Willing the thought but not the Sin

I’m so confused in my state of mind. I have no way to tell if I’m deceiving myself into thinking I’m not sinning but I actually am, or if I’m not deliberately/fully consenting to these thoughts. Would it be Mortal sin to will the thought, but not consent out of fear of committing Mortal Sin? Or does thinking about it atomically damn you to hell?
(and yes I know of the three conditions for mortal sin, still doesn’t help)


You are a human being , to be part of the human race means you will do and think
both good things & Dumb things , don’t worry yourself to much, you will be fine .

random thought pops in one’s mind and is rejected because of it’s nature, no sin.
same thought comes up, hey yeah great idea, hey wait a minute this not right… i would be of the opinion no sin.
same thought again same initial agreement to thought, and the thought is entertained… sinful depending on nature of thought.

It seems you are making a distinction between the words “to will” and “to give consent”.

I posit to you that they are one and the same. Therefore, by “willing the thought” you are already “giving consent” to it. If that thought is a sin, then you are “giving consent to the sin”.

To address the question’s meaning more directly: if in one’s thoughts one is willfully thinking/fantasizing about a sin to feel pleasure, this is already consent to the sin, even if one does not do it in the physical world.

To determine whether your thinking about it is a sin, ask yourself: “why am I thinking about it?”

If you are thinking about it because it just popped into your head, and you didn’t want it there, no sin is committed yet.
If you are thinking about it because there is some external reason why it is necessary to do so, such as teaching others about a moral principle or some other valid reason, you’re fine.

However, if you are thinking about it without necessity, and you will to keep it in your thoughts, there may be a sin there in regards to entertaining thoughts of a sin.

Hope this helps.

Hi Peter,

Only because you’re scrupulous…
From the older version of the Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous: [This only applies to scrupulous people, like the OP]
Second Commandment

  • You shall not confess doubtful sins in confession, but only sins that are clear and certain.

Of all of the correspondence that I receive, I would say that this issue is the one that occurs most often. “What does a person do if they are not sure that they committed a sin?” For this reason, this is a very important commandment to remember because it clearly states the truth: Doubtful sins don’t count! There is no need to confess something that does not clearly and certainly exist. In fact, it is harmful to one’s self to confess that which is doubtful. Again, such a practice is not at all helpful and must be resisted.

Now I can almost hear some of you saying, “I am not sure if I doubt that I sinned or if I am just trying to fool myself to believe that I am doubting that I sinned.” This thought in itself demonstrates that you are in fact doubting and so, therefore, the commandment comes into play: You shall not confess doubtful sins. *
This rule is going to make you feel really uncomfortable, and there will be a sense that you’re somehow sinning because the rules from this will go so much against your scruples

Here’s a link to the new version of the ten commandments for the scrupulous [but the rules from the previous one also apply]

You should read the 10 commandments for the scrupulous daily to help you remember and console you

God bless,


I will re-post another older post of mine (general information regarding scrupulosity)

A person struggles with scruples - what ought they do?

A person with scrupulosity --ought to have a* “regular confessor” who can direct them --and even give them some general principles* to follow -to apply (principles for them due to their particular scruples -they are usually not for those with a normal conscience).

Thus with their direction they can “dismiss scruples” (in the older language despise them) - “act against them”.

Scruples are to be dismissed ~ not argued with.

To borrow and image from a Carthusian from centuries ago: Scruples *are like a barking dog or a hissing goose -one does not stop to argue with a barking dog or a hissing goose does one? * No one keeps walking.

Such ‘obedience’ to a regular confessor who knows of ones scruples (except in what is manifest sin - such as if he told them it was ok to murder someone or something certain like that) is key. Such is the age old practice.

Also counseling -(especially if one also has OCD) could be helpful depending on the case -but one would want to look for a counselor who can assist one in following the Churches Teachings - not go contrary to them (I have heard CA staff mention catholictherapists.com/)

Here is post from Jimmy Akin of CA that I saw in the Register and saved for those who struggle with such.


Jimmy Akin senior apologist at Catholic Answers


But what if I struggle to fight the Sin/Temptation/Thought? Such as entertaining it, but do not want to sin, try to reject it, but the thought is firmly implants in my brain. I have constant compulsion to say “I do not intend, consent, will, want, mean it, etc”. and also, “I’d rather eat a bullet than fully/deliberately consent!”.
These thoughts have gone from Scruples to habits, and the worst part is not knowing if I’m fooling myself or not. Not knowing whether I committed a Mortal sin or not. The 3 conditions for Mortal sin in the Catechism hardly does anything for me. If I find out I committed a Mortal Sin by trying to do battle with these thoughts, I’ll be discouraged, but I will try to do better next time.

Jimmy Akin senior apologist at Catholic Answers put it this way once (which I saved for questions on thoughts):

“For a sin of thought to be mortal, three conditions must be met: (1) the thought must involve grave matter, (2) you have to know that the thought is gravely sinful, and (3) you have to deliberately endorse the thought (as opposed to having it flit through your mind and you resist it).”

It sounds like your yes confused…please put yourself under the direction of a regular confessor - he needs to direct you.

Not sure what you mean by “will” the thought -perhaps rather it is more of a compulsion that seems like you …but not actually willing …not any consent?

