A guilty conscience in a teenage boy worried him. And so he went to see his parish priest for spiritual guidance and direction.
The boy was a professional actor...and that created the problem.
There is a movie titled L.I.E. about adolescents who are struggling to form core values from all the parental, peer pressure, and sexual 'noise' around them.
One of the boys in the group, with an absence of conscience, is having his first sexual experiences with his sister...and this gets discussed among the boys and what could result from it (the consensus was "a two-headed baby").
However, the young actor who was playing the incestuous brother is...in real life...a devout catholic according to the special features section of the DVD.
According to the director's commentary...
And though the boy's troubled conscience was lulled in this scenario...
there's a sense that something isn't quite right.
And so we ask the obvious question...
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There was a conflict between the character the boy would play and the boy's core values. This led to a guilty conscience and the boy sought help in resolving the contradiction between his core values and his conscience.
This situation called for spiritual direction which is a ministry activity because...
that brings both minister and people
closer to God
And we can ask whether there was any ministry done, any spiritual direction done, in this case?
Well...it started off as ministry...but it got off the track with the "spiritual direction" that resulted.
And the boy...influenced by an important adult in his life...followed the "spiritual direction" and took the part.You would have to conclude that the minister was not doing ministry. It was not the religious activity of spiritual counseling and by redirecting a troubled conscience the minister was not bringing himself and the boy closer to God.
The guilty conscience of the boy in this example...illustrates spiritual abuse, not spiritual direction. Here's why...
And instead, the priest ignored the conscience issue entirely and thereby taught the boy not to pay attention to his conscience...to his moral code...by simply dismissing it.
And here is the Lord's suggested penalty...
Whoever causes one of these little ones
who believe in me to sin...
it would be better for him
to have a great millstone hung around his neck...
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
He taught the boy that when doubtful about whether an action is right for him or not...to minimize...rather than affirm...his conscience...his moral values...his core values...and not be guided by them.
And the priest should have known that it was not "just a movie". Because movies have a great deal of influence in forming cultural values...especially among the young.
And given the definition of ministry above...it is clear that this "spiritual direction" cannot be called ministry.
Encouraging a boy with a moral conflict to ignore
his guilty conscience does not bring both
minister and people closer to God and is not ministry. It
Spiritual abuse under the guise of spiritual direction is false ministry and denounced by Jesus as evildoing (Mt.7:21)
For another example of this type of "spiritual direction"...you can go from this guilty conscience page to the formation of conscience page.
From this page you can go to what is spirituality.
Or you can...