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Author Topic: Orthodox sin level of gravity and guilt, etc.  (Read 3853 times) Average Rating: 0
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wainscottbl
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« on: July 21, 2013, 12:17:02 AM »

Since I am considering Orthodoxy from a Roman Catholic mindset, one thing I do not understand, fully at least, is the Orthodox not understanding sin in terms of mortal and venial. I will sum it up. My question is we all sin every day, but some sins seem clearly worse than others. The normal impatience common too us all is something we all struggle with. But a sin like fornication, murder, or stealing seems clearly worse. I think most Orthodox agree on this, and maybe it is the Catholic legalism here, but some distinction seems helpful. Mortal sins in Catholic theology are of course

1. Sins of grave matter
2. There is full consent of the will
3. There is knowledge that the sin was mortal, or at least a grave evil.

But how does Orthodoxy understand this, especially in light of going to the Eucharist. My Orthodox friends says some priests do not allow approaching the Eucharist without confession, whereas others it is a matter of decision of ones conscious. For example, not to be too personal, but I think it is a sin many single men struggle with. If I commit the sin of masturbation, I ask a Catholic will not approach the Eucharist without confessing it. The same goes for any other serious sin, like drunkeness.

The problem is we are all going to sin every day at least in a small way since "the just man sins seven times a day" (Proverbs 24:16). For example sadly I know I will likely get impatient tomorrow, have some murmuring thoughts within myself against others, and maybe even struggle with some impure thoughts about such and such a woman. As much as I want to not sin, I know I will at least lose my temper once.

How does the Orthodox approach this and how about when it comes to serious sins, like getting drunk or something. As as Catholic I consider getting drunk to be a serious sin. If it is done with full consent of the will and there it is no accident, there can be no excuse. Aquinas says that drunkeness is not a sin when the person does not know the strength or something like that, such as when Noah was gotten drunk in Scripture he gives as example. Forgive me because I am a Catholic trying to understand the Orthodox way, so I cite Aquinas and may look at sin in the more legal way that Catholics do. I am just looking for an answer.
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2013, 01:12:31 AM »

The Scholastics see things in immutable absolutes that we do not.

The difference between a "mortal" sin and a "venial" sin, for us, resembles a gun shot wound versus a nick gotten while shaving.  Usually the gunshot will kill you or at least seriously wound you and you should have it looked at and taken care of, but people do survive from it.  You should take care of the nick, and many don't, usually it doesn't affect you so much, but it can get infected and people do die from it.

So, for instance, committing adultery is usually very serious, and should be taken care of, but marriages do survive it and people do give it up.  But  the odds are not good.  Looking at the Playboy isn't as serious, but it can become so.

Listening to music isn't sinful, and even listening to a rapp song when you should be working isn't the end of the world.  But it can lead to it, if you start letting it take over your life-like people do who try to emulate rapper lifestyles.

The Scholastic sort acts into mortal and venial depending on the act itself, where more often it is a question if one will continue down that path and how far, or not.
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2013, 01:26:17 AM »

The Scholastics see things in immutable absolutes that we do not.

The difference between a "mortal" sin and a "venial" sin, for us, resembles a gun shot wound versus a nick gotten while shaving.  Usually the gunshot will kill you or at least seriously wound you and you should have it looked at and taken care of, but people do survive from it.  You should take care of the nick, and many don't, usually it doesn't affect you so much, but it can get infected and people do die from it.

So, for instance, committing adultery is usually very serious, and should be taken care of, but marriages do survive it and people do give it up.  But  the odds are not good.  Looking at the Playboy isn't as serious, but it can become so.

Listening to music isn't sinful, and even listening to a rapp song when you should be working isn't the end of the world.  But it can lead to it, if you start letting it take over your life-like people do who try to emulate rapper lifestyles.

The Scholastic sort acts into mortal and venial depending on the act itself, where more often it is a question if one will continue down that path and how far, or not.

Thats a very good explaination and makes a lot of sense.
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2013, 06:53:35 AM »

I find the response of ialmisry quite interesting. I'd love to hear someone familiar with Orthodox penitential literature and thought weigh in on how confession and penances, at least in past Orthodox cultures, were viewed in relation to the questions in the OP. (but perhaps ialmisry is himself very familiar, and I just don't know it)
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2013, 08:54:27 AM »

I find the response of ialmisry quite interesting. I'd love to hear someone familiar with Orthodox penitential literature and thought weigh in on how confession and penances, at least in past Orthodox cultures, were viewed in relation to the questions in the OP. (but perhaps ialmisry is himself very familiar, and I just don't know it)

The Orthodox look at sin as a turning away from God, be it grave or trivial.  We don't try to differential in the same way as the RCC does but we do recognize that sin is an illness that affects the soul and the more problematic the sin the more the Church acts as a hospital of sorts to try and turn the 'patient' around to not sin anymore.  We look at sin as sin and unworthy of salvation if repentance is not part of one's confession.  We sin, and do so everyday but it is in the effort to try to not sin is where the cure resides. It is often difficult to keep in mind that constant prayer especially at the time of temptation is vitally important.  With all that goes on around us every day and the many distractions, it is essential we remember to pray if only simply.
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2013, 01:57:04 PM »

Sin is looked at as an illness, so gravity and guilt are really secondary elements. In fact, confession and the Eucharist should not exacerbate the problem of guilt, but heal it through God's loving sacrifice on the Cross, provided there is true repentance. And, the spiritual father should take into account the level of repentance and not keep you away from the medicine for too long, or at all, if there is no need for it (in fact, this would harm, more than heal).

Ultimately, there is no such thing as the smallest sin because that would be a symptom of the same illness. The question would be not if you sin, all people do, we are ill, but your attitude towards (all) sin. If you feel sorry for all of your sins, for your entire state, if you see sins as sins and not something acceptable, then that would be the best news; you realize you have an illness and you wish that God heals you (and that's His job).
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2013, 02:19:37 PM »

Thats a very good explaination and makes a lot of sense.

Definitely +1. 
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