(I will re-post a post I posted before about general aspects)


All sorts of thoughts can happen to us out of the blue…(not sought etc)

The fact that a thought happened to one- does not mean per se there was* any *sin.

And for mortal sin one needs not only grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate (complete) consent…

Just cause a thought happened to you does not mean there was any sin. Let alone mortal sin.

Just calmly turn to something good…


For the next few moments --try real hard NOT to think of an Apple.

then scroll down.

What did you think of?

An apple.

Even though your will was against it (you did not want to think of an apple!)

Now back to unwanted thoughts…

The more you fear and try hard not to have them…the more they will likely come and bother you.

The best thing to do with such thoughts is not to fight them directly --not fear that they will come—simply do not consent and simply and calmly turn to something else…(or it may be best to keep doing the good thing one is doing…like they come out of the blue when your at work …keep working…keep praying …etc…calmly ignoring them…turning to something good…)

Ignore such unwanted thoughts like one would ignore a hissing goose or a barking dog. One does not stop to argue with a hissing goose or a barking dog does one? No one keeps on walking…

(as noted above the image there comes from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago…)

Ignore such unwanted thoughts and do not fear them…just calmly turn to something good.

The second commandment for the** 10 commandment**s for the scrupulous apply in this case, since you are in doubt
I found a good excerpt of quotes from the littlestsouls blog:

God is all-good, all-knowing, and the source of all good. God knows our hearts; He knows our every good desire, because He is truly the source of every good desire. When faced with doubt and uncertainty, we should reason thus: Dear Lord, you have placed in my heart the desire to love you. I do not want to hurt you by committing intentional sin- much less intentional mortal sin. This gives me confidence that I could not fall into such sin without being fairly certain of it, because you alone have given me this noble desire! Thank you, dear God. Please help me to trust more in you, and to cast aside all useless doubts and worries. Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

“Don’t voluntarily dwell on what the devil presents to you.” – St. Padre Pio

“Don’t philosophize on your defects.” – St. Padre Pio

– St. Padre Pio

(Speaking of temptations): “I see you, but I do not look at you: I see you because it does not depend upon me that my imagination places before my eyes things I would wish not to see; I do not look at you because with my will I repulse and reject you.”
– St. Antony

A final piece of advice, which is extremely helpful and should be practiced by all:

He who remembers having invoked the name of Mary in an impure temptation, may be sure that he did not yield to it.”
– St. Alphonsus Liguori

St Alphonsus, St Antony, and St Pio are 1st class saints (very popular). One was a doctor of the church, one was a Father of monasticism, and other was one of the greatest mystics of modern times. All were great saints, and they understood that a sin is a deliberate choice, and in temptation we have the free choice to say yes or no to.

It is very important for you to get a regular confessor and ask him to direct you. Do not delay. Do not brush off the idea. It is the age old practice and very important. It is key.

I find that X fighting alone against bad thoughts does not help, so instead I pray. If I am worried, I pray about that. If I have bad thoughts, I treat them as I do temptations and pray to God, to Mary, to St Michael the Archangel in particular, and other saints as well. Sometimes over and over, but it does get better pretty quickly. SometimesI have recurrences or different thoughts, then I have to remember to pray all over again!

To take pleasure in the thought of doing something sinful is venial sin.

The problem is when you start willing the thought for the sake of delighting in the action itself… in other words, thinking of stealing a million dollars and then drawing your pleasure from the thought of actually carrying that action out, even if you don’t intend to because of some circumstance which prevents it (like you think you’ll get caught). You must actually be deliberately willing to realize the image. Otherwise it is venial sin (or no sin at all if you are working to dismiss it as soon as it comes to mind).

I’m going to meet with my confessor tomorrow at the soonest, today i’m gonna try to schedule an appointment with my psychiatrist, because last night what i was going through was sheer terror.

If you are honestly that concerned about it, you are not willing them and there is no sin. This has been the advice of many priests for the scrupulous conscience. I advise you to get a priest you feel comfortable talking through these scruples with. God bless you dear!

Your post made me search this quote out; now I am pasting the post I was writing when I finally found it.

God is not trying to trick you. Think of the teachings of the Church as an owner’s manual rather than an IRS tax code :wink:

Here is an article which talks about temptation pretty thoroughly. He mentions but doe not emphasize as much as I once would have needed, that if we do not give in to the temptations, we have not sinned. No matter how strong the temptation is, no matter how long it lingers, how many times it returns to us, if we do not give in, we have not sinned. The quote I was actually looking for when I found this. . .

Which I have finally found!
[indent]The more persistent the temptation, the clearer it is that you have not given consent to it. “It is a good sign,” says St. Francis de Sales, “when the tempter makes so much noise and commotion outside of the will, for it shows that he is not within.” An enemy does not besiege a fortress that is already in his power, and the more obstinate the attack, the more certain We may be that our resistance continues.

  1. Your fears lead you to believe you are defeated at the very moment you are gaining the victory. This comes from the fact that you confound feeling with consent, and, mistaking a passive condition of the imagination for an act of the will, you consider that you have yielded to the temptation because you felt it keenly.
    by Fr. Quadrupani*Light and Peace *

This is a great book and pretty short! And can also be found in audio at Librivox.[/Indent]

Bookcat, HOW do I ignore these scruples? they are constant, and i consented (deliberatley/intentionally is guesswork) to a few in a moment of weakness (such as trying to sleep).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.