Venial sin going against laws

There are certain things that are not sinful in themselves but seemed sinful because the society reasonably outlaws them. For instance a 16 year-old having one beer is not a sin but becomes a venial sin by going against the drinking age. Or this comes up often regarding the morality of Marajuana.

I think the teaching is fairly clear in this regard but I have trouble finding a clear source or a better argument. Now a friend is challenging me on this. Can you please help me out?

There is mans laws and there are Gods laws, Gods laws are much more important to follow in my opinion. Personally I do not believe the use of drugs, (which man has created laws against), if they are used in moderation, this is very important, to use them to get high or something like that is wrong, but to use them wisely, I see nothing wrong with. after all, the plants most of these drugs come from, are natural growing plants and were put here for a reason.

Man usually has its own interests in mind when creating laws, however we can rest assured God had our best interest at heart when he created his laws.Sadly though today, many people put more importance on mans laws.

The sin is the fact that you’d be diobeying somebody who has legitimate authority. Your government has authority over you. You are obliged to comply with the government’s law (even if you disagree with it) unless the government’s law violates God’s law (in which case you should follow God’s law). I think this is based on what Jesus said in Matthew 22:21.

In the case of beer and marijuana, it is clear that God / the Church does not oblige anyone to drink beer or smoke marijuana. So no law that the government makes regarding a drinking age or marijuana ban is at all contrary to God’s law, meaning you must follow the government’s law.

On the other hand, if the government obliges you to fund abortion then you should break that law (because abortion is contrary to God’s law).

This is fully correct.

Insofar as a Law of the land reflects “natural law” (written in our hearts and discernable by reason) then we sin against God accordingly in breaking those laws.

And even if such laws are simply “Positive law” (ie arbitrary and morally neutral) then God expects us to obey temporal authorities.

Of course there is always the distinction between the letter of the law and whether you actually broke the values that the law is there to protect. That is a matter of reason and common sense but if you get caught and punished don’t complain.

Further, do not give scandal to those not as smart or as disciplined as you if you believe in good conscience that the letter of the law is too fussy over something.

Thanks for all the responses. Does anyone have a clear citation on this?

I was speaking with a serious Catholic friend about the morality of Marijuana and he claimed that there was not even venial sin for going against reasonable laws against it. I want to respond to him.

Fourth Commandment

2234 God’s fourth commandment also enjoins us to honor all who for our good have received authority in society from God. It clarifies the duties of those who exercise authority as well as those who benefit from it.

The duties of citizens
2238 Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts:43 "Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. . . . Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God."44 Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.

Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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