Sinfulness of preteen siblings inappropriately touching etc

I wasn’t really sure where to go with this question, I know there are some very knowledgeable people around here so I’m hoping someone can help.

So… my father died when I was seven years old and my mother never remarried. My mom was always distant, usually busy with work. Me and my siblings were on our own a lot and BOY did we fight sometimes. It could get pretty vicious. Now that I’m an adult I finally realize that the loss of both my parents (father through death, mother through her being a work-a-holic and emotionally unavailable) made me really crave normal emotional intimacy that anyone should have in their immediate family. So, to meet this need, when I was somewhere around the age of 12, a sibling and I would be…uh…intimate in very inappropriate ways. We did things multiple times and my sibling is less than two years older than me so it wasn’t like an older child was preying on a younger child. But then there is a huge maturity difference between 12 and 14, or 13 and 15, or 11 and 13. However old we were. But anyways, we did these things a few times over a timespan of maybe a month or something I’m not exactly sure, it wasn’t long, but then we put a complete stop to it because hey guess what it wasn’t fulfilling that need for real intimacy among family! And we haven’t spoken about it since. I do remember these actions quite clearly, and there was no lust involved. It wasn’t pleasurable at all, I remember feeling like it was gross. But it was perfectly mutually consensual among children very close in age so it is not sexual abuse. I don’t remember who initiated it, we probably saw something on TV or something, I don’t remember.

But we were above the age of reason. I’m wondering if this was mortally sinful. I wasn’t lusting after my sibling but we were doing things that between two unmarried young adults would be mortally sinful.

So…I’m just kind of confused. What is it that makes sexual acts outside of marriage sinful? Is it the lust in your heart? Or are the acts in and of themselves sinful and it doesn’t really matter what you’re thinking/feeling during the act (outside of things like rape of course, obviously nonconsensual sexual anything isn’t sinful).

If it’s something that still bothers you, you might want to consider talking to a medical professional about it. Morally wrong? I mean, it sounds like your difficult family situation drove you to it and that you didn’t really know what you were doing. I wouldn’t worry about it in terms of ethics because it was in the past and you didn’t coerce your sibling, but there’s nothing wrong with talking about it on an emotional level with a professional.

I did have some knowledge of what I was doing. Preteens do understand something about sexuality, even if it’s not a full understanding and I was raised to understand that premarital sex is very wrong. The age of reason is seven right? I was something like 12 years old. But I’m female and when that stuff was going on my sexual experience outside of what I said was limited to silly school girl crushes. Truly lustful thoughts/feelings hadn’t even occurred to me yet.

Me and this sibling now have a healthy relationship and get along better than anyone else in my immediate family. We haven’t talked about it and I really don’t want to, but if my sibling approaches me with a need to talk about it then I’ll talk. I’m not hurt about it, I just feel like I’m going to hell. I did not ever feel guilty about it in the slightest before becoming Catholic. As a protestant I brushed it off as an unfortunate way two children coped with a difficult living situation, but now I’m like freaking out.

I’m in my mid twenties, for the record.

Well I can tell you as I heard mother Angeleca say on EWTN. First of all remember that it is an insult to God to think that your sins are greater than His mercy. Secondly, that is what that wonderful rite that we share in our catholic faith is for. Reconciliation. Repent, Go to confession and if you repent with a true heart your sin will be absolved. Isn’t that beautiful? After that forget about it, once we sincerely repent and do penance it is a done deal with our Father in Heaven. Now if you have a hard time after doing the above then it might be good if you seek counseling. We most likely all have skeletons in our closet. I clean out my closets when I go to confession and try not to repeat the same act. God forgives us, we need to learn to put things behind us, forgive ourselves, and try try again. We are all poor sinners. God loves us all!

I agree with both answers given. When you go to reconciliation, you can go behind a screen or even visit a parish miles away from your own church. You don’t have to be explicit–what you shared here is appropriate to say in the sacrament. Priests really have heard it all. We have a God whose will it is that we be healed and at peace with ourselves and those we share life with. He did not come to condemn us. By the way, it has been my experience in 12-step work with others that your situation is not unique. It simply isn’t something people talk about.

Finally, please remember that if God can forgive us, who are we to condemn ourselves? God bless!

I understand that God will forgive any sin we bring to confession. This is not an issue. But I did not confess this when I made my general confession before my first communion when I converted a couple years ago, so it brings into question my general confession and every communion I’ve ever received. And all the other confessions I’ve made.

I need to know if this is a mortal sin or not.

It could not have been a mortal sin because at the time you didn’t know what a mortal sin was. You did not have the awareness of what you were doing for it to have been a mortal sin.

If you haven’t confessed it yet, by all means do so as others have advised. Not because of it being a mortal sin, but because you need to get it off your chest. Get it out there and let it go. If you can’t let it go, seeing a therapist might help you to take that step. This sounds more like an emotional issue than a moral one.

Did you know it to be a mortal sin at the time?

If not, then one of the components for mortal sin is missing: knowledge that the act was gravely sinful.

Did you actively consent, or just go along with the acts because it was a fumbling confusion, or because you were immaturely searching for intimacy even though it was the wrong “format”? If not then another component of consent is missing.

For various reasons noted by others above; age, full knowledge, this does not meet the definition of mortal sin.

First, did you *deliberately *leave it out of your general confession or any confession since then? If not, don’t worry, just confess it next time.

If you did deliberately leave it out of a confession, then you should discuss the situation with a priest. **He will know the correct questions to ask you to see if the sin was mortal or not. **He will then be able to tell you how best to proceed.

