A question in church teaching


#1

Hi!
One sometimes hear that the church is way too focused on actions: which ones are ok and which one are not ok abd thus not allowed. They say it especially true when it comes to expressing yourself physically.
They say that sometimes it’s a lot of focus on what is morally not ok. You should not do this or that and so on.
It seems to me that it’s easy to see the church teaching like this but that it can’t be true.
What is the church’s offical teaching on this?


#2

Such would not be correct.

The Church is focused on the Holy Trinity.

Focused on Jesus Christ the Lord who was crucified and is risen!

On true life in him.

On virtue, holiness. Charity.

Yes Christian morality is part of this - but even that is not focused on action but on the whole person and persons. Not just on exterior action but on the heart. The interior too.


#3

And part of this Christian life is Joy (which is not to be reduced to simply an emotion).

“If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI (Spe Salvi)

w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi.html

(such is not per se a matter of the emotions…tis deeper that such …though it can can does effect the emotions too at times…Christian joy though can exist even in great suffering…)

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.”

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.”

“The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!”…

“I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.”

~ Pope Francis (The Joy of the Gospel)

w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html#The_joy_of_the_gospel

"Moreover, our radical belonging to Christ and the fact that “we are in him” must imbue in us an attitude of total trust and immense joy. In short, we must indeed exclaim with St Paul: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8: 31). And the reply is that nothing and no one “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8: 39). Our Christian life, therefore, stands on the soundest and safest rock one can imagine. And from it we draw all our energy, precisely as the Apostle wrote: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4: 13).

Therefore, let us face our life with its joys and sorrows supported by these great sentiments that Paul offers to us. By having an experience of them we will realize how true are the words the Apostle himself wrote: “I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me”; in other words, until the Day (II Tm 1: 12) of our definitive meeting with Christ the Judge, Saviour of the world and our Saviour."

~ Pope Benedict XVI

w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061108.html


#4

“Gaudete in Domino semper - Rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4: 4).”

“Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI

w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/angelus/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20071216.html

“… there is one great Friend, who is the author of the joy of all and who fills our hearts with a joy that surpasses all other joys and lasts a lifetime: he is Jesus.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI

w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2012/december/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20121220_acr.html

]“Dear friends, today too the Risen One enters our homes and our hearts, even when, at times, the doors are closed. He enters giving joy and peace, life and hope, gifts we need for our human and spiritual rebirth. Only he can roll away those stones from the tombs in which all too often people seal themselves off from their own feelings, their own relationships, their own behaviour; stones that sanction death: division, enmity, resentment, envy, diffidence, indifference. Only he, the Living One, can give meaning to existence and enable those who are weary and sad, downhearted and drained of hope, to continue on their journey. This was the experience of the two disciples who were on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus on Easter Day (cf. Lk 24:13-35). They were talking about Jesus but their sad looks (cf. v. 17), expressed their disappointed hopes, uncertainty and melancholy. They had left their homeland to follow Jesus with his friends and had discovered a new reality in which forgiveness and love were no longer only words but had a tangible effect on life. Jesus of Nazareth had made all things new, he had transformed their life. But now he was dead and it all seemed to be over.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI

"With Jesus’ arrival the disciple’s situation of anguish changes radically. He enters through closed doors, he stands in their midst and gives them the peace that reassures: “Peace to you” (Jn 20:19b). It is a common greeting but it now acquires new significance because it brings about an inner change; it is the Easter greeting that enables the disciples to overcome all fear. The peace that Jesus brings is the gift of salvation that he had promised in his farewell discourses: “peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27).

On this day of the Resurrection he gives it in fullness and for the community it becomes a source of joy, the certainty of victory, and security in relying on God. “Let not your hearts be troubled”, (Jn 14:1), do not be afraid, he also says to us."

