What do you think of the following case?

A person says, “I do not think Action X is wrong. The Church, however, teaches that it is gravely wrong. On that account, I avoid Action X, I would not receive Holy Communion until confessing if I committed Action X, and I teach others that the Church considers Action X is gravely wrong. As to my opinion about it, I keep my mouth shut. It is enough for me that the Church teaches that it is wrong, simply on the principle that the Magesterium may decide what is bound and what is loosed.”

Is there anything wrong with this? Is it like a teenager who does not think anything wrong with a particular part of town, but who avoids it, not because she fears punishment but out of a desire to be obedient to her father, and advises others to do the same because her father has told her it is strictly forbidden it and it is her duty to teach what he teaches, rather than undermine him?

In other words, while it is good for her to work at understanding her father’s position, as long as she is willing to be obedient and defers to her father’s judgement, she is OK? Her conscience is not erroneous as long as she conforms it to her father’s, whether she understands why or not?

Another opinion might be that she sins, is actually rebellious, or cannot really repent, unless she actually comes see why her father teaches this. Furthermore, she runs the high risk of giving into her own erroneous judgement until she conforms more to his way of thinking. In other words, her contrition cannot be real and her conscience is erroneously formed until she actually sees the action as wrong from her own judgement.

Comments? Third and fourth opinions?

Your first opinion is correct, I think. Jesus does not say that you must understand. He says that you must obey. There are many things about God, and His ways I may never understand fully no matter how long and hard I attempt to do so. It does not matter as long as I am obedient to the Father’s will.
To think that I must understand is to think like a Gnostic; that is,thinking that my salvation is based on your abiility to understand. This is a heresy long condemned by the Early Fathers.

Obedience may be a step on the way to embracing the teaching. It has been said that the longest distance in the world is the distance from the head to the heart; it often takes a while to go from the point of knowing what the law is to the point of loving it. The person should at least be praying to the Holy Spirit for help in truly accepting the truth.

What you propose is simply obedience. Obedience is a good thing. It acknowledges that we are human and can be wrong about our personal beliefs, and that we defer to a higher authority on the matter, whether it be parents, the law, or the Church.

It also leaves the door open in the future for God to work in us so we can understand why the Church teaches “action X” is wrong and perhaps believe that it is… eventually.

I had not thought of the Gnostic angle to this. Thank you!

This is the way it seemed to me; that is, that someone who was willing to obey first and ask questions later was going to have a better time of it than someone who insisted on understanding.

That is the way I looked at it…that is, that we should be open to change our minds, but sometimes it takes patience. In the meantime, faith is in following what you believe, even though you don’t see it, even in moral matters. That is, the obedience is in the doing, whether or not you see it.

Thanks, everyone. This will help in explaining that there isn’t a need to beat oneself up about not seeing, that patience on that front is OK, as long as obedience is offered up right away.

Patience is not only OK, it’s a virtue. Something that the Holy Spirit gives us. If the Holy Spirit gives it to us, then that means God is aware of our difficulty and is giving us something we need. It also means that God loves us and the obedience is a definite sign of His love. After all, disobedience is easy when we don’t agree with something. Obedience is much harder and the fact that there is obedience at all proves God is present. Whoever you are referring to in your OP, you can be sure God loves them very much.

God Bless,

I guess I meant that this is a case where the person is being patient, rather than obstinate or lazy. There are those times when we need to be a little less patient with ourselves than we are wont to be!

But you are right…to have the strength to hang in there and wait between the time we obey and the time we can see why we obey, that is a great grace, too, and something to be thankful for! :thumbsup:

As Fr Corapi says, “Give the assent of faith, then God will open up the portals of understanding.”

When you are obedient to the teachings of the Church, you are free-er to understand all truths then those who rebel.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said the following things which shed much light on this topic:

"Obedience is the condition of wisdom, as scientists so clearly reveal. A scientist, if he is ever to know nature, has to sit passively before it. He says to nature, “Here I am sitting before you. You teach me. I will learn from you.” To the extent that he is obedient to nature, he is wise about its laws. When finally he has the laws of nature in his own mind, then he can convert them into technical power and the progress of civilization.

So it is with a child. When a child is obedient, he learns wisdom. The more we obey the laws of anything, the more they reveal their secrets to us. “If any man will do My Will, he will know My doctrine.” The obedient child who has learned moral wisdom from his parents is prepared to use that wisdom later on for his own perfection."

Thank you! That’s a great quote!

Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a gift of using very good analogies. If we take his quote further, by way of thinking of an example, can you imagine what would happen if a scientist said: “I don’t believe in the laws of gravity. I am going to jump off this plane. Now you watch… I won’t need a parachute.” He certainly would not get a Nobel prize for his work!

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