First we learned that Pope Francis said that an atheist could get to heaven as long as he followed his conscience. Who needs the pope, priests, the church, or anything religious if all a person needs is Jiminy Cricket to get to heaven?
Now Pope Francis is saying that some of the church’s other priorities may be confused:
“In a dramatically blunt interview with Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit monthly, Francis said the Church had locked itself up in ‘small things, in small-minded rules.’ It must find a new balance between upholding rules and demonstrating mercy, ‘otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards…’”
The reason the church – and it’s not just the Roman Catholic Church – is dealing so prominently with abortion and same-sex sex and marriage is because abortionists and advocates of same-sex sex have made them the issues of the day.
In a way, the church has been forced to deal with these issues in a public way. Laws have been imposed that end up discriminating against people who oppose same-sex sex. Should the church give up other prohibitions because there are people who are offended and turned off by moral absolutes?
Our world stands or falls on basic principles. The church is certainly designed as a refuge for sinners, and we are all sinners. All who come seeking atonement for their sin in the person and work of Jesus Christ are welcomed. Jesus welcomed the woman caught in the very act of adultery, but He told her that with the forgiveness granted to her that she was to “sin no more” (John 8:11).
The apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian church because it was reported to him that there was “immorality among [them], and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife” (1 Cor. 5:1), and the church seemed to tolerate it as “The church of what’s happening now.” Paul’s instruction to the church leaders was that the person involved should be “removed from your midst” (v. 2). Paul had actually “judged” the person (v. 3). He calls such behavior “immoral” (v. 9).
Paul’s goal was to bring the person to his spiritual senses. The gospel restores: “So even though I wrote to you, it was not because of the one who did wrong, or because of the one who was wronged, but in order that your diligence for us might be made plain to you in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 7:12).
The definition of marriage is a creation ordinance. It’s the basis for civilization. Redefining marriage is not something that can be trifled with.
Homosexual marriage and abortion are secular wedge issues. They’re been used to break down the moral fabric of society. The long-term effects will be devastating.
The Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) is not someone the Roman Catholic Church would like to emulate, but this piece of wisdom is something to keep in mind:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not professing Christ, however boldly I may be proclaiming Christ. Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.”
There are times when certain social and moral evils are so great (slavery, civil rights, infanticide, Nazism, Communism, etc.) that the church must take a public stand no matter what the social pressures.