My dear Brothers in Christ,
It is not unusual for people of a certain epoch to assume that in their time the culture has deteriorated to such a degree and at so swift a pace that it must be unique in history. Many of you look about your diocese and see premarital sex, co-habitation, contraception, divorce, the collapse of the family, and various other sins, including something ludicrously named homosexual “marriage.”
However, I can assure you, in the words of Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Trust me when I tell you that, in my day, every possible perversion was practiced by the pagans. And not only practiced, but some were elevated to the status of “religion.” Who has not heard of “temple prostitutes”?
But God had chosen me to preach the Gospel to those same pagans, and so I and my colleagues were faced with two choices: We could try to accommodate those who practiced unchaste behavior, seeing what “gifts” they could bring to the Church, or we could convert them to a life of sexual purity, and, by doing so, save their souls. I assume you know that we chose the second alternative and, in the process, changed the world.
And so, my Brothers, I would like to remind you how I and other preachers of God’s word dealt with the pagan practices of our day.
To begin, we dealt with sinful behavior head-on, identifying the immoral behavior and clearly explaining the consequences of said behavior. To the Corinthians, I wrote the following:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
You will notice that there were no euphemisms, no nuances, and certainly no psycho-babble, to coin a modern phrase. Sin was sin, and the only choice for the sinners was to repent and rely upon the grace of God to sustain them or to spend eternity separated from God.
And one should note that I made similar proclamations wherever I found sexual impurity. In Galatia, I was just as straightforward:
Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Now I can hear the sighing and see the shaking of the heads of many of my Brothers seated before me. You are probably asking, “Where was his compassion, his love for his fellow man? Where was his pastoral care?” My answer is that, what loving parents purposely ignore dangers to their children? If a mother warns her child about putting his hand on a hot stove, can a pastor do less when a soul is putting his soul in eternal jeopardy? The answer should be obvious.
Due to misguided and damaging leaks to the press on the part of some, I must specifically address homosexual behavior. Should we welcome practicing homosexuals into our churches? Yes, but only if they are truly interested in following the true teachings of the Church in this matter. If they are proud of their lifestyle and have no intention of repenting, then their very presence endangers the faith of others, particularly the children.
Let me remind you of my instructions to the Church at Corinth concerning a man who was in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife:
Let him who has done this be removed from among you . . . I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled . . .you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus . . . Do you not know that a little leaven leavens all the dough? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be new dough . . . I wrote to you not to associate with with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality . . . Is it not those inside the Church whom you are to judge? “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
Now my teaching here applies to all areas where the members of the Church openly and defiantly flout God’s laws, and this certainly includes politicians who promote contraception, abortion, and homosexuality and yet shamelessly receive the Eucharist. I say boldly that they are wicked and should be summarily driven out of the Church.
Brothers, we have a sacred duty to sanctify the world. We cannot do this if we dilute the truths that God has given us. So, I urge you again to love the sinner but hate the sin. Be firm and precise. Identify sinful behavior and exhort repentance. Love, feed, and protect the sheep under your care. To do otherwise is to abandon them to the wolves of secularism. For we should take very seriously these words from the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?’”
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.