Categories
Abortion and Other Evils

A Biblical Defense of Traditional Marriage

The following is a post which I have been hoping to write for some time. This is about homosexuality. I propose to defend the traditional viewpoint that it is immoral from Scripture and that a marriage is specifically between one man and one woman. Before you ask, I am not writing on James Martin. I am writing on certain Protestants of what is called the “Affirmation” camp. To end all questions, the Council of Trent Session XXIV, Doctrine on the Sacrament of Matrimony, states: “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. But, that by this bond two only are united and joined together, our Lord taught more plainly, when rehearsing those last words as having been uttered by God, He said, therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.” The Council certainly does not seem to allow room for a man to cleave to his husband or a woman her wife, nor are Councils to be read exactly as Scripture since they are written in a clearer manner. Now we shall discuss what the Scriptures say about the issue. As usual, first I shall discuss the biblical passages which are used in the Affirmation camp.

“The inspired authors did not know about loving, committed homosexual relationships, for which reason their commentaries on same-sex marriage.”

I do not see why they should be unaware of committed same-sex relationships as they were common in the Roman Empire at the time (hence Paul condemned it on multiple occasions). They may not have been recognized by law as equal, but neither were they now until relatively recently, so I could hardly say this is reason to suppose that they knew less about same-sex relationships than we do now. Furthermore, in the relevant passages, the Bible is not so specific and simply condemns two people of the same gender having relations with each other.

“There seems to be a trajectory. There are multiple passages in Scripture which seem to sanction slavery, yet now we accept it as evil. Hence if for slavery there may be a trajectory from acceptance to condemnation, there should be one for homosexuality from condemnation to acceptance.” 

I will write an entire article discussion slavery in Scripture eventually. For now let it suffice that we see this in the New Testament. “Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother.” (Philemon 15-16) One cannot be brothers with one’s slave. However, as will be shown, there does not seem to be much of a reference, even in seed form to condemning homosexuality.

“But our Lord, God Incarnate said nothing about same-sex relationships. Therefore, homosexuality must not be a sin.”

Jesus was also silent on rape, incest, and bestiality, three things about which we can fairly assume he disagreed. Now, Jesus came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The Jews did not practice homosexuality, for which reason He had no cause to condemn it. However, Paul, who spoke to a wider audience of Gentiles did have cause to do so. Jesus at another time said, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:6-9) This suggests that He did believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

As for inclusivity, Jesus did welcome many people, but this does not mean he approved of their behavior. At one point Jesus explains: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) Thus His welcoming to them is meant to lead to repentance. Hence in John 8:11, Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” So Jesus allows the woman to go on the condition that she does not sin again. I hope I have done well to name all the major counterarguments. Now, on the contrary…

Leviticus 18 & 20

Leviticus 18:22 states: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Likewise, according to Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” To this there are two general objections which could be brought up. The first is that this is the Old Law, made to set the Jews apart from the Gentiles, similar to the kosher laws, and do not apply now. Second, some say that due to the word “abomination”, is frequently used to describe idolatry, God may be referring to cultic or even man-boy relationships connected to pagan temples.

To answer the first claim, that this was not carried into the New Testament, in Leviticus 18, God also condemns incest, adultery, devoting one’s children to Molech, and bestiality, which most Christians would still oppose. Following this, God says: “Do not defile yourselves by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am casting out before you defiled themselves; and the land became defiled, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” (Lev. 18:24-25) So it seems that it displeased God to do this to the Gentiles as well. As for the second supposition, that this has something to do with cultic practices, the words are not so specific. It only refers to a man lying with a man, around which, as noted there are other sins which are clearly sexual. Note also the words: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” In other words, they are jointly responsible, suggesting that this is consensual on the sides of both parties.

