On What Sort of Scandals the Orthodox Should Disregard

St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite 1749-1809

Yes, I know that there is a kind of scandal that one should disregard. And what is this? Listen. When you perform one of God’s commandments or observe the divine and sacred Canons of the Holy Apostles or of the Ecumenical and local Synods, or the Traditions of the Church, and, quite simply when you strive to do the will of God, and another person is scandalized on this account, then you should disregard that “scandal” and carry out the commandment of God and observe the divine and sacred Canons, saying to those who are scandalized and would hinder you what the Apostles said to the Jews: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and again: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19). For if, on account of the potential scandal, and out of fear and a desire to please men, you contemn the commandment and the will of God and the divine canons, putting men before God and the love of men before the love of God, you become man-pleasing rather than God-pleasing. You sin and grieve God and the Saints rather than grieving men, fearing men more than God. Who can fail to see how contrary all of this is to the divine Scriptures and to your salvation? “If a man should at all sin against another, then they shall pray for him to the Lord; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?” (1 Kgs. 2:25) And again: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both souls and body in Hell.” (Mat. 10:28)

Hence, St. Basil the Great says that one should not impede him who does the will of God, whether he does so according to God’s commandment, or according to some other purpose, in conformity with the commandment. Yet neither should he who does God’s will obey those who impede him, even if they are friends, but abide by the judgment and decision that he has made:

One ought not to impede him who does the will of God, whether he is following the commandment at God’s behest or in accordance with reason; neither should he who does God’s will put up with those who hinder him, even if they are friends, but should abide by his decision. (Moral Rules, Rule XIX, PG, Vol. xxxi, col. 733A) (On Christian Morality: Discourse X, Part 2.)