“Be not seduced: evil conversations corrupt good morals” (I Cor. 15. 33).
Impurity being in itself so shameful, it would seem that no one would venture to take delight in conversing thereon, or in listening to such conversations. But there are shameless persons who find great pleasure in such conversations and even in the singing of obscene songs. Those who speak and sing about obscene things are guilty of giving scandal, and deserve to be called seducers of the innocent.
1. The scandal of such conversations and songs is almost irreparable. It is calculated to seduce and corrupt the young, the innocent. These discourses, these songs palliate the malice and shamefulness of the vice of impurity in a seductive and enticing manner, and by means of obscene jokes and anecdotes, words of double meaning and suggestive allusions, awaken impure representations, which afford the wicked food for sensual gratification, and instruct the innocent in the ways of vice, and corrupt their hearts and their morals. The sharper the dagger, the deeper the wound, and the more refined and suggestive such conversations or allusions, or songs, the more apt they are to deeply impress and take root in the minds and imaginations of the young.
“His words are smoother than oil, and the same are darts” (Ps. 54. 22).
Whatever is apt to inspire pleasure in impurity cannot be said or sung, or willfully listened to without grievous sin, without scandal. Those who speak of or sing about such matters have either a bad intention or a bad habit. If the former, they are seducers, scandal-givers, the very agents of Satan for the ruin of souls. If the latter, they are bound to use efficient means to correct it; if they neglect doing so, they are equally guilty with those who do so with a bad intention. Words are the signs of thoughts as smoke is of fire.
“A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Luke 6. 45).
The evil man is devoid of shame; he openly professes wickedness; he has no fear of God, who hears and despises him; he has no conscience, for he is wholly indifferent to the bad effects he may produce in his hearers, and to the injury he may do the innocent. He knows he is doing wrong, for he dares not indulge in such filth when respectable persons are present.
“Of the fruits of a man’s mouth shall his belly be satisfied, and the off spring of his lips shall fill him. Death and life are in the power of the tongue; they that love it, shall eat the fruits thereof ” (Prov. 18. 20, 21).
No one can speak or sing about things obscene without having corresponding thoughts; no one can hear or listen to such conversations or songs without being reminded of the obscene things themselves. How difficult, especially for the young, to eradicate the thoughts awakened by such discourses and songs ! Most probably he who uses such language and sings such songs was led astray in the same way.
“A man killeth through malice, and when the spirit is gone forth, it shall not return, neither shall he call back the soul that is received” ( Wisd. 16. 14).
No matter how wicked are your companions, you can not be justified in using such language, for it arouses impure thoughts and entices to impurity.
“All uncleanness... let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints” (Eph. 5. 3).
No one is excepted from this rule, be they married or single, old or young, vicious or innocent! In the ashes of burnt wood there is still fire, and he who lows thereon and lays fresh fuel on it, causes a fresh fire to spring up.
“Speech is a spark to move our heart” (Wisd. 2. 2). The pleasure those present take in listening to you is a sign of their susceptibility.
“I stick fast in the mire of the deep, and there is no sure (secure) standing” (Ps. 68. 3). “Shun profane and vain babblings, for they grow much towards ungodliness, and their speech spreads like a cancer” (2 Tim. 2. 16, 17).
There are gatherings in which only one word suffices to turn the conversation to the most obscene subjects, for “birds of a feather flock together.” One earnest Christian could easily put a stop to it! But
“let none of us go without his part in luxury; let us everywhere leave tokens of joy, for this is our portion, this our lot” (Wisd. 2. 9).
Every one is eager to pour a little more oil on the flames, and this all for fun! But “what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8. 37). No one can repair the injury done, for the evil impression is lasting, and the speaker cannot remove it by pious remarks or conversations, for he will only be laughed at! Perhaps by tears of pen ance? But he has led others astray! Bad words brought on bad thoughts in the innocent, then followed reflection, then curiosity, then passion, then pleasure, then desire, then occasion, then the deed followed by many others! The garment of innocence can never be mended. The wound is incurable! Perhaps the victim is now confirmed in lust, or has died in sin, after leading others astray as he himself had been. You have perhaps amended your life, but the harm you have done your neighbor can never be repaired.
