Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stumbling Blocks In Our Midst

Pope BenedictXVI in a recent interview stated that he did not believe that the use of condoms and the encouragement of their usage would stem the epidemic of AIDS in Africa. He said a moral and responsible attitude towards sex could fight the disease. Immediately there were editorials condemning his statement from the New York Times, from politicians, and various officials of AIDS/HIV organizations around the world. Some failed to report that what he also said, means that according to Catholic belief encouraging people to use condoms, was in fact encouraging them to give into their carnal desires, and encourage sexual activity outside the bounds of holy matrimony. There was even a resolution from the Belgian Parliament calling the Holy Father's comments unacceptable. France and Germany also called Pope Benedict's remarks dangerous and irresponsible.

The United Church of Christ quickly jumped on the bandwagon of critics on the Pope's statement, and evidently just could not resist going further. On March 19, the HIV and AIDS Network of the United Church of Christ (UCC) advocated the distribution of condoms at places of worship and “faith-based educational settings.” (Church ran schools?) The statement of advocacy was given at a presentation to the UCC Wider Church Ministries Board. Michael Shuenemeyer a UCC executive said, “The practice of safer sex is a matter of life and death. People of faith make condoms available so that we and our children may live.”

“The UCC denomination is descended from Puritan and Congregationalist traditions. The UCC has about 1.2 million members today, down from 2.1 million in 1967. In the most recent year from the data available, the UCC reportedly lost 6 per cent of its membership. This is according to its 2009 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.” [1]

I can start to see why they have lost membership. Apparently, the UCC does not see that the first duty of any Christian church is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That duty also entails the discouragement of sin among the members, not the encouragement of sin. When a so-called religious body or group encourages sin, it is failing to heed Christ's warning not to become a stumbling block, and not to cause “one of these little ones to sin”.

The Catholic Church, along with the vast majority of Protestant churches, knows and teaches that any sex outside the bounds of marriage is a grave sin. When any church advocates the distribution of condoms, when it advocates sin, it is no longer an institution of faith, but it has become an institution of the world. When any Christian advocates sin and the world and does not advocate Christ, His Church, and His Kingdom then they effectively and completely deny Christ. They have then become teachers of false doctrine, and teach in opposition to what Christ taught. Man may change, the world may change, but God and God's Law never changes. We cannot change God or God's law to suit us; we cannot change truth to suit us. When we think that we can change whom God is, what His Law is, by using the feeble excuse that “the world has changed”, then we are making ourselves god, and we are in fact calling God a liar and His Law obsolete and unneeded.

Pope Benedict XVI was criticized by these different nations, organizations, and the U.C.C. who saw this as an opportunity to show how open minded and tolerant they are, and how closed minded and intolerant they perceive Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church to be. What they have shown in fact is that the UCC and other like-minded organizations are more in love with the world and what the world thinks of them. Pope Benedict upheld the Commandments against adultery and Christ's teaching on marriage. Yet these others upheld the world.

People of faith would and should make sure that the members of their churches, especially the young people of their churches and “faith-based educational settings”, know and understand that any sex outside of marriage is wrong. It is a mortal sin, and people who engage in sex outside of marriage are being disrespectful to each other and to themselves. They are not only harming themselves and endangering their lives, but most importantly, they are endangering their soul and eternal life with Christ. It seems that a truly Christian church would make Christ and His teachings known so that “we and our children may live”.

From Holy Scripture:

Exodus 20:14, and Deuteronomey 5:18: You shall not commit adultery.

Isaiah 5:20-24 : Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe to you that rue wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own conceits. Woe to you that are mighty to drink wine, and stout men at drunkenness. That justify the wicked for gifts, and take away the justice of the just from him. Therefore as the tongue of the fire devours the stubble, and the heat of the flame consumes it: so shall their root be as ashes, and their bud shall go up as dust: for they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and have blasphemed the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Matthew 7: 15-20: Beware of false prophets,who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.

Luke 17:1-3: He said to his disciples, "Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Romans 16:17-18: I urge you brothers to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent.

2 Timothy 4: 1-4: I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be vigilant, labor in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. Be sober.

1 Peter 3:17: For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

From The Catechism of the Catholic Church :

2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."(Mat. 18:6;1 Cor 8:10-13) Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing. (Mat. 7:15)
2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to "social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible."(Pope Pius XII, June 1941) This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, (Eph 6:4;Col 3:21) or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.
2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!” (Lk 17:1)

Copyright © 2009 Steve Smith. All Rights Reserved.
[1] Catholic News Agency

No comments:

Post a Comment