Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
The first question is whether there is a precept about brotherly correction.
The second is whether there is a precept about the order for brotherly correction.
Article 1: Whether there is a precept about brotherly correction
It seems not, because:
(1) Divine precepts are not contraries of one another. But we find a divine precept about not reproving sinners in Proverbs 9:8, which says, ‘Do not reprove someone who scoffs, in case he comes to hate you.’ Therefore there is no precept about brotherly correction.
(2) Rejoinder: that passage prohibits us from reproving a scoffer who scorns being corrected, and therefore becomes a yet worse person. But on the other hand sin is a weakness of the soul, according to Psalm 6:23, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, because I am weak.’ But the person who has responsibility for caring for the weak ought not to omit to do so even in the face of being contradicted or scorned, since when someone refuses his medicine, he is in even greater danger. That is why doctors do whatever they can to heal those who are mad. How much more then should someone who has an obligation to heal his errant brother by rebuking him make sure that he does not omit to correct him, however much the brother might scorn this.
(3) We should not ignore a divine precept because someone else scorns it. After all, we are not excused from living out the truth for fear of scandalising anyone, as Jerome makes clear [CommMatt 3, on Matt 18:5]. Therefore, if there were a precept about correcting a brother, we ought not to ignore this just because of someone else's scorn.