To speak the truth is a bold and sometimes scary act in our increasingly disordered world. The natural law has been thrown out the window by most of society. We are told to lie to others and ourselves, affirming that the ensuing chaos is fine and normal.
Someone I love very much is choosing to live a life of disorder. No, I’m not “judging” this by my own standards… it is objectively so because God says so. Society and even some people close to me say that I must go along with it to love this person. But lying to someone isn’t loving them.
To truly love someone is to want them to go to Heaven; it is to want what is best for their souls. And very often, thanks to our fallen human nature, what a person is naturally inclined to isn’t good for them.
I went to a fantastic talk by Michael Voris once where he discussed how everyone is so quick to give their opinion about your worldly good… your education, your finances, your career path; making sure you’re as materially successful as possible. You know, the really important stuff. Usually we welcome the input of others in these cases. But when it comes to your eternal good, everyone suddenly says it isn’t any of their business what you do.
When one we love is suffering from addictions that will harm the body, like alcoholism or drug use, we usually won’t hesitate to call them out, urge them to amend their life, and support them in making positive changes. Why is it that in moral matters that will cause great harm to the soul we are suddenly silent?
You want people to suffer forever in hell but you don’t want to hurt their feelings now? What kind of love is that?” ~ Mother Angelica
We live in the most easily offended society that says if you declare that the actions of another are wrong, then you’re bigotted, unloving, offensive, intolerant, and judgmental. But there is objective right and wrong. If you’re doing something seriously wrong, and I say it’s okay, that it won’t hurt you bodily and/or spiritually… I’m choosing to do the less loving thing and lie to you, just because I don’t want to offend you.
But you know what I fear more than offending you? Offending God; a God who literally sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us. He was brutally scourged, crowned with thorns whose sharp ends the soldiers beat into His head, and crucified for us. He suffered immeasurably for our sins, and I can’t pretend those same sins are okay, or that some won’t merit eternal punishment if unrepented of because it would hurt your feelings to say otherwise.
I am pretty much as emotionally sensitive a person as they come, and even I recognize that someone giving me charitable fraternal correction, saying something I am doing is seriously wrong, no matter how hard it is for me to swallow in my pride, is actually them loving me.
I’m not saying as Christians we are supposed to pick fights, seeking to whack everyone else over the head with how sinful they are. We aren’t supposed to put on a holier-than-thou attitude and give everyone around us a laundry list of their sins.
But when one among us is choosing to seriously harm themselves physically or spiritually, and we affirm this choice with our words, or our consenting silence… we aren’t loving them… we are like one who helps another off the cliff, instead of trying to pull them back to safety.
…it is clear that those who pretend to be tolerant because they wish to flatter – those who thus fail to correct sinners – actually cause them to suffer supreme loss and plot the destruction of that life which is their true life.” ~ St. Basil the Great
I don’t constantly remind this person in my life of the truth of their behavior and my fears for their physical and spiritual wellbeing during our conversations. I have spoken the truth to them clearly, am careful to never affirm these decisions in our conversations, am always praying for them to return to God, and I entrust their immortal soul to Him.
I know the distance this has created in our relationship may make them think I don’t love them as much as I used to, but oh how I love them. With the stakes as high as eternal life or death, I love them far too much to lie to them.
For reference, the Church lists 9 ways we are accessories in the sin of another:
- By counsel — talking one into sin.
- By command — telling one to sin.
- By consent — agreeing with the sin.
- By provocation — to pressure one into sin.
- By praise or flattery — congratulating the sin committed by others.
- By concealment — covering up the sin for another.
- By partaking — approving sin by assisting in it.
- By silence — by not speaking up against the sin whenever he is bound to do it.
- By defending of something evil — justifying somebody else’s evil.