Choosing the lesser good = immoral


What specific Church teaching gives you this impression? I cannot think of one. I don’t believe there are any.


God wants everything from us. 100%.

Anything less is a sin.

This is why Christ rejected the rich young ruler.

This is why Christ rejected those in Matthew 25.

Reading lives of the saints - they gave 100% to God. “We have given up everything to follow you.”


This does not answer my question. Care to try again?




In your last scenario, you proposed a choice between 2 sums of money and stated that choosing the smaller sum was somehow a lesser good than choosing the larger sum. I simply asserted that you can’t make that assumption.

In this scenario, I also assert that you can’t necessarily declare that that choosing not to save the second person is murder. Has the condition of the building deteriorated since your attempt to save the first person? Is the entrance still passable? What is your physical condition after your first rescue? What are the chances you will be able to make it out a second time, and how many rescuers’ lives will you risk if you get trapped during your second attempt? Let’s say you’re also a doctor, and the only person capable of rendering medical aid to other survivors. How many more lives will be potentially lost if you choose to risk your life a second time and fail?

I don’t think I missed the point at all. I’m just stating that I don’t think you can declare one choice a lesser good in the first place, let alone declare that one choice is intrinsically sinful in context of the other choice in these situations.


no no no no no.
You do not commit murder.
You think every time a patient dies a Doctor commits murder too?
No. The act of trying is heroic. No one knows why the second person did not make it. It might have been smoke inhalation before they even got there.
This is NOT murder.


What you wrote makes no sense. God does not punish anyone. We bring about the consequences of our own actions and if our actions are sinful, we will suffer.

Sometimes in life suffering happens to those who do not deserve it at all - children with cancer. There is enough of this kind of suffering to go around, we do not need to go seek out suffering and invite it into our lives. That is called abuse not holiness.

God is life-giving, loving, and all merciful. Moral theology does look at three factors, (1) the motivations, (2) the end result, and (3) the means taken. It is morally wrong to abort a baby because the means taken are clearly wrong even if the intentions are good and the ends are good. I am thinking of a woman who was raped for example. Killing is still morally wrong. In all moral decisions, these three factors must be taken into consideration and the the best choice is the choice where the means, end, and motivations are all as good as possible.


Here is why I ask about the “lesser good”

Purgatory is about getting rid of our attachment to creatures so we are attached to God.

Creatures are the lesser good and God is the greater good.

If there was no sin of choosing the lesser good, there is no need for purgatory.

If there was no sin of choosing the lesser good, there would be no condemnation for people who are miserly. Or cheapskates. Or those who refuse to donate.

Reading the lives of the saints shows they give up everything to follow Jesus. I can’t do that. I’m the rich young ruler - (ok, not rich, but middle class).

I don’t want to give up everything. I can’t. I have to survive somehow until I die. I have to provide for me and my family.

But no matter what, I’m seeing these great saints, and they got into heaven, and they did a lot of giving up. I can’t do that. I’m holding on to my lesser goods and I can’t have God.

This is why Jesus rejected the rich young ruler.



You have a misguided impression of what makes an act morally evil.

The burden of proof is upon you to show where any Church teaching states that it is morally sinful to choose the lesser of two goods.


Jesus did not reject the rich young man. The rich young man rejected him.

Did that young man sin? Not necessarily. Did he miss out on the incredible grace of taking on his vocation as an apostle? Absolutely.

But he did not necessarily sin by failing to answer Christ’s call.


Jesus demanded that the rich young ruler GIVE UP EVERYTHING.

He chose the lesser good instead.


Doesn’t matter the rich younger ruler from his youth followed the commandments and wanted to get closer to God.

Nothing was good enough for Jesus. It was all or nothing.


No no no. Your misreading the texts…

One can follow Jesus as his disciple - as he calls one. Not as he calls another (like a person in religious life). One yes gives all oneself to Jesus - he is our Lord and God. Yes.

But that does not mean that Jesus will for everyone to give away all they own. All their money to the poor etc. That was the particular call for some of his disciples.

