Dr Taylor Marshall writes:
Is texting and driving a car sinful? I am certainly guilty of it. In fact, I did it today on the way home from a Saint George campout (the campout was lots of fun by the way. 80 sons and fathers. Holy Mass. Rosaries. Divine Mercy. Photos coming soon).
While I was on the campout, I learned that one of my former students rolled his truck. He survived. He was texting and driving. I know several people who have wrecked while texting. We know its dangerous, but we do it every day. I do it.
Texting and Driving and AT&Ts New Effort
Godin, a master of human behavior, believes that AT&Ts commercial won’t work. Here are his four reasons why:
- The culture of the car as a haven, a roving office, and a place where you do what you like
- The culture of the Marlboro man, no speed limiters in cars, ‘optional’ speed limits on roads
- The culture of connection and our fear of being left out
- The culture of technology, and our bias to permit it first and ask questions later
Godin suggests that phone makers rig mobile devices to notify the person we’re texting that we’re driving. This creates peer-pressure or self-policing. The other option is to require wireless companies to ban texting when the phone is moving more than 20 miles per hour.
But is Texting and Driving Sinful?
So here’s the big question. Does texting and driving constitute a sin? Does it anger God? Drinking and driving is unethical. Gravely sinful. Drugs and driving? Unethical. Driving fast in a school zone. Unethical. Driving fast in a construction area with men at work? Unethical.
Why are these unethical driving practices? They are wrong because you are endangering the lives of other people.
Now texting does not impair the intellect, as do alcohol and drugs. However, texting and driving does impair the sense of sight – a key necessary element of driving. So is it wrong? Should I confess it?
Defining Imprudent Acts: Speed Racer Tattoo Example
I don’t think that I need to go to confession and say, “Father, I texted about 14 times in the last week while driving.” I don’t think it’s a sin per se, but I do think it qualifies as negative behavior or more strictly as an “imprudent act.”
Students often ask me, “Is XYZ a sin.” They are usually asking about tattoos, piercings, smoking cigars, or whatever college kids want to do. I usually suggest that such activities are “imprudent acts,” and not sins properly speaking.
However, if you have a tattoo on your face or a devil on your back, you need to talk to a priest. Not good.
But if you got excited in the 1990s and have a tattoo of Speed Racer on your upper arm, that’s simply an imprudent act. You have a dated Japanese anime character ink-stained into your human flesh. Sorry bro. That was gravely imprudent. Did you incur the wrath of God? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but you lacked prudence. With your Speed Racer anime inkspot, you may never find a wife. Even more, the dudes at the gym are laughing at you behind your back. Nothing says 90s dork than Speed Racer.
[Disclosure: I actually did see a dude with a Speed Racer tattoo at Lollapalooza way back in 1994.]
My opinion, not magisterial pronouncement, is that texting and driving falls under “imprudent acts.”
What I usually try to do is use the iPhone speech to text option. For example:
“Dear Joy, do you want to pick up some Popeyes?”
Unfortunately speech to text turns this into:
“Deer toy do you want me to pick epson drop byes?”
Fortunately, she’s pretty good at deciphering these kind of texts!