When is breaking civil law a sin?

civil law these days covers many things that it didn’t used to and aren’t sins in themselves.

for example, feeding animals in a wilderness environment, eating on public transit, too many passengers in a van, letting your kids walk across the street from your house to the playground. etc etC…

would be a sin not to follow all of these things?

and is it a sin if someone else does it but you’re there? for example, last week, I was in montreal with a sports team but there were two many of us in a 7 passenger van. I said I thought it was a bad idea, but it was my only way of transportation so I had to go anyways. if having too many people in a car is a sin, which I suppose it oculd be since there is safety involved, did I cooperate with the sin by just being in the car?

Aren’t these that you mention just regulations or rules, not laws?

I can’t believe it’s a law that you can’t eat on public transit, or feed bears in a park.
Breaking a regulation would not be breaking a law in my opinion. However it might be a sin if you endanger someone by doing so (example – feeding bears makes them more likely to bother others for food and maybe become aggressive) or do it with an attitude of “I don’t care what the bus drivers want, to heck with them.”
Letting your children jaywalk across the street may be putting them at risk, and teaching them that rules are to be flouted. And it may be a law that you can’t cross the street except at the crosswalk, and for good reason.
So I would say, it depends.
As far as the van, you need a seatbelt for each person. Was it a sin? You’d have to ask your priest, if it was your only transportation. But if you’re putting someone’s life at risk, that’s not smart. I would say that if you objected, it wasn’t a sin.

In general, we are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Not just payment of taxes, but obedience to law.

Some things may seem to be minor but are not, eg. feeding wildlife in a pArk can make the creatures either dependent upon, or aggressive toward, humans.

In general, we should strive to obey law, **unless and until ** a serious reason develops not to. Riding in an overcrowded van when no other transportation exists might be a serious enough reason.


Some good answers already.
My reply to your questions is a question… What makes a given thing sinful?

This is what we need to answer to in order to make right judgement. Without knowing this we are left with a bunch of “rules” and we are no better off than the OT Jews trying to satisfy the letter of the law.

Jesus summed up all of the law and prophets in just 2 commands - Love God and Love neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:36-40).
Jesus left us with a single commandment - that we love one another as He has loved us. (John13:34-35).
The Holy Spirit reinforces this idea through Paul in Romans which reads,
8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10*Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

So what does all of this tell us???
It says that sin comes, not from disobedience to law, but from not loving as we should.

So in the above cases, consider what the rules are and why. Consider why a given rule is put in place. Consider what the most loving thing to do is in a given situation.
Not eating on Public transportation: Seems like a good rule. It’s too easy to have an accident and food or drink is spilled, making a mess and an inconvenience to others. It’s more loving not to eat on public transportation.
Not feeding wild animals: Others have addressed.
Kids’ not crossing the street…Not sure what you mean here…So can’t address it.
Too many in a van: As you say this is a safety issue. The number allowed usually relates to the number of seat-belts. If you feel you must ride anyway, you could take it on yourself to ride without a seat belt and that others are protected (thus loving others).

Get the idea?


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