not on the level of particular choices but on the level of the fundamental option. Explain
this statement and its consequences and the implication.
As a premise, let it be noted that a mortal sin is an act done with full
knowledge and consent as a formal refusal opposed to God’s call to love. It
is a turning away from God and is so grave that it could affect the
entirety of the person. By entirety, we mean personality and orientation
which according to Delhaye are categorized into the good Fundamental Option
and the bad Fundamental Option. And by orientation, we mean a tendency or a
direction that leads a person to make certain decisions. Thus, we say that
mortal sin occurs in the level of the Fundamental Option because commiting
one objectively serious sin doesn’t automatically equate to a mortal sin if
the person’s Fundamental Option is good. Let’s say a man kills 3 men that
are trying to rape his wife. Indeed murder is a very grave sin yet taken in
the context of the event that he was merely protecting his wife, in the
level of the particular, it becomes difficult to say if the husband
committed sin. However, the focus here shouldn’t be the technicalitites of
the gray area that this incident is in. Rather the focus is what the act
implies and how the act affects the husband’s relationship with God – a
relationship founded on ones Fundamental Option.
If a person is deeply rooted in evil- hence, his Fundamental Option is to
turn against the absolute good, God – when he commits a grave sin, it is
relatively easier for him to plunge into mortal sin. Thus, the frequency of
commiting a mortal sin is associated with the person’s Fundamental Option.
And once a mortal sin is committed, because it has changed a person’s
orientation and has affected a person’s relationship with God, it would
take more than a “sorry” to get a person back in the right (loving) track.
b) Why is it important to insist that there is a level beyond particular
acts, why is it important to insist that mortal sin “occurs” on this
Man isn’t always consistent or 100% coherent. His decisions and
corresponding actions often depend not on a strict set of principles but on
the different situations that he faces that always call for an assessment
of objective content. However, we cannot continue to believe that a
person’s life is determined by acts that are independent from each other
and that every slight mistake or bad decision already equates to mortal
sin. God is very forgiving. He does not condemn or disown us for every
Being that our lives are not just about a series of separate particular
acts, we believe that there is a much profound level beyond this –
Fundamental Option. And because as is said previously, the Fundamental
Option is determinant of our personality or “the person that we are,” it
becomes but judicious that it is only in this level that mortal sin occurs.
It is also important to insist that mortal sin occurs on the level of
Fundamental Option so that our idea of mortal sin is not trivialized.
Mortal sin is severe and it is not easily committed or forgiven, thus a
person should be careful in dealing with such matters. It is only in the
occasion of mortal sin that the-person-that-we-are continuously veers away
from God by incessantly commiting acts that hurt other people and our
relationship with God.
c) Why would this be better than the tradidtional “sin in partiuclar acts”
explanation? Expound on your answer.
Looking at mortal sin as occuring in the level of the Fundamental Option
would be a better basis than the “sin in particular acts” explanation
because it takes into account a larger picture of sin, particularly mortal
sin. Our lives are not merely a series of random acts. People do have
inconsistencies but these inconsistencies are part ofbeinghuman.
Regardless of the inconsistencies, people’s actions connote or indicate a
certain unity that move toward certain goals. And as is said in Delhaye’s
article, the goal of Fundamental Option is the absolute good that is God –
that is love. Thus, if all acts and particular decisions stood alone
without a certain unifying theme, then the person loses his or her stake in
life and that is love and his/her relationship with God.
Through the explanation of the Fundamental Option, we are able to assess
acts with regards to intention and what these intentions and these acts do
to the person the we are. For example, a person has chosen to be good, by
attending Sunday mass. But during the mass, he remembers that he has
nothing to feed his children on Monday so snatches the bag of an old lady
during communion, and in trying to immediately escape, he knocks over the
lady and the lady goes into coma and eventually dies because of the impact
of the fall. The man’s intention to praise God and feed his family are
good. But his intention and act of snatching the old lady’s bag and
knocking her over is bad. If we look at it in the perspective of particular
acts, we would be confused as to how, by the actions of this person, he
could be judged fairly. The snatching and the intentional knocking over are
sins. Yet, he didn’t intend to kill the old lady. In the perspective of
Fundamental Option, this short anecdote is insufficient to judge the man
fairly. His historicity is needed to determine his Fundamental Option.
However, this is not short of saying that the act of snatching or
intentionally hurting the old lady do not affect the development of the
Fundamental Option (to be expounded in the next number). But given more
knowledge on this man, the Fundamental Option perspective becomes a more
sensible guage of what kind of a man he is (But the importance of the role
of particular acts should come into play. This wil be discussed on the last
d) Would every act contribute equally to the formation and development of
the fundamental option? Explain your answer.
Not all particular actions contribute equally to the pursuits of the
Fundamental Option to a relationship with God and to love. People do not
engage their Fundamental Option in the same intensity all the time. Not all
acts have the same merit.
An act can greatly contribute to the formation and development of the
Fundamental Option if free will is completely participating. Sometimes
people act half heartedly, they do not commit themselves into their action
or decision. Sometimes they have no other choice but to do the act even if
it is contrary to the dictates of their will, these acts surely do not
merit enough to the destruction or growth of the Fundamental Option. But
nonetheless they affect the Fundamental Option.
Also, it is in the nature of men and the inherent nature of situations
that not everything is to be regarded with the same level of importance.
For example, in the development of a good Fundamental Option, helping a
gradeschooler carry her books isn’t seen as weightier that jumping into a
pool to save a drowning child. There are some things that people feel and
that really are more important than others in the process of growth and
e) Does the “fundamental option” explanation for mortal sin imply a
diminution of the importance of particular acts? Explain and defend your
No, it doesn’t. Indeed, the Fundamental Option is important and thus
needs nurturing but the Fundamental Option, being an option, cannot be
strengthened without the expression and concretization through particular
acts. Likewise, particular acts “shape” our Fundamental Option. It wouldn’t
make sense if our Fundamental Option is good and we do bad things. For
example, a man cannot claim to have full intent on loving and following the
will of God if he kills anyone just for the heck of it. Particular acts and
Fundamental Option go together and are usually consistent.
If we choose something good over something bad, that is because deep
within ourselves, we want to turn towards God. The Fundamental Option is
thus strengthened by the follow-ups and relative consistency of doing good
actions. In constantly trying to seek God and fortifying a good Fundamental
Option, we try to do good continuously until these good particular actions
eventually begin to have more bearing on our Fundamental Option than acts
that we rarely do. Contrarily, a series of particular acts done with
repeated incoherences can affect and ultimately destroy and change our