Romans 1:26-27

In Romans 1, Paul writes about unrighteousness in God’s sight. In Romans 1:18-32, he writes specifically on the Gentile world. In Romans 1:26-27, he states: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

Paul calls these desires “unnatural”—hence not what God originally intended. Some would contend that Paul is only talking about “unnatural” sexual behaviors according to one’s sexuality. In other words, Paul is condemning persons with heterosexual attractions engaging in homosexual behavior. However, God refers to these acts as “passions”. The greek is πᾰ́θος/páthos, meaning any strong feeling, passion, or emotion. No man with heterosexual inclinations has such passions for another man. Nor can this refer to man-boy relationships, since Paul makes a reference to lesbianism, nor are these words so specific.

1 Corinthians 6

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) says Paul. And again, “Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” (1 Timothy 1:8-10)

Now, what does this have to do with homosexuality? Well, the words used in the Revised Standard Version are “sexual perverts” in Corinthians and “sodomites” in Timothy, but this is different in other translations. The English Standard Version says “men who practice homosexuality”.

Now there are multiple terms in Greek which could refer to homosexuals. The first is μαλακοὶ (malakoi), which literally means “soft ones”. It can mean a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man or a male prostitute. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul refers to both μαλακοὶ (malakoi) and ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai). The second word, ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai), comes from two Greek words, ἀρσεν “male” and κοίτης, “bed”, especially referring to a marriage bed as in intercourse. The word ἀρσενοκοῖται therefore means “those who lie with men”. This word, to the best of my knowledge, is rarely or never used outside of the New Testament. However, the two words which make it up are used in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, suggesting that Paul is drawing a parallel to what was condemned then. So the pairing of μαλακοὶ (malakoi) with ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitoi) suggests that there is a difference. Unlike in the case of malakoi necessarily, which may well have referred to man-boy relationships, arsenokoitai seems to condemn both active and passive partners as equals.

I would conclude therefore that God did wish marriage to be between one man and one woman. I hope I represented the opposing viewpoint fairly enough.

Bonum Certamen Certemus

I am the Catholic of Honor

All Scripture verses are from the Revised Standard Version

Categories
On Protestants

In Defense of the Sacraments: The Holy Eucharist

I propose to defend what could easily be said to be among the strangest doctrines in Catholicism. That is the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist which states that when the priest says the prayers over the bread and wine in the consecration at Mass, it is no longer bread and wine, but the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord.🐷 Not surprisingly, according to a statistic in 2019, sixty-nine percent of those who say they are Catholic in the U.S. do not believe in this wonderful doctrine, forty-three percent of whom say they did not know this doctrine and twenty-two percent of whom embrace heresy although claiming to be Catholic.🐮 What I find very interesting is that the bishops, seeing this statistic, have not yet increased the quality of catechesis threefold the quality which most Catholics receive. It can only be supposed that many of them do not care enough to do something. I know this research ought to be shocking, but I am not surprised. I would guess a greater number of “Catholics” reject the Church’s teachings on contraception, homosexuality, fornication, damnation, and a number of other things. That said, I propose to defend what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Welcome to another installment of In Defense of the Sacraments. Although this it may sound absurd, actually is not that odd when one considers that one God is three People. At least transubstantiation is immensely easier to understand than the Trinity. The things of God are strange. Let us get to the objections which Protestants generally raise.

Many would point out that our Lord said in Luke 22:19 “Do this in remembrance of me.”🐼 If it is a memorial one might argue that it cannot be the actual thing. But then does a memorial always have to be symbolic? No. The Eucharist is an actual re-presentation of the one sacrifice of our Lord on the cross in an unbloody manner.🐻 Besides, in 1 Corinthians 11:27, Paul writes: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.”🦁 To be guilty of someone’s blood in Semitic culture means to be guilty of murder. (see Numbers 35:27) Basically, Paul is saying that such a person is guilty of murdering Christ. Paul goes on to say in verse 30 that people are becoming ill and some have died because of this. These are strong words for an empty memorial.

