What constitutes sloth as a mortal sin?

I read up and apparently there are many meanings to sloth:

  1. Laziness, reluctance to do work
  2. Doing too much work in order to find something to do while neglecting leisure and hobbies, which apparently is a grave sin.
  3. Reluctance to improve spiritually (Acedia)

What others contribute to the mortal sin of sloth?

**Also: Is playing video games all day a mortal sin of sloth? It does not really interfere at the moment as I am having my holidays at the moment and neither does it keep me from skipping Mass or any Day of Obligation. But at times I can even play for 4-5 hours straight without feeling bored. I was unsure if it was a mortal sin, so I confessed it and tried my best not to fall back in. But after awhile, I was convinced that it wasn’t that serious since it was the holidays and soon fell back into this vice. **

How about being too lazy to get out and vote and then
protesting the result? :mad:

If playing video games prepares you for a job … writing game software … otherwise is is wasting time and mental energy.


Sometimes look up the original roots of the word.

What if you substitute video games with watching television for 4-5 hours, reading for leisure for 4-5 hours, putting a puzzle together for 4-5 hours…would those be mortal sins too?

So laziness itself is not gravely sinful. Thank you Monte

The act itself I highly doubt would be mortally sinful as well. But what confuses me so much is the ‘‘intention of the deed’’. To elaborate, what I’m not really certain about when it comes to questions such as these, is the main intention of the person committing it. Like for instance, if I were to commit something venial such as ‘‘playing video games 4-5 hours per day’’ but with the intention of offending God then I have committed a grave matter. Another example is, if I play video games for 4-5 hours a day during my school or working period, and completely neglect my studies and my family, then yes that would be gravely sinful too.

I’m sorry for the poor phrasing of the question. What I wanted to mainly find out here is whether my intention was mortally sinful. In my case, I felt compelled to play for long hours because my friends were online and did not have the motivation to do anything else.

In addition to that, I was constantly worrying about breaking the First Commandment as anything can become an idol. According to my confessor, it only constitutes breaking the First Commandment if we are willing to break God’s laws to get what we want. I’m definitely not willing to do that, but I get my happiness mainly from playing such games so I’m really doubtful on whether this counts as breaking the First Commandment

@Dante and Stephen

Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, II, II, Question 35. Sloth, Article 3. Whether sloth is a mortal sin?:
On the contrary, It is written (2 Corinthians 7:10): “The sorrow of the world worketh death.” But such is sloth; for it is not sorrow “according to God,” which is contrasted with sorrow of the world. Therefore it is a mortal sin.

I answer that, As stated above (I-II:88:1; I-II:88:2), mortal sin is so called because it destroys the spiritual life which is the effect of charity, whereby God dwells in us. Wherefore any sin which by its very nature is contrary to charity is a mortal sin by reason of its genus. And such is sloth, because the proper effect of charity is joy in God, as stated above (II-II:28:1), while sloth is sorrow about spiritual good in as much as it is a Divine good. Therefore sloth is a mortal sin in respect of its genus. But it must be observed with regard to all sins that are mortal in respect of their genus, that they are not mortal, save when they attain to their perfection. Because the consummation of sin is in the consent of reason: for we are speaking now of human sins consisting in human acts, the principle of which is the reason. Wherefore if the sin be a mere beginning of sin in the sensuality alone, without attaining to the consent of reason, it is a venial sin on account of the imperfection of the act. Thus in the genus of adultery, the concupiscence that goes no further than the sensuality is a venial sin, whereas if it reach to the consent of reason, it is a mortal sin. So too, the movement of sloth is sometimes in the sensuality alone, by reason of the opposition of the flesh to the spirit, and then it is a venial sin; whereas sometimes it reaches to the reason, which consents in the dislike, horror and detestation of the Divine good, on account of the flesh utterly prevailing over the spirit. On this case it is evident that sloth is a mortal sin.

Reply to Objection 1. Sloth is opposed to the precept about hallowing the Sabbath day. For this precept, in so far as it is a moral precept, implicitly commands the mind to rest in God: and sorrow of the mind about the Divine good is contrary thereto.

Reply to Objection 2. Sloth is not an aversion of the mind from any spiritual good, but from the Divine good, to which the mind is obliged to adhere. Wherefore if a man is sorry because someone forces him to do acts of virtue that he is not bound to do, this is not a sin of sloth; but when he is sorry to have to do something for God’s sake.

Reply to Objection 3. Imperfect movements of sloth are to be found in holy men, but they do not reach to the consent of reason.


It depends what your reading or watching. It also depends if there is anything that you need to do; like, are you reading instead of taking time to prepare a healthy dinner for your family.

I think the OP question is asking when does to much free time translate into sloth. The sign of sloth, for the non-scrupulous, is when you feel sorrow or sadness or guilt or something like that in relation to things that you could be doing.

If someone plays video games for hours and then thinks to themselves, “I really need to do something better with my time”, and then proceeds to do nothing to change; that’s sloth. Sloth is essentially a sin of omission. It’s spiritual or vocational laziness.

The OP #2 example is not quite right. When a person decides to keep busy with distractions in order to avoid their vocation (vocations such as parent, spouse, religious life, or following Jesus’ teachings about helping others in the single life) that person is living in sloth.

There has already been a link posted that explains sloth well. An excellent book on the subject is called, “The Noonday Devil”. That book was such an eye opener for me I could say that it changed my spirituality.

That directly answered my question. Thank you 1Lord1Faith, I’ve always felt that something was wrong as my conscience wasn’t that clear. It was apparently the hidden sin of sloth I was so unaware about conquering my life. So my case does constitute for the sin of sloth. Time for penance and confession again :o

The fact that your conscience is telling you ‘something may be wrong with what I’m doing’ is worth paying attention to. Your post indicates that you want to know if what your doing is wrong. So it would be slothful to ignore those questions. So, your here asking. Good.

Is playing games 4 hours a day slothful? The short answer is yes. If it was 1 or 2 hours, maybe not. Playing video games is not like reading or putting a puzzle together. It has a totally different effect on your brain. You would be better off staring at a wall 4 hours a day.

Prepare yourself now for your future vocation. Don’t waste your time.

I used to think all playing of video games was a useless waste of time, however, recently my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent robotic surgery. The doctor never touched my husband, but sat in the corner on a little cart operating thru a computer. Over my husband on the operating table were eight arms that came down over him, doing all the cutting, invasively removing his cancerous prostate organ entirely, while preserving the nerve that controls sexual function. afterwards, my husband had small incisions around his abdomen, was able to go home from the hospital in one day, and resume normal activities shortly thereafter. This doctor played video games since early childhood, had such good control of fine motor skills that he is one of the top robotic surgeons in the world. Perhaps this is an example of the good that could be a by product of “playing games” :slight_smile:

Not always. Studies show that playing video games exercises the mind by practicing many important cognitive abilities.


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