Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Gift of Francis. . .

Francis, in his own words, is a fan of Paul VI and especially of  Humanae Vitae -- the fulcrum on which the whole issue of contraception and life rests for Rome.  But, that said, he is somehow able to admire the unflinching stand of Paul VI while at the same time admitting that how that truth is applied is open to change or redefinition.  According to Francis, “the question is not that of changing doctrine, but of digging deep and making sure that pastoral practice takes into account the situations and what persons are able to do.”

But that is exactly the point so many denominations face.  The advocates for change insist they are not changing doctrine but only practice.  It is said to be a pastoral point of view which values the person even more than the doctrine or truth itself (something Francis has suggested is good to do).  You cannot hold to doctrine without on the other hand looking at the circumstances of the people and what they are capable of doing and what is beyond them in the face of this dogma.

The point here is the the law is too hard, too difficult, and even impossible for us so we cannot hold the law without on the other hand showing compassion to those who cannot keep it.  But is that true?  Is is merely that the law is too difficult for us or does it go to the will and desire of those under the law?  Can we say of God that in the commandments He has laid out an impossible dream and a bar too high for us to reach?  If that is the case, then our hopeless and helpless condition is at least partially HIS fault.  But is that the case?  Is it simply that the law unreachable or is it that the law is compromised by our hearts that do not desire to reach it?

No, I am not saying that if you try hard enough you will be hold and God will be obligated to save you by your works.  But neither am I giving us an out by saying that no one can be holy so we must adjust the norm and lower the bar to what people CAN do.  That is Francis' problem and that is the open door that has led Protestantism to assume that divorce will happen so we can sanction it, that same sex attraction will happen so we can approve it, and that there are reasons why any legal means to prevent or end a pregnancy can be just as moral.

Will Rome end of Humanae Vitae because it is a difficult standard for the world to accept?  Will we as Christians offer the world cover for its failure instead of the call to repentance?  That is the challenge before us.

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