Human government tolerating evil

In my researches, I learned that human governments can allow evil, so that certain goods are not lost or certain greater evils do not occur.

That makes sense. I don’t know a single human government, for example, that criminalizes lying in all kind of possible situations. Probably for the best, because it would be very chaotic if a government tried to arrest everyone who spoke a lie in any kind of situation.

In Old Testament times, we also see God tolerating things like divorce in the hebrew legislation.

Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas are also known for advocating for government toleration on prostitution.

All this, plus the fact that Argentina will try to legalize abortion again, left me with an uncomfortable doubt: a government, like that of Argentina, could morally legalize abortion “so that certain goods are not lost or certain greater evils do not occur”?

I am seeing the government’s moral permission to tolerate evil on certain occasions as a powerful tool for people to advocate for the legalization of all kinds of things that go against God and the Church. I imagine that, at the very least, a government would need the Church’s permission to tolerate the evil of abortion, but I don’t know.

Am I getting all this right? I would appreciate it if you made this whole question clearer to me.

It is important to look at what is actually said. Yes, Aquinas conceived of a state that could tolerate prostitution, but it was a state that was so very lost and in evil that suddenly changing the law to outlaw it would cause more harm than good.

It’s still evil and sinful to do in the Eyes of God after all.

The first time I hear this, I can’t believe that St. Thomas really tolerates prostitution :frowning_face:

But that’s quite understandable because the formation of the government and philosophy during his time were different from ours.

The state conceived was so very uncivilized that the outright banning of prostitution, say, would be worse!

The issue with legalized abortion–like any legalized intentional homicide of an innocent person–is that it is always by its very nature an attack on the common good, since by definition it denies a class of people the most fundamental right, definitively excludes them from the opportunity to share in society’s temporal and spiritual goods, and provides them with absolutely no security or protection (not to mention each act introduces a grave injustice into the societal order without any redress).

I’m not sure there is a single element of the common good even its toleration would aid, not to mention a proportionate one (the usual argument is it supports the “prosperity” of the poor, but this is a very narrow, twisted, and un-Christian view of prosperity).

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