“Ask a Priest: What If My Pals Like to Tell Dirty Jokes?”

Q: I am a 24-year-old who struggles with scrupulosity a lot. I have two close friends who invite me to socialize, but often there are many foul jokes and conversations (coming from them). I laugh, despite myself, while present. I have been trying to avoid hanging around with them since I am worried that this would constitute a near occasion of sin (additionally because I am also struggling with impure thoughts). I don’t know how to handle these friendships with this going on. My friends are both Catholic and we go back to early childhood. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. – J.B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: This doesn’t sound like a case of scrupulosity. It sounds as though your friends are genuinely a bad influence on you.

Scrupulosity can cause us to miss the forest for the trees. We can get bogged down in minor details but neglect the big picture.

Catholics who traffic in foul jokes aren’t witnessing to their faith. By any standard it is very juvenile behavior.

This might be a good moment to step back and re-evaluate your relationship with them.

There seem to be a few options, among them: 1) do nothing and let the situation take it course; 2) make a conscious effort to change the topic of conversation or even walk away if need be; 3) challenge your friends and ask them whether they think the jokes are dignified fare for the group; 4) if all else fails, think of finding new friends.

There comes a moment in life when we need to be serious about our faith and helping those around us.

Sometimes it might be necessary to cut ties with people, even longtime friends, who are going in a different direction. Real friends help each other get closer to God.

Perhaps you might look to get involved in volunteer work that will put you in contact with people whose conversation and sense of humor run at a higher level.

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