I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin?

I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin?

Can Anyone tell us we sinned?  I get asked almost every weekend, is this action a sin.  I have to resist just saying, what do you think or would you be asking if it wasn’t.  Too many people have the wrong notion of how to determine a sinful act and I know who to blame.  I blame years of poor teaching on our part.  So when I hear, I did (fill in the blank), is it a sin, I need to do a little teaching first.


Defining sin, people constantly ask, if I am sure.  To avoid people thinking I’m making this up, here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s definition:

1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. Sin wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.

To just add a bit more Church talk a mortal sin must meet this conditions:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

So if you ask if something is a mortal sin, I will ask did you intentionally sever your relationship with God?  Unless you say yes, it is not a mortal sin.  Fill knowledge and deliberate consent means you can’t do a mortal sin by mistake, it can’t happen in your dreams and if you are wondering and not running to confession, it isn’t a mortal sin.

Good news sin is personal and no one can tell you that X action is or is not a sin.  The bad news is as you grow in faith and awareness, there is a higher standard.  When you know what you need to do, to live truly as a child of God, not doing that becomes sinful.  Check out this blog for an application of this.

What does this all mean…

To keep this from being too long to read.  A sin is anything that separates us from each-other and our God.  Spending too much time with a game console and not with God’s create and people, is a sin for some.  The Church refers to actions that are bad by nature like killing, abortion and lying as disordered acts.  Nothing more, no one other than sinner can determine the acts sinfulness.  No Catholic ever could think abortion had any good qualities to it.   Abortion is intrinsically bad by nature.  Knowing that, there are times that it is medically necessary and allowed.  This is rare, but it can happen.  Like killing or lying in defense of family is not every a good thing, but is permissible to save their lives.

Our world craves black and white answers.  From our first real relationships we learn that relationships are never black and white.  We feel safer with a black and white relationship with God.  We taught that for many years, but we have grown beyond that.  That takes away the richness of the relationship and the rewards that come with it.