~ Pope Benedict XVI

“In Jerusalem they hear the news of Jesus’ Resurrection and, in turn, they recount their own experience, on fire with love for the Risen One who has opened their hearts to an uncontainable joy. As St Peter says, they were “born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (cf. 1 Pet 1:3). Indeed, the enthusiasm of faith, love for the community, the need to communicate the Good News was reborn within them. The Teacher is risen and with him all life is reborn; witnessing to this event becomes an irrepressible need for them.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI

w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20120411.html

"“Gaudete in Domino semper”, St Paul wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). True joy is not a fruit of “divertirsi” [having a good time] understood in the etymological sense of the word di-vertere (di-version), that is, shirking the commitments of life and one’s responsibilities.

True joy is linked to something deeper. Of course, in the all too often frenetic pace of daily life it is important to find time for rest and relaxation, but true joy is linked to our relationship with God. Those who have encountered Christ in their own lives feel a serenity and joy in their hearts that no one and no situation can take from them. St Augustine understood this very well; in his quest for truth, peace and joy, after seeking them in vain in many things he concluded with his famous words: “and our heart is restless until it rests in God” (cf. Confessions, I, 1, 1).

True joy is not merely a passing state of mind or something that can be achieved with the person’s own effort; rather it is a gift, born from the encounter with the living Person of Jesus and, making room within ourselves, from welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our lives. It is the invitation of the Apostle Paul who says: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:23)."

~ Pope Benedict XVI

w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/angelus/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20111211.html


#5

Yes the commandment - but they are not simply about external life nor are they the focus.

““To gaze upon Christ!” If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and different from a moral code, from a series of requirements and laws. It is the gift of a friendship that lasts through life and death: “No longer do I call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15), the Lord says to his disciples. We entrust ourselves to this friendship. Yet precisely because Christianity is more than a moral system, because it is the gift of friendship, for this reason it also contains within itself great moral strength, which is so urgently needed today on account of the challenges of our time. If with Jesus Christ and his Church we constantly re-read the Ten Commandments of Sinai, entering into their full depth, then a great, valid and lasting teaching unfolds before us. The Ten Commandments are first and foremost a “yes” to God, to a God who loves us and leads us, who carries us and yet allows us our freedom: indeed, it is he who makes our freedom real (the first three commandments). It is a “yes” to the family (fourth commandment), a “yes” to life (fifth commandment), a “yes” to responsible love (sixth commandment), a “yes” to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a “yes” to truth (eighth commandment) and a “yes” to respect for other people and for what is theirs (ninth and tenth commandments). By the strength of our friendship with the living God we live this manifold “yes” and at the same time we carry it as a signpost into this world of ours today.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI 8 September 2007

““I want them to understand that it is beautiful to be a Christian! The generally prevailing idea is that Christians have to observe an immense number of commandments, prohibitions, precepts, and other such restrictions, so that Christianity is a heavy and oppressive way of living, and it would therefore be more liberating to live without all these burdens. But I would like to make it clear that to be sustained by this great Love and God’s sublime revelation is not a burden, but rather a set of wings—that it is truly beautiful to be a Christian. It is an experience that gives us room to breathe and move, but most of all, it places us within a community since, as Christians, we are never alone: first of all, there is God, who is always with us; secondly, we are always forming a great community among ourselves: a community of people together on a journey, a community with a project for the future. All of this means that we are empowered to live a life worth living. This is the joy of being a Christian: that it is beautiful and right to believe!””

~Pope Benedict XVI 2005

(quotes snipped from Vatican website: vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20060108_battesimo_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20120516_en.html


#6

“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI Deus Caritas Est


#7

Basically if it involves a sexual thought or act, it is a mortal sin unless you are a married man and woman and open to having a baby.


#8

Strydersroom, is that seriously what you got from all that wonderful stuff Bookcat posted?:slight_smile:


#9

Mine’s the cliff’s notes version :smiley:


#10

Off the cliff version you mean…:wink:

For the various posts I provided point to that the notion the OP heard is incorrect and point to more fuller truth.


#11

Nobody likes being told they shouldn’t do something, when they really feel like doing it. Even if the reasons are positive, logical, loving, and self-improving, the selfish child in us only hears, “Don’t do that!”

