechism does define certain matters as “grave”, including masturbation, and pornography, so to that end, yes, Matthew 5 does have some relevance to the issue.

Because I expect some push back on the “masturbation” and “pornography” issues:

**2352 **By *masturbation *is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that **masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.”**137 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."138
To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

**2353 ***Fornication *is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.

**2354 Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.

(emphasis mine)

Typical sin has three components to consummate: knowledge, intent, commitment. Please notice action is not required. That I believe is your answer.

Now what is mortal sin verses venial sin - no one really knows. Some sins can be clearly be seen as violent crimes against the innocent = mortal, while refusing traffic laws or insignificant lies = venial. However since the actions of sin are a continual progression and intent and knowledge are internal no one can asses all sins. So we follow Christ’s instruction - repent your sins.

It would seem to be the same for non Catholics?

The response was that Catholics don’t commit mortal sin very frequently; after all, it’s only some of the really serious stuff like, say, murder or adultery. The average Catholic (according to this person) will commit mortal sin, at most, around three to five times in a lifetime. If that. Many will be in the zero to three range.

Your friend , although well meaning ( I am assuming) was incorrect.

I would be skeptical of saying that your average Catholic will only commit mortal sin 3-5 times in their life. Either that or I’m above average :stuck_out_tongue: Think about it, sex out of marriage, divorce, remarriage, contraception…all of those things are mortal sins. 90% of married Catholics use some form of artificial contraception. And I doubt they only use it 3 to 5 times in their lives. The divorce rate for Catholics is the same as everyone else, 50%. And many Catholics remarry (outside of the Church). As much as we would love those numbers to be that low, there is no way that they could be.

mmmcounts:

Newadvent.org index Sin has a good explaination.

AndyF

Divorce with remarriage is a mortal sin. Either one on their own are not mortal sins.

This is a common misconception. Divorce can be a mortal sin . It depends upon the situation.

**

**Divorce **
**2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.173 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.174 **
**Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death."175 **
**2383 The *separation ***of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law.176
**If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense. **
2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery: **
**If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.177 **
2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society. 2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.178


As a divorcee, what I was told by my priest and various representatives of the archdiocese is that re-marriage is what makes it sinful, because you end up committing adultery. As long as a divorcee lives a chaste life, because in the eyes of the Church they are married unless annulment is granted, then everything is A-Ok.

This intrigues me. How’s that going for you?

Any chance of you guys getting back together, or is that a really dumb question given your circumstances? What’s it take to get an annulment? Will you pursue one? What are the odds you’ll wind up being chaste the rest of your life?

I’m taking it a bit off-topic. All of that is probably covered on a half-dozen other threads. I’m still pretty interested in your specific experience, though. Anyway, here’s my attempt to do something on-topic that’s more for everyone: What’s happening inside your head during that time between where you lose your salvation and then regain it with a valid confession? Thoughts, feelings, emotions…what’s going on? I’ve gotten the perspective of people who’ve…swum backstroke across the Tiber away from Rome, I suppose. I’m curious to see what the Roman citizens in good standing will say.

Then I guess you should read the excerpt from the catechism that I provided.

Especially

**Divorce **is a grave offense against the natural law.

*That is the language used for sin. It may be that in your situation it was understood that you did not sin but otherwise it may be that they were just trying to comfort you . I don’t know. Church teaching is pretty clear right there. Like I said it depends upon the situation. There can be an innocent party. *

Sacramental marriages are convenient with god entered by two spouses, non sacramental marriages are improper attempts to answer god’s call except in the rare circumstance that proper marriage understanding is not available.

The situations vary greatly

  • Why has this man become violate, alcoholic, drug addicted, or disappeared, etc., etc.
  • Why has this woman become violate, alcoholic, drug addicted, or disappeared, etc., etc.
    In some cases, certainly not all, one spouse is properly living the vocation of marriage and the other is destroying the family either willfully or through a disorder means as drug addiction. These cases place the proper spouse in the poor situation of assume all protection responsibilities for the children and themself. These condition can require the proper spouse to seek civil divorce for protection( mental, physical, emotional, etc)

I will not ask and please do not tell, why you are in a state of civil divorce. Remember the church has always taught celibacy to all the unmarried, so all are restricted to sexual relations to their marriage partner, thus the advice you are receiving.

