The list of mortal sins seems too harsh

I recently looked up what the church considers to be Mortal Sins (sins that keep you out of heaven) and found the list below.

A mortal sin is defined as a sin that, if unforgiven upon death, condemns you to Hell.

With that in mind, some of the sins listed were obviously bad enough to be punishable by eternal suffering; murder (including abortion) and rape destroy and ruin lives.

But on the other hand, some of the sins listed seem either not harmful enough to be mortal or not sins at all.

Masturbation/Pornography: This is a common sin, so much so that I doubt more than a lucky few have resisted the urge to do it at least once in their lives. Giving up masturbation completely is like giving up smoking or caffeine: easier said than done. But unless you are watching pornography in which someone is abused, the only person who seems to be being hurt is yourself.

Drug Usage: Drugs are addictive and rehab is not always within reach, meaning that many can not stop using drugs even if they wanted to. Drug users seem less like sinners and more like victims.

Prostitution: Most prostitutes don’t want to be in their profession, and are either forced into it by violence, intimidation, or fear of starving to death. Like drug users, prostitutes seem more like victims.

Atheism: It is generally accepted among the church that those who worship a different religion still can go to heaven if they were virtuous. Then why wouldn’t the virtuous pagan clause apply to atheists? For those of us who have family members who are atheists, this question has a lot riding on it.

Suicide: Depression (the leading cause of suicide) is a serious disease that can alter someone’s state of mind. Suicide out of depression/despair should not be sins.

The reason I bring this up is that the New Testament described God as forgiving, merciful, loving, and someone who you can turn to even when all else fails. These things being described as sins too horrible even for purgatory seems to clash with that idea. In Matthew 25:31-44, when Jesus judges All the Nations Gathered Before Him, he only welcomes or denies them based on weather they helped or hurt their fellow man.

I know you can wash away even mortal sins with confession, but the thought of dying in a sudden accident in-between confessions is horrifying enough without the fear of being doomed to eternal suffering. Unless you go every day (which is not practical if your church is far away) then you’re unlikely to die in a state of grace.

Please, if you have any insight, feel free to share it. But don’t just say “Because God said so end of story”. After his resurrection, Jesus SHOWED his apostles his scars, so God does give us reasons to follow what he says (God spoke to the prophets directly, and even they had occasional slip-ups).

The wikipedia list is about as useless as a list outlining the types of water isotopes that may be found on Mars.:):):slight_smile:

That list consists of grave matter. Grave matter is not mortal sin. Rather, it is one of the three requirements for mortal sin. The other two are full knowledge and full consent.
Someone who commits suicide because they are in too much pain to think straight does not commit a mortal sin. They do not have full consent of the will.
Habit and addiction are considered mitigating factors, especially in cases like masturbation and drug use. This means that it’s not always a mortal sin. If you’re making a sincere effort to quit, but you screw up because of the addiction, you don’t have full consent of the will, do you?
Atheism usually has to do with full knowledge. If you’re brought up without any information about God, if you live without ever being really, truthfully informed about God and religion, how can you be expected to believe in God? You can’t be held responsible for something you didn’t know you had to do.
I could go on but you get the picture.
I have the same concerns that you do about dying suddenly in between confessions. I don’t know exactly what God is supposed to do about that. But there isn’t really much you can do besides go to confession when you need it, and trust that God will judge you with the justice you deserve.


You have little faith.

I used to obsessively count sins daily and magnify sin where there isn’t any. This behavior is called “Scruples”. I soon realized that by worrying about my own salvation I have been a burden on other people and my family.

The church recommends that in a state of grace we should still confess our venial sins (it is not compulsory) every two months or once a month. Remember that confession is a sacrament and will strengthen with grace if you partake in it with intention and regret for your sins. It is not a punishment.

If you are not in a state of grace, then you must have urgency to confess your sin, e.g. going to confession on the nearest available Saturday and avoiding communion. Is this the urgency that you are worried about? It is more doable and easier than you imagine it to be.

We are not called to worry obsessively.

How are we supposed to live, then? Live with joy. :slight_smile:

This is the month of October and there are special graces available for those who pray the Rosary.

Why not pray the joyful mysterious?

