Mortal or Venial Sins?
What is the difference between mortal sins and venial sins? Surely there must be a difference? Or is God looking at someone hogging down a bag of candy in the same manner as someone that is a serial murder/rapist? Let's take a quick look at what the Catholic Catechism can tell us about mortal and venial sins.
"Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God's mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation. 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. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it. One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent. Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul's progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God's grace it is humanly reparable. Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness."
That is what the Catholic Catechism tells us! Now what does His Holy Word have to tell us on this subject? Well, I'm not a Bible genius, but from the following verses, I can see that sin, and it matters not to God what sin a person commits, sin keeps an individual out of Heaven.
James 2:9,10 says, "But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Further Scriptures tell us, also, that, "And there shall in no wise enter into it (Heaven) any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21:27) Thus, I see no reason to think of any sin being what some call a venial sin, especially since it doesn't allow anyone to enter Heaven. Romans 6:23 doesn't distinguish sins, but rather tells us simply, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Even in the Old testament Book of Ezekiel 18:4 tells us, "...the soul that sinneth, it shall die." God takes sin very serious. Just look at a few examples found in scripture. Adam and Eve just ate from the tree and all of mankind got cursed. (Genesis 3). In Numbers 15:32-36, they stoned a man for picking up wood for a fire on the Sabbath Day. These are just two sins that wouldn't hardly be considered "mortal" in today's world!
But what does the Bible refer to in 1 John 5:16,17 when it clearly refers to, "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death?" That obviously refers to some sin as worse than others! The danger is that this verse is not saying that some sins aren't worse, but rather that a person would think of "little sins" as venial. That facts show that all sin keeps you out of Heaven and damns a person to Hell for eternity. This verse actually refers to, not the spiritual classifying of sins, but rather that sometimes God causes a physical death to occur as a result of sin, such as can be seen in Acts 5 (Ananias and Sapphira) or 1 Corinthians 11:29, 30 (For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.) Another example of this could be that as a result of a illicit sexual encounter, one might be infected with the AIDS virus. The point is that this verse is not classifying some sins to be "mortal" sins and others to be venial sins simply because of the already mentioned verses above from Genesis, Numbers, James and Revelation.
The real danger of thinking that some sins are venial sins is that a person that leads a pretty good life then doesn't see the need for a "born-again" solution and they die lost in their sins. The Bible tells us that, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) And if the wages of sin is death, then the only solution is for someone to accept that "Gift of eternal life" is by "getting born again" (John 3:3). They must trust in Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. Nothing else, whether masses or sacraments, or good deeds or penances, nothing but the Blood of Jesus will save you. Lets keep our eyes on Jesus and His finished work, done once and for all, nearly 2000 years ago. Thank you, Jesus.