Something I find quite disturbing

I am a new Catholic (convert from Protestantism) and I have been reading these forums for a month or more. I am disturbed by a trend that I see most frequently under Moral Theology section. Many people will comment that they “personally feel” that this or that is moral or immoral. Sometimes these opinions will directly conflict with the teachings of the church. (i.e. I personally don’t think that birth control is a sin.) Many times these people will identify themselves as Catholic.

I find this disturbing because these people seem to misunderstand the concept of sin. For example, if the Church says that A is right, and B is wrong, one can not merely say “because I personally don’t have a problem with B, I will commit this act anyway and I don’t think it is a sin.” Either the individual does not respect the authority of the Church (and by extension, God) or the individual does not believe that the Church is the body of Christ in the world. Either way, this individual is displaying non-catholic characteristics. This all strongly reminds me of relativism.

If man defines sin, then we have a right to relativism, but it is God who defines sin. We can deny that we are sinning, but this does not change the fact that we are sinning. I can say that I owe no taxes, but when the IRS comes after me, simply asserting that I am not in default will not prevent me from being hauled to prison.

I actually do not want this thread to turn into a discussion of relativism, but I would like to see this thread serve to correct misunderstanding of the nature of sin among the posters that I previously mentioned. (Wishful thinking?) Thoughts?

It seems that some of it is cultural. Our culture has little tradition of collectivism and respect for authority. It kind of grinds the idea into people that their own feelings and opinions can overturn such authority or concern for the collective Church as a whole.



You are spot on. It is something that seems to constantly happen. Maybe it is just a symptom of our fallen natures that we don’t want to admit that it is a sin because then we will have to change.

BTW, welcome home! I came into the Church almost 18 years ago. :thumbsup::extrahappy:

Well said., eyesopening. Couldn’t agree more.:thumbsup:

Actually, eyesopening, my complaint about the “Moral Theology” section is that it is less often relating to true “moral theology” and more often is essentially a meeting of the “scrupulous anonymous” society, where many posts begin with “I suffer from OCD…” and perpetuate the stereotypes of Catholics as sin-obsessed loons.

But that’s another matter.

As to your post, I lurk often and I don’t really see much disagreement over the morality of many actions, save 1: Artificial birth control. I believe that mimics the division in the Church laity as to that subject.

Part of the reason, in my opinion, is that the Church’s position is a) very difficult to square with real world realities; and b) is propounded by the clergy, who axiomatically don’t worry about childbirth & childrearing, providing for their children, etc.

As to the first - and the second is another matter – an example would suffice. I know a husband & wife with 1 child. They wanted more and had several miscarriages. Then they learned that the wife suffers from a blood clotting disorder where getting pregnant could kill her. However, the Church – whose leaders will never have to worry about getting pregnant, dying and leaving a baby without a mom, etc. – tell them they have 2 options:

  1. Never have sex again; or
  2. Be open to life (or death).

Both of those options are just very unfulfilling and unrealistic. Plus, these are happily married, churchgoing Catholics, mind you, in Mass every Sunday. It’s bad enough that the Church offers them option 1 & 2, without option 3 – use ABC to avoid getting pregnant. It’s even worse that using option 3 – and these are married folks, not kids fooling around – gets these folks condemned as being in mortal sin and hence hellbound by others. Plus, look around at the posters on this board. That appears to include a wide spectrum of folks including nice people; good Christians; devout Churchgoers; antisocial weirdos; and…a really large number of the OCD sufferers… and a few people who appear to have no concept of interpersonal relationships, let alone married life, childbirth, etc., juding by their statements, their admissions as to their own lives, etc.

–Just my 2 cents.

I think that most of them would say that they do not believe morality is relative, but that probably has more to do with the fact that they know what the so-called “correct answer” is, rather than a real sense of what is objectively good.

I came across this in my ethics class last semester. At the begininng of the class, the professor led us in a discussion of what morality itself is. He contrasted morality to manners. Most students said that, while manners are static and unchanging, right and wrong really depend on your viewpoint.

My brain melted when I heard that.

