Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What Should I Do When I Witness Ridicule?

"theculturewarrior" asked the following question in the Q&A board at Phatmass:
Is it sinful to ridicule someone? If so, do I have a charitable obligation to correct the sinner, and does that obligation extend situations in which I am being ridiculed, and a sinner is in need of correction?
  • noun: language or behavior intended to mock or humiliate
  • noun: the act of deriding or treating with contempt
  • verb: subject to laughter or ridicule
Surely there is nothing charitable about ridicule! It is sinful to ridicule others. Abusive language is forbidden by the fifth commandment (cf. CCC, no. 2073). "Whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire" (Mt 5:22)!! Furthermore, sinners always need correction, and as Christians we are obligated to correct our fellow man. "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother" (Mt 18:15). Keep in mind that, "whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (Jam 5:20).

Of course, what is important is how you go about it. Try not to present yourself as above or better than the other person. You certainly should not get angry with them (cf. Mt 5:22; for righteous indignation, go here). Instead, present yourself as someone who cares. Speak the truth in love (cf. Eph 4:15). Your words may fall on deaf ears and may in fact lead to further ridicule, but at least you have done your duty as a Christian.

Pax Christi,


Adam said...

I believe this is an error made by many good faithful Catholics who are self taught and want to "convert the world". Pride and ridicule are often used to try to force others to see things their way because they believe they are right (even if you are right it is no way to "handle" the truth!). Even for those of us who are trained pride can often get in the way and cause us to look down on others. May the Lord help all Catholics who share their faith to learn to be as humble as our Lord was.

phatcatholic said...


Kyle said...

I agree. Really. I hate when folks do that to me. But does this count? Is it okay to mock uninformed bigotry? :-)

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