In the absence of a serious reason by which one spouse must protect themself and the children, then the two should live as one. Many times spouses who have been unable to fulfill their emotional unity live as brother and sister thus providing the proper up bring for children. Often the spouses live together for life in less than perfect unity however they attempt to full fill their convenient as best as is available in their situation. We as an outsider rarely if ever would know the “unity” of any marriage.

It is not our place to ask about Carlion’s path whether it is straight and narrow or long and winding it is Carlion’s path and not ours.

It takes a review of the original conditions around the marriage to see if evidence exists that one or both parties was unwilling, unknowing, or did not understand the true meaning of marriage, and thus entered the convenient improperly

Will you pursue one? What are the odds you’ll wind up being chaste the rest of your life?

Excuse me if I do not ask about your sex life in return

I’m taking it a bit off-topic. All of that is probably covered on a half-dozen other threads. I’m still pretty interested in your specific experience, though. Anyway, here’s my attempt to do something on-topic that’s more for everyone: What’s happening inside your head during that time between where you lose your salvation and then regain it with a valid confession?

I am so glad to know you understand salvation is not a once saved always saved method. How do you know Carlion has lost salvation?

Thoughts, feelings, emotions…what’s going on? I’ve gotten the perspective of people who’ve…swum backstroke across the Tiber away from Rome, I suppose. I’m curious to see what the Roman citizens in good standing will say.

We say it is a shame that rather than live per God’s plan some turn to other who also refuse the difficult parts of God’s plan and offer to God a partial compliance plan as a counter offer.

Hope that answers your questions sufficiently

I don’t believe I deserve such censure. I did not ask about her path. Just corrected her statement and provided the church teaching for her to look at and weigh against what she was told.And also for others to read so that they do not think divorce is no big deal. In fact I acknowledged that perhaps those who knew her situation might have seen her as an innocent party.

Not to mention missing Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin…between missing Mass on Sundays, contraception, and pre-marital sex/masturbation, I’d be willing to guess a lot of Catholics are in a state of mortal sin & have done it more than three to five times in their life.

And don’t forgot about envy and greed which are consumer obsessed society doesn’t even seem to recognize as being wrong.

It would seem to me your censure is self imposed? If you did not ask her path then such statements should have no accusation to you. Let me assure you many Catholics hurt the church’s mission by their comments on “invalid marriages” and “divorce”. The catechism posts also contain in standard type “**If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.” **Also and more importantly we have **“It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law.” **This latter section is becoming more and more common because many today see marriage as reversible.

The parts I find callus are the assumptions that divorce are done without thought, and the term “invalid” will be interpreted correctly. Neither have much of a chance of being true.

BTW Catholic marriages are better than average but far from without mistake here is a reference:

Barna report: Variation in divorce rates among Christian faith groups:
Denomination (in order of decreasing divorce rate)-------- % who have been divorced
Non-denominational **----------------------------------------------- 34%
Baptists------------------------------------------------------------------- 29%
Mainline Protestants------------------------------------------------- 25%
Mormons----------------------------------------------------------------- 24%
Catholics------------------------------------------------------------------ 21%
Lutherans----------------------------------------------------------------- 21%
religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

It would seem to me your censure is self imposed?

Well, no, because you put your statement soon after a quote of mine. It definitely looks as if you meant me.

Due to circumstances regarding the form and intent behind the marriage, we’re applying for annulment.

The point is, a Met. Tribunal won’t even consider taking up the issue until you have your divorce decree in hand. Says so right there on the form. I find it hard to believe that the representatives of the Archdiocese are purposely inducing me to commit a mortal sin :wink:

Texas Roofer, I’ve never been divorced and neither have my parents but I am grateful you corrected the other post-er’s misconception. I felt bad for the divorced woman who was put under attack.

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