THE common mantra today is, “You have no right to judge me!”
This statement alone has driven many Christians into hiding, afraid to speak out, afraid to challenge or reason with others for fear of sounding “judgmental.” Because of this, the Church in many places has become impotent, and the silence of fear has allowed many to go astray.
A MATTER OF THE HEART
One of the teachings of our faith is that God has written His law in the hearts of all mankind. We know this is true. When we cross cultures and national boundaries, we see that there is a natural law engraved in the heart of each and every person. Thus, people in Africa and South America know innately that murder is wrong, as they do in Asia and North America. Our conscience tells us that lying, stealing, cheating and so forth are wrong. And these moral absolutes are essentially universally accepted—it is written in the human conscience (though many will not heed it.)
This inner law is also accompanied by the teachings of Jesus Christ, who revealed Himself as God come in the flesh. His life and words reveal to us a new moral code: the law of love for neighbour.
From this entire moral order, we are able to judge objectively whether this or that action is wrong in the same way that we can judge what kind of tree is before us simply by the type of fruit it bears.
What we cannot judge is the culpability of the person committing the offense, that is to say, the roots of the tree, which remain hidden to the eye.
Although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033
At this, many say, “So just be quiet then—stop judging me.”
But there is a difference between judging a person’s motives and heart, and judging their actions for what they are. Even though a person may be ignorant of the evil of their actions to one degree or another, an apple tree is still an apple tree, and a worm-eaten apple on that tree is a worm-eaten apple.
[The offense] remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience. —CCC 1793
Therefore, to remain silent is to suggest that “an evil, a privation, a disorder” is private business. But sin wounds the soul, and wounded souls wound society. Thus, to make clear what is sin and what is not is imperative for the common good of all.
These objective moral judgments then become like signposts to guide mankind for the common good, much like a speed limit sign on the highway is for the common good of all travelers.
But today, the logic of Satan which has penetrated the modern mind, tells one that I needn’t conform my conscience to moral absolutes, but that morals should conform to me. That is, I will get out of my car and post the speed limit sign that “I” think is most reasonable… based on my thinking, my reason, my perceived goodness and fairness, my subjective moral judgment.
As God has set up a moral order, so too in this way is Satan attempting to establish a “moral order” to guide the coming “false unity” (see The False Unity Parts I and II.) Whereas God’s laws are firmly established in the heavens, Satan’s laws take on the guise of justice in the form of “rights.” That is, if I can call my illicit behavior a right, then it is therefore good, and I am justified in my action.
Our entire culture has been built upon objective moral standards or absolutes. Without these standards, there would be lawlessness (albeit, it would appear lawful, but only because it has been “state sanctioned.”) St. Paul speaks of a time when Satan’s plans will culminate in lawlessness and the appearance of a “lawless one.”
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming, the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. (2 Thess 2:7-10)
People will perish because “they have not accepted the love of truth.” Thus, these “objective moral standards” suddenly carry an eternal weight.
The Church… intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of States and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Vatican, March 20, 2006
Jesus commanded the apostles to,
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
The very first and primal occupation of the Church is to proclaim that “Jesus Christ is Lord” and that there is no salvation apart from Him. To shout from the rooftops that “God is love” and that in Him there is “forgiveness of sins” and the hope of eternal life.
But because the “wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23) and people will perish because “they have not accepted the love of truth,” the Church, like a mother, calls out to God’s children throughout the world to heed the dangers of sin, and to repent. Thus, she is obligated to objectively declare that which is sinful, particularly that which is grave sin and places souls at risk of exclusion from eternal life.
So often the Church’s counter-cultural witness is misunderstood as something backward and negative in today’s society. That is why it is important to emphasize the Good News, the life-giving and life-enhancing message of the Gospel. Even though it is necessary to speak out strongly against the evils that threaten us, we must correct the idea that Catholicism is merely “a collection of prohibitions”. —Address to Irish Bishops; VATICAN CITY, October 29, 2006
GENTLE, BUT HONEST
Each Christian is obligated to first and foremost incarnate the Gospel—to become a witness to the truth and hope which is found in Jesus. And each Christian is called to speak the truth “in or out of season” accordingly. We must be insistent that an apple tree is an apple tree, even though the world says it is an orange tree, or just a little shrub.
It reminds me of a priest who once said with regards to “gay marriage,”
Blue and yellow mix to make the color green. Yellow and yellow do not make green—as much as the politicians and special interest groups tell us they do.
Only the truth will set us free… and it is the truth which we must proclaim. But we are commanded to do so in love, bearing one another’s burdens, correcting and exhorting with gentleness. The Church’s objective is not to condemn, but to lead the sinner into the freedom of life in Christ.
And sometimes, this means pointing out the chains around a person’s ankles.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
You are loved.
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