Friday, September 20, 2013

The Pope, The Homosexual, The Church, and The Gospel

I want to take a few words to interact with Pope Francis’ recent comments about his apparent vision of what the Catholic Church should be. While the pope’s comments seem to deviate from the Christian teaching about homosexual behavior, they stop short of overtly encouraging the Church to adopt an entirely different position even though there is a veiled hint that that is where he wants to go. I will place my reactions to the pope’s comments immediately after his remarks.

"The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently," Francis said. "We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel."

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the perspective that “disjointed doctrines” are unhelpful, confusing, and should be avoided by the church. The problem with this sentence is that there is no way to tell what it is the pope is getting at. Is this an attempt to belittle dogma? The Christian teaching on doctrine is that Scripture is a unified word from God that logically leads to a unified system of doctrines working together to reveal to us the God who created us. The pope’s comments are simply too obscure to understand. Secondly, we are also at a lost to understand what the pontiff means when he says, “We have to find a new balance.” What kind of balance is he talking about? Is this a balance between theology and social good? We simply can’t be sure. As far as the moral edifice of the church is concerned, no such thing exists, not really. Where the Roman Catholic Church is concerned, she lost her moral edifice when she started killing people for the gospel and never recovered it. Her continued protection of pedophile priests has destroyed any moral authority she may have had left after centuries of corruption. As for the protestant churches, her tolerance of wicked members and her refusal to stand for truth in teaching and in living has left her morally impotent. True morality flows from the moral nature of the God of the gospel, which is proclaimed by the true Church week in and week out.

There is no need to compromise the old ways of holiness and sanctification. The Church does not need to soften her teachings on homosexuality, abortion, and the exclusive truths of Scripture in order to remain morally influential in the culture. Her duty is to shine her light by proclaiming precisely these truths and living holy lives in front of a generation of human beings who hate God more than ever, if such a thing is possible.

"It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars!" Francis said. "You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else."

First of all, unbelievers are not seriously injured persons. Eph. 2 tells us that unbelievers are dead. They are blind, not able to see the light of the gospel. They are deaf, not able to hear the truth of the gospel. They are not able because they are not willing. They love their sin. They do not want to give it up. Sure, they will take God, but only if they can keep their sin. It’s like a woman who tells her husband she loves God but proceeds to divorce him contrary to God’s command. The homosexual says they love God, even though they commit acts that God abhors. The pope is wrong. These are not wounds and they are not described as wounds in Scripture. Unregenerate men are described as dead. They hate God. They do not seek God. They are all unrighteous and living in depravity.

"The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules," he lamented. "The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all."

The pope sounds much like a universalist here. Has Christ saved you? Whom has Christ saved? Is the pope implying that biblical mandates prohibiting homosexual behavior or other sinful behaviors are meaningless? Again, it is hard to say. It seems that he desperately wants to go there.

"This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity," he said.

Is the Church the home of all? Jesus said that those who find their way into the Church, which is God’s called out ones, are few in number. He said that the number of those who find destruction will be high. Again, the pope seems to be expressing a lot of worldly philosophy and no biblical theology in his comments. In addition, he seems intentionally vague.

But he continued: "A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: 'Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'

Here we see a false disjunctive employed by the pope. He should know better. God looks at every unbeliever’s sin with wrath and indignation even if he looks at the person with mercy. But God does not extend mercy to all, at least not to the same degree. Romans 9 is clear that God extends mercy to whom He desires to extend mercy. If we follow the pope’s reasoning, we are left wondering if God judges anyone’s sin at all. If the gay person is endorsed by God, does this mean that God endorses the adulterer, the fornicator, the rapist, the murderer or perhaps Hitler?

The modern age seems to have fallen headlong into an irrational abyss where modern men can no longer collect their intellectual wits about them. Fools we have become because we have forsaken the law of God, which separates us from the beasts of the field. Recently a young man accidentally carried his hunting knife into a High School football game. When he realized he had it, he went to security to turn it in because he knew he had violated a rule. How did the school administrators reward him? They suspended him for ten days. Older generations would be more than a little shocked by the utter lack of decency and common sense that has come to dominant our society.

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