How liable are we for the consequence of sins?


#1

The Question and Answer booklet on Catholic Catechism by Fr. M. Guzman (Imprimatur: Jaime Cardinal L. Sin - Archbishop of Manila) has this item:

Art 129:
Q. On what will the living and the dead be judged?
A. The living and the dead will be judged on the moral good and evil that they have done, including the chain of consequences of their actions, even long after the actions were done, up to the end of time.

I am uncomfortable with the phrase “up to the end of time”. The cross references in The Catholic Catechism are articles 1039 and 1059 but they do not mention “up to the end of time”.

I can accept that I am liable for the direct consequence of my sin but if someone else comits an evil as a result of my sin, surely I cannot be liable for it? If the resulting evil is amplified will my sin be greater?

My fellow Catholics at RCIA think it is right. I am the loner against this perpetual consequence…

Any comments?
:confused:


#2

I am not against perpetual consequence, and here is why. Every effect has a directly attributable cause. If evil is committed 250 years from now that can be traced back to something that you did or said, then you are at tleast partially culpable for that evil. It would not have happened if your haddened happened first. It makes you become very wary of your actions if you know that 250 years from now, someone else could be fall intoa trap of sin that you started digging today. That is why we should be praying daily for God to guide our path.


#3

To “the end of time” should be looked at as the end of one’s life. We are responsible for the direct results of our actions. To look at this the other way could be suggesting that “I’m not responsible because someone before me is.” Once we die we are judged in the particular judgement. After this individual and particular judgment we can no longer sin, we can nolonger take on the guilt of sins.


#4

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]To “the end of time” should be looked at as the end of one’s life. We are responsible for the direct results of our actions. To look at this the other way could be suggesting that “I’m not responsible because someone before me is.” Once we die we are judged in the particular judgement. After this individual and particular judgment we can no longer sin, we can nolonger take on the guilt of sins.
[/quote]

True, once you die you can no longer sin, but you also enter into eternity and therefore, your argument doesn’t necessarily logically flow. God knows the consequences of your sin and its effects all the way to the end of time at the moment you commit the sin. God also said that he holds us accountable for our sins “to the third and fourth generations” (sorry, I can’t cite the exact verse) which clearly means that those in the future can suffer from the consequences of our sin. Are we not culpable for that? Since God knows the effects of our sin to the end of time, then how is it logical that he could not judge us on those effects when we enter into eternity?

Having said that, however, doesn’t mean that those who have reached the age of reason are completely exempt for their own sins because of some influence of my own sin. Each individual has free will and God offers everyone the grace to avoid sin. Therefore, my sin does not reduce their culpability for their sin but their culpability does not reduce my own culpability if it was my example that tempted them to sin in the first place; even if they exist long after I am dead and gone.

By the way, I think that the same is true about the good things that we do. We will be judged not only on our acceptance of God’s grace to do good and the effects that our good acts have during our lifetime, but also on the effects that will proceed down through to the end of time. Oh, what a wonderful judgment Mary must have had when we consider the effect of her accepting her role as mother of the Savior has had through the course of time. No wonder all generations will call her blessed!!!

On a final note, I am not claiming that what I have posted here is part of the deposit of faith. It is merely my thoughts in consideration of what you posted. :smiley:


#5

I can’t decide if this is really talking about how grave your individual sin is, or if it is just talking about what info will be revealed on the last day, or if it is talking about suffering extra in hell on account of totally unforeseeable consequences.

Consider two otherwise similar men. The first man skips mass some Sunday. The second man also skips mass, but he knows that if he doesn’t go, his wife will skip mass as well. The second man is guilty of more. This is on account of the scandal to his wife.

Consider three men this time. The first man goes to by a “men’s magazine.” The second man also goes to buy one, but because he is standing on a street corner at a set time, he accidentally bumps into a would-be thief and that bump scares the thief and the thief thinks better of his actions and does not commit a crime and repents of his ways. The third man goes to buy the magazine, bumps an unstable man, who then goes out and shoots 50 people dead because he goes postal over it.

The second and third men would not have been in the right place at the right time unless they had set out to buy the magazine. But they had absolutely no reasonable way to foresee the extra consequences of their actions. Who has wandered farther from God?

I think the moral quality of their decisions is the same. Each made the same decision with the same motivation and the same set of knowledge of consequences. I mean, you are equally in a state of mortal sin if you try to poison your wife, it doesn’t matter for gravity if in one case your plan works and in the other case she lives by some fluke.

But who knows, maybe the passage just intends to say that it will be revealed in the last day just how each of the men affected those around them with their sins.


