Being at parties with underage drinking a sin?

Hi everyone. I went to a graduation party today where all the teens were 18. It started off innocent and parents were there and it was all good fun. Then once it got later the parents in charge allowed everyone to have a drink as long as they weren’t driving.

I didn’t drink-I am 18 and I know it’s wrong. All of my friends asked me to have a sip and I said no, and they didn’t push it on me. My question is, was it wrong of me to stay at the party for about another hour and a half after drinking was allowed?

I felt bad staying because I felt like I was setting a bad example. My friend took a picture of me where someone else’s beer is sitting in front of me, and I feel like I’ve somehow done something wrong by staying at the party. Is this mortally sinful? I’d appreciate any advice as to how to handle this in the future, as I didn’t want to just get up and run out after beer showed up. I tried to handle it maturely and just relax and pretend like it wasn’t there but I still feel bad.

Any help? Thanks

Just being there isn’t the problem, but dare I say if you condoned the behavior, and didn’t make some sort of a position on it, then perhaps.

If you didn’t supply, you aren’t breaking the law.
(However), in Australia, if you were a schoolteacher, for example, and saw students you knew were underage drinking at a pub, for example, and said nothing, you would loose your job. Thats why plenty of teachers “aren’t social,” because they carry a huge responsibility with them.

I don’t think that you committed any mortal sin, but it was unwise.

Nope, not sinful.

A good idea to stay? Probably not…basically because if the party got busted, even for a noise complaint and the cops showed up and saw alcohol out…you’d have some explaining to do.

I just kept saying no I have to drive home, I didn’t really give another reason for it. Drinking age is 21

It all depends on what “underage” means. In your case it would have been sinful for the people involved, but not for you as you did not drink.

Where I live “underage” means under 18. People here, and in many other countries can legally drink at 18. It all depends on where you live. If the very same party happened in another country, it might have not been a problem.

You would not be in the wrong but the parents might be. In my State a parent may serve alcohol to their own child in their own home but not to other children even if they are guests in their home.

In my opinion, the whole legal drinking age thing, is a ‘mans law’ kind of thing, so not really that important when looking at the bigger picture, it is just something ‘man’ imposed, I dont think God would have a problem with it, as long as the young people were not intending to get drunk.

In fact, Im kind of surprised the alcohol industry has not put up a fight to have the drinking age lowered to 18, seems like this would be in their best interest and really imo, if an 18 yr old is old enough to join the countries military and possibly sent to kill others, they are most certainly old enough to buy, drink alcohol in that country.

This is also a topic I know about, as I have an incident back when I was 18 yrs old, I was learning to drive a stick shift in a friends car one night, we got pulled over by police, everyone was 18 or older in the car, but we had a 12 pack of unopened beer in the trunk, I was arrested for this (charged with possession of alcohol by a minor)…I did not go to jail though, they took me to the police station, did a lot of paperwork, and they gave me a court date and I was free to go, I had to attend a few alcohol classes and that was it, but it is still on my legal record, which is kind of stupid, it has never impacted my ability to get a job though, most people that see it, think its strange that is still on my record, as I am 40 yrs old now!

Really though it was my mistake, I was later told, by a lawyer, I should have never allowed the police to look in the trunk, so lesson learned I guess!

I don’t think actually going to the party would be sinful, but it may not be the best decision to go or stay. As such, I pretty much agree with the other posters.

I pretty much agree with what others have said. Just staying at the party wasn’t sinful-- drinking alcohol per se isn’t a sin either.

The parents were taking a huge risk in breaking the law, but my parents did something similar with my brother and his friends with the friends’ parents permission. They could have a couple drinks but car keys went into a lock-box and no one could drive. Theory being it deglamorized alcohol and made it less of a big deal, while familiarizing them with the affects/concept of responsible drinking in a safe environment. Less temptation to sneak drinking somewhere else because, they could do that at home.

I would say that if there’s no parental presence/supervision than leaving a situation like that (be it drinking or drugs) is the right thing to do. You really don’t want to get swept up in something and get the guilt by association. Problem with alcohol it increases the chances folks will do something stupid, because it kills that little voice which tells them it’s stupid. (what’s meant by reduces inhibitions) Some folks drink to deliberately kill that voice and are the folks you really don’t want to be around when they’re drinking.

