Moral Indecision

Sometimes, I’m sure you’ve all encountered this, people are presented with moral dilemmas. So when you can’t make a decision for one or the other what do you do? can you not make a decision and be neutral? What about if you hear something that might be a matter of Divine faith -is the prospects of not believing in this enough to oblige one to believe in it even if you’re only probably sure that it is a matter of Divine faith?

Perhaps you could give examples of what you’re referring to?

say that you heard a guy tell you some such thing was a dogma. Now you don’t want to not believe in a dogma because that would be horrible. At the same time you’re not sure that it really is a dogma but say you’re pretty sure. Either you don’t believe the dogma, you believe it, or you stand indifferent. Which should you do?

If you always err for the safe option though, I’ve thought about it, not only do you possibly open yourself up to superstition, but you also have to lead an intensely change-adverse life inspite of possible good gains that could be attained through the unsafe
(but perhaps true) option. [This last part is just food for thought, not necessarily connected to the question].

Thanks

Well, the fact of whether something IS taught by the Church as dogma or not should be fairly easy to clarify - the Church is fairly clear on what matters are dogma. Consult the Catechism, ask your priest, and you should have an answer.

Then when you have the answer as to what Church teaching is, either accept it or not. As a Catholic, of course I would advise acceptance. What other course is there for a faithful Catholic?

"Well, the fact of whether something IS taught by the Church as dogma or not should be fairly easy to clarify - the Church is fairly clear on what matters are dogma. Consult the Catechism, ask your priest, and you should have an answer.

Then when you have the answer as to what Church teaching is, either accept it or not. As a Catholic, of course I would advise acceptance. What other course is there for a faithful Catholic?"

Well that assumes IF one could find the information. My question was not one about me specifically -it was a hypothetical question, a question of theory. What should you do if you have some information (maybe sometimes a lot of information) but not enough to produce knowledge or certainty? So basically should you choose to believe a dogma (or anything else) when you don’t certainly know its a dogma but maybe probably think it is? Should you choose the likely course or the unlikely course or should you not choose -what is the most moral thing to do?

The Church doesn’t hide or obscurify its dogma. Dogmas are essential articles of faith, for heaven’s sake, why would they hide or make difficult the things that all Catholics are absolutely bound to believe?

Even if you don’t personally know where to find the answers, rest assured your priest will if it’s a matter of dogma. So ask him!

"The Church doesn’t hide or obscurify its dogma. Dogmas are essential articles of faith, for heaven’s sake, why would they hide or make difficult the things that all Catholics are absolutely bound to believe?

Even if you don’t personally know where to find the answers, rest assured your priest will if it’s a matter of dogma. So ask him! "

It’s an abstract question --say you don’t know a certain principle of morality is correct (it at least seemingly contradicts some other principle) but you don’t have access to a priest (say you’re driving around in your car). But this principle seems at least to be very sure (though the fact that it contradicts another principle obviously takes away a lot of your certainty). So in this case, should you reject the (only probable) principle, accept the principle, or do nothing?

I feel this is so relevant to me. I am a Nun from Poland, and now I am at a junction where I want to end up in one simple decision which takes me in ONE SINCERE AND FINAL DIRECTION.

The greatest torment in the world is the torment of being in indecision.

Counter example: the inquisitions. Many of the people tried by the inquisitions were just as you said: misled by a local teacher who promulgated false teaching as though it were official dogma of the church. Were these people in a state of heresy as a result of following this false dogma? Yes. But were they culpable of sin for it? No. Because they had no way of knowing that what they were taught was false until a good teacher, aka the inquisitor, informed them of the error in what they had been taught. At that time, they simply recanted the heretical position and were free to carry on with their lives.

If a person who is seemingly a trusted agent tells you something is church teaching and this idea sounds reasonably true and does not conflict, morally or otherwise, with what you KNOW to be church teaching, I’d say your best bet is to play it safe by according your behavior with such teaching until you have a chance to verify said information. What I would NOT do is go around teaching others said potentially dogmatic information until you HAVE had the chance to verify it, and I would likewise comport my behavior with such teaching, but not necessarily INTELLECTUALLY accept it as ABSOLUTELY true.