That’s why even good parenting is sometimes (wrongly) characterized as just saying No to everything.

The Church’s teaching on sexuality is to help us be everything we’re meant to be. Do we control our sexuality or let it control us? The selfish child in us says Do What Feels Good (that’s what the world says, too). Instead of treating sex as special, it treats it like just another appetite.

But sex IS special–so special it’s only properly enjoyed with a life-long promise to give oneself to the other…and to any new humans who result from it. Now THAT’S a positive, uplifting thing. It makes sex more of a giving thing, than a taking thing.

G.K. Chesterton said something like, All of us, upon considering our sexuality, realize two things: first, that it is wonderful, second, that it is dangerous.

Of course the world sees no more than this:

*Basically if it involves a sexual thought or act, it is a mortal sin unless you are a married man and woman and open to having a baby.
*(The "Cliff’s Notes, if you will)

Because it sees the Church the way a selfish child sees a parent.


#12

Not true.

The main issues at play with the OP are church teaching vs church people.

Sexual desire is not “SIN YOU ARE HELLBOUND!!!”

Lust is.

Lust is a disordered form of issue losing self control. Wat happens largely is that people are horrible people. And they need to impose ever growing restrictions on themselves while projecting that toward others.

An example I have used before, is a heroin den…

I understand the concept, the science and effects of heroin and I am not a complete moronic horrible person…

So I can very easily spend much time hanging out in a heroin den with ZERO issue upon me to become a waste of life…

However the addict needs to not go there for if they do they will fall in many ways.

If we followed common sense we would not have hundreds of millions of merchandise stolen every year from stores making your prices lower…

You would not need insane insurances because people would be reasonable…

And you could run in the store on a hot day and leave your car window open.

You could help a down trodden neighbot and they would be helped rather than allocate the resources of such help toward idiocy like heroin and then be homeless 12 minutes after you gave them rent money…

So church teaching holds little restrictiobs in reality compared to what is made of it. And most of what is made of it is by those who can’t themselves function.


#13

““I want them to understand that it is beautiful to be a Christian! The generally prevailing idea is that Christians have to observe an immense number of commandments, prohibitions, precepts, and other such restrictions, so that Christianity is a heavy and oppressive way of living, and it would therefore be more liberating to live without all these burdens. But I would like to make it clear that to be sustained by this great Love and God’s sublime revelation is not a burden, but rather a set of wings—that it is truly beautiful to be a Christian. It is an experience that gives us room to breathe and move, but most of all, it places us within a community since, as Christians, we are never alone: first of all, there is God, who is always with us; secondly, we are always forming a great community among ourselves: a community of people together on a journey, a community with a project for the future. All of this means that we are empowered to live a life worth living. This is the joy of being a Christian: that it is beautiful and right to believe!””

~Pope Benedict XVI 2005

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20120516_en.html


#14

Masturbation has nothing to do with heroin use :rolleyes: by this rationalization every teenager is hellbound as from about 13-19 it’s all hormones, all lust, all the time. And masturbation is I daresay natural normal way to relieve that without having sex.


#15

Except that it doesn’t relieve it. It’s temporary, and over time can be harmful to a future real relationship with a real person.

And I think you seriously underestimate teenagers. :frowning:


#16

I understand your not here discussing matters as a Catholic…but please note that this is a forum to give Catholic Answers to Moral Theology questions.

  1. No it is gravely disordered and is not the natural and normal action. There also can be various factors that mitigate the culpability for the sin - though such does not make it ok. See the Catechism.

  2. No every teen is not hellbound.

  3. Yes Jesus is quite serious about chastity and yes lust is a choice towards hell.

  4. Teens who fall into this sin (or anyone) - can repent -turn away from it - and receive again true life from Christ and can work on growing in chastity.

  5. May everyone - find true life in Christ! And with that the joy of the virtue of chastity.


#17

you have to explain this:
The Church says this about Morality of actions: vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a4.htm

It seems after Reading about this andother simmilar stuff that conscience is something that is about human reasoning. Thus it’s all about doing reasonable argument in your ead.
It is a bit more than this, right? I mean, a great philosopher doesn’t become a better Christian than a simple man like me.

