SSPX Third Order and near occasions of sin

Since I don’t know much about the SSPX, I decided to look around their website to learn about them (from them).

In reading about the Third Order of the SSPX, I noticed that they encourage habitual abstinence from television because it can put you in a near occasion of sin considering all of the indecent pictures. I don’t really disagree with this; I imagine I could get a lot more accomplished if I stopped watching tv, and I probably would not expose myself to indecency as much.

But then I wonder: should I give up everything that puts me in a near occasion of sin? For example, should I stop bowling in my Friday night bowling leagues because of the indecently dressed women/girls that are also bowling there? Should I change my shopping habits to minimize contact with indecently dressed women?

I’m not trying to be sarcastic; I genuinely want to know. Do you traditionalists just stop doing things if they can put you in a near occasion of sin? Should I be doing this as well?

I don’t normally comment on this type of thing, but here I will toss in my :twocents: and say that frankly I see that whole position as a lot of hooey.

IMO, the entire idea has definite shades of moral rigorism at the least, and perhaps Jansenism at the worst. Either way, it rather reflects the old idea “if it’s enjoyable, it must be sinful” (or at least a “near occasion of sin” which is the old rigorist standby catchall), and essentially relegates free will to the sidelines.

Malphono is correct, we can go to far by internalizing sin. Sin is an action mostly, against God, and leads away from God and the holiness and sanctifying grace which is union with God. Dreams of sinful acts are not sin although they can indicate a problem in a psychological sense. Avoiding people because they can lead to an occasion of sin or avoiding food because of gluttony is not a livable solution to the problem.

This is what knowing what the virtue of temperance is for, it keeps us from going too far in exuberance. Kinda like denigrating a Church council because it doesn’t fit into ones idea of how one thinks God should be worshiped. The idea could be reconciled if one could see what the problems were that were addressed and that the love for God is much more than semantics. There is a limit to how far we go in our love of God and there is a limit to how far doctrine alone can take us to union with God and sanctifying grace.

A near occasion of sin is not the same for everyone. Certainly we can all get more done if we watch less TV, which maybe a reason of its own to stop watching so much. BUT, if watching the normal shows you do, or going bowling, or shopping at the mall doesn’t lead you to sin, than for you it isn’t a ‘near occasion’.

The example of ‘near occasion’ that I think is more useful is telling unmarried couples not to spend lots of time alone together. That is a real ‘near occasion of sin’! Friday night bowling where there might or might not be some teenaged girls in shorts a few lanes over is not at all the same thing.

With due respect, to regard a concern for near occasions of sin as “hooey” doesn’t seem to take into consideration the universal teaching of the Church which came long before the third order of the Society of St. Pius X arrived on the scene.

We can err by rigorism or laxity and we mustn’t favor either. To avoid near occasions of sin in no way passes beyond true moderation and unto a dangerous rigorism. It has been a long standing admonition in good Catholic moral teaching. Nor is it tantamount, as one commentator suggested, unto the ugly view that all things enjoyable are sinful. It means that knowing ourselves and our ruling passions and faults, we must sometimes, for God’s honor and our own peace, avoid that which is perhaps enjoyable and certainly not objectively sinful for others. If I give up TV, or the internet, or bowling because it is a proximate occasion of sin for me, does not incline me to the view that it is so for someone else.

For those who enjoy without sin the blessings of consecrated TV, this rule for entrance to a religious order is not intended to apply. But for those to whom anything is a near occasion of sin, The Catholic Encyclopedia offers a short but instructive article. The theologians distinguish between remote and proximate (near) occasions. The article discusses how our state of life sometimes determines that we will be constantly in the presence of proximate occasions. However, the position is taken that “there can be no doubt that in general the same obligation which binds us to refrain from sin requires us to shun its occasion.”

Given the specific questions you raised, damooster, it seems essential that you would discern the difference between the near and remote occasions of sin. Shopping seems an essential activity, and bowling isn’t. But unless we find ourselves voluntarily entertaining unchaste thoughts because of immodesty in these places, it seems we are permitted to go to them. But each os us has our own trials to bear.

newadvent.org/cathen/11196a.htm

I didin’t get the impression that people did not think one ought to avoid near occasions of sin. Rather, that to issue a statement that television is likely such a thing is over-reaching. It probably is for some, though I think perhaps sloth is more often the sin involved rather than sex. But by singling it out it does seem to suggest it is commonly a problem, which seems untrue to me.

And the fact that they have singled out what they see as an occasions for a sexual sin is suspicious to me - they seem terribly focused on that aspect of things. There is lots on tv that is not immodest, and even accidentally flipping by something immodest is not a real problem for most people. TV is much more likely to result in time not being spent on other activities we have obligations to - prayer, family, civil society. Why not mention that? The fractioning and increasing individualism in society is as least as big a problem as sexual immorality.

Bluegoat
I didin’t get the impression that people did not think one ought to avoid near occasions of sin.

Rory
I couldn’t say. I will defer to your impression.

Bluegoat
Rather, that to issue a statement that television is likely such a thing is over-reaching.

Rory
It seems to me to be beyond our ability to judge in the matter. What is over-reaching to people who choose not to suffer themselves to be under obedience to a religious order is apparently not to those who do.

Bluegoat
It probably is for some, though I think perhaps sloth is more often the sin involved rather than sex.

Rory
That seems plausible. But I don’t agree with you if you think the only concern about TV is in regard to immodest images and the temptaions they bring.

Bluegoat
And the fact that they have singled out what they see as an occasions for a sexual sin is suspicious to me - they seem terribly focused on that aspect of things. There is lots on tv that is not immodest, and even accidentally flipping by something immodest is not a real problem for most people. TV is much more likely to result in time not being spent on other activities we have obligations to - prayer, family, civil society. Why not mention that? The fractioning and increasing individualism in society is as least as big a problem as sexual immorality.

Rory
I have a television. I want everyone to enjoy their televisions to the glory of God. I don’t know why your concerns are not mentioned. Presumably, they have Christian values that are not insensitive to your concerns either. I didn’t read the website, and I disqualify myself from further comment since no one is defending near occasions of sin, and as per your impression to which I have deferred, no one ever has.

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.