As for the Eucharist being a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice, some would point out Hebrews 7:27 which states quite clearly of our Lord’s sacrifice that He “did this once for all when he offered up himself.”🐼 Some would argue that this means that it means His sacrifice does not need to be re-presented. I see why it says our Lord does not need to be sacrificed again, but notice that I did not say that He is “re-sacrificed” but that His same sacrifice is re-presented. The one single sacrifice offered up for the sins of the whole world is shown again in every Mass all throughout the whole world so that the one sacrifice at Calvary for the sins of all might be made ever-present with us.🐻  The risen Christ becomes present on the altar and offers himself to God as a living sacrifice. he Mass is not repeating the murder of Jesus, but is taking part in what never ends: the offering of Christ to the Father for our sake. After all, if Calvary didn’t get the job done, then the Mass won’t help. Likewise, although a body can naturally be in only one place at once, God can make His body polylocate, that is, be in more than one place at once in the Eucharist. A human body also cannot be born of a virgin, walk on water, and rise from the dead, but Our Lord did that.

Others might point out Romans 12:1 which states: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”🐼 If our bodies are the living sacrifices, why the Eucharist? But is not Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross the perfect sacrifice in atonement for sin? So if the Eucharist is a re-presentation of the exact same sacrifice, that should hardly matter.

But why would there be a miracle happening? If it is Jesus on the altar, why would He do a miracle to come under the appearance of bread and wine? For now, let it suffice that in the Old Testament, angels were known to appear in the forms of humans. Does this make them less angels? Likewise, our Lord appearing in the form of bread and wine makes Him no less our Lord. Think for a moment. Who, save those with great faith and love for God, would receive Him if He did not do this? It would feel like cannibalism. One might wonder why God does not make a great flash of light or something so that everyone would know what was going on. But would that not simply be another miracle? One might just as well ask why God does not write in the sky in large red ink characters: I’m God. I’m real. Be Christian.

But speaking of cannibalism, is that not cannibalism? It certainly sounds like cannibalism when we say we eat God. What would be cannibalism is if in John 6 all the people listening were suddenly revealed to be vampires, trolls, orcs, or basically any other fantasy monster who is less powerful than a Dark Lord and tried to eat Him. However, cannibalism diminishes the quantity of the person being eaten, profaning that person’s body that the cannibals might be physically nourished. In the Eucharist, our Lord is neither diminished nor profaned, but we ourselves are spiritually nourished. Hannibal Lector, trolls, and the rest eat dead people’s bodies alone apart from the soul (sometimes, the people being eaten are alive, but they will be dead when the cannibalization is complete and the soul is still not eaten). Our Lord, on the other hand, freely and miraculously gives His living body, blood, soul, and divinity to Catholics that we might eat them while in no way diminishing Christ.

On the top is shown one of the trolls from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey about to eat Bombur the Dwarf. On the bottom is shown the Holy Eucharist. What is the difference?

Now let us come to John 6. In the Bread of Life Discourse, from verses 22-41, the Jews understand Jesus’ words as metaphorical, which, I think, is fairly clear in John 6:35 where our Lord says: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”🐼 They are only scandalized by His saying that He came down from heaven. In reply our Lord speaks of a bread that he has yet to give, that is, His flesh. Here He switches from speaking metaphorically to literally. Our Lord goes so far to say in verse 51: “the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”🐼 Notice He uses the future tense as the Last Supper had not happened yet. Our Lord used this metaphor at the beginning as He used the Multiplication of the Loaves to lead to this introduction of the Eucharist. In verse 52, those who hear our Lord preaching say in objection: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”🐼 This might be a good time to explain that He spoke symbolically, but instead our Lord insists even further that his flesh must be eaten. I simply must have his reply in verses 53-68 typed here in full:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caper’na-um. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”🐼

This is the only time in the gospels where Christ’s disciples left him based on doctrine. It is strange that He never clarified if He lost so many over a metaphor and it is rather clear that those listening to him understood it to be literal. Our Lord specifically says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” These are a lot of truly’s and indeed’s for a metaphor.

But notice that He does not even clarify His words when speaking to the apostles, to whom it had “been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.”🐙 In Matthew 16:6-12, where our Lord tells the disciples to “take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” and they think He is talking about actual bread, He immediately clarifies for them. However, in John 6:67, all he says is “Do you also wish to go away?” Peter, in reply, says only: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

To put this in perspective, in John 10:9, Jesus says: “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved.”🐼

This would be like if those listening were to reply: “How can this man be a gate for us to walk through?”

