Month Archives: September 2018

The Catholic Church in Crisis: Two Takeaways

by Dan Hart

September 10, 2018

Over the last several months and up to today, revelations continue to come out about the cover-up of sexual abuse among the clergy in the Catholic Church, which has now credibly extended to the Church’s highest levels. As a Catholic, I find myself heartbroken for those who have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of the very men whom they trusted the most. I also find myself angry that the very men who have spent so much of their lives studying and preaching about the teachings of Christ could be the ones who would leverage their status as priests and bishops to prey upon the trust of their flock.

Nevertheless, here we are. It is undoubtedly a grace from God that all of these fetid revelations are now seeing the light of day so that the Church hierarchy can at long last begin to clean house, something that is decades overdue, and of which the lay faithful in the Church must hold the clergy accountable as best they can.

At this point, the temptation for those of us who feel powerless to do anything to help right these terrible wrongs is to get bogged down in the minutiae of the all the accusations, denials, and rumors. While it is important that we stay as wise as serpents in the ways of the world, it is equally important to remain as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Therefore, here are two essential points to keep our current moment in perspective so that we avoid becoming embittered and help to bring good out of even the most dire of circumstances, which is what all Christians are called to do.

1. Sin Is Real and Has Real Consequences

Scripture tells us that even the early church struggled with the sexual immorality of the wider culture (see 1 Corinthians 5, among others). It seems that this tendency has only increased in modern times. At least since the Sexual Revolution in the 1960’s (if not earlier), it has become abundantly clear that the Christian church, no matter what denomination or tradition, has been particularly susceptible to being influenced by the wider culture’s view of sex. The Sexual Revolution’s chief export, which has taken root so overwhelmingly in our modern culture, is this: that the primary purpose of sex is for pleasure, which every person has an absolute right to no matter what their age or state in life happens to be.

The wider Christian church has steadily ceded ground and influence in their opposition to this idea for the past several decades, the reasons for which are numerous and cannot be fully explored here. What’s important to realize is that God’s teaching about sex has been and always will be abundantly clear. It is summed up in the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Here is an excellent summation of the proper meaning of this commandment through the Bible’s authority:

The [Christian teaching on sexuality] is also set forth in many other clearly worded texts from the Scriptures that forbid homosexual acts, adultery, fornication and other lewd conduct: Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:16-21; Revelation 21:5-8; Revelation 22:14-16; Matthew 15:19-20; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Hebrews 13:4; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19; Romans 1:1-18, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11, among others.

The Sixth Commandment is clear — there is a universal call to chastity, and no one is exempt. There is simply no provision for sexual intercourse or sexual touching outside of valid marriage, and those who are married live chastity by complete fidelity to one another. No one is ever permitted under any circumstances to engage in sexual acts with anyone to whom they are not validly married. There are no separate rules for heterosexuals or homosexuals. There is to be no sexual intercourse or touching outside of valid marriage.

I think it can be safely said that this is the most broken and least understood commandment and principle in Christianity, even among Christians. Just one sad example of this is the pervasiveness of pornography. It is no secret that pornography use is the number one sin confessed to Catholic priests and is also widespread in evangelical churches.

The Sexual Revolution proved to be extremely successful at convincing much of society that it is okay to separate the sexual act from the confines of marriage. Once this was done, the floodgates opened. Sex outside of marriage is so culturally accepted that it is now considered a right of passage. The natural outgrowth of this line of reasoning could not be more clear: if unmarried people can have sex, who’s to say it has to be with someone of the opposite sex? What’s wrong with watching people do it on the internet? And so on and so on.

This viewpoint is very convincing to the human psyche for the simple reason that sex is in fact very pleasurable in a unique and powerful way. “How can pleasure be sinful?” the culture asks. Perhaps the easiest way to answer this is to simply point out the current state of our sexual culture—awash in the #MeToo moment. When the fire of human sexuality is not harnessed within the prism of commitment and mutual self-sacrifice, the inevitable result is wildfire, in which people use and abuse each other.

Our culture, along with a troubling segment of the Catholic Church’s clergy, has lost its sense of sexual sin. Perhaps the current devastation that all of this sin has caused will once again awaken a sense of sexual sin and its consequences. First, truly repentant sorrow and reparations must be expressed. Secondly, prayer, self-discipline, and the hard but infinitely fulfilling work of staying faithful to God’s teachings must be taken up with renewed hope and purpose.

