Over the past year or so, in my reading, I have come across various passages from writings of theologians, both deceased and living, who have different opinions, sometimes very different, on a variety of moral issues. I even have found interesting articles comparing their different opinions, and also sources which present the arguments the theologians use to refute each other’s perspectives. Very interesting reading.
However, now I have a question. When theologians disagree, and the Church has not issued any teachings to clarify the choice that we lay people should make in certain doubtful matters, how are we to proceed? Some of the debates are on current bioethical or medical choices, some of them are on perennial moral concerns. So, if a situation arises in the life of a lay person who has read many of the various theological positions on that matter, how can he/she make a moral choice?
May we, considering the various choices presented by theologians*, just follow our conscience in doubtful matters, and set aside our doubts and nagging worries about making a wrong choice? Or is there a chance that making decisions on doubtful matters, based upon the opinions of theologians, could still lead us to damn ourselves, even though we thought we were making a morally acceptable choice?
*By theologians, I am referring to theologians in full communion with the Catholic Church, whose works have an imprimatur and nihil obstat, and even the writings of some saints. I am NOT referring to any heterodox theologians or heretics.
I also know that consultation with one’s pastor is often helpful, but for various reasons, that may not always be possible or even the best course of action. It is in these situations that I am wondering how a lay person is to proceed.