How can I back out of a promise?


What exactly are the conditions for a promise/oath/vow to be voided? I need to know because I promised I would not cuss. Later I found out it can be okay sometimes and I want to take it back. I also promised my dad I wouldnt buy CDs with cussing and I have one. What should I do? I tried to convince him but he didn’t change his mind.


Without knowing what you were told about profanity, I don’t know the context of the statement you were given. So, let’s restate it: Profanity is not a good in and of itself. Words themselves are morally neutral; the meanings that society attaches to them can be good, bad, or neutral. Depending on the circumstances, a swear word now and then is not necessarily sinful. However, it is rude and demonstrates an inability to express one’s feelings in a constructive manner. It is especially important for children to be careful to avoid swearing so that by the time they are adults positive habits will be formed.

The most important issue raised in your question is a child’s obligation to respect his parent’s just commands. If you are still a minor, your father has the authority to require that you do not buy music he considers inappropriate for you. For that matter, even if you are an adult child living at home, your father has the right to disallow in his own home what he considers inappropriate music. When you are an adult living independently, then you will have the right to use your properly-formed prudential judgement to decide which music to purchase and play in your home.

As for the initial question about backing out of promises: If the original promise was not a just promise to make, or if it is a private vow to oneself that has no binding force on an individual conscience, the person who makes the promise can be excused of it. Otherwise, to give one’s word, especially to another, is a solemn action and should not be violated unjustly. If you need help discerning the binding nature of your promise, please speak to your confessor.

**Recommended reading:

Is profanity a mortal sin?
Is profane music a sin?**

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