One yes is to “give all”…“give up all”… in being his - (Jesus is Lord!) but that does not mean that Jesus will ask one to say give all ones money to the poor. There is a real detachment - and a practice of giving alms etc and a readiness to give to those in need.


I don’t have detachment.

I’m worried about the future. I’m worried about poverty. I’m worried. And I’m under the impression God does not care.

So I hold on to what little money I have. Like a teddy bear in the storm of life.

Am I scrooge? No. Monty Burns? No. But I’m not Mercy from Percy either (he died broke after giving away his vast fortune).

I’m worried I’m going to be stuck on the lesser good and never get to God. All because I wonder how I’m going to survive.


Bob, forgive me for being blunt:

You are looking for an excuse to not love God or follow His path for you. You want to lay blame somewhere for your feelings of misery and depression.
If you put half as much effort into seeing the positive in life, you might actually feel better and notice God’s presence in your life. You’re not even willing to go see a priest. I’m not really sure what online strangers can do for you other than to lift you up in prayer tonight.
For now, you’re determined to misinterpret because it serves your purposes.
You goal is to walk away from Him.

You are standing on the precipice.
Back away from the danger of total separation from the arms of the Lord.

The alternative is not pretty.
Sure you can live a life and turn away from God. But the next life is for eternity.
And you’ll WANT to be with Him then, I can guarantee it.

Don’t foolishly believe that He doesn’t love you. If there ONE love you can count on with certainty in this life, it’s the love of Christ Jesus.

Millions can attest to this. Now, and throughout history.

You can’t re-invent the wheel. It just doesn’t compute. God is real. He loves you. And you need to believe it with your whole being.

**I ask all the prayer warriors to lift Bob up in prayer tonight. **


Such is not about “the lesser good”.

I recommend you choose a regular confessor and he can direct you (as to what detachment really means, and does not mean…etc).

God does Care…indeed more than that!


This is the root of scrupulosity… and even Pelagianism, Jansenism, and so on. Back away. Just do what the Church says, and you’re fine. We aren’t supposed to try to advance in action beyond the grace we’ve been given. For most people, trying to live completely poor, chaste, and obedient is a bad plan, because they don’t have those gifts. (You still could have the gift to be a great martyr though, like former seminarian St. Thomas More!)


St. Thomas more was never a seminarian.

He thought about religious life and the vocation to Priesthood and even lived and prayed with the Carthusians for a while (and retained their influence I would say in later life in his lay vocation) but he was never a seminarian…

But yes we all have different personal vocations and one does not have to be a Monk to be holy…

Nor always choose the greater good in the various decisions in life.


I want to love God but he won’t communicate with me.

or follow His path for you.

His path is suffering and the cross, nothing more.

You’re not even willing to go see a priest.

I did. Multiple times. The priests in my area are very…seriousness about the faith. My previous pastor cared more about the Bears game than an actual Catholic filled homily.

Even last night I talked to a priest. He was better than the others I recently talked to.

You goal is to walk away from Him.

My goal is to get closer to him, but every attempt I’ve made was a miserable failure.

How am I supposed to NOT be miserable and depressed when all I do is failure?

Clearly, you seem to just want to judge harshly and not show any empathy.


St. Thomas more was never a seminarian.

He thought about religious life and the vocation to Priesthood and even lived and prayed with the Carthusians for a while (and retained their influence I would say in later life in his lay vocation) but he was never a seminarian…

Thanks for the correction and clarification.

Clearly, you seem to just want to judge harshly and not show any empathy.

Yes, some are challenging you without knowing your whole situation, which is not always the best thing to do… but on the other hand, come on, it’s an internet forum. You’ve gotten some good info here. The thread seems derailed by despair… The original issue was about whether a lesser good is necessarily immoral, and the answer is no. That has never been a part of our moral or spiritual tradition, and some leads have been given on that for your further investigation.


Your welcome - he has long been a patron of mine and my family :slight_smile:

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