Skip to main content

See also:

Nice doesn't equal moral

"This is a nice man, what does it matter?"

- quote from a parishoner about an openly gay man, 'married' to another man, who is now banned from parish duties at his Catholic church.

There is no easy way to write this. How can you write against a nice man? It is a question which resounds in the secular world, a question which the secular world apparently interprets as THE question. Is he a nice man? Yes? Then why can't he do whatever he wants?

Well, perhaps because niceness does not equal moral.

It is a legend among the Catholic faithful that if one should meet the Devil Himself on the street, one would like him. He would seem 'nice'. A good neighbor. The kind of guy who kept his lawn mowed neatly, with nice crisp trim lines along the sidewalks. He would appear to be all that is good, to the point of going to Church and talking to fifth graders about their confirmation. An all right Joe.

And that's the trouble with evil. It is enticing. It promises so much which seems so good: satisfaction, pleasure, and a certain self assurance. It seems so good; all our wants addressed in one neat little package, if only we should do, or allow someone to do, something. In this particular case, what someone wants to do without introspection, without a consideration that he, an otherwise good Catholic, ought maybe to question his own motives. He's a nice man. Why shouldn't he do whatever he wants, provided, of course, that it doesn't seem to hurt anyone?

But does it not? When an immorality is accepted, even an immorality which we of course would not do but if someone else should want to do it, well, what's it to us, how does it not affect us, our children, and our community? If a man was an island, such might be fair questions.

Yet a man is not an island, is he? It takes a village, does it not, Mrs. Clinton? And what should that village do when raising the young? Instruct them on what is right and good, or ask them if their conscience is clear on a matter, any matter, and thus allow it? How does that make them grow? Satisfied, pleasured, and self assured, perhaps?

Indeed it will. But where should such thought leave them as individuals? As nice ones, or good ones? That's the real issue, and the one which gets ignored far too often in the secular and even, it seems, the religious world.