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you walk through the body of the son of man you have no life in you and he who walks through me has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For my chest has a latch indeed and my hands are hinges indeed. He who walks through me will live because of me. This is the gate which is come down from heaven, not such as the Jordan which your fathers crossed and died. He who walks through this gate will live forever.”

“This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

“Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the metal grate is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.”

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Do you also wish to go away?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

This is basically what Jesus would have been saying were He speaking metaphorically in the Bread of Life Discourse.

Some would point out that He says: “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” If his words were spiritual, would that not mean they are symbolic? However, God is spirit and the Devil is spirit, but both are very real. Our Lord clearly did not mean to call the body worthless as it was by His bodily sacrifice that He saved the world from sin and death. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” are words of joy to us. Our Lord could, therefore, only be talking about the body without a person as being of no avail. Notice that he says “the flesh” here when before he had been saying “My flesh”. Those around Him understood our Lord’s words as an introduction to cannibalism seemingly; they thought He wished them to eat His body in a bloody manner and drink His blood like vampires (although they probably did not know what vampires were). Here He clarifies that He is introducing them to spiritual food. As already stated, Catholics do not believe that we eat and drink the dead body and blood of Christ, but His living body, blood, soul, and divinity together. As physical food nourishes our physical bodies, so does the spiritual food of the Holy Eucharist nourish our souls. Thus He says “The words which I have spoken are spirit and life.” Yes, there are exceptions. Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich lived solely and miraculously off of the Holy Eucharist for twelve years, having a bad reaction to all other food, but I hardly think that is evidence against the Holy Eucharist being not the body and blood of Christ.🐯 Notice that the words He spoke right beforehand do not seem to say anything about it being metaphorical: “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?”🐼 Why would He mention the bit about the Son of man ascending where He was before if the whole thing was an extended metaphor and Jesus was trying to clarify it here? Yet afterward those listening still left Him.

With all this said, I can hardly see how it is credible that this entire Bread of Life Discourse is an extended metaphor. I understand this can be a hard teaching and it is beyond me that some people have more trouble with the Catholic doctrines about Mary, justification, and so forth, but that does not mean it is not true. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. But when one thinks of the great humility our Lord has to come in the form of bread and wine for sinners to eat and the great gift it is to us, it no longer seems strange, but wonderful.

Bonum Certamen Certemus

I am the Catholic of Honor

***

🐷Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶1374, 1376 

🐮https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/05/transubstantiation-eucharist-u-s-catholics/ Accessed May 30, 2020

🐼RSV

🐻Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶1363-1367

🦁ESV

🐙Matthew 13:11 RSV

🐯 https://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2015/02/blessed-anne-catherine-emmerich.html Accessed June 6, 2020

Categories
On Protestants

In Defense of the Sacraments: Reconciliation

If you have seen enough movies and tv shows, you probably know that Catholics believe they must confess their sins to a priest. Now, I must defend that.

One common objection is 1 Timothy 2:5, which states: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”🐷 But our Lord also gave the authority to the apostles to cast out demons, for example. Yet this gift did not come from themselves but from God. To say that there is one Mediator, therefore, does not exclude other mediation, but stresses the supremacy of Christ from Whom all such authority comes. Of course God is the real One forgiving the sins, but that does not mean he cannot do so through priests. As a side note, it is generally considered better to go to a priest than to a Protestant pastor when someone is possessed, even in our English-speaking culture which at this point has long been more influenced by Protestantism than Catholicism. 2 Corinthians 5:18 declares: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”🐷 If God is willing to entrust to sinful human ambassadors His message of forgiveness, would it actually be that far fetched to say He would also entrust to them the authority to forgive sins?

