The Catholic Letter

Catholics and History

Then and Now - Morality, Society, and Scandal

People are fond of saying how things are so different now (as opposed to the way things were fifty years ago). Back then, this was a God fearing nation. Back then, the only concern was teenage rebellion. Thirty years later, it was teenage pregnancy and drug abuse. Today, it’s child pornography. The nation’s sinfulness certainly does progress, doesn’t it?

But let’s take a closer look at this. Was this really ever a God fearing nation? Were we a God fearing people? The evidence shows that we were never really worried about the moral law…not as much as we were about the social law. Just look at how people handled certain things in the past…things like teenage pregnancy.

A young girl winds up pregnant, she disappears for a length of time (if something prevents a shotgun wedding), and returns nine months later with no one the wiser. The child winds up adopted by a close relative. Or, even worse, gets ‘taken care of’ by a doctor who deals more in death than in life.

One might argue that avoiding public scandal is a moral act…that scandal, in itself, is a sin. This is true to an extent…but not in the way of hiding one’s sins. I’m not saying that we should all announce our sins, but we shouldn’t necessarily sweep them under the carpet under the pretense that we’re avoiding scandal.

Avoiding scandal means a boy and a girl not living together (even if they’re not intimate with each other) so that people won’t get the wrong idea. It doesn’t mean saving the family name…and saving the family name was really what people used to worry about.

We can see the same kind of mentality within the Church. Someone accuses a priest of something unspeakable. Bishop X, instead of dealing with the problem, pays off the family and quietly moves the priest to another parish. Now we see the problems that it caused…and it’s worth mentioning that these same kind of problems occurred within families. Uncle Pervert generally wasn’t dealt with in the open. Instead, he was allowed to ruin countless other lives.

It’s apparent that Christians loose the real spirit of our faith when our actions are under the scrutiny of society, and this is why we have some so many problems today. Because society accepts more and more sinful behavior as normal. Immorality is now stylish…a brilliant strategy on Satan’s part.

But in all of this mess, there’s actually great hope. Now that we’re so open with our sins, Christianity might just be allowed to work the way it’s meant. Remember that Christ came for the sinners, not for the just. We can all openly admit to our sinfulness now, and perhaps this leaves us more open to Christ and less concerned with society. In this way, we might yet become a God fearing nation.