"The Church doesn’t hide or obscurify its dogma. Dogmas are essential articles of faith, for heaven’s sake, why would they hide or make difficult the things that all Catholics are absolutely bound to believe?

Even if you don’t personally know where to find the answers, rest assured your priest will if it’s a matter of dogma. So ask him! "

It’s an abstract question --say you don’t know a certain principle of morality is correct (it at least seemingly contradicts some other principle) but you don’t have access to a priest (say you’re driving around in your car). But this principle seems at least to be very sure (though the fact that it contradicts another principle obviously takes away a lot of your certainty). So in this case, should you reject the (only probable) principle, accept the principle, or do nothing?

Look, life is full of situations where we can’t stop to consult the Catechism or a priest, which is one reason why we should study it constantly so that we can be prepared!

Sometimes you’ve simply got to do the best you can based with the information you do have.

Firstly pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance, as you should whenever you have a decision to make anyway.

Then look at the likelihood of each proposition being true (I can guarantee they will never be exactly equally likely to be true) and go with the one that is more likely to be true. :shrug:

And be sure to seek the advice of your priest afterwards so you know what to do if the same situation arises again.

Is it really that difficult?

"Is it really that difficult? "

Well for me it is difficult for two reasons. One is that the Christian life is one that is supposed to be congenial to our rational nature -but confusion is like the failure of reason (it’s quite disturbing) and that’s why I like being absolutely sure about things.

Two, if we’re to shun even venial sin, one of the alternatives to a situation has to be unsinful, so neutrality, affirmation, or denial has to be unsinful in this situation. But when you don’t even know what to affirm or deny or what-not and whether such-and-such is a sin, then how are you to shun venial sins? You have to make a decision sometimes and your priest is not everywhere you are and I doubt you can have all the information in the world relevant to your problem…

You’re absolutely correct - and guess what? God knows the limitations of our human intellect! Rest assured He will not hold lack of knowledge against us except in situations where we clearly ought to have known but are too lazy or negligent to bother to find out beforehand.

So unless your lack of knowledge is due to your own laziness or negligence, there’s nothing wrong with being uncertain at times. When you are uncertain, as I’ve said, you’ve just got to trust the Holy Spirit and, as I said, do your best based on what you DO know.

And as for the shunning of sin - that’s why you must seek the advice of your priest, afterwards if necessary, so that at the very least in future you DO know what to do.

Well I suppose but it’s not a limit of human intellect per se that I have to tackle it’s rather the fact that some questions are in principle decidable but are too difficult to decide.

would it be lazy to not decide either way, in favor ,etc? that is a great difficulty and if we are to just let it be, then how is reason and religion unified if it seems that some religion leads to indecision or what comes to the same thing “unreason”.

:confused: But you were talking about situations where you MUST quickly make a choice - for example where some urgent action is required and you need to quickly decide what the appropriate principle is so that you can act accordingly.

If you’ve got the luxury of, as you say ‘not deciding either way’ then surely that means you’ve got the time to consult Catechism and priest and GET a definite answer. You’ve no excuse not to educate yourself when you can.

You say I believe what the Church teaches…and reject what she rejects…I do not know if this --as the person said it --is what she teaches …so I will go find out what she teaches and hold to that…

Just because someone says “the Church teaches X” does not mean we need to say “Ok” …

"If you’ve got the luxury of, as you say ‘not deciding either way’ then surely that means you’ve got the time to consult Catechism and priest and GET a definite answer. You’ve no excuse not to educate yourself when you can. "

Not deciding is still deciding -to decide not to decide is a decision. So in every case, one (as you stated) MUST decide. There’s no luxury involved.

One decides to follow the teachings of the Church.

“I believe what the Catholic Church teaches and reject what is rejected”

That is the decision.

Content can be investigated later…

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe
that you are one God in three divine Persons,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I believe that your divine Son became man
and died for our sins and that he will come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all the truths
which the Holy Catholic Church teaches
because you have revealed them
who are eternal truth and wisdom,
who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
In this faith I intend to live and die.
Amen.

From the Compendium of the Catechism issued by Pope Benedict XVI

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html#A)%20COMMON%20PRAYERS%20COMMON%20PRAYERS)

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