PolarGuy, thank you for your comment. This quote implies that you believe 1. you believe that the church is wrong in this teaching, and 2. you believe that it is a sin against the church rather than God.

As a Catholic I must believe that 1. The church is infallible in its moral teachings and 2. God condemns sin whether the church recognizes it or not.

You label yourself as Catholic, yet you reject these Catholic precepts, confirming my statements in the original post.

Thank you again for your reply.

Actually, eyesopening, my quote cannot be read to imply anything.

However, you may want to consider yourself the following:

  1. Do you think these folks are in mortal sin?

  2. If yes…can you presuppose to know their moral culpability when no one other than God can do so?

  3. If yes…do you believe it is appropriate to pass moral judgment on the state of someone’s soul, when your only link to them is an anonymous internet post?

…Because its certainly no impediment to many on this board, who will say “yes” to all 3, all the while looking at the specks in the eyes of these anonymous folks – who are not here to defend themselves - and missing the planks in their own.

For that matter, eyesopening, you really have no basis to claim to know what I reject and what I accept. Your willingness to decide what I reject might be chilling to some.


Please do not be in such a hurry to be angry.

Your questions lead us off the point of the discussion. They attempt to discover what I believe is wrong or right aside from the teachings of the church, and you are trying to bait me into saying something that can be construed as judgmental.

Here is what I have to say.

The church is infallible. (That is what Catholics believe and we are on a Catholic forum, and you label yourself Catholic.) Let us start with that premise. The Catholic Church defines the use of artificial BC to prevent pregnancy(to use your example) to be a sin for any reason whatsoever with no exceptions. My complaint in the original post was that there are those who would claim the church’s infallibility (indirectly by a catholic label on a forum) yet reject this teaching that they personally disagree with. (This demonstrates a misunderstanding on what sin is.) The Catholic Church teaches that this is a mortal sin and I personally have no authority to disagree as a Catholic. (Non-catholics who have no belief in the infallibility of the church are another matter.)

Let us peacefully discuss this issue. Thank you for your reply.

A last thing that I’ll add is that God knows this situation more intimately that we ever can. To know that ABC is taught as a sin to Catholics and to use it anyway says, “I will not trust God with my womb or my own life.” God will act for the best for the individuals. As Catholics we trust in this truth. God chooses to give life and to take it away. This is not really a debatable issue, and we are not free to choose what is and is not sin in given situations. That authority is not given to us.

Many things to think about in your post…but the highlighted parts are unconscionably wrongheaded, unjust and uncharitable…you really need to think hard about your condemnation of the Church leaders…bishops, pastors etc. If it pleases you, be mad at the Moral position of the Church on birth control…but branding the Church leaders as ignorant of practical crosses in everyday life…and that they are collectively unsympathetic and un-compassionate for the spiritual and physical well-being of their flock…husbands, wives and children…is really quite simply blatantly uncharitable on your part.

Simply put…they will die for you and me if called to do so…but they simply will not go to hell for us…by condemning themselves for teaching moral heresy.

Lastly the Mayo Clinic would disagree with your “life and death” scenario re: blood clots and pregnancy…there may be complications in the pregnancy in order to protect the mother s life…and there may be future complications for the mother based on her pre-pregnancy condition…but its not an un-treatable and un-workable scenario/situation. For sure, it is an incredible cross and a scary one…but it is not insurmountable either by medical means and/or the great graces garnered through the priest and the Body of Christ…the Church.

In practical life situation cases…don’t summarily discount the support from the Church leaders…they will always be there for us no matter what the cross is that we have to carry. Their prayers and the graces that they can and do garner for us in our crosses of life and death…are the most powerful gifts they give us…they are cosmic…they are effective in time and into eternity. I have seen it…especially in priest-chaplains…and especially in combat…they have never failed us Marines in the toughest times/scenarios. I am proud and grateful to call them my priest and my friend.

Just my 2 cents…for your consideration
Pax Christi

Well said Lancer. I feel that the fact that all this needs to be said is more evidence of what I pointed out in the original thread. Some Catholics feel that they have the authority to disagree with Church teaching based on their “personal” opinions. To do so is not Catholic.

