Prostitutes, Tax Collectors, and Pharisees

Do the divorced and remarried go to Heaven? What about a married gay couple, or an atheist, or a wealthy business man? In my understanding, persons can die unrepentant from objectively grave sins, such as sexual sins or the sin of refusing to believe in God, and still be saved. Their objective mortal sin must not also be actual mortal sins, or they must repent with perfect contrition. They must love others selflessly. But they can be saved, even though they are spiritually poor, disabled, blind, or lame (Lk 14:21).

[Matthew]
{5:20} For I say to you, that unless your justice has surpassed that of the scribes and the Pharisees you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

{16:12} Then they understood that he was not saying that they should beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

{21:28} But how does it seem to you? A certain man had two sons. And approaching the first, he said: ‘Son, go out today to work in my vineyard.’
{21:29} And responding, he said, ‘I am not willing.’ But afterwards, being moved by repentance, he went.
{21:30} And approaching the other, he spoke similarly. And answering, he said, ‘I am going, lord.’ And he did not go.
{21:31} Which of the two did the will of the father?” They said to him, “The first.” Jesus said to them: “Amen I say to you, that tax collectors and prostitutes shall precede you, into the kingdom of God.
{21:32} For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Yet even after seeing this, you did not repent, so as to believe him.

On the topic of salvation theology, it seems to many Catholics that the modern-day Pharisees, who are constantly talking about religion and teaching religion, are certain to go to Heaven, and that the modern-day prostitutes and tax collectors (persons who are known to commit objectively grave sexual sins or who are immersed in business and financial pursuits) are certain to go to Hell. But I say to you that the Gospel itself clearly indicates that the opposite is true in many cases.

Many persons who are known to commit objective mortal sins are not guilty to the extent of actual mortal sin, and they do have true selfless love for others, so they are in the state of grace and will go to Heaven by way of Purgatory. But many Catholic teachers and leaders commit sins of pride; they are teaching heresy, encouraging schism, and harming souls by false teachings and by their own ignorance and negligence. Some of these are not in the state of grace, though they have the praise of many religious leaders and have many Catholic followers. And they may end up in Hell, if they do not thoroughly repent. Some of these unfaithful teachers, whose words and deeds repeatedly indicate the lack of the state of grace, are well-accepted by conservative Catholics, as if they were bastions of orthodoxy. They are not. But the faithful are so poorly catechized, and they do so little prayer, that they cannot see it.

The Church is in a dire state. Many of Her leaders have gone astray, and no one noticed.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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4 Responses to Prostitutes, Tax Collectors, and Pharisees

  1. Matt Z. says:

    Just to add…Then there are those that for whatever reason do not want to find the knowledge of moral acts. Everyone is obliged by God to find the knowledge of the truths of our faith and the moral law. If someone doesn’t know the truth they can be held responsible for their actions if they lay complacent and do not find the knowledge of our Catholic faith and of good and bad acts.

  2. Francisco says:

    [Hebrews]
    {11:31} By faith, Rahab, the harlot, did not perish with the unbelievers, after receiving the spies with peace.

  3. hmmmohhhh says:

    “In my understanding, persons can die unrepentant from objectively grave sins, such as sexual sins or the sin of refusing to believe in God, and still be saved. Their objective mortal sin must not also be actual mortal sins, or they must repent with perfect contrition.”

    Question:

    You use two examples, sexual sins and refusal to believe in God.

    How about when it comes to homicide (both with regards to abortion and homicide in its common sense)?

    For example, a women procures an abortion who doens’t think abortions are wrong. Or, alternatively, and abortionist who doesn’t think abortions are wrong. Are they guilty of their objective sins?

    Likewise, how about a serial killer who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with killing people, is he guilty of his objectively grave sins?

    Why, why not?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Some objective sins cannot be committed with a sincere but mistaken conscience by a sane person, such as serial killing or torture or mass murder or terrorism. (Although I don’t know if serial killers are insane or evil; maybe they are both.) Some objectively grave sins can be committed with a sincere but mistaken conscience, esp. when the person is led astray by society or by a disordered religion. Many persons have a sincere but mistaken conscience about abortifacient contraception, so they might not be guilty to the extent of an actual mortal sin. But persons who commit objectively grave sins, without full culpability, might have a degree of culpability.

      A woman who procures surgical abortion or a doctor who performs abortion might have a sincere but mistaken conscience. But they would not thereby be justified. To go to Heaven, one must enter the state of grace, and remain in it, or return to it by repentance. Also, the mere fact that a person doesn’t think it is wrong does not prove a sincere conscience. They must truly care about morality and truly love others. Even though an abortion doctor might possibly have a sincere but mistaken conscience, I would think that most do not (given the realities of that procedure). An individual woman, in a difficult situation, perhaps is more likely to avoid full culpability. There is a difference between what is possible and what is likely.

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