Faith/Spirituality Forum: do you respond to people that use God's name in vein?
do you respond to people that use God's name in vein? QUESTION from Doug on January 28, 2003 I can't avoid hearing people (co-workers, actors in movies/TV, etc) use God's name in vein. I don't know how to respond. My body language shows my disapproval, but I don't express my disapproval verbally. I feel I'm denying Christ each time I hear his name used this way and I don't speak up. How do you respond?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on January 29, 2003 Dear Doug:
How you respond depends upon the situation. The least we can do is to give body language of disapproval of this nasty phenomena.
Further protestations may be appropriate depending on the situation. We can certainly ask family and friends to refrain from this because it is offensive. If co-workers do this all the time, we might approach them privately to express to them that we are offended by it.
As for TV and movies, you can, if your desire, write letters-to-the-Editor and write the producers, directors, and actors to express the offensiveness of this practice and the lack of necessity is has in any film or TV show.
The Church's teaching is that when we see sin occur AND we HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO DO SOMETHING about it and then refrain from doing something, or our actions in some way approve of the sin THEN we are accomplices to the other person's sin.
The operative phrases is whether we are obligated to do or say something about it and whether our actions tacitly make approval of the sin. In many situations it may not be our place to say anything, or it may be dangerous to say something, or not otherwise prudent.
For example, if we are in a room and overhear people in the next room profaning God, it may not be our place to bust into their room and chastise them. We are not really in position to say anything and have no obligation because we are not in their conversation, not in their room even.
It can be dangerous in other situations. Image meeting some gang members on the street with knives and guns who blaspheme God. I don't think under most circumstances it would be wise to correct their language. It may get you killed. And we do not have a relationship with them that our obligate us to chastise them.
And in prudence, it is possible that it could be imprudent, and we are not necessarily obligated, to say anything in the workplace if it will jeapardize our job. We also have a responsibility to provide for our families which we cannot do if we lose our job or are killed over this.
But I think in nearly all situations one can show disapproval through body language.
The bottom line is as stated in the Catechism:
1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them: - by participating directly and voluntarily in them; - by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them; - by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so; - by protecting evil-doers.
1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. Structures of sin are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a social sin.
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