Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Closer Look at the Second Commandment

December 15, 2013 at 12:00pm

"It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one" (Matthew 15: 11).

4 Distinctions 

1. Swearing

What is it exactly? Swearing: calling upon God to witness what we say or promise
Why is swearing a sin? It isn't always a sin at all, depending on the conditions. The intent of the Scripture quote below is for men "to be so truthful that men could believe them without need of oath to confirm what they say" (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11176a.htm).
When is it a venial sin? When we use God as our witness in trivial matters of conversation. This is because we are treating God very disrespectfully, as if he is subject to our trivial considerations and not the object of our devotion. Reverence for the name of God is the ultimate principle being broken here. Treating that name lightly leads to the mortal sins of blasphemy and especially perjury (swearing falsely). 

"But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No,” that you may not incur condemnation" (James 5: 12)

2. Blasphemy 
(the following is taken almost entirely fromhttp://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02595a.htm, because the content is so clear):
What is it exactly? Blasphemy: "gross irreverence towards any person or thing worthy of exalted esteem... Blasphemy is of its whole nature (ex toto genere suo) a mortal sin, the gravest that may be committed against religion."
Why is this a sin? Because I owe God all thanks and no contempt. All He has done is out of infinitely true love and my inability to recognize that is only because of my own wretchedness. 
Why doesn't this apply only to God? For instance, "O my God" is a blasphemy when used as an explitive, but so is "Sacre bleu!", which means "Sacred blue" in French and is a symbolic use of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an explitive. The exalted status of Mary and all the saints is simply because of their closeness to God and so the use of them as expletives is also because of their closeness to God. Therefore, using holy people and things as expletives is the sin of blasphemy. 
When is it venial? When it is more of a knee-jerk reaction, rather than a conscious action, especially in the case of a person who has already been admonished and is trying to defeat a bad habit, but still slips up on occasion.
When is it mortal? When it is a conscious action condemning God and speaking of God as cruel or unjust; consciously speaking of God as a creation of man; and/or when it is any for of contempt towards God. 

"You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain" (Exodus 20: 7).

"But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin" (Mark 3: 29).

3. Cursing

What is it exactly? Cursing: "to call down evil upon God or creatures, rational or irrational, living or dead" (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04573d.htm)
Not a sin per se: God cursed the serpent in the garden of Eden. It is a sin to curse created things, because those things are works of God. An excommunication is a sort of curse and is within the power of ecclesiastical authorities to exercise, due to Christ and is accounted for in the Gospels according to John 20: 21-23 and Matthew 18: 17-18. 
Why is it considered a sin? Because God is not my personal hit man. I shouldn't treat God as my tool of vengeance. That is not love. That is hatred and using God as a tool for hatred.  
When is it venial?
 Often. It is venial in the cursing of the dead. It is venial when it is due to ignorance and when it is a curse of some trivial ill. 
When is it mortal? Any time it is directed towards parents and grandparents; any time it is directed towards saints and holy things; any time it is a curse of some grave calamity upon a person, place or thing. 

"but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water?" (James 3: 8-11).

4. Obscenity

What is it exactly? Obscenity: the saying of foul or unseemly things
Why is it a sin? It is a sin because it is the result of a sort of gluttony of the mouth. When I spend my time pouring thoughtless and inappropriate words out of my mouth without considering the scandal, I am more likely to use my mouth as a source of scandal for others. This makes the use of my mouth an occasion of sin, rather than an occasion of blessing. Therefore, obscenity is a sin.
When is it venial? most of the time.
When is it mortal? When the culprit knows that it is leading said culprit to the more grave forms of sin and utters obscenities anyway. 

"No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4: 29).

"no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving" (Ephesians 5:4).

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