2. “From Everyone Who Has Been Given Much, Much Will Be Required” (Luke 12:48)

A cursory review of human history reveals that we humans love power. We often long for it because we think that once we gain power and have more control, we can finally get what we want, and then we will be happy. But God has a far different purpose for power. Christ Himself specifically addresses the proper attitude we should have toward earthly power when He is brought before Pontius Pilate (who had the very powerful position as the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea at the time): “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11).

Christ’s lesson here is clear: Nothing we have gained on earth is because of our own efforts. Everything that we have is a gift from God.

This is a hard lesson that all of those who have positions of power and authority must take to heart. They must humbly accept the power that has been bestowed upon them and use it for the greater good of their fellow man, resisting the urge to use it for their own pleasure or personal gain.

As we have seen in recent weeks, this vital teaching from God has been tragically and systematically abused by the very men that God bestowed power and authority to within the Catholic Church—not only through priests who perpetrated the sickening sexual abuse of children, parishioners, and seminarians who held their trust, but also in bishops who used their authority to perpetrate the cover-up of abusive priests under their jurisdiction. We have also seen a pattern of abuse of power in other Christian churches, showing that no earthly hierarchical system is immune to sin.

Indeed, the proper way to view power is to observe the life of Jesus and how he used his power. There couldn’t possibly be anyone more powerful than Jesus—He was God Incarnate. Yet, how did He use His power? In complete self-sacrifice. Those who witnessed His crucifixion were in fact dumbfounded that He did not use His power to save Himself, and derided Him for it: “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, Come down from the cross and save yourself!” (Mark 15:30)

It’s a perfect illustration of how God’s ways are often not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). But Christ continually calls us to strive for more than the tired habits of our fallen nature: “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ, then, is the ultimate model for how we should use power—as servant leaders in service of others.

What We Are Called to Do

So what can the Christian faithful do who do not hold positions of authority within their churches to help their leaders stay faithful? It can be tempting to throw up our hands in resignation, claiming that we have no responsibility for what goes on in the hierarchy.

Don’t give in to this temptation. First and foremost, believers are called to live out God’s commandments in their own lives so as to be salt and light on the earth (Matthew 5:13-16), testifying to the reality of sin and its consequences when we are called to. Just as importantly, ordinary believers can and must make their voices heard when institutional change is needed, by writing letters to church authorities, starting petitions, and even holding peaceful public protests if the situation calls for it.

Let’s remember in this time of crisis that no person is an island, especially bishops, priests, and pastors, the great majority of whom are not involved in the sexual abuse of others. All of us, no matter what earthly position we do or do not hold, need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ to get through difficult times. Let’s begin a great renewal of our churches in Christ, who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).

Social Conservative Review - September 4, 2018

by Dan Hart

September 4, 2018

Dear Friends,

After Labor Day, a common emotion that is experienced by many of us is one of melancholy. We get the sense that the season is beginning to change from summer to fall, and with it, many of us seem to be thrust back in to our roles as workers and students after our summer vacations and school breaks, with all the responsibilities and stress that goes along with it. It’s notable that fully 87 percent of people in the world don’t particularly enjoy their jobs, and I’m sure most adult readers remember childhood feelings of dread at the thought of going back to school after summer break.

What’s important to remember during this time of transition is that work is actually a gift from God that is meant to fulfill us. John Cuddeback writes: “…work has a humanizing power: [in] some important sense it both expresses and brings about our humanity… Our daily work should … provide a basic and irreplaceable experience of human fulfillment … We can first of all seek the humanizing element in our daily work—whatever that work might be.”

In order for us to be fulfilled by our work, we must be engaged by it, and there are helpful steps we can take to be more productive at and satisfied with our jobs. During this season of new beginnings, let’s make a special effort to use our God-given strengths and talents to excel in our work, not just for the benefit of us and our families, but for the betterment of society and to give glory to the Giver of all that we have.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Why Judge Kavanaugh Should Be Confirmed to the Supreme Court – Travis Weber and Chris Gacek

What to Expect From the Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing – Ken Blackwell

California’s ‘Must Stay Gay’ Bill Is Nearing Passage. Here’s the Severe Harm It Would Do. – Peter Sprigg

SOGI Law Forces Catholic Adoption Provider to Close After 95 Years – David Closson

Forced Use of False Pronouns Kills Faith and Freedom – Cathy Ruse

New CDC Numbers Show the Sexual Revolution Keeps Making Things Worse – Cathy Ruse

India’s Opportunity for Religious Freedom – Travis Weber

Update on California’s AB 2943: Therapy Ban Assaulting Freedom of Speech and Religion Passes Senate – Peter Sprigg

