Day 12: Bible Study Time!

First, a confession: I listened to Mass today on the radio.

Now, a question.

Actually, since I’ve been going to/listening to church for almost two weeks straight, I have a lot of questions. Some revolve around aspects of the Mass, but a lot are biblical in nature. Some answers are straightforward; others require in-depth research, which means I still don’t have a clear answer. I always thought you got all the answers at church, and then you tried to use what you learned in your life. Now I’m finding out, sometimes you leave church and have to discern what’s expected of you. Not sure how it took me 54 years to figure this out. Apparently, you learn something new every day.

Okay, here’s the question: What is this passage saying we should do?

If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life. 
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. 
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray. 
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

1 John 5:16-21

I get this much: Pray for those around you who are committing non-deadly sins. But then it says not to pray for someone committing deadly sins, right? So does that mean we should assume they’re too far gone to receive prayer? That doesn’t seem right because God is said to always be ready to forgive.

I consulted the forums page on Catholic.com. The majority opinion was that, while it’s not bad to pray for someone you know is committing a deadly sin, and in this case deadly is referring to a mortal sin, the person needs a heck of a lot more than just you praying for him. We’re talking saintly interventions. Still, if prayer helps, shouldn’t you pray for a person committing a mortal sin, even if it’s a drop in the bucket?

I then visited desiringgod.org. Here, the theory is basically that the sin is not deadly because it’s really awful (like murder, for instance), but it’s deadly because the person is committing it with such intensity and with such little sense of remorse that he won’t even be affected by your prayer.

I’m not sure I completely agree with either of these theories. Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle. I guess the takeaway is it can’t hurt to pray for anyone, whether their hearts are open to it or not. If you have a different theory, I’d love to hear it.

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