“Ask a Priest: Was It OK to Watch Racy Videos to Connect With Dad?”

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Q: I’m a married man with two children. My father was over one morning to pick up my 1½-year-old daughter. My father and I don’t agree on much, and have very little in common. My father isn’t religious, and even ridicules religion at times. Anyway, one of the few things we somewhat have in common is that we enjoy “classic rock.” I realize this music has no spiritual value, but we were listening to music videos by Hall & Oates, Tom Jones and Pink Floyd. There was also a dance scene with a girl wearing a skirt that, at times, revealed her underwear. On top of that, I showed my father parts of the film “The Irishman,” which included profanity and violence. I showed him a part of a video in which they have politicians saying ridiculous and childish things, and I think there was one scene of a woman in a bikini. Anyway, there was obviously a lapse in judgment. Dad and I have a strained relationship, and sometimes making conversation can be rather difficult. Does the watching of the videos sound mortally sinful? Blessings, and thank you in advance. – A.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good that you at least recognize that there was a lapse in judgment. That shows that your conscience is still sensitive.

Whenever someone asks, “Is this a mortal sin?”, the next question that comes to mind is, “If this were ‘only’ a venial sin, would you do it again?”

If the answer is yes, then there is a big problem. For anyone to deliberately choose to offend God, even venially, is a sign the person is a lot closer to mortal sin than he thinks.

But let’s put things positively. We aren’t here in this world just to avoid mortal sin. We are here to become saints.

Here is where you might ask yourself whether these videos and movies are helping you grow in holiness, and whether they are helping to draw your dad closer to Our Lord.

Ask yourself, too, what kind of impact these media will have on your children as they grow up.

It might be good to step back and review how the media you consume reflects your religious views, and how those media can impact the people around you.

For the more integrally you live your faith, the more powerful your prayers can be, and the better the chance you will have to convert your dad (and raise your children well).

As for your immediate relationship with your dad: It might be better to focus on the wholesome interests that you two have in common, such as your kids and extended family members.

Putting Jesus first in your life will help you navigate all the other relationships.

A helpful book for honing the art of evangelizing might be Go! 30 Meditations on How to Best Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.

I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.


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