Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sacrosanct sinner

Elisabeth Scalia notes Pope Francis did not revolutionize Christian doctrine concerning the sinful nature of man. If anything, he reinforced the doctrine of forgiveness of one’s sins in the context of sincere repentance.

A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will—well, who am I to judge him?

Because to judge a repentant sinner is to judge oneself. In John 8, after Jesus told the Pharisees, “Let anyone among you who is without sin cast the first stone,” He told the adulterer, “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” Jesus’ teaching did not reclassify sin. He forgave sin.

Salvation by God’s forgiveness and love rests on the principle of sin as fundamental to human nature. Not even the Pharisees, the most doctrinaire Jews of Jesus’ time, were bold enough to claim they were “without sin.” Under Jewish law there were 613 commandments, or mitzvot; it was impossible to follow every last one. We are all sinners. We need forgiveness.

As obvious as that may sound, this diagnosis is half the trouble. Sin is part of who we are. We are wedded to it from birth. We are too proud to admit we are inadequate, and we revolt against the truth that condemns us.

The reason Pope Francis’s comments stirred up the secular media is that the secular media don’t adhere to a view of man as sinful. They view the postulate of sin’s existence to be divisive and discriminating. So they gleefully mistook Pope Francis’s “who am I to judge him?” for an erasure of the line between purity and sin.

What they missed is that the sinner Pope Francis spoke of, in “seeking God,” judges himself by God’s standard. He knows he is a sinner. He knows he falls short. And he yearns for Jesus in order to better himself.

If there is no such thing as sin, then sinners can stop worrying about trying to be better. They need not live by any standard than that of their choosing. They are validated in their identity in sin.

One of those secular media members is Sarah Elizabeth Cupp, who is either too dumb or too indifferent to respect the distinction between sinner and sin. She sees a political application in the Pope’s non-transformation of Christian doctrine:

Like the Catholic Church, the GOP does need to embrace the gay conservatives within its flock, and likewise straight conservatives like me who support gay marriage. Some in the party already do, and I’m hopeful more will follow.

An embrace from one who does not want better for his brother, from one who holds his tongue when he sees his friend being led astray, is a cold embrace indeed. What is this except giving in to identity politics, a capitulation to the liberal zeitgeist of the sacrosanct sinner?

Homosexuality is not the only sin man is capable of. Sin is as multifarious as individuals are unique. Accepting people’s sin with no deference to improvement or even to principle does not unite them. It drives them deeper into themselves and further apart from each other.

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