- Created on Saturday, February 25, 2017
- Written by Fr. Robert Novokowsky
Personal privacy is a human good. Effort to preserve that privacy is good and reasonable behavior. Virtue is 'in the middle.' There's a good reason two words 'open and honest' are grouped together. Secrecy is a tool of the world, the flesh, and the devil to be dishonest. For example, the devil loves to hide—in order to more easily murder us. We can fall into his trap, or, more subtly, follow his bad example of loving secrecy that evil might be done. Some examples:
1. When children start being sneaky, it could be a sign that they've received signal graces from God, like Catherine of Sienna or Rose of Lima. Could be! It's more likely the enhanced privacy—secrecy—is a means of breaking the rules, and doing evil.
2. When teens start to lie or be sneaky to their parents or others about their whereabouts, it could be that they're running off to Holy Mass or Perpetual Adoration. More likely, they're skirting the rules in order to avoid doing good and to do evil instead.
3. When husbands or wives start to deceive their spouses about the 5 w's, it's never a good sign. Honesty is always the best policy—openness is a sign of honesty.
4. When the computer screen can't be seen by others in the house or office, it may present an occasion for sinful sneaky behavior. Insofar as every computer is now potentially a source of near-infinite evil, parents are wise to treat it as something dangerous. Let me go further: parents are negligent if they don't treat every computer as something mortally dangerous. Do we allow our young people to play with sharp knives, guns, matches, or chainsaws unsupervised? A computer is more dangerous. Providing and insisting upon constant supervision is most assuredly inconvenient. Appeals to privacy in this case miss the mark.
5. When sinners want to repent and confess their sins, but become afraid what their confessor is going to think, they may be tempted to: a) conceal a sin, or b) downplay a sin, or c) skip around to various confessors to conceal the repetitive or habitual nature of the sin. The proper privacy of the confessional can be perverted into sinful secrecy. Healing in this case requires—however scary or painful--an exposition. If the patient desires healing, they must submit to the surgeon's knife. When they do, they usually realize it wasn't so bad after all. Be not afraid. To this end, penitents are (never obliged but) always free to announce themselves to their confessors.
All of human history would be different if, when the serpent initiated his conversation, Eve had only called out for Adam. The serpent, knowing that ahead of time, probably said, "You don't need to call your husband. Did God forbid you to have a little privacy?!?"