No sin sends you straight to Hell

On Cail Corishev’s blog (which I’ve linked to and complimented in the past, though we don’t agree on everything) I responded to somebody named BradA who wrote this:

I have not been in the RCC for quite a while, but I don’t recall contraception use sending the user straight to hell.

There’s a funny thing going on here. Brad’s obviously saying that he doesn’t remember the Catholic Church condemning contraception as a grave sin. In that sense, he’s wrong, since it does.

But in another sense Brad is absolutely right. Using contraception doesn’t send the user straight to Hell. Neither does divorce, torture, rape, murder, or even genocide. Contraception only satisfies one of the three requirements for sin to be mortal, that is, to send you to Hell: it is a grave sin. But if one commits it without sufficient knowledge and full consent of will, then using contraception would only be a venial sin.

This is true of the worst imaginable crimes, and I think is the main reason it’s unhealthy to speculate about who really is and isn’t in Hell.

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12 Responses to No sin sends you straight to Hell

  1. Ilíon says:

    No sinsende you straight to Hell

    True enough … for after all, we are all *born* “going straigh to Hell”

    Human being are not sinners because they sin, they sin because they are sinners.

    • Nice way to word it.

      • BenYachov says:

        @My cynical brother from another Mother(OTOH the same Mother if we factor in BVM)

        If we define “we are all *born* “going straigh to Hell” as synonymous with not automatically having the grace for the beatific vision at conception I might agree.

        It is my understanding the Catholic definition of damnation is defined as “loss of the beatific vision” for all eternity which can lead to either Hell in terms of punishment for other sins or in the case of dying with only original sin on your soul then Limbo.

        but I would concede an orthodox interpretation in spite of Ilion’s known Protestantism.


    • BenYachov says:

      I smell Calvinism. Rather we are born not getting the Beatific Vision which is a pure gift.
      The correct understanding here is damnation in the loose sense is the loss of the beatific vision which we cannot earn & have no intrinsic right too in any sense.

      We are born in a mere natural state of original sin(being born deprived of sanctifying grace) with weakened and darkened wills.

  2. Belated thanks for the link!

    The only sin which the Church has ever considered a straight ticket to Hell is suicide; the logic being that it’s murder — a mortal sin — and you have no chance to repent. Everything else can be confessed and absolved. That’s why suicides used to be placed in a separate part of the cemetery. But even with suicide, if death isn’t instant, we can’t really know the person’s destination for sure. Someone who overdoses intentionally or jumps off a bridge could have made an Act of Perfect Contrition in between the act and the moment of death. That’s a very tall order, so it’s unlikely, but possible. We know there are many people in Hell, but we shouldn’t speculate about individuals.

    • Even with suicide, it’s possible that due to mental distress there is not full consent, correct?

      Note that I am not saying this is always, or even most of the time, the case. Just that it’s open for possibility.

  3. Ilíon says:

    More than one commenter here is approaching salvation as a matter of justice — as being somehow our due — when, in fact, salvation is a matter of mercy: our salvation is the act of God in setting aside the justice we do deserve: Death, to give us what we do not deserve: Life.

    We *all* are sinners, even the new-born babe who has committed no particular sin; we are all born into sin, which is Death: we are all *born* “going straight to Hell”, as people say. We *none of us* deserve to be saved from the Death into which we are born.

    Much of the worrying about “But what about people who have never heard of Christ?” and “But what about stillbirths?” and “But what about suicides?” and “OK, but what about mentally-ill suicides?” and so on (without end) is founded upon the disinclination, or even outright refusal, to trust that God is merciful.

    • In other words, trust to the mercy of God.

      • Ilíon says:

        That and his faithfulness.

        As I said in an expansion post on my own blog – “But, *who* — if not God himself — is going to enforce this obligation one imagines one has placed upon God? If one will not trust in the Mercy God has openly proclaimed — if one will not trust God to do what he says he will do without obligation — then how can one trust in his Justice (especially a “justice” arrived at through some imagined trickery), when he is the only guarantor of Justice?”

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