Scriptural passages on “scandal” have caused me much difficulty in terms of understanding this notion even when back when I was a thoroughly-convinced Protestant.
Perhaps the problem arises in terms of the way in which we define “scandal” and related terms in today’s world.
Now, I have read through the Catechism on the subject and it would seem that a key part of the definition involves the person who is scandalized falling into sin.
So, is the fact that someone may merely see us doing something (even though we have right intentions in doing it) and “thinking” it is wrong, but having no intention to fall into what he/she believes to be sin him/herself considered “scandal” according to the Church’s definition?
Even ifthe above does NOT fall under the Church’s definition, how “sure” must you be that someone else is going to fall into sin if you do X, Y or Z? To me, in this day and age, with everyone having such strong opinions/convictions on practically everything, it would seem that, while many may be “scandalized” in the modern sense of the word at this or that action, most (if not all?) would be very unlikely if at all to participate in that sin on merely seeing someone about which they expected better (apparently) doing so. Indeed, the fact that someone else expected better automatically implies that they consider what you are doing sunful. Ifthey consider it s9inful, why on Earth would you doing it automatically lead them into sin? It would seem like the opposite would be true. It would seem that their thought process would run something like, “I expected better of so-and-so. You certainly wouldn’t catch me doing that!” I would expect they would be more likely to turn away from the perceived sin.
Furthermore, their perception that you have sinned is (in this scenario) completely untrue! Their perception is erroneous. Is it still an obligation for you not to do what you are doing just because someone has the misperception that you are sinning?
This is why the notion of the “weaker” brother who believes something in error forcing you to give up something you know isn’t sinful in that famous Pauline passage has, I shan’t lie, always troubled me. Would it not be better if, on understanding that your brother thinks Xo or Y is sunfl, you were to sit down and explain why it iis not instead of simply giving it up altogether? In this way, you will likely both end up doing what is approved of by God and giving Him thanks in the process. You will have also corrected the misperception of your brother. If your brother happens to fall into what he believes is sin beforehand, not to sound cold, but isn’t that his responsibility and not yours? Could someone, along with answering the questions I pose above, please explain/clarify Paul’s reasoning in the passage to which I’m referring?
Just for the sake of example: Say you like a particular song. You may not like the lyrics, but you may like it because it has some association, say, with a high school dance you really loved. Also, you just like the beat, seriously, not using this as some excuse for liking terrible lyrics. You listen to it either alone or with friends. You might even dance to it. Would this be cause for scandal if everyone really knows why you like the song? What if someone happens to note that you have the song on your iDevice for whatever reason but hasn’t gotten an explanation for it? Would this be scandalous? Ifthey already think the lyric itself is OK, then they technically haven’t “fallen” into sin. They’re still there. If they don’t think the lyric is OK, they, again (I think), are very unlikely to ascent to it so as in any way to fall into sin. Even ifthey think your merely downloading the song is sinful, they are unlikely to follow suit.
A lot of clarity on these issues would be much appreciated.