In today’s first reading for Mass (Tuesday of the 23rd Week) St. Paul writes clearly of the danger of certain behaviors that many celebrate today. Others minimize them as of any importance:
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)
To say that someone who does not repent of such behaviors “will not inherit the Kingdom of God” is to say that they will go to hell. This is very clear and very strong. Willfully persisting in sins and “lifestyles” such as these leads to destruction.
Note, this warning extends to those who defiantly stubbornly refuse to cease such behaviors and even more to those who celebrate and encourage them. The warning is not to those who many fall in weakness but acknowledge their sin, confess it and seek to get free.
Sadly the celebration and glamorization of such things is widespread in our culture today. Certainly, fornication (pre-marital sex), adultery and homosexual acts (spoken of in this text as sodomy) are depicted and celebrated in our movies, music and in many other ways. These forms of illicit sexual union are depicted as normal and “no big deal.”
In reference to homosexual acts there is the further problem that lifestyles and identities centered on this behavior are celebrated in our culture as something in which one should have “pride.” And, how shocking it is hear certain bishops in certain countries, along with certain priests, indicate that the Church should change her teachings on homosexual acts. But St. Paul, and the Holy Spirit never got the memo and have set forth a clear teaching that homosexual acts, along with other illicit forms of sexual union such as fornication, adultery and prostitution, cannot be approved. The Church has no authority to overthrow what God has clearly taught at every stage of Scripture, from the early pages to the last pages.
In addition to these forms of illicit sexual union the text also consigns other forms of sinful behavior to hellfire: theft, greed, drunkenness, slanderers and robbers. And yet, many of these things are also depicted in movies which glamorize the mafia, violence, theft (e.g. Oceans 11), drunkenness (e.g. Animal House), and so forth. Greed to is often normalized and celebrated in shows such as the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous etc.”
St. Paul indicates that those who engage in or celebrate such sins and sinful drives as those who are deceived. They actually think that such matters are either fine, or no big deal. But this is not what Scripture says and, this passage is not the only place where such warnings are given. (See another article I have written that collates other similar teaching).
These sins and drives are certainly human problems and many of them afflict most of us. Surely, as any confessor knows our human condition is weak and we must have common recourse to God’s mercy and seek his grace. There may well be less concern with the salvation of those acknowledge their sin and seek absolution. What is more worrisome are those who are defiant and refuse to admit that what they do in such matters is wrong. Dangerous indeed is the fate of those who celebrate, take pride in, or call no big deal what God calls sin. Indeed, our biggest sin is pride and it is really what leads us to every other sin.
Listen to God! Be humbled and at the same time privileged to hear his word and abide by it. Do not call good what God calls sin. We must humbly acknowledge our sins, even the popular and celebrated ones in culture. And having acknowledged them, we ought to repent, seek confession and strive to free of them by God’s grace.
Do not be deceived by false prophets who contradict God’s Word, even if they wear a roman collar or a miter. Let God’s word clearly reach you and humbly accept it and strive to live it. The Lord Jesus loves us but he expects to be taken seriously and for us to heed the full Word of God. What is more authoritative for you: the Word of God, or the customs of a world gone mad?