Am I obligated to confess mortal sins I didn’t know were wrong?
I have a question about not confessing sins. As a kid, I really only thought mortal sins were things like not killing people, not stealing from people, not cheating on your wife, etc. I didn’t really know about other mortal sins at that time. To be a mortal sin, it is required that you have to know it’s wrong, do it with full consent, and it has to be a grave matter. Now since I didn’t know it was wrong, it can’t be mortal if I understand this correctly. So, my question is, am I obliged to confess it?
The Roman Catholic Church classifies sins into two categories: venial and mortal. Venial sins are to be worked on but do not have to be confessed to a priest. Mortal sins must be confessed to a priest -- if not, the sin is considered deadly to a person's entrance into heaven. For a sin to be considered mortal it has to be a serious sin that was premeditated and willfully done.
Even though the Roman Catholic Church makes a distinction between sins, God does not make such distinctions. Sin is breaking God's law. "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness" (I John 3:4). And all sins can lead to hell if not corrected.
The Christian who wishes to have his sins forgiven must repent, which means to change his mind about the sin he did (II Corinthians 7:10-11), and ask for forgiveness (I John 1:8-10). Even though the Roman Catholic Church insists on sins being confessed to a priest, it admits that their practice does not come from the Bible. "Auricular confession is nowhere expressly mentioned in the Bible" [Question Box, 1929, p. 287]. Forgiveness of sin is granted by God, not men.
God does encourage Christians to talk with other Christians about their sins. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16). You may talk to any Christian about your sins, not just a man calling himself a priest. Similarly, any Christian can approach God in prayer to ask forgiveness of his sins or the sins of another person.