I think a field trip is in order.
I just saw the recent news flash where the Pope and Bishops have released a tentative 'report' detailing thoughts concerning re-evaluating sin. I would like to use the modern words like 'homosexual unions', 'cohabitation', 'pre-marital sex' and the like - but to keep it short, I thought I'd just use the word that the Founder of our Faith - Jesus Christ - used; and so I'll go with 'sin'.
I understand the feelings behind all of this. People are hurting, and those who care about people want to take away that hurt. And so there is the tendency to reach for the cures recommended by the culture at large. Sometimes it's hard to envision anything else when all you see is the illusion of the 'compassion' proposed by those most visible.
Hence a Field Trip is in order.
First stop on the Agenda would be Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. I discovered FUS about 6 years ago when our daughters attended a Summer Youth Conference there. I was completely and totally blown away, as I had never seen anything like it in the 'current culture'; nor have I seen anything like it since.
You see, at Franciscan, people really do believe their faith. And since they believe it - they live it. Pretty simple. Kind of, actually, like the way the whole ball game began 2,000+ years ago!
At Franciscan, they believe that sin is sin - but Grace is powerful. In fact, Grace is SO powerful - that it is able to defeat sin. Imagine that! I mean, at Franciscan, young people actually walk around loving and caring for each other. Young men ENCOURAGE young women to respect their bodies (and themselves), enough to withhold the gift of sexuality for the proper place it was made - the marital bed. Because women are respected in this way - almost none are on anti-depressants or struggling with various mental health disorders - unlike 99.99% of the more 'enlightened' colleges out there. At Franciscan, men support one another by calling each other to a higher level of integrity and honor. They speak of the great things that God has created them to do - and then they go on to perform them. Imagine that! Instead of spending each weekend in drunken, vomit laden binges - they do things like build homes for the homeless, travel the world seeking the lost and forsaken, take on lies and corruption - always challenging each other to reach the very highest levels of perfection they can - again, unlike the 99.99% of 'enlightened' colleges out there.
Did you know - shock - that there is a real problem in our 'modern' colleges with sexual assaults and abuse? Go figure! We encourage women to act as prostitutes, and are "Oh so shocked!", when they are treated like them. We encourage men to act as animals, and are "Oh so shocked!", when they behave like them. Who knew??!!! Doctors report that on college campuses today, the single biggest problem for women is depression, and for men, alcoholism. But surely, who could have guessed that encouraging young people to embrace sin and rebellion would come to such a bad end?
I mean, you'd almost need to have a crystal ball or something for that one!!!
Yes, a field trip to Franciscan to see the glory of life where young people SHUN sin, would open even the eyes of the Intentionally Secular Blind to see that embracing sin so that 'no one's feelings gets hurt' leads to a hell-of-a-lotta HURT.
But that's just the 1st stop on my field trip.
The next stop would be to a Living Waters class. Livings Waters is an amazing Christian ministry to heal the deep wounds of early childhood - especially for those in disordered sexual sin. It began as a ministry to those with same sex attraction, but was so successful in healing those life long coping mechanisms that it quickly encompassed individuals who had developed different means to cope with their wounds. If the Pope and Bishops could just meet these people, people who were in bondage to disordered sexual sin for most of their lives, and who completely lost that attraction after embracing the healing available in Christ - then they would probably come to realize the very real power of Christ in changing lives. For Jesus doesn't leave us to wallow in our sin - He comes into our lives with POWER to heal us, and overcome it. And not just the 'easy' sins like eating too much chocolate.
We give up chocolate for Lent and, after 40 days of barely making it - we congratulate ourselves on our 'spiritual fortitude and progress'. Yes, we are pathetic.
Let's take a minute to look at the 1st French Missionaries to North America. After being captured by the Iroquois and enduring torture like having his fingers chewed off (for starters), Father Issac Joques was able to escape and make his way back to France - an instant hero. However, after arriving to safety, he began to be overcome with sorrow for the lives of hate, torture and evil that he had witnessed existing among that unChristianized culture - and so HE WENT BACK. He said it was important to teach them the power of love, in other words - the Power of Christ… After his eventual martyrdom, even the Indians had to admit that this man had a Power that they had never, ever, ever seen or heard of before. They wanted some of that power - and tribe after tribe converted to Christianity and found it.
Kind of makes our spiritual 'power' in denying ourselves chocolate for 40 days pretty pitiful - don't it?
This power is still available to us today; it's just that we have forgotten it. We no longer make the hard choices to give up sin, and instead we make excuses for why it's too 'difficult'. We then wonder why our lives don't work, and why we just don't feel the Presence and Power of God anymore…
"I wouldn't gossip about her if she lived a decent life!" "Of course we are having sex before marriage, everyone else is! Why would we want to be made fun of?" "I can cheat on my taxes this time, after all the Government has enough of my money already and anyway - I disagree with how they spend it!" "Well, you are certainly justified in how mean you are to him - he's a dead beat dad and deserves all our condemnation!" "I hate that sports team, and everyone who supports them. After all, I AM a loyal fan! Fans hate their opponents!" "Oh what's a little harmless flirtation at the office? Everybody else does it, and anyway, it makes me feel sexy!" "You deserve to put yourself FIRST after all - if you don't, who will?" "Well, God made me this way, and since I refuse to examine this little voice inside that tells me I am doing wrong - then I will make darn sure that no one else can vocalize it!"
We need not even get to the point of sexual sin - we've sold out long before that...
But if the Pope and Bishops were to join me on my little field trip, then they might just see the joy in the lives of individuals who have, in the Strength of Christ, healed their wounds and found the POWER to overcome and defeat the sin that once ruled them. In fact, they might just realize that 're-evaluating' our aversion to sin in order to help people feel 'better' about the sinful choices they have made, does nothing but lead to more pain, and more sin.
For sin separates a person from God. Not even the Pope and Bishops can change that true, hard fact. To encourage the trivialization of sin, and its cost, is to leave people in bondage to evil. The culture at large today seeks the easy way out; but it is ultimately the selfish and uncaring way.
For you just might get your fingers chewed off when you attempt to reach people and show them the love and power of a sinless life -
but Oh, the Glory when that dawn finally breaks in their lives.
There is a famous scene from the John Adams movie, where the actor quotes the words John made in arguing for the Declaration of Independence. The Delegates had just heard tales of woe and pleas for surrender from those who chose to side with Britain. John however, although acknowledging their fears, stated that he saw things differently. Where they saw 'doom', he saw "Hope". He saw a new birth of freedom - not without great cost - but a freedom worth fighting for nonetheless.
It is that Freedom that we must remind the culture of. We need not listen to its tales of woe and surrender. We need to remember that we have greater tales of Victory over ALL defeat. That victory has been whispered to us by God since He first asked Abraham to stop and listen. It is a whisper that remains today - if we but listen.
For He has not stopped Speaking. It's just that we've stopped listening.
Hence, no better time than the present ……. for a good old Field Trip!
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.