Missing Church Doesn’t Make You a Sinner

by Tommy Zimmer | “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 (image: Mary Beth Bonacci)

Many Christians think if they miss church service, they might be damned to hell for all eternity. This can be very much seen in Catholic doctrine. “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice,” The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states. “Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” However, that is only one denomination of Christianity. Most other denominations can have significantly different interpretations. It's helpful to have a clear understanding of the different sects of Christianity.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod explains where the phrase “by faith alone” comes from. It comes from various parts of the Bible but particularly Ephesians 2:8,9. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast,” the passage wrote. This is a very clear departure from the Catholic view, who believe you have to speak to a priest in confession in order to receive absolution for the sins you committed. This has been a particular stressor and important piece of the puzzle. Slate noted this in an article they published. “A generation ago, you'd see a lot of us lined up inside Catholic churches on Saturday afternoons, waiting to take our turn in one of the confessionals,” the article said. “Yet in most parishes, the lines for these confessionals have pretty much disappeared.”

Slate speaks about a cultural change as to why Catholics aren't confessing their sins at mass. However, Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, has been advocating for confession and how helpful it can be. “Moreover, it helps to verbalize your sins with another person,” Martin wrote. “And hearing the words of absolution, viva voce, is a lot more powerful than intuiting them in prayer,” Martin alleges he has spoken with many Catholics and understands how tiring confession can be. But, he still believes in the benefits of confession.

So, the question of missing church can greatly depend on your particular Christian views. It could also be based on whether or not you are very liberal or conservative. Many Catholics can be conservative and pro-life while others might be pro-choice and care more about social justice issues. While individual Christian churches have attempted to set standards, it is tough to enforce them in one country alone but across the world too. It would seem the Lutheran standardsare more sensible. But, we can leave the answer up to you.

About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery and the entertainment industry.