#6

[quote=Pug]Consider three men this time. The first man goes to by a “men’s magazine.” The second man also goes to buy one, but because he is standing on a street corner at a set time, he accidentally bumps into a would-be thief and that bump scares the thief and the thief thinks better of his actions and does not commit a crime and repents of his ways. The third man goes to buy the magazine, bumps an unstable man, who then goes out and shoots 50 people dead because he goes postal over it.
[/quote]

The second and the third men are in no way culpable of the acts of the other men in your scenario because the accidental bump of the thief and the unstable man was not an intentional act. You can only be culpable (or rewarded) for your own acts of will. You may argue that I did not will that my example would tempt another to sin, but I did will to commit the sin and in willing this, I set the example that later tempted another. Additionally, you cannot do evil to accomplish a good end; therefore, you can’t get any credit for any good that results in your sinful act.

Let’s imagine a fourth man who goes to buy the “men’s magazine” and that another man standing by saw him doing this. In seeing him purchase the magazine, another man recongizes the wrongful lust that leads men to purchase such magazines and vows that he will never do this. The fourth man cannot take any credit for the bystander’s decision.

In the case of the thief, a simple bump wouldn’t explain his sudden change of heart (neither the sinful act or the example set by the sinful act of the second man can explain why the thief repented) so the second man certainly couldn’t take any credit for it. The third man likewise cannot be held culpable for the fact that the man he bumped was unstable. We are judged by our deliberate acts of will; not by accidental and unforseeable consequences.

The second man in your first consideration, who skipped mass knowing that by doing so he would likely cause his wife to also skip mass, performed a deliberate act knowing that it was wrong and knowing that it would have an impact on another. He would definitely be culpable. Let’s say, however that he did not know about his wife’s reaction. Is he still culpable? I say yes because any reasonable person knows that his own actions can impact the decisions of others; especially those close to him. His ignorance of his wife’s reaction is, therefore, not invincible and he cannot be excused of it. This does not lessen the wife’s own culpability for she should have the fortitude to stand up for her faith and encourage her husband to go to mass. If he refuses, she needs to be an example to her husband by going to mass without him so that he can see by her example that going to mass is important.


#7

theMutant wrote:

You can only be culpable (or rewarded) for your own acts of will.

So, I somehow need to replace the accidental bump with something more sinister…

Actually, you have done this with the fourth man and having the bystander respond to the act of purchasing the magazine, instead of the bump. Say a man buys the magazine, and nothings happens to anyone else. Is the man still guilty of two sins, the one of buying the magazine, and the other of running the unnecessary risk of scandal? It seems pretty obvious that buying a magazine of this sort runs a foreseeable risk of someone seeing you. The cashier, at least. So the man buys the magazine, and either nothing happens, or a spectator turns away from sin, or a spectator turns to sin. In each of the three cases, is there any difference in the gravity of what the man has done?

theMutant wrote:

You may argue that I did not will that my example would tempt another to sin, but I did will to commit the sin and in willing this, I set the example that later tempted another.

I think in a way, when you do a sin, you are also willing the consequences to others that come along with it. I know, not direct willing. But you are responsible for the consequences that you foresee or should foresee as likely. Since you are responsible for them, if you decide to say, “So what, I don’t care,” then you willed to say that, and it is wrong to not care about others. It almost seems like a separate decision from the one to do the sin by itself. Hmmm, maybe this is arising out of a positive duty toward your fellow man?

The contrast that underlies my previous paragraph is, what about the extremely well-trained Catholic who decides he is going to use/buy the men’s magazine. He does know that he will be causing negative effects in his own psyche, like creating an attachment to doing this particular sin. But no one ever accuses him of willing that damage to his psyche (well, except me when younger, so maybe my history is why I can’t figure it out). Yet in the paragraph above, I really want to accuse the man of some level of willing consequent harm to his neighbor. I want to pin something on him for the scandal.


#8

It sounds way too complex to try to analyze individual cases. But look at it this way: Throughout our lives, we can be a force for good or evil, by what we do or fail to do. A lifetime of doing good for others cannot help but be a positive force in other people’s lives–yes, I think the good consequences can have a ripple effect and keep going even till the end of time.

The same is true of our bad actions. If we lead others into sin, act as a bad influence, help to corrupt their consciences, the evil effects will continue to ripple on throughout history till the end of time, and part of those evil consequences are at least partly attributable to us. If we had been better, history itself would have turned out better.

Perhaps this will be a part of our purgatory: being able to see in detail the consequences–good and bad–of our actions, and feeling pain for the evil that we have wrought.

Live long enough and you can begin to look back and observe some of these effects, even in this life.

JimG


#9

[quote=theMutant] God knows the consequences of your sin and its effects all the way to the end of time at the moment you commit the sin. God also said that he holds us accountable for our sins “to the third and fourth generations” (sorry, I can’t cite the exact verse) which clearly means that those in the future can suffer from the consequences of our sin. Are we not culpable for that? Since God knows the effects of our sin to the end of time, then how is it logical that he could not judge us on those effects when we enter into eternity?

