See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hating the sin, loving the sinner...


"Neither do I condemn you."
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Has anyone else noticed that women who go in for abortions, or have had an abortion are never reviled as murderers or adulterers, or referred to by any other pejorative term?  Women who submit to abortion, choose to abort, or have aborted a child are treated with great compassion, understanding, and care.  I think that is wonderful - I really do.  Sometimes I struggle to have compassion, but that is not to say that I do not have it - compassion and an openness to the possibility that a woman may not have been really all that 'free' in making such a terrible 'choice'.
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On the other hand, most Christians no longer blink at the thought of an unmarried woman carrying to term a baby - often the result of an unplanned pregnancy.  Sarah Palin's daughter was roundly applauded and encouraged, and rightly so - an abortion would be unthinkable.  Morality has changed from the old days when unwed mothers were hidden away and shamed.  Yes, that is a good thing.
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Are 'perverts' the exception to the rule?
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Is there one or two types of sinner one can freely condemn, abuse, deride, humiliate, and hate?  Yesterday I was reading a post on Ad Dominum blog which I found rather unsettling.  In fact, I felt convicted by it.  Thom posted about a friend who walked out of Mass during a homily because the priest began condemning homosexuals from the pulpit.
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"It was going fine until the sermon. The priest talked about the Holy Family for a bit, then how the institution of the family is being destroyed in these modern times, which is true. However he then proceeded to viciously castigate homosexuals – which he called perverts – for the blasphemy of same-sex marriage and the corruption of children. His tone was downright sinister – he sounded like Rush Limbaugh, with the cadence of a Baptist minister, spitting out the words. It may have been the tone of self-hatred. I don’t know.

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If he had said something like, “This is what the Church teaches. I understand some people have difficulty with that, and we love them and only want them to understand. But we cannot and will not change our position.” – That would have been fine. This was something entirely different...  After internally debating whether to stay and speak with Father, or leave, I stood up and walked out. Several others followed in silence." - Ad Dominum
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The "unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute..."
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I realized how my former posts must read/sound when read by gay people.  I accept Church teaching completely as regards homosexuality and the call to holiness through chaste celibacy.  That is a grace I thank God for.  I haven't always expressed that in loving terms, much less allowing that some people cannot accept that teaching and go away sad - like the rich young man; others go away grumbling and angry - like those who could not accept Christ's teaching on the Eucharist; yet no matter their disposition, all go away wounded when charity is lacking... thus a smoldering wick may have been extinguished, a bruised reed broken, a seed on rocky ground crushed.
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Without casting any aspersions, it might be good for us to take to heart the words of the Holy Father spoken last week in his invitation to priests to use the Internet in the exercise of their pastoral ministry. 
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"In Saturday's message - titled "The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word" - Benedict urged special care in contacts with other cultures and beliefs.
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A presence on the Web, "precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, nonbelievers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute," he said." - The Washington Post
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If I continue to blog I need to do so in charity. 
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Art: Chagall, "David and Bathsheba".  Today's first reading from Mass concerns David's sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah.

15 comments:

  1. Terry: Excellent choice of an image to illustrate your point.
    Sin is sin is sin; the real problem is to deny sin, calling it good. The other problem is to condemn sinners rather than try to convert them to the truth. The great saint-preachers used all kinds of persuasion to bring people back to God.
    Calling people names ain't gonna do it in this day and age (if it ever did!).
    The first reading at today's Mass of David and Bathsheba points out a "psychology of sin"...David's weakness in falling into adultery is not the worst thing; it is his desire to "cover it up", ultimately using "death" as an answer; quite contemporary for us in our "culture of death" where death seems to be the answer for all human suffering.
    The Gospel reading was about the mustard seed; God gives life, sometimes hidden, always fruitful, always affirming of human well-being.
    The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that is imperceptible at first, but eventually becomes a great tree that ever expands and offers a place for the birds...that's us, birds.
    Thank you, Terry.

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  2. Aceman2:15 PM

    Thanks Terry!

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  3. Terrific post Terry, it reminds me to act with more charity to others as well, the homeless, the panhandlers, the alcoholics, etc

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  4. I think it would have to depend on what Thom meant by "condemning homosexuals." If the priest used vocabulary that stated homosexuality went against Church teaching, then I would not look upon that as condemning. If he formulated a diatribe that was aimed at gays and lesbians and it was in the tradition of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, then I think a little prudence would have gone a long way. I'm NOT saying water down Church teaching, but you must admit that how you address someone can have a huge impact on how far your get point across. Even in ecclesiastical matters.

