Over the years I have had friends and family members openly admit to me that they are living lives of sin, especially sins that involve the flesh. They are having sex outside of marriage, committing adultery, or living with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Knowing my beliefs they still expect me to either stay quiet or congratulate them on pursuing what enables them to be ‘happy’. I have always believed that it is my duty to remind them or teach them that they are committing mortal sin and should repent. Each one of these family members or friends did not hesitate before telling me that I was judging them. I know so many Catholics who have experienced this same situation.
I have never really known how to respond to them for I suppose that yes, I am judging. When told of their decisions I used the 10 Commandments to form the conclusion that their actions were sinful.
These people are only telling us what is in the Bible, right? Luke 6:37 : “Do not judge that you may not be judged”. Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
So is it wrong to tell the adulterer or the thief that their actions are sinful? Recently, I came across a homily by Fr. Ignatius Manfredonia that wonderfully explains the Church’s view on this topic. He preaches that when the Bible speaks about judging, it is talking about situations where people are judging rashly, or without concrete evidence. We cannot judge the state of a person’s soul, Fr. Manfredonia continues, but if we have concrete evidence of their sin we can, and should, judge the sin. The priest goes on to quote Blessed Martyr Cyprian, “[h]e who soothes a sinner with flattering words administers fuel to his sin.” So as Catholics we are called to speak up when friends or family members tell us they are going to commit a grave sin, no matter the embarrassment or the consequences.