I guess we’ve all Heard the question: is smoking a mortal sin?
To me this sounds like an absurd question. It’s understandable that peope ask this but I mean…we would be at the level of action here, right? Some say it could be a venial sin and that’s it. I say it’s a mortal sin if you’re choosing between a healthier alternative and this one, ie smoking, and say no to your wonderfully created conscience. One thing you often hear is that sex before marriage and masturbation are sins. But in them selves they are nor mortal sin, right? Cause only if you are aware of how you sexuality should be then can you commit sexua mortal sins.
I reckon even listening to Music coud be a mortal sin. But only if you used Music as a way to escape from reality instead of dealing with it in a good christian way.

What is the catholic teaching on this?


#18

It seems after Reading about this andother simmilar stuff that conscience is something that is about human reasoning. Thus it’s all about doing reasonable argument in your ead.
It is a bit more than this, right? I mean, a great philosopher doesn’t become a better Christian than a simple man like me.

Right. You’re only expected by God to act on the reasoning abilities you have. It’s when we ignore our conscience, or choose not to inform our conscience (you know, how great we are at rationalizing so that we can feel okay about doing something that, deep down, we know is wrong), that we sin.
You don’t sin if you don’t know you’re doing wrong!

I say it’s a mortal sin if you’re choosing between a healthier alternative and this one, ie smoking, and say no to your wonderfully created conscience.

This isn’t black-and-white at all, and there’s no reason to assume that every unhealthy pleasure is a sin. Skydiving, eating Big Macs, and smoking are not automatically sinful.
Again, if you are pretty sure you’re sinning, and do it anyway, then you’re sinning by deliberately doing the opposite of what you think God wants. But the act per se, might not be sinful otherwise.

One thing you often hear is that sex before marriage and masturbation are sins. But in them selves they are nor mortal sin, right? Cause only if you are aware of how you sexuality should be then can you commit sexua mortal sins.

The “Only if you are aware” phrase you used, applies to ANY act. Murder itself might not be “mortal,” if you truly aren’t aware of it.
The tricky part, which only God can know, is HOW unaware are we, really?

I reckon even listening to Music coud be a mortal sin. But only if you used Music as a way to escape from reality instead of dealing with it in a good christian way.

It could be if you’re being gluttonous about it, but what’s wrong with escaping reality?


#19

Well, if you escape from reality then you choose not to talk responsibilty for a lot of thing, whatever that migjt be. Christianity says that no matter how painful your situation os you have to face it and deal with. It would be, according to me, a mortal sin if you said no to dealing with your own life situation. Now, one might be able to flee 100% from reality by listening to music but it can be used in the way drugs are used.
Drugs or alcohol are sometimes used to numb the pain by not facing reality. An extreme case is the alcoholic. Music or alcohol can be good to enjoy as long as it is as a way towards heaven. Music makes people’s brain expreince neuronal fireworks It powerful…

What do the Carholics say about this?


#20

I was being a little glib about escaping reality. Your point about escaping “instead of dealing with it in a Christian way” is true, of course. If we deliberately avoid our call to love, be responsible, and take up our cross, that’s wrong.

But there’s nothing wrong with relaxing, having fun, and temporarily *forgetting *the worries of life. It can be even necessary in order to keep working well for God. It refreshes our attitude.

This is what recreation is…a re-creation of our attitude. That is what play is, and sports, and other diversions.

There’s nothing in Catholic teaching that says it’s wrong to enjoy a pleasure just to enjoy it. You can enjoy music and be thinking of nothing else. Of course it must not lead us to temptation, to celebrate things that are opposed to God, or make us fail to do our Christian duties.

But they do not have to be a deliberate effort toward heaven. Merely being grateful for the enjoyable things God give us is enough. Yesterday after a tiring afternoon working outside, I sat on a bench swing with a very cold beer, with the sun warming me and the wind cooling me. And I thought about…nothing.

Sometimes I experience music the same way.


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