Then his disciples approached and said to Him, "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?" (Matthew 15:10).
As I read this text, a memory resurfaced of a Bible class I taught a few months ago. During the discussion the subject of abortion came up and so we talked about the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion, how it is viewed as a grave mortal sin. A short time later someone asked about Islam, and I shared a passage from Isaiah 19:18-25 which prophesies about the eventual salvation of Egypt, Israel and Assyria (modern day Iran).
The class ended about an hour later and many of the participants thanked me for teaching the class.
A few weeks later I received a call from the person who assigned the class to me. She reprimanded me for discussing what she said were “divisive” subjects about abortion and Islam. Although I explained I was simply teaching the Church’s position on abortion, and what Scripture teaches about the salvation of Egyptians, Jews and Iranians, she ordered me to refrain from talking in future classroom assignments about those particular “offensive” topics.
I hung up the phone feeling a mixture of anger, confusion and disappointment over what I considered -- and still consider -- such inexplicable leadership compromise.
And so my thoughts returned to the disciples in this text from Matthew: "Lord, do you not know that you offended the religious leaders by what you said?" And I imagined Jesus' response in modern paraphrase sounded something like this: “Ummm. And your point is?”
Before that phone conversation, I liked to believe Church leadership was more concerned about speaking truth than making people feel comfortable. After all, when has it ever been the Church's position to compromise or avoid telling the truth for fear of offending others? Was it not the Lord Jesus Himself who said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword, to set even family members against each other (Matthew 10:35-36)? Was it not St. Paul who said if he were more concerned about pleasing people than God, he could not call himself a bond-servant of Christ (Galatians 1:9-11)?
Bond-servants of Christ or People Pleasers. Proclaimers of truth, or compromisers. One or the other, but not both.
They each are mutually exclusive choices.
I wish I could say this kind of compromise and capitulation is limited only to a few. But it is not. In my nearly 40 years of worshiping in a variety of Protestant, Evangelical and now Catholic churches, I’ve seen, and continue to see across the Body of Christ, the same kind of political correctness infect congregations and leadership alike. It is stunning to see it over and over -- and equally as incomprehensible, especially in light of Jesus' uncompromising mandate to teach the whole world to obey His word (Matthew 28:20).
No wonder our nation is in a moral mess with so many Christians silent – silent – in the face of evil and sin. As King David said long ago: The wicked strut about on every side when vileness is exalted among the sons of men (Psalm 12:8).
And yet, despite it all, there is reason for hope. 2 Chronicles 7:14 holds this promise: If My people (i.e., the Church), who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.
May God have mercy on us, forgive our moral cowardice and compromise, and give us another chance to make it right . . . another chance to seek Him and no other. Mother Mary, pray for us. St. Paul the Apostle, pray for us. St. Peter, first earthly head of the Church, pray for us.