3 Ways in Which Brett Kavanaugh Has Supported Religious Liberty – Travis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Despite my court win, Colorado Civil Rights Commission is coming after me again – Jack Phillips, USA Today

Southern Poverty Law Center ‘Hate’ Labels Deserve a Vigorous Response – Michael Farris, National Review

SoCal Harvest: Thousands to ‘Take a Stand’ for Bible Amid Greg Laurie’s Billboard Controversy – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Pastor Faces Eviction for Hosting Home Bible Study – ToddStarnes.com

In God We Trust’ Motto On Currency Deemed Constitutional By Court After Atheists Complain – Kassy Dillon, The Daily Wire

The Transgender Language War – Abigail Shrier, The Wall Street Journal

Two-thirds of conservatives don’t trust Facebook, say they’re being censored – Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times

Christian Cake Baker Turns the Tables, Sues Colorado for Anti-Religious Bias – Thomas Jipping, The Daily Signal

International Religious Freedom

Nigerian Girl Who Refused to Renounce Jesus for Her Freedom Begs for Help in Newly Released Audio – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

The Shameful Abandonment of the Yazidis – Judith Bergman, The Christian Post

European Union Religious Freedom Report

 

Life

Abortion

Why we should work to overturn abortion laws – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Most Damning’ Planned Parenthood Videos Yet Set for Release if Judge Lifts Gag Order – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

California state assembly passes law mandating abortion on college campuses – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action

Trump administration moves to cut Planned Parenthood funding sooner – Live Action

Adoption

States Must Stop the War on Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – Monica Burke, The Daily Signal

Is it OK to get attached to a foster child? – Ashley Gorman, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Other Side of Foster Care – Jason Johnson, Family Studies

Bioethics

Oregon dives deeper into assisted suicide with new drug policy – Bradley Mattes, LifeSiteNews

Families of assisted suicide victims plead for the killing to end – Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action

 

Family

Marriage

For Better or Worse: The Marriage-Health Connection – Aaron Cheesman, Sacramento Magazine

How (and Why) Government Should Invest in Marriage – Alan J. Hawkins and Hal Boyd, Public Discourse

Why Every Sane Society Encourages Marriage, Not Divorce – Chuck Chalberg, Intellectual Takeout

An Open Letter from Young Adults to Married Couples – Allegra Thatcher, The Stream

Hospital Wedding of Terminally Ill Woman a Powerful Witness – Maria Ximena Rondon, National Catholic Register

Parenting

Stop Criminalizing Parenthood – Kerry McDonald, Intellectual Takeout

How to Reassure Your Children of Who They Are in God’s Eyes – Sara Hagerty, Focus on the Family

Motherhood: Why Society is Making it the Most Stress-Ridden Career – Veronika Winkels, Intellectual Takeout

Talking with Our Children About Homosexuality – Lucy Olson, The Gospel Coalition

How Low-Energy Parents Can Get Their Children to Cooperate – Zac Alstin, Intellectual Takeout

Teach Them About Marriage Before the World Does – Jani Ortlund, Desiring God

Economics/Education

How Our Education System Fails Most Students – Oren Cass, Family Studies

Want More Power To The People? Choose Capitalism – Andy Pudzer, The Federalist

Strong Families Make Strong Schools – Brianna Heldt, National Catholic Register

7 Things I’d Do if I Wanted to Keep Poor People Poor – Brian Balfour, Intellectual Takeout

Faith/Character/Culture

Why Everything Is Wonderful But Nobody’s Happy, And What To Do About It – Nathanael Blake, The Federalist

How an unsatisfying life leads to spiritual freedom – Amy Simpson, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Miracle Baby Born at 22 Weeks and Given a 2% Chance of Survival Heads Home – Micaiah Bilger, Life News

Only 14 Percent Of Americans Changed Their Minds Because Of Something On Social Media – Nicole Russell, The Federalist

Kindness: A Pathway to a Satisfying Life – Barry Brownstein, Intellectual Takeout

Why It Matters That Teens Are Reading Less – Jean Twenge, Intellectual Takeout

Don’t Trust the Peace in Your Heart – Matt Rogers, The Gospel Coalition

Human Sexuality

Can Sexual Orientation Change? – Michael Cook, Intellectual Takeout

I Loved My Girlfriend—but God Loved Me More – Jackie Hill Perry, Christianity Today

STDs continue rapid rise in U.S., setting new record, CDC says – Linda Carroll, NBC News

Pornography

Amazon Pushes Pornography Ads on Website for Boy Scouts – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

18 Mind-Blowing Stats About The Porn Industry And Its Underage Consumers – Fight the New Drug

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