What if lots of people break a law?


#1

I have a serious yet complex ethical concern with regards to a particular part of "Catholic Law". However, the concern is one that can be generalized to other faiths and even Criminal Law. What do you do if a law governing a population is being broken by a large percentage of the population? Let me jump right in. Statistical studies claim that many people masturbate, few catholics go to confession, and many catholics go to mass. However, the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" suggests that masturbation is generally a mortal sin and that one should not receive the Eucharist (Christ the bread of life) if they have not yet confessed all of their mortal sins. In other words, if you masturbate, then you have to go to confession before you may receive the Eucharist at mass. When I go to mass, it appears as if just about everyone receives the Eucharist. Either Catholics masturbate a lot less than the general population or catholics at large are breaking the rules. It appears to me that at least 25% of this population is breaking the rule. To me, it's a very serious concern to have a law which is broken regularly by a large percent of the population that it governs. Also, I believe that the rule is not only justifiable, but perhaps it should not be removed or ignored. Now to my questions: What do you do if a law governing a population is being broken by a large percentage of the population? Do you reform the law? Do you confront the population? Do you pretend like it's not happening? Do some people deserve to be exempt?


Mike

sharingreligion.com


#2

I think first we pray . . .then we educate and catechize . . and then we pray some more.

Compare it to a traffic stop light. Let's assume the cite officials knew what they were doing in effecting the light because there had been numerous accidents at that sight. Let's say over the years, people ignore the stoplight and drive right through it. Because people disobey the traffic light, should it be removed? Should some be exempt? Should the violators be confronted?

Right is right even if no one is doing it
and wrong is still wrong even if everyone is doing it.


#3

In the case of people breaking the laws of the Church, you absolutely do not amend that law. We did not simply make the laws which we find ourselves bound to obey. It is unfortunate that so many people disagree with the Church on these matters, but the fact is that anytime we put our own desires before what we have been taught to be right, we are distancing ourselves from God. The thing the Church must do is to continue to evangelize, even to ourselves, the importance of living a holy life. Barring some sort of legitimate disorder, I don't see how you would be exempt from doing the right thing.


#4

[quote="mikew72324, post:1, topic:324227"]
I have a serious yet complex ethical concern with regards to a particular part of "Catholic Law". However, the concern is one that can be generalized to other faiths and even Criminal Law. What do you do if a law governing a population is being broken by a large percentage of the population? Let me jump right in. Statistical studies claim that many people masturbate, few catholics go to confession, and many catholics go to mass. However, the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" suggests that masturbation is generally a mortal sin and that one should not receive the Eucharist (Christ the bread of life) if they have not yet confessed all of their mortal sins. In other words, if you masturbate, then you have to go to confession before you may receive the Eucharist at mass. When I go to mass, it appears as if just about everyone receives the Eucharist. Either Catholics masturbate a lot less than the general population or catholics at large are breaking the rules. It appears to me that at least 25% of this population is breaking the rule. To me, it's a very serious concern to have a law which is broken regularly by a large percent of the population that it governs. Also, I believe that the rule is not only justifiable, but perhaps it should not be removed or ignored. Now to my questions: What do you do if a law governing a population is being broken by a large percentage of the population? Do you reform the law? Do you confront the population? Do you pretend like it's not happening? Do some people deserve to be exempt?

[/quote]

The answer depends entirely on what kind of law it is. In the example you gave, it is a moral law, in which case the law CANNOT be changed. Those people breaking it commit a mortal sin every time they do the sin, and commit sacrilege whenever they receive Holy Communion.


#5

It is not clear to me what the popularity of a law has to do with its efficacy. In fact, one might conclude it is inversely proportional - the more popular a harmful activity, the greater the need for the law.

Popularity does speak to enforceability, and in the example you cite that is precisely the issue. But as to moral prohibitions, enforceability is God's province.


#6

I like the responses. Ok, so it seems that most of the people I've heard (not just here) say that the law can't change. So what must we do then? I guess that's what I meant to be asking. Not changing the law isn't doing anything so what must we do. I suggest promoting a good law could help. Enforcement of religious law during life can't really be done, or can it? Besides having people speak of the law and promote it and explain it, what else can be done?


#7

When this question occurs – STOP. Leave the Convention.

You are in the WRONG political party!


#8

Let's zoom out a bit here and have a look. God looked out at humanity and saw that "all" of us were sinners. (Romans 3) Which did He do:

  1. Relax his principles and lighten up a little (dude) and reveal that many things previously revealed to be immoral were now hereby hunky dory? , or

  2. Send His only Son to demonstrate His love for us, call us to repentance and offer the gift of Grace to overcome our own failures?

The church (and civil society) should follow that lead.


#9

Thank you for responding, but I don't quite understand? Could you explain better, CaptFun?

