Bless Individuals, Not Immorality
‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters’ (2 Cor. 6:17,18).
Our sexual integration conference at the Theology of the Body Institute spoke a better word than ‘the real development’ of extending pastoral blessing on couples in sexual sin (Fiducia Supplicans). Together, we Catholics and Evangelicals owned our divided lives. In holy fear, faith, and joy, we surrendered to the only One capable of uniting us.
We took giant steps in the direction exemplified by St. Augustine: ‘Indeed, it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2340). In repentance, we welcomed Jesus, Who once again gave us a double portion of dignity and new direction in exchange for our relational compromises.
We emulated the ‘raising of Lazarus’ (Jn. 11) when Jesus called him out of the tomb then asked Lazarus’ friends to ‘remove the grave clothes’ (vs. 43- 44). Raised to new life, we too relied on others to help us shed the dirty cover of sin.
Church, we can do better than bless our fellows in immoral couplings. And that is the gist of FS. No matter how you spin it (these blessings are non-marital, etc.), this document urges clergy to bless two people who are seeking God’s favor while sinning against God and each other by partaking sexually of what is not rightly theirs. What possible good could come from that? Scripture decries all fornication as ‘taking advantage of a brother or sister’ (1 Thess. 4:6) and the Church cites non-marital sex as ‘mortal sin.’ FS misdirects pastoral power and puts sinners at risk, both morally and spiritually.
To camouflage these dangers, FS ennobles the immoral couples seeking ‘blessing.’ FS claims that these hurting ones are imprisoned by sins, regrets, and others’ judgments (27); destitute in spirit, they ‘beg that all that is good, true, and humanly valued in their lives and relationship be enriched, healed, and elevated by Spirit’ (31). The pair will then lift their hearts to God and bless Him for blessing them (29).
Utterly false. If a couple feels imprisoned by sin and aspires to what is truly human and good, they will not seek clergy to bless them. They will plead with God and man to help them repent, to get out of the prison they’ve imposed on themselves through sexual immorality. A couple cannot benefit from a cure (blessing) when that blessing encourages the disease.
Still, hope springs eternal. Optimists hold out that FS blessings might provoke couples to love God more and so be gently persuaded to turn from the relationship itself. Sweet thought. Illusory. First, the document gives no indication that the goal of blessing is to turn from the immoral relationship into individual conversion. Second, in my 44 years of pastoral experience with ‘irregular’ friendships, people ease their inner conflict with immorality by seeking justification through anyone who will give them a ‘pass.’ And sadly, our worldly church gives passes far more generously than it prohibits sin.
In the Protestant world, one can merely leave his or her ‘biblical’ tribe and seek refuge in one that blesses queer culture and doesn’t ask if one sleeps with his girlfriend or had reasonable grounds for divorce.
And Catholics now have FS. Believe me, the purpose of this document and its blessings is a ‘real development.’ It creates a plateau for immoral couples to be still and just know that Francis and company are OK with their compromise. The couples don’t want to marry but they also don’t want to repent. They just want to be blessed.
FS is an inadequate, and I dare say, a corrupt solution to a serious problem. The answer remains: the Church of Jesus Christ still shines like a light in the universe; She envisions and empowers individuals to become all that Jesus won for them from the domination of sin and death.
Share my hope and joy. He shines brighter than ever amid immorality and confusing blessings. Join our healing army that Jesus is raising up to rescue and restore the truly destitute. Blessed are the poor—ours is the Kingdom of heaven.
‘The brightest lights of prophecy and holiness emerge from the darkest night.’ Edith Stein
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