[/quote]

Okay look at it this way. If I were a lazy drunkard and don’t take care of the family. Now the family lives in poverty. However, my son, because of the poverty turns to God and eventually becomes a priest. I am absolved of my evil because of the good consequence? If I am resposible for any evil consequence I should also reap the benefits of the good consequence too!

:confused:


#10

At the general judgement we will see the effects of all our sins on others. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, and everyone else.


#11

[quote=bob]Okay look at it this way. If I were a lazy drunkard and don’t take care of the family. Now the family lives in poverty. However, my son, because of the poverty turns to God and eventually becomes a priest. I am absolved of my evil because of the good consequence? If I am resposible for any evil consequence I should also reap the benefits of the good consequence too!
[/quote]

No, because you went about it all wrong and you cannot take credit because someone failed to follow your example. Similarly, you cannot be held culpable if you lead a holy life and your son rejects God and becomes a lazy drunkard who doesn’t take care of his family.

It is beyond reason to claim that the reason you were a lazy drunkard and failed to take care of your family was so that your son would learn from your bad example and not take the same course and would become a good and holy person. If he learns from your bad example it is not because of you, it is in spite of you. You are responsible for the evil consequences of your evil acts because a reasonable person would understand that what you are doing is wrong and that the outcome you propose is, at best, unlikely. Scripture and the teaching of the Church teaches that we are to be holy examples for our children not just “so that they will follow in our footsteps,” but because it is likely that they will do so.


#12

[quote=theMutant]No, because you went about it all wrong and you cannot take credit because someone failed to follow your example. Similarly, you cannot be held culpable if you lead a holy life and your son rejects God and becomes a lazy drunkard who doesn’t take care of his family.

[/quote]

Thanks. This is exactly the point I want to make - that I cannot be liable for the consequence (good or bad) of my actions/sins “till the end of time”.

My credits/debits only extend to the immediate repercussion and consequence of my action, not “till the end of time.”

Moreover the Catholic Catechism teaches that we are judged immediately upon death with 3 possible scenarios - a) heaven. b) purgatory c) hell. Once that is done any consequence of our actions/sins cannot affect us anymore.

Right?

[quote=theMutant]God also said that he holds us accountable for our sins “to the third and fourth generations” (sorry, I can’t cite the exact verse) which clearly means that those in the future can suffer from the consequences of our sin. Are we not culpable for that? Since
[/quote]

The correct verse is Ex 20:5-6
"For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments."

From the verse, God is not holding us accountable for our sins but punishing/rewarding our descendants for our actions. Just like Adam’s sin affects all mankind.

:smiley:


#13

[quote=theMutant]God also said that he holds us accountable for our sins “to the third and fourth generations” (sorry, I can’t cite the exact verse) which clearly means that those in the future can suffer from the consequences of our sin. Are we not culpable for that? Since
[/quote]

The correct verse is Ex 20:5-6
"For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments."

From the verse, God is not holding us accountable for our sins but punishing/rewarding our descendants for our actions.

:smiley:


#14

[quote=bob]Thanks. This is exactly the point I want to make - that I cannot be liable for the consequence (good or bad) of my actions/sins “till the end of time”.

My credits/debits only extend to the immediate repercussion and consequence of my action, not “till the end of time.”
[/quote]

Please refer to my response in post #4. You misinterpret my response. I am only saying that you will not be judged for the consequenses (good or bad) which do not directly flow from your sin (or holiness) and the example it sets. You will be judged for those consequenses (good and bad) that do. My saying that you cannot take credit (or be culpable) when someone does not follow your example was to contrast the fact that you can take credit (or be culpable) when someone does follow your example. You cannot and will not be judged for the former but you can and will be judged for the latter.

I am not arguing that my position is part of the deposit of faith for I have not read anything stating either position. I am only arguing that without a definitive statement from the Church, it is illogical to claim that God, who is eternal and knows all of the consequenses of your actions through the end of time from the very moment you commit them, would not or could not judge you on the consequenses through to the end of time. The moment you die, God knows the consequences of your actions; all of the consequenses through to the end of time.

In regard to Exodus 20:5-6, the punnishment inflicted on future generations is the consequence of the sins of the father who sinned in the first place. It does not say that the father will not be judged for those consequences; only that the blessings which are the consequenses of good acts are far greater than the punnishments which are the consequenses of bad acts. In my opinion, this supports my statement that you can and will be judged for the consequenses of your acts (good or bad) that continue after your death. In my view, it is completely illogical to claim that God would punnish my decendents for my sin and that I would not be judged for that consequence which my sin brought about. Am I not liable for the direct consequenses of my actions? Of course I am.


#15

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