Another objection is that the sacrament was not invented until the Fourth Lateran Council in the year 1215. The answer is simple: it was not; that is fake history. Even as early as c. A.D. 215, St. Hippolytus of Rome states: “Grant, Father who knows the heart, to your servant whom you chose for the episcopate, that he will feed your holy flock, that he will wear your high priesthood without reproach, serving night and day, incessantly making your face favorable, and offering the gifts of your holy church; in the spirit of high priesthood having the power to forgive sins according to your command.”🐮 c. A.D. 70, the author of the Didache wrote: “In church thou shalt confess thy transgressions, and shalt not betake thyself to prayer with an evil conscience.” Later it says: “And on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.”🐝 How is one to go to prayer without an evil conscience if sins ought to be confessed to God alone? It does not say to confess sins to God alone, but in the Church

So, where is the sacrament in the Bible? First I will show you John 20:21-23: “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he [Jesus] had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”🐷Some would argue that this means that he was sending them out to preach of God’s forgiveness, and not literally giving them power to forgive or retain sin. However, note right before then he said: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” Christ forgave sins. So also he gave the authority to the apostles to do the same. If you respect St. John Chrysostom as a reliable biblical scholar, see this quote: “For they [priests] who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them, “Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” (Matthew 18:18) They who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. For indeed what is it but all manner of heavenly authority which He has given them when He says, “Whose sins ye remit they are remitted, and whose sins ye retain they are retained?” (John 20:23) What authority could be greater than this? “The Father has committed all judgment to the Son?” (John 5:22) But I see it all put into the hands of these men by the Son.”🐙 Yes, by the way, the priest does indeed have the authority to withhold absolution, as one must have both sorrow for sin and the resolution not to sin again for the confession to be valid.🐻 The apostles and their successors, however, do not know the hearts of sinners as Christ did. How are they to know which sins to forgive and which sins to retain therefore unless people confess to them? “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” (James 5:16) Yes, this verse does not mention the absolution of sins, but I have just mentioned one that does.

Now notice one more passage:

On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.And when he saw their faith he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?”When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts?Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God.And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”🐷

Luke 5:17-26

Some would point out the pharisees words: “Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” However, that is what the pharisees thought. Consider our Lord’s reply: “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.” Yes, Jesus is God, but he does not refer directly to His divinity in this passage. Instead, our Lord refers to Himself as the “Son of Man”. I grant that He used that title many times in Scripture, but then He specifies even more that He has the authority “on earth to forgive sins.” As God, He had this power already, but as a man, does this not seem to say that he was given this authority by the Father on earth? Does not then he who wishes to confess his sins directly to God take the side of the pharisees rather than that of Christ?

But what about today after all the apostles have died? If Christ actually did give the authority to the apostles to forgive sins, would he not also give others who came after them the authority to forgive sins? For if only twelve people could forgive sins then it would be very busy work to forgive the sins of everyone and after they died, no one would be able anymore to have their sins forgiven, which would not make sense considering the importance of forgiveness of sins in the Christian life—far more important than healing of the sick and even casting out demons. But if people could also have their sins forgiven by confessing to God alone, why would our Lord have need to give the apostles the authority to forgive sins? I meant to argue for apostolic succession more in this post, but that argument would be far too in-depth and I did not wish to argue for two such doctrines, both Penance and apostolic succession, in one essay.

But why would God want us to confess our sins to a priest rather to Himself alone? It is good for our humility, for one thing. It is one thing to confess our sins to God alone in prayer. It is another to tell them to a priest whom we can actually see. Think about it. Which is more humbling? Besides, we are physical creatures. The words remind us that our sins are actually being taken away as the water of baptism reminds us that we are being washed away from sin.🐼

Bonum Certamen Certemus

I am the Catholic of Honor

***

🐷RSV

🐮St. Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition 3:4-5

🐝The Didache 4:19, 14:1

🐙St. John Chrysostom The Priesthood 3:5

🐻Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶1451

🦁Acts 1:17 RSV

🐯Acts 1:25 RSV

🦊Pope Clement I Letter to the Corinthians 42, 44

🐸St. Ignatius of Antioch Letter to the Ephesians 2, 6

🐼http://www.catholic365.com/article/10851/why-we-confess-our-sins-to-a-priest.html Accessed May 23, 2020