Do you try to reduce the scandal when you sin?


I just started a thread about swearing, and in it I touched upon whether or not people try to correct themselves in contexts where swearing, IF sinful, may give scandal. Then I realized that the question about scandal could be applied to all sins.

So here’s the question: When you do something you believe is sinful, and you do it in the presence of–or even including–others, do you go out of your way to make it known that you disapprove of your own behavior, in order to avoid giving the scandalous impression that you think the sinful behavior is okay?

I realize that actions speak louder than words, and the best way to avoid giving scandal is obviously to not sin in the first place, especially not in front of others, but if you DO commit sin in such contexts, does the possibility of giving scandal bother you enough that you try to make your moral convictions clear–while admitting that you have transgressed them–or do you (consciously) approach it in such a way that those who have witnessed your sin (or been involved in it) may be left with no hint whatsoever that you actually disapprove of your own behavior?

If you don’t try to rectify or mitigate the scandal, why not? Fear of looking like a hypocrite? Something else?

For my own answer, if I sin around someone (which I shouldn’t sin in the first place, of course!), I usually do go out of my way to emphasize that, although I am guilty of whatever behavior, I believe it’s wrong, especially if the person knows or may likely discover that I am Catholic.

Blessings in Christ,


We have gone to the mall on a Sunday for some exercise in the winter and when meeting someone we often will say we are there for walking, not shopping. Not quite the same but hoping not to give scandal and/or to say we don’t support Sunday shopping. It may look like we’re shopping because we bring a shopping bag to hold mitts and scarves and hats.


To me, I guess to answer honestly, no I don’t necessarily try to avoid scandalizing someone if I’ve sinned in their presence. Now possibly I should, I just hadn’t given it a lot of thought. I think if I did something particularly awful in front of others who might be scandalized that I should probably and absolutely make sure that those who witnessed it realized I knew I had done wrong and was sorry. Having said that, I don’t use the Lord’s name in vain. But, if I say a cussword for instance—just a plain old average cussword like"damn", I don’t particularly think that saying an occasional cussword is a sin. So no, I wouldn’t feel the need to address something like that. But that’s just my take on it!


I think this is where the term practicing Catholic applies neatly. We may respond off the top of our head without processing the situation-emotions and thus this results in possible sin. How quickly we understand our shortcoming also is a practice of understanding and processing, same as point A. You have to know you sinned, and why you sinned, to know you were wrong sinning, thus amend and atone for the sin.


That’s an interesting question.

I’m trying to think of examples where this would apply. For me, the most frequent would be me doing something in front of my children. I do ordinarily try to rectify that.

I suppose there may be times where it wouldn’t be practical or possible to do that, though. Fir example, if you do something in a public place, you cannot exactly go back and find those people again.

It seems like a pretty good practice to me. I’m trying to think of a potential downside to it, but I cannot really think of any at the moment.


Oh that’s quite true. There will always be circumstances where one can’t do it, and I think that’s quite a bit different. We can only do what we can.

It seems like a pretty good practice to me. I’m trying to think of a potential downside to it, but I cannot really think of any at the moment.

My thoughts exactly. I mean, I guess someone might argue that one’s attempt might fall on deaf ears if the other people aren’t religious or don’t care, but as I see it that’s not the point of this exercise: The point is to do something within one’s own power to reverse the bad example one has set by sinning in the first place. If others are unimpressed by the attempted good example, that’s beyond one’s control.

Blessings in Christ,


I believe that we should always do our best to avoid scandalizing anyone–not just because Our Lord said that if someone scandalizes one of His little ones, it would be better for him if a millstone were tied to his neck ad he were thrown into the sea. We, as Catholics are looked to–like it or not–to live up to and stand for what we believe. This is part of why we should pray for politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden (to name just two)—who cause such scandal on a nearly daily basis. The word watches and judges Catholicism by each of us, what we do, and how we live our lives… Yet we are all falling short and when we do, we must ask for forgiveness and try to do better. Other humans can understand someone making a mistake and trying sincerely to make it right. So to me, this is our obligation–to represent Jesus as best we can in this world, and when we fall short, to get up, apologize to Our Lord in prayer or cofession, and set out to do better!


I try to reduce scandal by not sinning around others. If there is anything I want to say that is wrong, I either don’t say it or think about it. By giving as much good example as I can and gently voicing my own objections, people at work know where I stand. One of my coworkers actually said “sorry” to me on one occasion when he used certain words when I was present. And people know I dislike certain entertainers, movies and music, so they respect me when I say no or that I don’t like something on moral grounds.

One teases me that “I’m born again, and gone tomorrow.”

Now I know God sees everything and knows my heart, but I always pray for his help and mercy, even if a particular sin is done in private. That way, my scandal is limited to my unseen acts or thoughts.



What an interesting question! I have honestly not really thought about this very much but it absolutely does seem like an important thing to do when possible if it will actually help mitigate any scandal. I think it would usually be most applicable for people who look up to you for guidance rather than just to the public in general, but definitely an important thing to think about. :thumbsup:


It IS an interesting question isn’t it? As I roll it around in my mind, the first thought I have is that we should be careful what we say or do around others so we don’t scandalize in the first place–because once we have scandalized someone, I’m not sure that a simple “I’m sorry—do as I say, not as I do” will really make any difference.

Secondly, is I thought about what things that we do that might actually cause scandal and personally, I really don’t think cussing–other than using God’s name in vain of course–is much of a scandal. I admit that I cuss sometimes and I know when others do so around me, it doesn’t bother me–again, unless they use God’s name or Jesus’ name–which does bother me a lot.

Thirdly are remarks about the Catholic church or a pope. I think that’s one we should all be careful about around non Catholics. Around another Catholic, to discuss the differences, pros and cons, etc., between say Pope Benedict and Pope Francis or why you think V2 was a horrendous error is one thing. It’s all fair discussion fodder! BUT, if you say something along those lines in mixed company (mixed meaning not all Catholic) you run the risk of non Catholics being scandalized. We Catholics are a family and should remember that when we say something negative abut a priest or pope to those outside our family, it’s similar to saying something ugly–even if what you say is absolutely true–about your parent or spouse.

What scandalizes me personally is the way many young people dress these days but there’s nothing I can do about it. My kids are all grown but if one of my girls had put on some of the outfits I see every day—even at the high school which to me is particularly inappropriate—my husband would have told her that she couldn’t leave the house looking like a street walker or stripper and to get back to her room and change. As I said though, they aren’t my kids so there’s nothing I can do–but sometimes it really is almost embarrassing!

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