Thank you. :D


#10

Thank you manualman, I like your response. But, how can the church help on this topic? I don't mean how should, I'm more in the stage of trying to figure out all the options. Also, it could be that a non-church organization could help too. (I mean one that considers itself separate.)


#11

As I recall the entire world population once broke a law, but God didn't change it.

[Genesis 3].


#12

Your response is interesting Biggie. Let's think of some examples to support you're hypothesis. Also, popularizing can be done in different ways. For example, there could be different effects from televising a debate compared to displaying a banner on a website.


#13

Thanks Joe it seems as if many people support not changing the law. My next question was what should be done then?


#14

[quote="mikew72324, post:13, topic:324227"]
Thanks Joe it seems as if many people support not changing the law. My next question was what should be done then?

[/quote]

The reason why you are challenging the Church on this is because you don't understand the law. If you understood the law, you would understand that there is no changing it. The Church can't change this law, because then it would not be the Catholic Church anymore. There is only conceding to the law, or not. The law won't change.

The Church forever and always teaches that sexual activity must have two properties. Always and forever. 1) the unitive property must be present and 2) the procreative property must be present. Always. Every time. This is the foundation that is built on. That will never change. This is a dogma of the Catholic Church and the same dogma governs everyone not just one set of people. In other words, this teaching is the reason why:

-married people aren't allowed to use birth control (ABCs interferes with the unitive property),
-unmarried people are not allowed to cohabitate or have premarital sex (no unitive property exists with an unmarried couple)
-married people can't have sex outside of marriage (no unitive property exists with these partners)
-people of the same sex can't have sex with each other (no unitive property exists, and no procreative property exists with these couples)
-masturbation is also not permitted....because there is no procreative property and no unitive property.

The same two requirements set the tone for all situations and all Catholics no matter what their status (married, single, divorced, gay, straight, bi, etc.) . It will not change.

What if lots of people break a law: Either follow the law and be in communion with the Church in this matter, or choose to not follow the law and not be in communion with the Church. It's that simple.


#15

Hi Rence,

Thank you for your lengthy response. Well my intentions weren't to challenge the church, but rather to challenge myself to gain an understanding of how a leader could lead people who break rules. Maybe I should have chose a different subject title. So what do you think? Given that the law won't change (you provided an excellent post on this), what could a leader do to increase the number of people who follow the law. You can suggest moral and immoral actions. I want to hear them all.


#16

For example: Boycott pornography, promote that the law is in fact there and will never change, provide a means to offer one on one help or counseling.

But, I feel there must be some more creative and interesting things besides just these. List them please. It will greatly benefit me.


#17

[quote="mikew72324, post:15, topic:324227"]
Hi Rence,

Thank you for your lengthy response. Well my intentions weren't to challenge the church, but rather to challenge myself to gain an understanding of how a leader could lead people who break rules. Maybe I should have chose a different subject title. So what do you think? Given that the law won't change (you provided an excellent post on this), what could a leader do to increase the number of people who follow the law. You can suggest moral and immoral actions. I want to hear them all.

[/quote]

The Leader is God, and He wants people to choose Him. Being Catholic is a choice. Being in complaince with the Church is a choice. There is nothing to do to another person in order to bring them in compliance with the Church. No one is going to haul someone to jail for living unchastely (unless their activity breaks civil law), God won't strike one down with a lightning bolt for not being in compliance. They are told the law, and the rationale for the law, and then it's up to them (just like with every other law of the Church) to either be in communion with the Church or not. And it's up to God to decide what to do about it when that person stands before Him in judgement. The Pope can't make people be Catholic, and he can't make people obey Catholic teachings. He can only guide them along the way. And besides all the homilies, talks, writings, encyclicals, Catechism and other resources available, there's not much more for him to do. :shrug:


#18

[quote="mikew72324, post:16, topic:324227"]
For example: Boycott pornography, promote that the law is in fact there and will never change, provide a means to offer one on one help or counseling.

But, I feel there must be some more creative and interesting things besides just these. List them please. It will greatly benefit me.

[/quote]

It would benefit you to learn the teachings of the Church and choose to obey them. :D


#19

I'm pretty sure the world in general knows what the Catholic Church teaches regarding masturbation. It's not something we need to put more focus on.

The Church's focus should always be on the gospel of Christ. It is a positive message.

For regular church-going Catholics, a friendly reminder regarding the availability of the sacrament of reconcilliation, and its great benefits, is appropriate.


#20

[quote="mikew72324, post:16, topic:324227"]
For example: Boycott pornography, promote that the law is in fact there and will never change, provide a means to offer one on one help or counseling.

But, I feel there must be some more creative and interesting things besides just these. List them please. It will greatly benefit me.

[/quote]

"Boycott?" Anyone who is BUYING it isn't likely to respond to a boycott, and anyone who isn't buying it doesn't need a boycott!


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.