Rorate has a brief but very good post today, an excerpt from a 20th century manual on the 4 sins that “Cry to heaven for vengeance”.
The four such sins are: Deliberate murder, Sodomy, Oppression of the poor, and Defrauding the laborer of his wages.
First, why does Tradition call these “sins that cry to heaven for vengeance”? Because the Bible, which is the Inspired word of God and which is therefore free from every taint of error, says so. In Gen 4:10, Cain’s murder of Abel is a sin which cries out to God. In Gen 18:20f, the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah – sodomy – cry out to God. In Ex 2:23, the cries of the unjustly treated poor Israelites cry out to God. Lastly, in Ja 5:4, wages withheld from laborers cry out to God.
Second, the manual indicates the reason these sins are singled out. It is not that they are the gravest of sins. Hatred of God is the gravest of sins. However, these sins run crucially against the very plan of providential care that God bestows on the world. They run, in particular, against the human economy: The welfare of the human race. They run against human “ecology”.
The manual states that it is “obvious” that they do so. But in our age, blinded by perverse passions, we perhaps no longer “see” the obvious. Hence, some explanation.
1) Murder contradicts the desire for life. All living things desire to live. Murder is the deliberate taking of innocent life. The “object” of the act is the taking of innocent life. In other words, we are not talking about justified capital punishment. We are not talking about justified self-defense. We are not even talking about “collateral damage”. We are talking about an act the aim of which is precisely the taking of innocent life. Such an act is per se malum: Intrinsically evil. No circumstance could ever, in a million years, justify the act. It is an act that is intrinsically opposed to God and his designs. It could never form part of a loving plan of life, neither on the part of the doer nor on the part of the receiver. On the part of the receiver: It deprives the innocent of life. That is its intent. Qua murdered, the murdered simply suffers evil. It may be he does so out of love of his Christian faith, love of his God; thus, he becomes a hero. Not because being murdered is good but because testifying to the only Name that Saves (Jesus) is good. On the part of the doer: It divorces the soul from God. Murder murders the murderer! If society
2) Sodomy contradicts God’s plan to perpetuate life through sexual reproduction. Every bodily living thing not only desires itself to live but is drawn towards acts that will perpetuate its kind. This is an instinct to submit the self to the common good, to serve the future of the kind. In man, this instinct is rationally lived. Thus, man has a rational inclination to submit himself to the task of the perpetuation human race. This involves ordered love, sacrifice, dedication, conformity to the rational plan of nature. But sodomy is intrinsically infertile. It is the use of the sexual instinct opposed to its plan of wisdom. It is opposed to the natural order which reason discerns. It is thus unnatural and irrational. It is per se malum. No circumstance can ever make it just. It is always gravely evil. It could never form part of a loving plan of life. It undercuts the survival instinct of society. That society which seeks to perpetuate itself is threatened gravely by sins of sodomy.
3) Defrauding the poor contradicts the natural inclination to defend the weak and repel the bully. When we see a little boy being bullied, we naturally wish to defend him. We cheer when someone brave enough does repress the bully. (Hence our delight when “Little Boy” smashes the bully with his lunch box.) This “cheer” is natural. It indicates our disgust with the anti-providential stance of the bully, just as it is natural to have disgust towards the anti-natural act of sodomy. In the hierarchy of things created by God, the nobler provide for the lower. In turn, the lower give thanks to and venerate the higher. Thus, the elements of society come together. Parents, when strong, provide for children. Children, when strong, provide for parents. Teachers provide for students. Masters provide for apprentices. Each has care for each, but differently. This is order; this is hierarchy. Thus is sewn the fabric of society.
4) Withholding the laborers wages also disrupts society and enterprise and justice. Note that this is distinct from #3. “Laborer” does not mean poor worker only. This sin does not fit into a Marxist category. The emphasis and primary datum, though, is the worker. For the owner, in normal circumstances, is the one with the power. (Hegel and Marx speak of the workers discovering, in unity, power over the owner.) But the government is also the powerful figure. The government might tax all the citizens excessively. This would be a form of “withholding wages”. For instance, who could raise a Catholic sized family in Italy these days? Not many. Thus, the Italian family is being choked, squeezed, throttled. By whom? By the socialist tax system there. Yes, that’s right. The socialist tax system. The Italians who swim in the system cannot see it. But present to them a natural large family and they, being Italians who love affection, probably are disposed to think “That is right; that is as it should be.” But it cannot be in Italy, unless you are landed with money. The system itself is unjust. What does it breed? It breeds too many “civil jobs” and not enough natural families. Pressure to contracept (an intrinsic evil); pressure to use NFP to shrink the family. This is not good by any stretch of the prudential imagination. What happens when wages are withheld? As the Rorate piece indicates, property and merit are set aside or at least assaulted. Thus, effort and diligence and hard work are not encouraged. But society depends on these. These are the engine of progress by which the tissue of #3 is sewn together.
Third, what shall we say of our society today? It is a den of thieves that defrauds the poor through usury of payday loans and credit cards and illegal laws against small businesses that espouse natural agriculture or natural human morality, a brood of vipers killing the innocent in the womb by the millions, a perverse and twisted unnatural generation upon the precipice of its downward plunge into the mire of sodomy, a beast of unimaginable proportions that bleeds the laborer of his wages and marches towards the totalitarian dominance of all property by one.
What shall be the result? Clearly, devastation of biblical proportions.