The criteria for mortal sin are as follows:

From EWTN: “It is always good to remember, especially those who are trying to be faithful but sometimes fall, that for mortal sin it must not only be 1) serious matter, but 2) the person must know it is serious and then 3) freely commit it.”

Note: It is only a mortal sin if ALL three criteria apply.

Read this beautifully written article:

To Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear in explaining grave sin, and some of the content on that page is from that. All objective sin is from one of three sources ignorance, passion, or malice. Offenses to God include all uncharitable acts which includes those directly opposing God, against others, and against the self. Culpability for sin varies with certain factors so not all objective grave sin will be damning.

The Catechism states:
1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith."60
[INDENT] The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.61 [/INDENT]

Atheism is one of the gravest sins.
The pagans can get to heaven not because they are virtuous, but because the search for God. And they can get baptised by intention, because all traditional religions contain particles of holyness, remaining after the Fall.
The atheists, however, if they are consistent, do not seek God and do not strive for eternal life. How could you ever get something you do not seek?! This is absolutely just.


Preach it. :smiley:

Whenever one worries obsessively about what they did or did not do, everything being an occasion of sin they are actually being very self-centered which a Christian is not supposed to be.

An examination of conscience is required but the constant obsession is definitely not.

Thank you.

This does make me feel better knowing that God understands the circumstances of our failings.

In this case the atheists have nothing to fear. :slight_smile: They do not “seek” hell, either. So it would be unjust to damn them with eternal torture for not believing something for which there is absolutely no evidence. Not to have eternal life and eternal torture would be a just solution. Sounds good to me. :wink:

Atheists reject God, which by use of reason is knowable; he can clearly be seen in the things he has made. You conflate empirical evidence with all ways of knowing at our disposal.

They damn themselves to eternal torture, by their ignoring the truth and their considering themselves or another creature the center of the universe.

Of course, the extent of torture varies. Theoretically, something like a limbo is possible for those unbelievers who at least recognize the natural law and abide by it throughout their whole life. Check Dante’s Inferno.

How can you NOT worry about it? It’s your eternal soul.

I read that aithiests who are raised an aithiest fall under the unintended ignorance

I read that masturbation is bad but not damnable (like stealing a pencil, its theft and its bad but it isn’t robbing a bank)

And I think it has been confirmed that suicide isn’t damnable (moral culpability, mass depression, unable to repent after)

That makes me feel better.

No, my friend, you are mistaken. Atheists do not BELIEVE in God, which is totally different from REJECTING God. Only someone who is convinced that God exists can “reject” God.

I heard this before, it is even mentioned in the catechism. But I have never seen a line of reasoning to support this sentence. As a matter of fact it is an attempt to put the cart in front of the horse. First you need to demonstrate that God exists, then you need to demonstrate that object “X” is not “natural”, rather artificially created, and finally that the creator was God. This is the way to “prove” that God exists. Good luck.

For ontologically existing objects (not concepts, which have no ontological existence) the only way to ascertain their existence by experiencing them - empirically. Whether it is “gods”, “demons”, “angels”, “poltergeists”, “leprechauns”, the “Loch Ness monster”, “yetis” or what have you, you need to demonstrate their existence empirically. You cannot “define” an object into existence…

Atheists do not accept the idea of “center of the universe”. And why would be such a nonsensical idea equate to “condemn themselves” to eternal torture?

Masturbation is a mortal sin, along with suicide. If one masturbates or commits suicide (with the necessary components of consent & knowledge), they will be damned. Suicide is a mortal sin objectively, but some may not be completely culpable due to mental affliction.

Does depression count as mental affliction?

what about doing it to save some one

what if some one and a guys friend are both held up

Friend one is told he must kill himself or friend 2 dies

would that be a situation where they are damned?

I think this very issue is one reason that there is such a divide between very conservative Catholics and mainstream Catholics. No amount of lecturing by conservatives is going to make me, for one second, believe that the sins of masturbation and the sin of contraception usage is equal to that of murder or rape. Just from conversations with other Catholics, I know I’m not alone.:confused:

That’s fine, but why be annoyed at “Conservative” Catholics? That’s simply Church teaching. Direct your annoyance towards Church teaching, not at those who report it. They aren’t making up a rule you can’t easily find in the CCC.