Scandal by Association


To express my question, I’ll use the example of cohabiting unmarried couples. We know that this is scandalous behavior. What about, for instance, attending a party thrown by such a couple for Thanksgiving? Does one participate in scandal by association? Is there a sense of acceptance one grants to the behavior in this sort of a context?

I’ve developed a case of the scruples of late, and what’s prompted this line of wondering, I believe, was my recent discovery that apparently we Catholics have to be careful about the attendance of ‘wedding’ ceremonies that are in fact invalid, and don’t result in marriage. I’d never even thought about this until really recently.

I believe this led me to consider the principle involved, and it’s what I’ve termed ‘scandal by association’, though I don’t know if there’s really a name for it. I suppose at base it’s just scandal one may be concerned with in the case of the attendance of an invalid ceremony. Instead of originating the scandal in that case, however, it seems like the scandal would be by paying homage to an original scandal by the act of attending. Maybe ‘scandal by participation’ would be a better way to express that case.

Can anyone offer some clarity on this sort of thing, and what are the bounds of it before one goes overboard and becomes overly scrupulous in its application?

Thanks in advance!


Those who have scruples need to ask these questions and discuss them with their regular spiritual director.

Asking here can do more harm than good. Please talk to your priest about this.


I think you will be hurting life long close friends, relatives, next door neighbors, for turning down invitations to their Children’s Weddings. Today many of the these young couples get married by Judges or other religions. I personally think you would be crossing the line as being uncharitable.


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