Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Difference Between Venial and Mortal Sins

There are two kinds of sins we commit: venial and mortal.  The venial sins are the little stuff, the mortal sins are the instant punching-your-ticket-to-hell kind of stuff.  I've struggled a lot with distinguishing between the two, teeter-tottering between condemnation of every little transgression and ignoring things that shouldn't be ignored. It's married life that has finally taught me how to understand the difference between the two.

There are a lot of little, but very important, ways of showing your spouse how much you care about them.  Little letters or notes tucked in their lunch bag or their purse, small presents or gifts of affection chosen just because you know they like them and not for any other reason, reaching out to caress them not because you want something from them but because you enjoy touching them, fixing them lunch or dinner after work, cleaning up for them, choosing to participate in something they enjoy doing not because you enjoy it but because you want to be part of their world.  These are all the little things that show that you care.

Neglecting these little things is like committing a venial sin.  It's not enough to kill the marriage, but it allows distance to grow between you.  It makes you have to struggle that much harder to keep things together. Weeds grow in where love once flourished and these weeds take up some of the nutrients and space that the marriage needed to grow.  In terms of our relationship with God, venial sins are signs of a relationship that's drifting apart and is in need of time and attention.  It's the little things we aren't doing for Him, the little signs of love that we are neglecting.

Although these little neglects are never by themselves enough to destroy the marriage, they can lead right up to the things that do destroy them.  A spouse who feels distant or unappreciated is easier prey for the attentions of someone who pays attention to those areas, who fulfills in them what their spouse isn't.  It's not an excuse for an affair, but it can contribute to one. Venial sins always come before the mortal sins.  They are the precursor, the warning signs of something wrong. That's why it's important not to ignore them, or to brush them off as unimportant. If we allow the venial sins to alert us to a problem, it's easier to fix it before it becomes something serious.

Popular Posts