If giving alcohol to children were intrinsically evil the Church would be engaged in an evil. In my opinion the twenty-one year old drinking age is preposterous. Eighteen is silly too. I believe drinking ages are a modern concept at least in the US. As you say getting drunk is a different matter. Being a non-drinker at such parties could be a good witness. Then again such parties can often become bacchanalian. It that case it is probably wise to not be there no matter what your age.

Never let the police look in or at anything is good advice.

There’s nothing sinful in what you did. If you feel uncomfortable you could always leave - you don’t have to give an explanation.

Agree.

No, not wrong, not sinful.

Like others have alluded to, though, you might have run the risk of getting caught up in any legal trouble. For example, if you’re on a high school sports team, you may have had to talk your way out of being suspended from the team.

To the Op… I cannot think of just being at a party with people under age drinking being a sin by any stretch of the imagination. Especially since you are a minor yourself. I would be more uncomfortable about it for myself because I am a adult. Would you consider it a sin if I go to a party with other adults and I have a drink or two but others are getting drunk? Because, this will happen as you get older! You will be at social gatherings where others are getting hammered and you will only drink a couple beers tops or choose not to drink at all. Everyone I associate with knows that I believe getting drunk to be a sin (per The Catechism) so I do not need to repeat it to them if they choose to get drunk. You cannot control what others do. Last time I visited my uncle and cousin I was sitting at a table with my cousin and my uncles girlfriend smoking marijuana. Was a committing a sin just by being there? But I would avoid party’s where you know there will be drinking because youngsters tend to not be able to control themselves when drinking. Some adults cannot but especially youngsters. They think they are being cool even though they are just being annoying.

Since everyone has a camera at the ready and is not in the least bit shy in posting photos of anyone else all over the Internet, I think people should think about where they are and what’s going on - do you want to be associated with it on social media forever? Of course, a house party like you describe is pretty tame compared to what else is happening on social media, but you’re 18 and except for being able to consume alcohol (!), you’re an adult. Just be aware that being someplace where you feel uncomfortable because what’s going on may lead to you being photographed there.

All that being said, it’s very encouraging that someone your age is worried about these issues and about living “the good life” in the moral sense! Keep it up!

Are you going away to college? If you are , you will be confronted with this underage drinking situation every week. Your friends or social group ARE going to drink or toke up once in a while. You just refuse if you don’t want to imbibe and make no big deal about it .
I totally agree with another poster who said that drinking age laws are ill advised. In :wink: Europe, they dont have the teen binge drinking issues because alcohol (wine) is part of daily meals and the kids are allowed to partake.

Thank you all very much for your replies. This has been an issue that has been hanging over my head for quite some time, and I am grateful to have received your help.

If I know there will be drinking at a party, I don’t go. Yes, I am an incoming college freshman and I asked this question because I know that this situation will happen again and again. It makes me feel better to know that I do not have to have guilt by association if alcohol ends up present at a seemingly sober party.

If you have any other advice for me, please feel free to continue sharing.

If you are uncomfortable at any time, it is perfectly fine to leave to a more comfortable setting. Having said this, there is nothing wrong with being in the presence of alcohol beverages. Many colleges will sometimes host wine-and-cheese lectures, or Theology-on-Tap, etc. There is no guilt or guilt-by-association involved, except among the fundamentalist-evangelical wing of protestantism or Islam, which we have no reason to follow or listen to.

I went to dinner with some bishops, a few priests and nuns, a Cardinal and many laymen - wine was at the table. Most people had some with their meal, the Cardinal does not drink alcohol (due to his own personal reasons) and many of the priests, nuns and bishops refrained (some are vowed to avoid alcohol and meat foods). A few had a some minor amount of wine with food. Nothing to worry or feel guilty for or about.

“Malum per se” is something that is bad (illegal) because it is inherently wrong.

“Malum prohibitum” is something that is bad (illegal) because there is a law against it.

Drinking age laws are simply decrees from the secular government. There is no moral component to them.

In my opinion, you did not break these laws, and your conduct was in no way immoral or sinful.

Now, if you were drinking, you would have been violating the law, and whether that is sinful is another question.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.