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The danger of being comfortable with venial sin

I would like to begin a discussion about sin and responsibility. I don’t know how many installments this will take.
First, I think we should note that according to Scripture there are two types of sin; namely, sin that is “deadly” and sin that is not (See 1 John 5:16-17). St. John makes it very clear that all wrongdoing is sin, but that there is sin that is not deadly. In Catholic nomenclature we say that there is mortal sin (deadly) and venial sin (not deadly).
The first point I want to make is what St. John himself mentioned in his letter. Namely, that all wrongdoing is sin. We cannot become comfortable with venial sin. I taught in our high schools for nearly 20 years. Many, many times I would be asked a question like this, “Mr. Arensberg, is ______________ a mortal sin?” I knew full well that if I said that it was a mortal sin the student would really ponder whether it was worth it. However, if I said that the sin was venial it would give a green light to the student. God bless them. This is normal for a teen, but I think we need to be a bit more mature in our relationship with God and more mature in our relationships with others. It is not OK for me to do bad things to my wife, children or friends so long as the evil I do is not a relationship killer. In fact, if I become accustomed to doing evil to them in small ways, I will be paving the road to doing something that is in fact a relationship killer. Even the multiplication of minor evils can become a weight that suffocates our relationship.
The same is true of sin and our relationship with God. If we become comfortable with venial sin we will be on a sure road to mortal sin. When we decide it is ok to do bad things we start to slip down the proverbial slippery slope. Not to mention, shouldn’t we desire to love? More next time.
— Pat Arensberg is the Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life. Email him at parensberg@mobarch.org
For more information concerning the events of this office, visit us at mobilefaithformation.org

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