What is Mortal Sin and Most Common Examples

What is Mortal Sin and Most Common Examples

As a true Christian, we clearly know that committing sin takes up farther away or builds a wall between us and God. In the Catholic church, these sins are classified into 2 types which are Mortal Sins and Venial Sins.

Like the popular bible verse “a prayer of a sinner is like an abomination unto God” Proverbs 28:8. This means that when we sin, we must ask for forgiveness before prayer, hence the prayer will be like pouring water on a rock. However, some sins are more grievous than the others, and the former which is the Mortal sin is what we will talk about in this article.

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What is a Mortal Sin?

A mortal sin in Catholic church are sins which holds strong weight or are severe, often done deliberately against God and against your fellow man. These sins are the chief sins and even weakens the conscience. It will take lots of attainments and penance to be clean after such sin because it’s often deliberate.

All humans are conceived and born with sin as stated in Psalm 51:5-10, which we call The Original Sin. Through the sacrament of baptism, these sins are washed off and we are made whole, holy and righteous before God and obtains his grace, and also makes us true Christians and members of the Church. This is one of the reason the Catholic church often advises and conducts infant baptism.

Now when we commit mortal sin, these God’s grace will be cut off and we cease to become part of the body of Christ. Remember that Jesus Christ died for our sins. That’s why committing a grave sin is like taking his sacrifice for granted. It also causes us to lose charity in our hearts and robs us of eternal life with Christ (Romans 6:23).

Mortal Sin vs. Venial Sin

As stated above, we have 2 type of Sin in the Catholic doctrine which are Mortal and Venial Sin.

Mortal sin is considered as more severe offense than the venial sin because it removes us from the grace of God and cuts us from his light. These sin can only be absorbed through confession, while the venial sin is a minor one which can be atoned for without confession but by prayers.

For instance, breaking a commandment out of ignorance or weakness is considered a venial sin. While deliberately disobeying the will of God through malice or pride is considered a mortal sin.

Both sins can cause spiritual harm and must be repented, but only mortal sins require confession in order to absolve them.

What Makes an Act a Mortal Sin?

For an action to be considered a mortal sin, these three conditions must be present:

1. Grave Matter

One of the conditions that make a sin a mortal one is its graveness. That’s why actions that are inherently immoral, inhumane, and evil are already considered mortal sins.

2. Full Knowledge

To classify an action as a mortal sin, you should have full knowledge about it. If you plan to do something and you already know that it is impure and evil, then it’s considered a mortal sin.

3. Deliberate Consent

If you choose to commit a grave act without someone forcing you, then it’s a mortal sin. Pushing people to sin will only count as a venial sin.

Examples of Mortal Sins

The Catholic church does not really have an exhaustive list of mortal sins. But based on the conditions above, here are some of the most common examples of mortal sins.

1. Worshiping false gods

There’s a reason why the first of the ten commandments states that we shall not have any other Gods aside from the one true God. It’s simply the most important commandment of all. As stated in the Bible, Deuteronomy 5:9, where God warned us about worshiping another gods saying; “Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, for I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation”.

Thus, acts of worshiping false Gods rank high up on the list of mortal sins. This includes:

  • Idolatry. Idolizing other Gods is a mortal sin because you are worshiping and putting your faith in a false god. Adoration of a false god is a grave matter and is considered a mortal sin.
  • Sacrilege. Heresy is when you dishonor or disrespect something that’s considered sacred and holy, such as burning a cross, defacing Catholic churches, or desecrating any elements of the Eucharist.
  • Atheism. Atheism means that you don’t believe in any God, including the one true and living God, which, in itself, is a violation of the first commandment.

2. Taking a life

The sixth commandment states that a person should not kill because taking a life is a very grave matter. That’s why acts like the following are some of the worst examples of mortal sins:

  • Abortion. Abortion is killing a baby while it’s still inside the womb. In Catholic doctrine, abortion still counts as murder because a fetus has a life too.
  • Euthanasia. Also known as “mercy killing”, euthanasia is still a grave matter and is considered a mortal sin. Regardless of the motive, it’s still an act of murder.
  • Suicide. Taking a life, whether other people’s or your own, is a grave offense. Life is life, no matter whose it is.
  • Murder/Manslaughter. The fifth commandment literally prohibits this. Thus, you know full well that it’s a sin, and yet you deliberately did it. All these make it one of the gravest of the mortal sins on this list.

3. Marital infidelity

Aside from the sixth commandment, many verses in the Bible have repeatedly emphasized that we should not commit adultery or marital infidelity. It’s inherently immoral. Not to mention that it can tear families apart. Hence, any sexual act you do with someone other than your wife or husband is a mortal sin. Examples of this include:

  • Pornography. These days, watching or reading pornographic materials have become more common. But that doesn’t make it less sinful. Pornography, in whatever medium, is a direct violation of the commandment against adultery. Even though there is no physical contact, it still involves lustful thoughts. As Mathew 5:28 says, just looking at someone with lustful intent is already committing adultery in your heart.
  • Fornication. Fornication is a sexual interaction between two people who are not bound by matrimony. According to the bible, God prohibits it, and thus can also be considered a mortal sin.
  • Prostitution. Prostitution is also a mortal sin unless you’re a victim of sex trafficking. It is when you use your body for sex and ask for money in return. This act defiles your body and dishonors God.
  • Rape. Forcing yourself on someone is a grave matter and an act of pure evil. This mortal sin violates the integrity and freedom of the victim and can damage their soul for the rest of their life.

4. Stealing

Stealing is also a mortal sin. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you stole. The simple act of taking something that’s not yours is a direct violation of the seventh commandment making it a grave sin.

  • Theft. Even St. Paul wrote in the bible that thieves and swindlers have no place in the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
  • Robbery. This form of stealing involves using violence, force, or intimidation to take other people’s belongings. By the very grave nature of this act, it should be no wonder that this is a mortal sin.

5. Deadly sins

The seven deadly sins are considered to be the most serious sins man can commit. As such, they deserve a spot on this list. As per Catholic teachings, the seven deadly sins include:

  • pride
  • anger
  • lust
  • envy
  • gluttony
  • avarice
  • sloth

6. Taking advantage of the poor

According to Pope Pius X, oppressing the poor and taking advantage of their plight is one of those sins that cry to God for vengeance. This includes defrauding your workers of their wages. It’s equivalent to stealing, which is another grave offense. These acts are not only sinful in the eyes of God but also of men.

7. Blasphemy

In his writings, St Thomas Aquinas states that “blasphemy or any word or deed that is an insult to God is much more grievous than perjury.” Using the name of the Lord in vain is not only an insult to the holiness of His name but also a violation of the second commandment.

Asking for God’s Forgiveness

Catholic tradition dictates that those who die with mortal sins are doomed to suffer in hell. But the good news is that our God is a very merciful God. Yes, committing a sin cuts you off from God’s grace. But it doesn’t have to stay that way forever. It’s the reason why He sent His only son because He doesn’t want us to be bound in sin forever (John 3:16).

According to the gospel of St. John, if we only confess our sins, he will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). For we all have sinned, but through Christ’s blood, we have been redeemed (Colossians 1:22). If we repent our sins and return to God, He will wash away our sins and lead us to a new and everlasting life (Acts 3:19).

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