Author Topic: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?  (Read 602 times)

Offline Bernadette

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Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« on: October 09, 2019, 08:44:16 AM »
I'd appreciate others' feedback. Something like alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. Say one is fighting against it and relapses. Sin?
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Offline aquinas138

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2019, 11:16:01 AM »
Yes, it is a sin. Its severity depends on many factors, especially the degree to which the will is impaired. The important thing, though, is that it remains at least objectively a sin. And for that reason, a person struggling with addiction needs a regular confessor or spiritual director in addition to whatever other therapy or treatment is needed. Also, while it remains a sin to cave, a person who is truly struggling should not despair of forgiveness; a confessor who knows the struggler's situation can more accurately assess the degree to which a person is truly struggling and offer appropriate spiritual guidance.
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Offline MundaCorMeum

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2019, 11:48:38 AM »
I agree with aquinas.  Objectively, yes, it is still a sin.  Subjectively, how culpable the person is just depends.  That judgement is up to God.  It would take guidance from a good priest for the person to figure that part out. 
 

Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2019, 11:55:55 AM »
"Addiction" does not exist.
 
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Offline Gerard

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2019, 12:47:34 PM »
Sins can be divided into two types: sins of malice and sins of weakness. Giving into an addiction/habitual sin-vice when you wish you could resist is basically a sin of weakness.  Probably  a lot easier to eventually get past than a sin of malice. 

Frequent confession, prayer and building up spiritual defenses will gradually uproot the sin.  I heard a priest say to make offerings from your strongest areas eg. fasting if that's not your area of addiction and offer it up to a saint that can help you by obtaining graces in your area of weakness.  You may keep losing the individual battles for a while but resistance will gradually increase and you will lose less frequently and then the tide will turn.   A person genuinely trying should never be discouraged, St. Augustine is quoted as saying when it came to his temptations towards impurity, "Many battles, few victories." 

Great book recommendation:  "How to Resist Temptation" by Fr. Francis Remler. 

Bishop Sheen was an advocate of the "…crowd out the temptation…" method. 


 
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2019, 08:24:51 PM »
According to virtue ethics, it's a sin. Because addiction is a character flaw, and any action which follows from a character flaw is a sin. (The person who fights against addiction is 'better' than the person who doesn't care, since he's at least headed in the right direction. But both kinds of persons are 'bad'. Good persons simply aren't addicted, so those who have not yet reached this point are not yet 'good' persons.)

Virtue ethics isn't Church teaching, but many Catholics have been virtue ethicists.
 

Offline Bernadette

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2019, 09:03:54 PM »
According to virtue ethics, it's a sin. Because addiction is a character flaw, and any action which follows from a character flaw is a sin. (The person who fights against addiction is 'better' than the person who doesn't care, since he's at least headed in the right direction. But both kinds of persons are 'bad'. Good persons simply aren't addicted, so those who have not yet reached this point are not yet 'good' persons.)

Virtue ethics isn't Church teaching, but many Catholics have been virtue ethicists.

This makes no sense to me.
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Offline St.Justin

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2019, 11:48:31 PM »
According to virtue ethics, it's a sin. Because addiction is a character flaw, and any action which follows from a character flaw is a sin. (The person who fights against addiction is 'better' than the person who doesn't care, since he's at least headed in the right direction. But both kinds of persons are 'bad'. Good persons simply aren't addicted, so those who have not yet reached this point are not yet 'good' persons.)

Virtue ethics isn't Church teaching, but many Catholics have been virtue ethicists.

This makes no sense to me.

Nor me.
 

Offline St.Justin

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2019, 11:55:01 PM »
According to virtue ethics, it's a sin. Because addiction is a character flaw, and any action which follows from a character flaw is a sin. (The person who fights against addiction is 'better' than the person who doesn't care, since he's at least headed in the right direction. But both kinds of persons are 'bad'. Good persons simply aren't addicted, so those who have not yet reached this point are not yet 'good' persons.)

Virtue ethics isn't Church teaching, but many Catholics have been virtue ethicists.

Based on what doctors say a great number of people are genetically predisposed to at least some addictions. The degree to which a person is culpable is best left to God.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2019, 05:59:50 AM »
Based on what doctors say a great number of people are genetically predisposed to at least some addictions. The degree to which a person is culpable is best left to God.

I agree.  I have been in many situations (not just addictions) in which I was not sure how culpable I was.  Rather than putting a lot of effort into trying to figure it out, I go to Confession.  I am able to participate in the Sacrament without knowing how culpable I am.  I have contrition for the objective damage caused by my sin and for whatever  culpability I have. It is likely there is some, no matter how diminished. God knows what it is, even if I don't.  The Sacrament not only brings forgiveness, but gives grace to deal with the addictions/ weaknesses that are involved in the sin.

