Rationality of Mortal Sinning?

Buon Giorno,

I have been committing the sin of masturbation for a long time now, and I’ve come to see part of why I keep doing it. After confession, if I fail even slightly, I start to rationalize further actions as inconsequential due to my already probable state of no grace. I rationalize that further trespasses against God would do nothing to affect the state I’m in. I pray for forgiveness, but I sin again some time afterwards because I don’t have a way to know if God forgave me. Is there a rationality to my thinking? I think it’s messed up, but I always start to believe it when I’m tempted… I don’t want to believe that mortal sinning again and again after once will do nothing to me. Am I right/wrong with my “rationality” of it? Sorry if that’s hard to understand. It is kind of complex.


If you think you have “free will”, just remember that giving into temptation would worse your neurophysiological state. Your brain would be addicted and sensitive to the dopaminergic cues of sexual arousal, and you will crave it. Just do what you can to prevent exacerbating your condition. Even if you succumb to temptation, do not put yourself in a position where you are vulnerable to temptation. Also, thank God for periods of time where you have not experienced temptation (and do not do anything to abruptly end those periods). This is different from an approach that emphasize perseverance (which I always lacked for any endeavor), but it is the best I could do as a woman who occasionally falls and quite hard.

I am pretty sure you know the subjective difference between the neurophysiological states of arousal and non-arousal. Almost certainly, the former would disrupt your cognitive processes (and which is why I want to get out of it). Of course, I prefer the latter as a single.

I do not know if your question has more to do with philosophy (as it pertains to the mind) or neurobiology (whether you really have free will). As you stated, it is complex. Regarding the latter, when you are sexually aroused, your prefrontal cortex has a diminished capacity to inhibit your behavior, so your thoughts and will would likely encourage you to indulge. In other words, without inhibition, your capacity to reason has diminished.

Yes, do your best to avoid this mentality. Latias already mentioned some of the potential physiological harm. Also, you have the opportunity to make a perfect act of contrition after each instance of sin, an act which may save your soul in an otherwise unconfessed state of mortal sin. This is a much better response than to mistakenly rationalize that you are already damned so it doesn’t matter.

[quote=Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 1452]When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.

You have a duty to get into this state as soon as possible, though you must not presume on it either to rationalize sin. My understanding is that it will not ordinarily lead to grace, which is granted by the sacrament of penance, but it is better than nothing, and a concept on which we can hope for salvation for our separated Protestant brethren. I have a feeling, though, that it is hard to reach a “perfect” state of contrition, but still we must try.

Similarly, you have a duty to limit the amount of damage you cause to yourself, to those with whom you come into contact, to your relationship with the Lord who died for all your sins on the cross. Don’t add more nails!

Finally, Fr. Z answers this in a tangential way in his blog that you might find helpful. There the disputed idea was missing mass when already in a state of mortal sin. He warns of a tendency towards a hardness of heart. Check it out: wdtprs.com/blog/2011/09/quaeritur-why-bother-going-to-mass-in-the-state-of-sin-fr-z-rants-with-hellfire-and-brimstone/.

I feel your pain. Fight the good fight!

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