As you are

“We must welcome and accept all people, as they are. Jesus did.” Something along those lines was the thesis of a homily I heard last night–I was so perplexed that the sheer will required to focus even partially on the Mass made my memory less than perfect. This statement, which on the surface seems so innocuous, actually summarizes quite succinctly exactly what is wrong with liberalized “Christianity.” It twists the heart of the Faith from seeking to conform oneself to God’s will, to seeking to conform God to one’s will. Pride truly cometh before a fall.

Should we welcome all people? Absolutely. We should exclude the Gospel from no one. But once we welcome those who, for instance, lead sinful “alternative lifestyles,” what next? This is where the consistent teaching of the Church and the consistent teaching of liberals diverge. The debate hinges on the next word in the pastor’s statement above: accept. We should not accept ourselves as we are, and we should by no means teach others that they should accept themselves in their sinful state either. Jesus also preached repentance, which by definition means turning away from sin. So, I guess the question really is: what is sin, and what is not? And, blessedly, this is something that we can objectively define.

Let’s take, for one short example, the particular sin that the pastor last night used as an example: homosexual practice. Far be it from me to condemn a particular “orientation”–we all have our sinful tendencies–but I can condemn unchastity as a sin. As the Catechism states (paragraph 2357):

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

This strong language cannot be argued around. If we are to welcome those who are living in sin, we must confront their sins and give them the opportunity to repent and the support necessary to do it. But, it appears that the pastor of our student parish would have us believe that there is nothing sinful about these acts, since we are to “accept” people to perform them. St. Paul would be appalled at the idea that we should not confront, or even kick out, sinners in our midst because of the risk to themselves and the community. Should we welcome them back? Absolutely, with evidence of repentance. The doors are always open, but swing both ways.

Now, stepping back from this particular sin, which sadly is the obsessive focus of our society, there may be a more general rule at play here. It seems to me that the liberal tendency is to regard individuals as immutable, and human society as perfectable. A combination of nature and nurture has created you and me as we are, with our particular gifts, and our particular problems. So far, we agree. But, the liberal wants to eliminate my free will to conform myself to Christ, away from whatever issues there may be in my constitution. Instead, I should accept the drives within me–arrogance and intellectual pride being my two biggest bugbears–and declare that they can’t be sinful, since I can’t help them. But, oddly, even though all of us should embrace our OKness, the liberal then turns to society and wants to perfect it here on Earth. I don’t see the connection–if we’re all automatons, how can we progress at all? Of course, we should be striving for the City of God, but we mustn’t conflate it with the City of Man. Christianity brought us the idea of progress, but also interjects a healthy dose of humility and knowledge of human nature, which while it can be sanctified, prevents a perfect human society from ever existing before the eschaton.

I’ll finish with a related quote from Deus Caritas Est:

Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs. The modern age, particularly from the nineteenth century on, has been dominated by various versions of a philosophy of progress whose most radical form is Marxism. Part of Marxist strategy is the theory of impoverishment: in a situation of unjust power, it is claimed, anyone who engages in charitable initiatives is actually serving that unjust system, making it appear at least to some extent tolerable. This in turn slows down a potential revolution and thus blocks the struggle for a better world. Seen in this way, charity is rejected and attacked as a means of preserving the status quo. What we have here, though, is really an inhuman philosophy. People of the present are sacrificed to the moloch of the future—a future whose effective realization is at best doubtful. One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity, independently of partisan strategies and programmes.

Charity isn’t completely related to the topic at hand, but the perversion of Marxist philosophy is at work here as well.  The people of the present are still being sacrificed to the moloch of the future; their salvation is being neglected by those who would affirm all their tendencies as OK.  I’ve heard liberals referred to by a prominent conservative priest as “soul thieves.”  Indeed, they are–by the sheer hubris of wanting to create a world of affirmation, acceptance, and license to do whatever our hearts desire, they are robbing hearts of their true deepest desire, for God.  Should we “welcome and accept everyone as they are”?  Absolutely not, for to do so would be to possibly rob them of what we should instead be offering them, eternal life.

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