I came down the steps this morning and caught the dog jumping down from the sofa.
Anna knows she is not allowed on the sofa.
She was guilty and she looked it. She glanced over her shoulder at me and went scooting off to her bed.
She was afraid of being punished.
She knew she had done wrong and felt ashamed.
It made me think about me and you and sin. I’ll talk about me so you do you don’t think I am blaming you, but you get it…
When I sin if the only thing I feel is shame at what I’ve done, fear of being caught and fear of being punished, then my moral sense is not really any better than my dog Anna. Right?
Dogs can be taught to obey and they can learn to be afraid of being caught and afraid of being scolded or punished. But that’s it.
They can’t understand WHY something is wrong.
What troubles me about me (and of course so many Catholics I talk to) is that their conscience is no better developed than an old hound dog’s.
Someone has told them, “Do this. Don’t do this. God is happy when you do this. He will punish you if you do that.” Or they were taught, “Don’t do that. Nice people don’t do that. You’re going to get the girl into trouble if you do that. Don’t do this because you will get caught and maybe go to jail. You should do this because I tell you to and you should not do that because I tell you not to. If you do this you will be punished. If you don’t do that you will be ok.”
This is the moral theology of dogs.
We’re supposed to be better than that. We’re supposed do know WHY something is wrong. It is wrong because it will hurt us, hurt another person or separate us from the love of God. We’re supposed to hate sin because we have figured out that sin is destructive. Sin distorts all that is good. Sin feasts–cannibal like on others.
Now this is what gets me going even more: at least the dog has a sense of shame and fear of being found out and punished.
Lots of Catholics don’t even seem to have that!
They are guilty of adultery, guilty of greed, guilty of all kinds of mortal sin and they have no shame. They have no fear of being caught. They have no fear of being punished.
Their conscience is seared and their moral theology hasn’t even advanced to the level of my dog Anna.
If you find this disappointing. I’m sorry.
I do too. Especially as it often applies to me too.
Image Creative Commons via Bing