Question regarding covetousness

Covetousness is a mortal sin especially when one goes through unjust means to acquire something (e.g stealing $1000 to get a new television)

But can covetousness also occur in these kinds of situations? For example: I have a functioning and working keyboard for my desktop, but there’s a new model that’s really nice but expensive ($100). I don’t need it, I have a perfect functioning keyboard to already use but I like it so I’m gonna buy it. Would this be or lead to near occasions of covetousness?

I’m sorry if this is a dumb question, I’m studying deeper into the Faith and don’t understand much yet

I think covetousness is like envy, wanting something that someone else has and wanting to take it from them rather than wanting a better keyboard that you can purchase yourself.

If you look at the commandment in the Bible the prohibition is on coveting your “neighbor’s wife or his house…or anything that is his”. The point then is not that you want something that you don’t have. It is that you want something that belongs to someone else. It is not coveting to say “I would like to go to the store and buy x if I had enough money”. That’s an aspiration. It is coveting to say “my neighbor has a 90” plasma screen and I don’t. Why does he have that and not me?". Coveting is desiring something that belongs to your neighbor.

You need to delve deeper into what you really mean when you say, “but I want it”. Why do you want it?

It’s just an example by the way, and hmm most likely because of its better features e.g key response time, design, etc

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

COVETOUSNESS. A strong desire for possessions, especially material possessions. It implies that the desire is inordinate, with allusion to the prohibition in the Ten Commandments not to covet what belongs to someone else. Often synonymous with avarice, although referring more to the wrongfulness of the desire for possession and less (as in avarice) to its eagerness or intensity.

Wanting nice things is not a sin in and of itself. It is only a sin when you are never satisfied with anything (Greed, “I want everything!”), when you want to prevent others from having something (Envy, “It is not enough that I should succeed - others should fail.”), when you value your things above God or his laws (Idolatry, “My things are all that matter in life.”), or when you get a nice thing through illegitimate means (Theft, “If he wanted to keep his furniture he shouldn’t have placed his keys under the matt”).



2535 The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have, e.g., the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves; but often they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to covet unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him.

2536 The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods:

When the Law says, "You shall not covet," these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: "He who loves money never has money enough."321 

2537 It is not a violation of this commandment to desire to obtain things that belong to one’s neighbor, provided this is done by just means. Traditional catechesis realistically mentions “those who have a harder struggle against their criminal desires” and so who “must be urged the more to keep this commandment”:

. . . merchants who desire scarcity and rising prices, who cannot bear not to be the only ones buying and selling so that they themselves can sell more dearly and buy more cheaply; those who hope that their peers will be impoverished, in order to realize a profit either by selling to them or buying from them . . . physicians who wish disease to spread; lawyers who are eager for many important cases and trials.322 


I think that would be more excess than covetousness. It’s not a need, just a want. I’m not sure if it would be a sin though. It would just be less than ideal, where ideal is giving extra money to those in need. A better keyboard could be a need in a different situation. For example, you have a job using computers and the better keyboard allows you to work more efficiently. It makes sense to buy equipment that will make you more money in the long run. It’s actually an investment much like putting money in a savings account.

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