Catholic FAQ


Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics > Moral Theology
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #1  
Old Sep 16, '05, 11:04 am
MamaGeek MamaGeek is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 25, 2004
Posts: 223
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Is selfishness a sin?

Reading through the breastfeeding thread, I came upon this question, upon which there was much disagreement:

Is selfishness a sin?

How many times have you come home from work/school/grocery shopping/whatever, totally beat, and put off some household chore to relax and unwind? Is this selfish? Is it sinful?

A family is just getting by, living in a small house in a crowded neighborhood with few amenities. They have one beat-up old car, and are often frustrated trying to schedule their activities around its availability to one parent or the other. Is it selfish for a SAHP to go back to work for a while to save up for a second used car to ease some of the scheduling problems, even if he or she is less available to the kids for a while? Is it sinful?

Is it selfish to write a Christmas list? Is it selfish to do something fun, like playing a game, or watching a movie, when you could be spending the time in prayer? Is it a sin to selfishly hide the last of the girl scout cookies in the back of the pantry to save them from your kids/siblings/spouse?

Where do you draw the line?

I think the examples I posed clearly demonstrate that selfishness, or thinking of one's own desires first, is not always inherently wrong or sinful. Granted, selfishness is often a motivation for sin, but I think that while it is virtuous to be selfless, it is not necessarily always sinful to be selfish.
__________________
Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair. - Blaise Pascal
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Sep 16, '05, 1:53 pm
Feanaro's Wife Feanaro's Wife is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2004
Posts: 8,015
Religion: Catholic convert!!!!!!! (summer 2005)
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaGeek
I think that while it is virtuous to be selfless, it is not necessarily always sinful to be selfish.
I think you are right. But I hope someone will dig up a quote from the CCC or something to help make the issue clear.

My thoughts are that selfishness can lead to sin.

But, by selfishness, I mean putting ones own needs above anothers to the detriment of the other.

Take your example of spending time doing something fun when you could be spending time in prayer. I think that can become sinful if the activity takes the place of prayer.

We are not required to spend every waking moment in prayer....just as you would not want your children to spend every waking moment thanking you for food, clothing, shelter, and love. But it is nice to hear it regularily. You want your children to also enjoy life and have fun experiences.

Take your example of the cookies (lol). If you hide them for yourself and nobody knows that you did this and they just assume they are all gone, where is the harm? It may be selfish, but not sinful.

I think selfishness is a matter of the heart. No other person can know what's in another's heart. They can judge on appearances, but they simply can't know.

Malia
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Sep 16, '05, 2:17 pm
paulCT paulCT is offline
New Member
Book Club Member
 
Join Date: April 28, 2005
Posts: 71
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

CCC 1852 There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a8.htm

God loves us deeply and only He can satisfy our desire for love. Because He loves us so, we are duty bound to love Him above all else, and He commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love of God and neighbor requires that we live a chaste life. Chastity is the spiritual power or virtue, which frees love from selfishness. Living chastely helps us to have inner peace. Chastity enables us to think purely and act purely. Living chastely enables us to respect others and ourselves. It helps us to be holy. In family life, chastity builds an atmosphere of respect, virtue, sacrifice, and love.

I hope this helps.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Sep 16, '05, 2:43 pm
Feanaro's Wife Feanaro's Wife is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2004
Posts: 8,015
Religion: Catholic convert!!!!!!! (summer 2005)
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

Honestly I think we need to define selfishness....especially how it is meant in the above CCC quote. I doubt that it would be reffering to hiding a few cookies for yourself....

Malia
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Sep 16, '05, 3:30 pm
Joe Kelley Joe Kelley is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: June 24, 2004
Posts: 15,415
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

I once heard a priest who responded -

"Is there any other?"

I think he had a good point. All sin is placing my wants above my love for God.
__________________
I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Sep 16, '05, 3:42 pm
Feanaro's Wife Feanaro's Wife is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2004
Posts: 8,015
Religion: Catholic convert!!!!!!! (summer 2005)
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Kelley
All sin is placing my wants above my love for God.
Exactly. So we need to define what kind of selfishness would place our own wants before our love for God. Every tiny act? Acts that hurt others? Acts that have potential to hurt others?

I think there is a mistaken view of what selfishness is. Mothers especially, I think, suffer from this. They feel guilt for wanting to have a nice warm bath when they could be spending even more time with their child.

Is there something that defines selfishness as related to our faith?

Malia

Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Sep 17, '05, 10:59 am
paulCT paulCT is offline
New Member
Book Club Member
 
Join Date: April 28, 2005
Posts: 71
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

I haven't been able to find a clear definition of selfishness based on Church teaching. I took selfish to mean "always intent on satisfying his own whims."

