According to the Wall Street Journal recently, Pope Francis said he wouldn’t judge gay priests, and he opened the door to a new era of reconciliation within the Roman Catholic Church, which has struggled for decades to confront the presence of homosexuality in its ministry.
During a bumpy plane ride to Rome from Brazil, Pope Francis said he wouldn’t judge gay priests that aren’t sexually active. The WSJ\’s Ramy Inocencio speaks with the WSJ’s Stacy Meichtry about the Pope’s change in tone. ","name":"Pope Francis Strikes A New Tone"
The pontiff was traveling aboard a turbulent overnight flight to Rome from his first overseas trip … when he broached the delicate issue of how the Catholic hierarchy should respond to clerics who are gay, though not sexually active. In doing so, he departed from the posture that has long shaped papal thinking on gay priests.
“Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” the pontiff told a news conference in response to a question. “You can’t marginalize these people.”
Now in my view there are a lot of implications that arise from such statements. Of course, the world, and also some charismatic pastors, find the pope’s comments hear quite laudable. They seem to reflect tolerance and humility, perhaps even “compassion”, and this will go down well with many.
It is important for readers to understand that A LOT of assumptions can be smuggled in without being examined if one uses certain words and phrases things in a certain way. If this quote of Pope Francis is accurate, I will show you what I mean using this as an example.
“Who am I to judge”? Asks the Pope. Well, Pope, Roman Catholicism teaches that you are the head of the church, Christ’s vicar on earth, a father and a pastor to all Catholics, if not indeed all real Christians worldwide. So if you are not qualified to judge or evaluate “gay priests”, then who is? And if this pope is not, were previous popes qualified, who emphatically rejected homosexual priests from the Roman Catholic priesthood, at least officially? Either way, something is inconsistent, and someone is not going to come up smelling totally pretty here.
Next phrase: “a gay person of good-will who seeks the Lord”. Now, “gay” is politically correct speech for “homosexual”. The Bible, which I understand is still a book the Roman Catholic church takes seriously, at least officially, says the following:
“ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9,10)
If the apostle Paul was interested in pandering to popular sins of the audience’s culture, or maintaining a kind of strategic silence on such sin in the interest of maximizing his acceptance as a cool dude in the culture, he would not have spoken all those words against sexual immorality to the Corinthian church. The Corinthians lived in a mecca for temple prostitution, sexual sin and so on.
Paul did not say “who am I to judge a sodomite of good-will who seeks the Lord?” On the contrary, he was telling the church there that such people would not inherit the Kingdom of God! This wasactually a loving thing of Paul to say, because there IS a Holy God who doesn’t like perverse lifestyles and these kind of lifestyles, unless forsaken, DO exclude people from the Kingdom of Heaven. We are wanting people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, I hope. We want people to avoid hell. We are not trying to win a popularity contest here on earth at the expense of hurting people eternally … I hope. The people who DO NOT rebuke certain kinds of sin, these are the same ones who don’t care if you go to hell or not.
The phrase “a gay person” smuggles in the assumption that homosexuality is a part of a person’s identity … perhaps because he was “born that way”? Let us suppose for example that a Christian finds himself tempted more than others to commit homosexual acts and engage in homosexual relationships. Telling that person that he is a “gay person” is a really great way to help them stay in bondage to sin. As the song of U2 says, “Where can you go to leave yourself behind?” You can’t leave yourself behind unless you die to sin, and are born again, live to righteousness and receive a new life from God. But to assert that a Christian is gay is to speak a contradiction – unless by Christian we mean the kind of person that the apostle Paul says is heading for hell, a person who “will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
What is worse, Pope Francis is answering a question about “priests” – which is Roman Catholicism means the PASTORS of the flock. Now, the Bible teaches that pastors must be blameless, exemplary, the husband of one wife, and a whole lot of other things (1 Timothy 3). Could it be that Pope Francis is saying that he has no objection to pastors / priests under his authority “being gay”? It sure sounds like it. And for this he is being praised by pro-homosexual-agenda people in the world and the Nominal Church alike.
When you want to change public opinion, or change your own position, the way to do it is through gradual changes. When manipulating people, if you make suggestions which are too sudden or too shocking it jolts people awake and they react against them. So even if the question was ostensibly about Roman Catholic priests who deny their homosexual tendencies, the language used by the pope really opens the door for an “open door” policy on “gay priests” or whatever you would like to call them.
The Roman Catholic church is in serious error for insisting that all its pastors repress their sexual urges completely. The RIGHT way to express sexuality is IN MARRIAGE and the Bible is pretty clear that forbidding people to marry is a doctrine of DEMONS (1 Timothy 4:1-3) – and doubly so considering the normal condition of a pastor is to be “the husband of one wife”, “having children”.
Now I don’t doubt that there are many religious leaders in the Roman Catholic church whose sexuality has been perverted because their “Church” forbids them to do what is natural and right. But such people, whose desires at the present time are not lawful to the Roman Catholic church need REAL HELP. They, like just about every person on the planet, need deliverance from demons. I myself have had such deliverance. Demons work all kinds of evil in people – and none of us are totally immune. We need to get honest about the chains that may be binding us, and come to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the SAME, yesterday, today and forever, for help!
Another question to ask is: who are people of “good will” and by what standard is someone judged as being a person of “good will”? If by this the pope means someone who sincerely wants to do the right thing, I can accept his statement as somewhat reasonable. The problem is that none of us have consistently been such people. But the assumption smuggled in with this language is that “of course”, some people in this world, even those among “gay people” are such.
Something else: if people are “seeking the Lord” they would do well to look at the Scriptures and meditate on its teachings until it produces a mental transformation. That is the best way to seek to seek the Lord. God is One with His Word.
Of course, it does no good simply to “judge” religious people who seek the Lord in some sense, who have evil tendencies contrary to nature and to God’s will. We have to provide ANSWERS if we care. But one of the worst things we can do is pretend, in the words of a famous Indian customer service representative working in some offshore call center, that “there is no problem”. And this is exactly the tendency today in a powerless church. Many “have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3). That is to say, we are religious, but we don’t think people can actually be SET FREE from the power of all kinds of sin. Instead, we try to modify the meanings of words, be politically correct, and actually identify people personally with their sin (by another name). This is not helpful, and it is exactly the kind of thing the apostle Paul warned against in the strongest terms.
The Church today needs to work out if there IS a gospel that delivers from the POWER as well as the consequence of sin. And if there is such a gospel, the Church surely needs to demonstrate it and proclaim it, no matter how much the minions of hell may gnash their teeth against the thing.