“Their tongue is like a piercing arrow” (Jer. 9. 8).
2. He who approvingly listens to obscene conversations and songs, is already seduced, because he listens in silence, instead of preventing them; he listens willfully, instead of shunning them; and soon he will join in them, instead of being ashamed of them. Such language is, in some manner, worse than the evil deeds which infuse shame into those who commit them, whilst obscene talk excites the imagination; the deeds shock, but the words please and cause those present to drink in the poison as a delicious beverage! Who are guilty of a culpable silence in this matter? Parents, superiors, those in authority, influential persons. To them God says: “I will require his blood from thy hand” (Ezech. 3. 18). But I do not want to be impolite! Blessed is he who is not ashamed of Jesus Christ, who has the moral courage to remonstrate against such filth! You are bound to avoid the company of those who are wont to converse about obscene matters, whenever it is possible for you to do so. Do like Joseph, fleeing from the seducer! But if you cannot keep away, because you have to work among such a crowd, then if they show their sinfulness, show your virtue by taking no part in the conversation, by not willfully listening to it. Beware of joining them in their laughter!
Could you laugh if some one were threatening your life? They are threatening the life of your soul! Your pleased countenance would show the direction of your heart. Remember you cannot serve two masters. When obscene conversations are going on around you, remember that you must not find therein any matter for joking, for a pastime, for any laughter! “He who takes pleasure in the words,” says St. Jerome, “is not far from the deed.” Act like St. Bernardine of Siena in his youth, for his companions, when they saw him coming, would warn each other to cease speaking of obscene subjects. Imitate the youth St. Stanislaus, who was so horrified when an impure word or allusion was uttered in his presence that he would faint away.
3. Evil effects of obscene conversations and songs. In the first place, they are the ruin of good morals, for they rob the young of their innocence, which is the foundation of good morals; they corrupt the principles, which should be the rule of good morals. Secondly, they implant bad morals by robbing the hearers of modesty, which is the safeguard of purity; they make a beaten track to evil company, infuse a love for vice, by making it appear delightful, so that the formerly innocent soon become adepts in vicious practices!
“How is the gold become dim, the finest color is changed, and the stones of the sanctuary at the corners of every street?” (Lament. 4. i). Formerly that person was so reserved, but is now so impudent; she was so shy of every look, now she is accustomed to obscene language; formerly she was so bashful in presence of one of the other sex, but now how free, how unrestrained, how dissipated! Formerly she considered such freedom of language so sinful, but now looks upon it as a pleasant pastime. Her ears are accustomed to obscenity, her eyes seek it, her tongue utters and sings it, and the more licentious it is, the more her heart enjoys it. Her first fall has been followed by many others, and the evil has taken deep root.
What is once morally rotten, usually remains rotten! Woe to the seducer! Woe to the seduced! “The evil man obeyeth an unjust tongue, and the deceitful hearkeneth to lying lips” (Prov. 17. 4). “The impure tongue is an open tomb” (Ps. 5. 11). Woe to them during their life! All the good despise them as impure beasts, as attacked by a disgusting contagious disease, as agents of Satan! For them there is no more consolation, no more honorable pleasure or supernatural hope! Their life shall be filled with bitter moments, their conscience with frightful reproaches, their soul with sad memories! Woe to them in death, for terrible will be their remorse! Woe to them at judgment!
The seducer shall then hear cries of vengeance from the parents whose children he corrupted, from the guardian angels of these little ones, from the blood of Jesus Christ which he has rendered vain for so many souls, and from the souls he has led astray !
“Set a watch to my mouth, and a door round about my lips” (Ps. 140. 3).
Source: Sermon Matter, Imprimatur 1915