That is true. I had never even heard of mortal sin until I took RCIA classes. Does that mean it’s impossible for protestants to commit mortal sin? At least, protestants who have never heard of the concept of mortal sin? I mean, I just feel like there are some things that will make any Christian’s conscience SCREAM at them. Murder, adultery, complete disrespect of our parents, etc. So even though they haven’t heard of mortal sin they still know, at least on an instinctual level, that what they are doing is very very wrong. Right?

I remember when I was making my general confession, it did cross my mind. But at the time I wasn’t ready to admit to myself that it’d even happened so I hadn’t even allowed myself the time to think about how sinful these acts were or weren’t. I brushed it off thinking “meh…we were kids. Deeply hurt kids.”

You were right.

Sounds like it has already been forgiven by that confession.

Yes, because some laws are written on our hearts, as St Paul writes in Romans. Our *culpability *for mortal sin is or *may *be mitigated by circumstances, but if we have committed them, better to ensure that all one’s bases are covered, no?

And this may well be the case. In your shoes, I would discuss it with a priest. If you think you can do it quickly in confession, then mention it in your next confession and ask the priest for his advice. He would know the right questions to ask, and would be able to guide you. If you feel more confortable dealing with this at another parish, go there–I mean, it’s better to get it done than to put it off due to discomfort with confessing it to your own priest. OTOH, God grants the grace of forgetfulness to most if not all priests to thise things they hear in the confessional, and you may feel comfortable with your own priest.

Believe me, this is not the first time this has happened. I myself feel worse about sins I confessed when I first returned to the Church in my 30s than I did at the time I confessed them. I see their badness better now. It’s actually a good sign that you are dealing with this :slight_smile: even tho it’s a tough thing to deal with.

You were a child. How much did you know then about the things you were doing? Something to think about, how did you know to do them? Did someone show you? Did your sibling initiate this behavior? Did you? Somewhere, abuse factors into this; otherwise why would either of you have thought of doing these things? Abuse doesn’t necessarily involve force. Based on the definition of mortal sin, what you did does not meet that standard. One thing important to remember is that God is loving and merciful. He knows what you were going through back then.

You can’t judge your actions then–again, you were a child–by the moral standards you now have.

In the religious sense, all this can be taken care of by a visit to the confessional. Emotionally, it sounds like you need someone professional to help you work through what happened all those years ago.

I know you asked these questions to make me think, not really to get answers. But I just don’t remember some things. Who started it? I don’t know. Where’d we get the idea? Thinking logically, I wasn’t fantasizing about doing these things with boys from school I had a crush on so it probably wasn’t my idea, but I cannot say. I don’t remember well enough. It’s possible that my sibling was previously abused and I’m just unaware of it, but more likely that we were watching TV shows that were not age appropriate. When I was 14 and I had a boyfriend I wouldn’t even give him a quick peck on the lips because it felt wrong to do it. I don’t think I felt this way because of these past events with my sibling but because I was just too young to be dating and didn’t even want to be close in that intimate way yet. Again, not due to trauma but just because it wasn’t what I was desiring yet. So I guess those earlier events were not my idea.

I suppose in the end I’m going to have to take this to confession. Please pray for me for courage. I have the day off tomorrow and will try to find somewhere with confession before daily Mass, even if I have to drive to a big city. I want this dealt with asap. It’s eating me alive.

if if you’ve even the slightest question that you sinned; just go to confession

be sincere and you will be forgiven

then go to mass & communion and never give these incidents another thought again

Hello canadienne,

(Are you from Québec, by any chance? Your user name makes it seem likely. My mother and my relatives are from there.)

First of all, it sounds as if you weren’t sure if the incident was gravely sinful or not, and based on what you have told us, it probably was not.

The procedure in case like this, is simply to explain to the priest, in your next confession, that you recall having done such-and-such an action, then explain the mitigating circumstances, and that in your general confession you did not think it was necessary to mention it, but that you would like to get it completely behind you. The priest will be very understanding.

As regards mortal sin in general, I think you are correct: you don’t have to know what a mortal sin is, in the abstract, in order to commit one. However, you do have to know that the particular action contemplated is gravely wrong, and you have to be fully free to commit it or not. So yes, Protestants, and anyone, really, can commit moral sins, unfortunately.

Praying for you, canadienne, that you will sense God’s Presence with you as you seek Him in the Sacrament. Praying also that you will meet with just the priest you need, one who will reassure you that you did nothing wrong.

My belief, being more familiar than I’d like to be with characteristics of sexually abused people, is that you need healing more than absolution. It is not unusual for a person who has been molested to try to assume responsibility for what happened. In her mind, she’s at fault somehow. It gets especially complicated when aspects of the abuse seem pleasant or fulfill some need. Even when that happens, you are not responsible. It isn’t even a sin, let alone a mortal sin.

At your age, you were unable to give consent to what happened. As for your sibling, it is very possible he was abused by someone else and was acting it out. In turn, you acted out what you learned.

I gathered that it was not a one-time experience. A therapist could help you work through all of this and sort out what happened. Given your situation, that your boundaries were violated and you feel you somehow committed a mortal sin, you are vulnerable to future exploitation.

Best wishes and peace to you.

Non, j’habite dans une autre province. Am I allowed to write in French here? All I said was “No, I live in another province.” I live west of Quebec.

Thank you for your prayers and all your posts. :slight_smile: But I never said I was “molested” or that my “boundaries were violated”. After reading your last post I feel very defensive. I never considered what happened to be abuse, we’re too close in age. I consider my sibling and I equally responsible, even though I am the younger. The age difference is only 19 months.

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