Updated: Jan 2
By Luke Lancaster
St. Paul provides an example of mortal sin that involves family life in Scripture, saying, “If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Not lovingly providing the food, shelter, and clothing of your children is a serious sin indeed, and is especially relevant in this culture where the man consistently abandons the woman he got pregnant! With single Mom’s on the rise, I think everybody would agree that the man is committing a serious sin if he considers himself a Christian and rejects his role in providing for his family. Paul would even go so far as to say that not providing for one’s family members places you into the category of “unbelievers”! Doing so would be rejecting a God-given duty to provide, and that is no small matter.
This supports the notion of mortal sin in that there are only two kinds of people in Paul’s eyes: believers who form the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), and unbelievers who are enemies of God (Rom. 5:10). Not providing for family members puts you into the group of people that desperately need to be reconciled to God. Now, to give some background, Paul is an older bishop that is giving pastoral direction to a younger bishop, Timothy. Timothy is to be leading the Christian community at Ephesus, and Paul gives him teachings on family life, which are to be passed along to the Church at Ephesus. This may have been a serious problem in Ephesus, so this is probably why Paul would give such a teaching – and the serious consequences of not following it.