Only two options? Oh my. Not at all.

A third option is for the couple to learn about human fertility, women’s reproductive cycles and this specific woman’s own body, and using that knowledge refrain from sex for the period (usually no more than two weeks per month even for the extremely cautious) that the woman is fertile.

It is at least as effective as most artificial forms of birth control, and puts no chemical, surgical or physical barriers in the way of the couple’s love being completely self-giving as it should be.

None of the very real health risks of other forms of contraception either.

The church teaches that “The Divine Law is the supreme rule of actions; our thoughts, desires, words, acts, all that man is, is subject to the domain of the law of God; and this law is the rule of our conduct by means of our conscience. Hence it is never lawful to go against our conscience.”

You say that the church is infallible, but history shows that the church has been wrong on many occasions, even on moral issues. There was a time when the church did not have a problem with slavery; some popes even had slaves. But now any decent person would consider slavery to be immoral.

I for one, think that the church’s teaching on contraception is wrong. The world is already overpopulated and for parents in third world countries to have large families that they cannot feed just to satisfy church teachings is wrong.

So I believe you do have authority to disagree with church teachings.

David, thank you for your reply, but my statements really only concern those who label themselves Catholic, and not merely Christian. Of course, the majority of Christian denominations do not believe in the infallibility of the Church, but Catholicism does. The point of this thread is to address those who label themselves Catholic, but do not adhere to the Church’s belief system. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Non-catholics are not applicable to the discussion.

Peace in Christ, Brother

Cafeteria Catholics are real, some in public places like pelosi and Biden. Don’t get frustrated, just be strong in the Church’s teaching and help them to understand it. But in the end it is their responsibility to know their Church’s teachings and be happy and blessed to be in the Church.

If they continue to reject God’s Church, they are putting themselves in grave danger. For what? A few selfish years on this earth? Not worth it.

Thank you so much for this post. I absolutely agree with you and I believe this is a major problem with Catholics in the US. It is worrisome the level of lack of knowledge between Catholics and I think the cafeteria Catholics are a mayor problem. Personally I don’t understand why someone would identify with a religion if they don’t believe in it.

This posts reflects exactly what the OP is saying. Lack of knowledge between Catholics. Sincerely with regard to your first response I think you need to go and learn the position of the church on that case. Second, with regard to the above, is obvious you are so influenced by secular culture that you have not enough knowledge over the catholic religion:

  1. Sins are not sins based on what people thinks. A sin is an action which the church describes as sinful. If you do it you are sinning, period end of the game. Use of contraceptives is a sin whether people like it or no. If they are using contraceptives they are sinning, period.
  2. Again you are playing secular games. If they are involved in an action described as sinful by the church they are sinning and that is the end of the game. This is not a jury where you are here to determine culpability. The culpability was already determined. If you do this this is a sin, nothing else to determine. I also wonder if when you heard about the Aurora shooting case if you thought that only God could determine the culpability of the shooter therefore we can’t say that what he did is wrong.
  3. You need to review the teachings of Jesus with regard to judgment. You are giving the same secular totally wrong argument of “don’t pass moral judgment”. The bible uses the word judgment in two different contexts. One is the context of passing final condemnation, like the woman about to be stoned. Jesus forbid to pass final condemnation I.e.sentencing someone to death, that is what is forbidden. Nobody here is condemning them to death or life in prison so your use of passing judgment is plain wrong. The second context which Jesus uses the word judgment is discerning between good and evil. This not only is permitted to us but is a duty we have to ourselves and to others. In this case we are discerning whether contraception is right or wrong, so yes it is appropriate to pass judgment in this case, in fact it is our duty as catholic to discern if something is wring and point it out.
    Again, the OP comment is reinforced with your comment. You don’t know the doctrine of the xhurch and that is why you are debating over it.

Many cradle Catholics were not taught that they had to agree with all the church teaches. Then they were raised in a culture that prizes autonomy. Add in confusion since Vatican 2 on what it means to follow one’s conscience. The result is Catholics who think it’s fine to pick and choose teachings.

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