    When Thom first came out and publicly acknowledged on his blog his homosexuality, I encouraged him to stay with the Church, as well as a promise on my behalf never to use language that was demeaning or inflammatory towards him or anyone who shares his orientation (why would I?). However, Thom often supports political figures who are astonishingly pro-abortion simply because they support other social issues that are apparently more important to him than the life on an unborn child.

    I don't read Thom's blog, nor do I have any interest on what goes on over there.

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  5. Tom in Las Vegas: I read Thom's post.
    The priest was 'off the beam'.
    He did not just teach what the Church teaches; he went on a diatribe against persons, name-calling, all kinds of unnecessary polemic.
    We can teach what the Church teaches without becoming abusive, name-calling, absolute insanity.
    The Pope doesn't talk like this; reasonable and holy bishops don't talk like this.
    Jesus Christ doesn't talk like this (in the Gospels)...His direct hits were against religious hypocrisy. The sinners He encountered received His forgiveness with the admonition, "Go and sin no more."
    That's got to be the way we recover the culture and help folks to convert their lives to Him and His Church.

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  6. Terry, it was nice of you to post this. I fear you'll lose some fans, though.

    Tom, you ought to read the entire post if you've an interest in commenting. Those weren't my words, they were my friend's.

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  7. Thom-

    It not just this post, but others I bring into consideration when formulating an opinion about your blog.

    I want to unequivocally state that I no longer visit your blog NOT because of your sexual orientation, but because of some positions you have taken in the past that are diametrically opposed to Church teachings, especially in the right-to-life domain (specifically the abortion issue). It is my opinion that whatever position you may have taken in previous posts that might be characterized as pro-life were at best lukewarm.

    If my appraisement of your written words is egregiously inaccurate (and I don't think it is), I would like to offer you a public apology for any inaccuracies I may have helped to perpetuate. It isn't my desire to level calumnies at anyone, especially someone I harbor no ill will towards.

    Again, I don't think my interpretation of the things you've written in the past is completely inaccurate. God bless.

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  8. Nothing is worth arguing over, but I would like to say that I have never, either publically or privately, espoused or endorsed any position except that of a pro-life one. A consistently pro-life position, however, that excuses no one whether they support abortion or capital punishment or torture or anything that does not affirm human life- all of it. My support of political candidates is not a statement of my pro-life positions, as it is the responsibility of an informed conscience to make an informed decision based on all the information presented.

    It matters very little what you think of my blog; it is only a blog. I only wanted to ensure that you understood the particulars of the specific instance and post that is being discussed here.

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  9. "A consistently pro-life position, however, that excuses no one whether they support abortion or capital punishment or torture or anything that does not affirm human life- all of it." I agree completely.

    I agree with you that your blog is just a blog and, over all, of little importance in meaningfully determining anything about anyone (I don't mean this pejoratively). I would also extend that same inconsequential characterization to the "particulars of the specific instance and post that is being discussed here" since the opinion I formulate encompasses positions that you've taken in previous matters that I personally consider incongruous with Catholic teaching. I have not read the post Terry and others here are critiquing, and as I stated in my initial comments, nor do I care to read it. It's just a mere opinion that I''m committing to based on factors that go beyond one mere post. If I'm right or wrong in my perception of things is a different matter and, as you commented, not worth arguing over. All the best.

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  10. Terry - the timing of your postings are beginning to spook me ... Very early this A.M. I was looking for a past e-mail exchange and a posting you did that "answered" a question I posed about above subject in opening paragraph awhile back. I couldn't find it, but wanted it to read to a priest this AM. ... if you recall that posting, let me know .... thanks!

    ... too funny, as you know this ain't the first time ....

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  11. Excellent thoughts, Terry.

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  12. Maria9:55 PM

    Terry-- the Chagall painting is remarkable. I am thinking of David Baatsheeba. Purple and red. And the praying hands.

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  13. The attitude of the US, and now even the Church, lauds pregnancy out of wedlock, relative to abortion. It is a perverse morality, in a way. What do we NOT say about the meaning of chastity, at the same time...

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  14. Thom-

    I would like to add one final clarification to our exchange. If this priest was in fact engaging in a slew of inflammatory and disparaging contumelies during - all times - mass, than I would be as dismayed and disconcerted as anyone who is offended by this type of verbal assault. I would never condone, encourage, defend, express or even think about applying that type of treatment to anyone simply because they are gay. Our disagreement comes over perceived or mis-perceived standpoints on abortion.

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  15. I would say that "misperceived" is the right interpretation.

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Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.