Quote:
I think there is a mistaken view of what selfishness is. Mothers especially, I think, suffer from this. They feel guilt for wanting to have a nice warm bath when they could be spending even more time with their child.
I wouldn't consider it selfish if a mother want a nice warm bath instead of spending more time with their child. I would call that a Mental Health Break. Seriously, we all need downtime to recharge our batteries.

I think you need to look at each circumstance by
according to the virtues they oppose or by excess; or according to the commandments they violate.

For example, let's say my neighbor comes to me for help with his yard work. If I say no, is that being selfish? What if my neighbor was elderly, or sick and weak from cancer treatment? Does that change the degree of selfishness and make it more of a sin?

My wife asks me to help carry in groceries, and I decide to sit and watch the game on TV. Is this act of selfishness as just as sinful compared to putting my desires and wants before my family's needs?

A person commits suicide. Is this being selfish? In my opinion, this is the ultimate act of selfishness.

Let's go back to the original question: is selfishness a sin? According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: "
Sin is nothing else than a morally bad act (St. Thomas, "De malo", 7:3), an act not in accord with reason informed by the Divine law." I would still say it depends on each circumstance.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Sep 17, '05, 12:50 pm
Feanaro's Wife Feanaro's Wife is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2004
Posts: 8,015
Religion: Catholic convert!!!!!!! (summer 2005)
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

So it would seem that some things generally defined as selfishness are really not.

"Sin is nothing more than a morally bad act"

This would be helpful to first determine if we are being selfish......if we are then we are sinning.

So if we are truly being selfish then we are indeed sinning.

Do I have this right?

Malia
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Sep 17, '05, 3:11 pm
paulCT paulCT is offline
New Member
Book Club Member
 
Join Date: April 28, 2005
Posts: 71
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

Quote:
Do I have this right?


That's a tough question.
Since we have free will (or moral liberty), we can choose to be selfish or not.

Let's look at another example. It's a beautiful Saturday afternnoon, and I want to lie in my hammock, catch up on some reading, and maybe take a nap.

My elderly neighbor can't drive and needs some groceries from the store. She calls and asks if I can take her out.

Do I have a right to turn her down? No. Why? Jesus says we are to imitate Him as closely as possible. We are also told to love our neighbors as much as ourselves. But most importantly, whatever we do unto the least of the one, we do unto Jesus.

BUT, I could choose to be selfish and put myself before my neighbor's needs. Why would I want to go grocery shopping when I can stay home and enjoy a beautiful afternoon after a long week at work? What could she possible need today that can't wait until her daughter takes her shopping next week?

When I find myself in these situations, I've learned to humble myself by putting myself in the other person's shoes. Instead of being selfish, I accept it without complaint and offer to Jesus.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Sep 17, '05, 4:10 pm
paramedicgirl paramedicgirl is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: August 27, 2005
Posts: 3,964
Religion: Roman Catholic
Send a message via Yahoo to paramedicgirl
Default Re: Is selfishness a sin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaGeek
Reading through the breastfeeding thread, I came upon this question, upon which there was much disagreement:

Is selfishness a sin?

How many times have you come home from work/school/grocery shopping/whatever, totally beat, and put off some household chore to relax and unwind? Is this selfish? Is it sinful?

A family is just getting by, living in a small house in a crowded neighborhood with few amenities. They have one beat-up old car, and are often frustrated trying to schedule their activities around its availability to one parent or the other. Is it selfish for a SAHP to go back to work for a while to save up for a second used car to ease some of the scheduling problems, even if he or she is less available to the kids for a while? Is it sinful?

Is it selfish to write a Christmas list? Is it selfish to do something fun, like playing a game, or watching a movie, when you could be spending the time in prayer? Is it a sin to selfishly hide the last of the girl scout cookies in the back of the pantry to save them from your kids/siblings/spouse?

Where do you draw the line?

I think the examples I posed clearly demonstrate that selfishness, or thinking of one's own desires first, is not always inherently wrong or sinful. Granted, selfishness is often a motivation for sin, but I think that while it is virtuous to be selfless, it is not necessarily always sinful to be selfish.
I believe that selfishness is a sin against charity. It does not sound like you are describing selfishness, though. It sounds more like frustration. Selfishness would be when you are putting your own needs above others', but I don't see that in your post.
And, BTW, I always hide the cookies!
Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics > Moral Theology

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8243Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: GLam8833
5005CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: Irishmom2
4342Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: James_OPL
4029OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: B79
3830SOLITUDE
Last by: beth40n2
3556Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: RJB
3221Poems and Reflections
Last by: tonyg
3203Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: memphian
3106Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: grateful_child
3045For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: flower lady



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 5:18 pm.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2014, Catholic Answers.