Thursday, January 15, 2009

Giving Scandal

I have found some entries on other blogs and websites in regards to giving scandal, and found them interesting enough to share. At the bottom I will give the links so that you may read the entire articles.

All offenses by which we injure the soul of our neighbor are called sins of scandal. This word "scandal"

Q. 1277. What is forbidden by the fifth Commandment?
A. The fifth Commandment forbids all willful murder, fighting, anger, hatred, revenge, and bad example.
Q. 1278. Can the fifth commandment be broken by giving scandal or bad example and by inducing others to sin?
A. The fifth commandment can be broken by giving scandal or bad example and inducing others to sin, because such acts may destroy the life of the soul by leading it into mortal sin.
Q. 1279. What is scandal?
A. Scandal is any sinful word, deed or omission that disposes others to sin, or lessens their respect for God and holy religion.
(Baltimore Catechism)

Giving scandal or leading others into sin also finds manifestations in more ordinary circumstances of daily living. First, there is the scandal of couples who live together prior to marriage. Fr. Christ Pollard, my predecessor and I, about a year ago, were comparing notes in regards to how we conduct our marriage preparation for engaged couples. We estimated that nearly 7 in 10 engaged couples that we minister to are living together. In this culture, there is little shock or surprise or disappointment at such living situations. In fact, many young people almost expect to live with their future spouse prior to marriage in a so-called "trial marriage." The sin of scandal is not in the shock - there is none anymore. The sin of giving scandal exists when Catholics who are preparing for marriage and are cohabiting lead others to believe that it is perfectly normal and accepted to live as husband and wife prior to marriage, a blatant disregard for the sixth commandment. Some couples are incredulous when I explain to them that their living together prior to marriage is telling everyone else that neither of them have a problem sleeping with someone to whom they are not married and that in a supposed act of love, they have actually led their future spouse into mortal sin and thus risk eternal damnation - not a very loving act at all.
Another way that we can give scandal is when we attend weddings of Catholics that occur outside the Church without the Church's permission. I remember a time after I was in college before I entered seminary, I was asked to be a groomsman for a wedding of a very close friend. He was a Catholic but decided to be married outside the Church without attaining the proper sacramental preparation and dispensation from the bishop. I declined the invitation to be a groomsman and I explained to him that by my witnessing to such a union, I would be telling those present at the wedding and my friend and his bride that a practicing Catholic like myself had no problem witnessing to an invalid marriage that did not constitute a sacrament and actually celebrated the sin of disobedience to Church law. I told him that this would be a cause of scandal for others. Obviously, this put the friendship on the rocks. Months later, however, my friend and his fiancée had a change of heart and eventually married with the Church's approval. If I had succumbed to the weakness of human respect, I could have easily caved-in, under the false pretense of being a good friend or fear of losing my friend. As far as I was concerned, my firmness in this decision made us even better friends. Authentic friendship and love does not mean allowing our loved ones to do whatever they want and expect us to look the other way. Authentic love means sometimes practicing tough love - holding our friends and family accountable to God's law - the law that truly sets us free. In my estimation, I would not sell out the faith over saving the friendship. It was a special grace not to succumb to the desire for human respect.

If we look around about us in the world we can see that giving scandal is quite common. Thousands and thousands of people are engaged in writing, printing, selling, and lending books, movies, and music that positively teem with indecencies, blasphemies, and speculations of all kinds, things which neither young nor old can read, watch or listen to without sin. Such things are eagerly devoured by multitudes. Pornographic or sexually explicit movies and pictures are made, painted, printed, and reproduced an indefinite number of times and they would be difficult for anyone to look at without sin; yet this is the class of objects which rivets the eyes of thousands upon thousands each and every day. It permeates television and the internet and is accessible by even the most innocent children.

The pronouncement by Jesus Christ: "He that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.” These reasons should be powerful enough to deter any Christian from the sin of scandal.

Further, let us review the results and consequences of scandal. What are its results? First, it causes him who actually gives the scandal to commit sin, and next, it leads into sin those who take it. These last are generally no small number. Many listen to and laugh at unclean, unrestrained conversations in shops, factories, schools, and even in places of worship. Those who have been tempted themselves tempt others in their turn, repeating these jokes and songs, and so making for others the same occasions of sin that they have had themselves.

1 comment:

Batjacboy said...

Good post Rita!

Scandal: a 2000-year-old teaching of Christ's that is totally unknown to most people, and rarely taught anymore. But you've made it easy to understand.

Bottom line: it's a teaching of Christ's, all Christians must follow it, and it's a much, much bigger issue than most people know. After all, it must be extremely important if it's so great a sin that it would be better that "a millstone . . . be hanged about his neck, and that he . . . be drowned in the depth of the sea."

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