As a general rule, I go by "regardless of culpability, go to Confession."  This might not work for people dealing with scrupulosity.  They typically need special spiritual direction.  But I think it is a good guideline for most of us.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2019, 07:16:32 AM »
According to virtue ethics, it's a sin. Because addiction is a character flaw, and any action which follows from a character flaw is a sin. (The person who fights against addiction is 'better' than the person who doesn't care, since he's at least headed in the right direction. But both kinds of persons are 'bad'. Good persons simply aren't addicted, so those who have not yet reached this point are not yet 'good' persons.)

Virtue ethics isn't Church teaching, but many Catholics have been virtue ethicists.

This makes no sense to me.
Do you mean that you disagree with virtue ethics, or do you mean that you don't understand it as I presented it?


The theory is based in the idea that 'goodness' has to do with how well the thing measures up to its respective standard. Good knifes are sharp because the knife-standard is sharp. Dull knives are bad knives. Similarly, good humans are temperate because the human-standard is temperate. Intemperate humans are bad humans.

This theory then goes on to say that the means to becoming a good person (if you're not already there) is to get into the habit of acting the way that the good person acts. This is because habits are hard to break. If you're in the habit of being temperate then temperate actions are 'second nature' i.e. it's much easier to act temperately than intemperately. But if you're intemperate, it's easier to act intemperately than temperately. (Case and point: A person who has never had any desire to even taste alcohol most likely isn't going to suddenly get drunk tomorrow night, at least not by his own will. But the person who gets drunk every night is probably going to get drunk tomorrow night, and it will take great effort on his part is he wants to not get drunk.)

From this it follows that the temperate person is a good person (all other things being equal), while the intemperate person is a bad person.
Nevertheless, there is a difference between a bad person who is working towards becoming a good person, and a bad person who isn't willing to put in the effort. And far worse is the bad person who wants to be a bad person, who deliberately forms bad habits.

I don't think that this theory has much to say with regard to individual actions though. So maybe I shouldn't have said that virtue ethics says it's a 'sin'. My point was that bad actions typically follow from bad people/bad habits, and good actions typically follow from good people/good habits.


I suppose it's also worth mentioning that virtue ethics doesn't distinguish between habits according to who is responsible for the habit. e.g. An addict's addiction might be the addict's fault (maybe he chose to start using drugs), but it also might not be the addict's fault (maybe he became addicted through force, or through a doctor's mistake or something). None of this matters for virtue ethics though, because in either case the addict is supposed to not be addicted and is thus obligated to become not-addicted. Until he is not-addicted, he's not good.


Whether or not this theory mixes well with the Catholic teaching on grace and sin seems debatable. There are also epistemological reasons to question it (or at least parts of it). But of the three mainstream ethical theories (virtue ethics vs. deontology vs. utilitarianism) then this is probably the best.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2019, 07:34:07 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2019, 08:16:12 AM »
One more time: there is no such thing as "addiction". Nobody in possession of his wits in everythign else is at the same time "compelled", sidestepping his will and reason, to do something. What is now called "addiction" we used to call "temptation" and say that no man is tempted beyond what he can bear.

Stop whining. if you decided to do something knowing what it is, no matter how much your passions nagged you to do it, you're culpable. If you're sorry, confess and be forgiven. What more do you need to know, and why do you need to argue over this in your head?

« Last Edit: October 10, 2019, 08:19:11 AM by Kreuzritter »
 

Offline Bernadette

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2019, 08:34:41 AM »
Nobody here is whining. You seem to have very strong opinions on this. I take it you've never had to deal with it personally. How fortunate for you. I hope you never will.
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Offline Heinrich

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2019, 10:11:03 AM »
Nobody here is whining. You seem to have very strong opinions on this. I take it you've never had to deal with it personally. How fortunate for you. I hope you never will.

You are such a kind soul, Bernadette. I think I am addicted to coffee.
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Offline gsas

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Re: Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2019, 10:16:31 AM »
One more time: there is no such thing as "addiction". Nobody in possession of his wits in everythign else is at the same time "compelled", sidestepping his will and reason, to do something. What is now called "addiction" we used to call "temptation" and say that no man is tempted beyond what he can bear.

Stop whining. if you decided to do something knowing what it is, no matter how much your passions nagged you to do it, you're culpable. If you're sorry, confess and be forgiven. What more do you need to know, and why do you need to argue over this in your head?

I am another poster, but let me answer this question.  Addiction / temptation are works of the devil.  God will not put more temptation on you than what you can bear.  But addiction is also a gateway for the devil into your soul, which is typically obviously shown in the impairment of the will of the addict.  That way, you easily get a lot more than what you can bear.  In fact, it is a high national statistics, the death rates from addiction per year.  So it is no use to tell an addict that they have any power.  The addict together with the Church has power.  You can't confess it away, it will be just a revolving door.  Giving yourself up to the saints is a stronger start.  Acceptance too, that you can't be the same person, no matter how you enter and walk through an addiction challenge.  And if you believe that you are in possession of your wits, then every time you believe that, you make the devil laugh, whether you are addicted or not.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2019, 10:20:51 AM by gsas »