In the Catechism, the Holy Catholic Church teaches that “Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture, [cf. 1 John 5:16-17] became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience” (CCC 1854). But this very Biblical truth is still being rejected by the non-Catholic sects as they use the second chapter (v. 10-11) in the letter of James to defend their heretical proposition that “all sins are equal.” Then, what is written in James 2:10-11? Read:
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ said also, ‘Do not kill.'”
The question now is: Does the passage above teach the equality of all sins? Of course NOT. St. James, when writing his letter, never intend to discuss the gravity of sins but on the point that breaking even just one of the divine laws remains a transgression of the law. Yet, if that remains a transgression of the law, how severe is it? Again, the Church teaches that sins are to be evaluated according to their gravity and the Sacred Scripture indeed speaks of it. In I John 5:16-18, it reads:
“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that is not a deadly sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not deadly. There is sin which is deadly; I do not say one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not deadly. We know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
See? All wrongdoings are sins but they are to be distinguished whether they are deadly or not, that is to say, mortal or venial. That is precisely what the Church means by mortal (sin unto death) and venial (sin not unto death) sins. Very biblical indeed!
Moreover, in John 19:11, Jesus said to Pontius Pilate: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” He also emphasized in Matthew 12:32: “And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come”. Thus, the Lord Himself vividly speaks that sins are not equal, that there are lesser and greater sins. Because if sins are equal, then why are there sins that can and can’t be forgiven? Christ made it clear in Matthew 5:19: “Whoever then relaxes (breaks) one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” He therefore teaches that there are “least commandments” a person can break and even teach others to do so yet still remain “in the kingdom of heaven.” All these are in line with the infallible teachings of Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Below are further scriptural passages from the Old Testament which also support this Catholic teaching:
◾ Genesis 18:20: “And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous…”
◾ Genesis 20:9: “Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.”
◾ Exodus 21:12: “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.”
◾ Exodus 21:15-19: “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.”
◾ Exodus 21:22: “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”
◾ Exodus 22:1: “If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.”
◾ Exodus 22:4-6: “If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.”
◾ Exodus 22:16-17: “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”
◾ Exodus 22:19: “Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.”
NOTE: From the above texts, the plain truth is that the gravity of punishment depends on the gravity of sins committed. There could really be no such thing as “all sins are equal” because if they do then the punishment should all be the same regardless of what or how the sin was committed.
On the other hand, in moral theology, a sin considered to be more severe or mortal is distinct from a venial sin and must meet all of the following conditions:
⚫ Its subject must be a grave (or serious) matter.
⚫ It must be committed with full knowledge, both of the sin and of the gravity of the offense.
⚫ It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent, enough for it to have been a personal decision to commit the sin.
NOTE: The Catechism of the Holy Catholic Church defines grave matter as:
“Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.’ The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger” (CCC 1858).
NO MATTER how “born again,” “saved,” or whatever one thinks he or she is, if he or she commits these sins and do not repent, he or she will still not go to heaven.
CONFESS YOUR SINS AND BE FORGIVEN!