St Francis Q&A

Saturday, November 11, 2006

who do I hurt if I get drunk?

An anonymous blogger asked, "What about things that the Church considers sins but which I really do not genuinely feel contrite about? For example, who do I hurt if I get drunk? Who do I hurt if I have lustful thoughts -isn't that natural? I feel phony confessing these things." Thanks, Anon. Firstly, God condemned drunkenness long before He formed the Church. "Woe to those who demand strong drink as soon as they arise in the morning, and linger into the night while wine inflames them!" from Isaiah (5:11) is one of a few examples from the Old Testament; also, St Paul writes that drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God in 1 Cor 6:10. So, drunkeness offends God, first and foremost.

Secondly, when you (or anyone) get drunk, you hurt those around you whether you know it or not. It might be physically, but it is always personally. I was recently talking with a parent of a 12 year old boy. She got drunk one night, and then came home with her kids there. She thought that she was fine, and that it was no big deal. Days later, she found that her boy knew she was drunk, and she apologized to him. Now, this is a very good woman and mother; this was a rare occurrence. But, she knew that she hurt him just because she chose to get drunk. Not only that, but she hurt a lot of what she is trying to teach him about not giving into peer pressure, the culture, drugs and alcohol, etc. So, drunkenness hurts all of those around us in ways of which we might not be aware.

Also, it is about who you MIGHT hurt by getting drunk. There is a much greater chance that you will hurt someone while drunk than while sober. You could seriously hurt or kill someone else if you get behind the wheel of a car. You could become physically violent with friends, family members, or strangers. You could become verbally abusive with others. You can be much more mean, angry, impatient, etc. than when you're sober. The person that steps over the line into drunkenness steps away from Christ and into sin which can lead to other sins.

Drunkenness is a sin against the fifth commandment because it is a form of killing one's self. Scientists tell us that it actually kills brain cells. Lustful thoughts that one actively pursues are sins against the 6th commandment. Christ himself tells us this in Mt 5:28. Specifically, lustful thoughts offend God and neighbor, mainly because they offend the dignity of the persons involved. Each time one commits these (and all) sins, they offend God, hurt others, and hurt themselves. They are sins against our whole family, the family of believers that make up the Church (the Body of Christ).

Pope John Paul II wrote about how every sin hurts others in some way. The following is an excerpt from his exhortation, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (Reconciliation and Penance). To view the full text, please click on the title of this post:

"To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual's sin in some way affects others. This is the other aspect of that solidarity which on the religious level is developed in the profound and magnificent mystery of the communion of saints, thanks to which it has been possible to say that 'every soul that rises above itself, raises up the world.' To this law of ascent there unfortunately corresponds the law of descent. Consequently one can speak of a communion of sin, whereby a soul that lowers itself through sin drags down with itself the church and, in some way, the whole world. In other words, there is no sin, not even the most intimate and secret one, the most strictly individual one, that exclusively concerns the person committing it. With greater or lesser violence, with greater or lesser harm, every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family. According to this first meaning of the term, every sin can undoubtedly be considered as social sin" (16).


  • I cannot predict the future but if I were to prophesy based on the evidence in front of me I would say I will be here indefinitely.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:33 AM  

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