Est. May 2008

17 April, 2013

Crackdown

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
’Crackdown’ is how the Associated Press puts it when it writes of Pope Francis’ decision to continue the ‘overhaul’ of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious begun under his predecessor.

What is this ‘crackdown’?
The Vatican last year imposed an overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious after determining the sisters took positions that undermined Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith." Investigators praised the nuns' humanitarian work, but accused them of ignoring critical issues, including fighting abortion.
In simple language, a large group of nuns have broken from Roman Catholic doctrinal teaching, and the Vatican is working to bring them back into the fold.  It’s a ‘crackdown’ because it’s the church, and the church, of course, is nothing more than a backwards, medieval boy’s club that wants nothing more than to put women down (or, at least that the opinion you get from the Mainstream Media and other pundits these days).

Strangely, though, nothing is said about the simple fact that unless these nuns – all of them, not just a few – were dropped on the convent doorstep as infants and had no choice but to become nuns, they all chose this calling, and they should have gone into it understanding that they were to follow the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.  As I’ve written in the past, it’s a bit like joining the Elks or the Rotary or the Masons in that these groups have rules you must follow in order to be a member, and if you’re not going to follow the rules, you ought not to join up.  Now, if these women failed to read the rules, that’s no fault of the church is it?  And yes, I know, becoming a nun or a priest isn’t like becoming a Rotarian or an Elk in that you can just up and quit, but you can leave your order if your agreement with the order’s rules goes sour.

I also understand, from a Protestant standpoint at least, that there are some rules in the Roman Catholic church that, well, seem a bit strange (celibacy for priests, for one example).  But here’s the thing: if you go into the priesthood (or sisterhood) knowing you disagree with the rules and regulations, you’re basing your membership on a lie, and like Ananias and Sapphira, you’re not only lying to your Mother Superior or your Bishop/Archbishop/Cardinal/Pope – you’re lying to God. 

And, IMO, these sisters made an amateurish mistake: they went full-tilt, 180-degrees from Roman Catholic doctrine on things which would be sure to make them targets of their superiors.  If you want to negotiate with the lion, you don’t start out by jabbing him in the eye with a sharp stick; you certainly don’t continue jabbing him while you’re trying to negotiate – you’re going to get yourself whomped.

But this isn’t just a problem for the Roman Catholic church, folks – there are plenty of Protestant denominations which have troubled their own houses in similar ways.  They allowed the trouble to start years ago when they stopped caulking the cracks and the world started seeping in through them.  Bit by bit the world nestled into the rafters and support posts of the churches and started rotting them.  At this point, the rot is so bad in some places the only real cure for it is to cut out the rot and replace it with sound timber.

That, for many church leaders, is going to require measures which will look draconian not only to those members who’ve been seduced by the worldliness of the church today, but by those outside the church itself.  And those kinds of measures scare the crap out of church leaders for at least two reasons.

The first reason is the threat of recriminations, condemnations, anger, tears, etc., of not only congregants but of those outside the church.  We’re hearing it right now with Pope Francis’ statement regarding the wayward sisters.  The second reason, which grows out of the first, is the fear that implementing these ‘draconian’ measures will cause members to leave the church and go elsewhere, which, of course, means a drop in income for the church.

The only real suggestion to church leaders who’re facing this kind of thing is to remember Joshua’s ultimatum to the Israelites, with which I began this post.  They have to decide who they will serve: God, or the world.  Should they choose to serve the world, they will continue to trouble their own houses and they will eventually inherit the wind; those who choose to serve God will feel the pain of it, but God in His infinite grace will bless those who bless Him and give Him and Him alone the glory.

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