Why the Near Occasion of Sin is a Big Deal

Is knowingly entering into the near occasion of sin, a sin in itself? If we know that doing something could lead us closer to the temptation of sin, must we stay away? Matt in Minnesota wondered where sin begins when tiptoeing this line of possible temptation.

Patrick Madrid gave an example of the near occasion of sin that you might find yourself in. “So let’s say that you’re sitting in a coffee shop, there’s nobody around, you’re on your phone, and you realize that if you search for this term that you’re going to see pictures that very well could contain pornography. And you think to yourself, yeah but there’s a chance maybe there won’t be. But there might be, and I’m going to run that risk and I’m going to do that. I would say that kind of recklessness would be verging into that territory [of sin],” said Madrid, host of The Patrick Madrid Show on Relevant Radio®.

“That’s not the sin itself; the theoretical sin could be, well I’m just going to go ahead and look at all this stuff, or I’m going to play this video. So, it’s a preamble to the sin … and it’s sort of preparing the way for it and if you consent to that knowing, well I’m probably going to wind up doing something that I shouldn’t do and it’s serious and I know I shouldn’t do it. But I’m going to do this knowing that this might push me over the edge to do that—yeah, I think that would be sinful.”

Why is it so important to avoid the near occasion of sin? It’s protection for our souls—armor against evil and a barrier between us and temptation. We wouldn’t set a plate of cookies in front of a 3-year-old and then tell him to not eat any. Likewise, we should keep ourselves away from situations that we know would bring temptation to sin.

“We’re all weak. I will raise my hand the first among anybody,” said Madrid. “We’re all weak, and because we’re all weak and because it’s easy to fall into sin if you’re not careful, you have to have fences around yourself.”

It’s something we commit to doing when we go to Confession. “It’s a ‘prudence policy’ in general, I would say, to avoid the near occasion of sin,” said Patrick. “It’s a promise we make whenever we go to Confession when we say the Act of Contrition, we include that bit there about ‘and I promise I will avoid the near occasion of sin.’ So we should take that seriously.”

Hear the full call:

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays at 9am-noon ET / 6-9am PT only on Relevant Radio.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.