How common is sinful thought?

Growing up Catholic, I learned that I was committing sins just lying still in bed – thinking. I later decided that this idea – that just thinking “bad” thoughts is in itself a sin – is one of the evil genius ideas of the Catholic Church. You are in trouble and need the Church’s help in redemption even if you’re a quadriplegic.

But is it peculiar to Catholics? Is it widespread among lots of Christian denominations, or even more universal than that? What is the truth behind “dammed if you don’t”?

Is there an official cite in Catholic dogma to back up thought alone as a sin? I wasnt raised Catholic.
I wouldnt catagorize sexual thought as thought because its hormonal driven. How can that be a sin?

It’s not just a Catholic thing; Jimmy Carter (a devout Baptist) was famously quoted in a Playboy interview (which was published just before the 1976 election): “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”

Matthew 5:28

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.”
― Billy Joel

Considering how many religions there are, and how many sins total there could possibly be…chances are both asking that question and responding to it are considered sins according to someone, somewhere.

How common is sinful thought?

I’m picturing all of you naked right now.

I figured if thinking about it was just as bad as doing it, I may as well do it.

That isn’t sin, that’s* penance.* :wink:

You may recall the last two of the Ten Commandments, which predate the formation of the Catholic Church by a couple of years, are both admonitions against sinful thought.

And the same deal with angry thoughts v. actions as with lustful thoughts and actions - Matt. 5:21-22.

From pretty much any Christian perspective, we’re continually committing sins in thought, word, and deed. We need God’s forgiveness for what’s in our hearts, even if we don’t act on it.

The answer, from at least this Christian’s perspective, isn’t to metaphorically (let alone literally) flog ourselves for being sinful, but just accept that that’s our fallen nature, and that it’s on account of that that we need God in our lives and our hearts. As Neil Diamond said, that’s what he’s there for.

One last thought: AFAIAC, acknowledging guilt is a moral necessity. Feeling guilty is a waste of time.

Seems to me like you guys have got too many sins on the books if it’s impossible to get through the day without committing a few. Most people would see that as a flaw in the system.

The same could be said, and has been said, about our legal system. How many crimes did you commit yesterday?

Boiling down much of Christian thought to its bare naked (heh I said bare naked) essentials, it doesn’t matter what we say, think, or do. We’re all born damned and unless we are properly saved, we’ll die damned.

I’ll be damned if I’m damned from the start just for being born, for which I had absolutely no choice in the matter. Great recruiting tool you’ve got there.

  1. Nobody claims our laws are part of a perfect system created by a perfect body, and thus
  2. We are allowed to change or eliminate laws without fear of eternal damnation.

We could even just outrightly ignore and violate our earthly laws, with at worst the fear of lifelong temporal damnation.

I cannot conceive of getting through a day without at least one lustful or violent or greedy thought.

“Inconceivable!” And this time, the word means what I think it means.

I feel sad for believers who are so afraid of their God that they can’t even enjoy the privacy of their own thoughts. Their God is worse than the KGB or Gestapo.

I don’t think I could get through an hour, and rarely is there a minute that some evil thought isn’t bouncing around in my head. The whole world is damn lucky only one of my personalities is evil. Well only one is pure evil anyway.

Why does everyone ignore the plain text there? It describes an action. You must look at the woman with the intent of lusting after her. It’s not sinful thought.

The idea that coveting is a sin doesn’t work with what the New Testament teaches–you can be tempted without sin. And what is temptation but wanting to do something? If you’re tempted to steal, you are coveting the item you want to steal. Yet that temptation isn’t sin. If you’re tempted to commit adultery, you must covet the person. But if temptation is not sin, then that coveting can’t be sin.

It doesn’t work. It has to be seen as an Old Testament teaching that has been clarified by the New Testament. Hebrews 4:15 flat out says Jesus was tempted in every way we are, but that he did not sin. So he coveted, as he must’ve been tempted to steal at some point. (I’d say he must have also been tempted to commit adultery, but that gets into definitions of what adultery is. By biblical definitions, he must’ve been.)

Every time Jesus references this sort of thing, he also references an action. You look at a woman to lust after her. You call you brother “Racca” to show your hatred.

Now, whether there are other thoughts that can be sin, that requires going elsewhere. There are times when people ask God to forgive their disbelief. Belief itself is a thought, and disbelief is either a thought or lack of thought. So clearly, there are some thought-based sins. But the book of James is all about how those beliefs require action.

I think it’s perfectly consistent to believe that you can’t sin via thought alone. That if sinful thoughts exist, they are thoughts that lead to sinful actions.

All you say might be true, but I was raised into a different narrative.

Apparently my narrative is pretty widespread among Christian denominations.Can we get a bit more detail on which buy in?