Internal sin  

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"whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" --Jesus, Matthew 5:27–28

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Internal sin, in Christianity, is the idea that sin may be committed not only by outward deeds but also by the inner activity of the mind, quite apart from any external manifestation. Thought crimes were as old as heresy, but the Reformation's alarms received new emphasis at the Council of Trent (Session XIV, chapter. v). The session, while reiterating that all mortal sins must be confessed, singled out the unspoken ones that "sometimes more grievously wound the soul and are more dangerous than sins which are openly committed".

Three kinds of internal sin are usually distinguished by Catholics:

  • delectatio morosa, the pleasure taken in a sinful thought or imagination even without desiring it;
  • gaudium, dwelling with complacency on sins already committed;
  • desiderium, the desire for what is sinful.

Biblical quotes

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Internal sin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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