Sunday, October 7, 2018

Holding Fast And Living In Accordance With Truth

Pentecost 20B2018
Holding Fast And Living In Accordance With Truth
Fr. Dale Matson

My homily is based primarily on our Old Testament Lesson from Genesis and a portion of Pope Benedict’s final message.

Genesis 2:18,21-24 English Standard Version (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
         In this passage we have God creating the first woman Eve as a companion and wife for the first man Adam. This is the prototype binary concept of what it means to be a female or male human created by and related to God and to each other. Our church doctrine is based on Scripture, Tradition and Reason. It is Christian truth and we believe it to be eternal truth revealed to us by God. Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” That same question was posed to Adam and Eve by the serpent. “Did God really say that?” and it is the same question asked by those both outside and inside the church today. St. Vincent stated that truth is that which is believed everywhere, always, and by all. By this a Christian can distinguish religious truth from error.
         The challenge to the church today is to hold fast to her truth and to live in accordance with this eternal and unchanging truth. If the church does not live in accord with her own beliefs, then she is like the man St. James refers to as “Double Minded” “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)   

The following is excerpted from “THE ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

“The attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being—of what being human really means—is being called into question. “Gender” is being put forth as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of; it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account, “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27), no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: It was not God who created them male and female—hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defense of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.” I could not have said this any better.
I would like to sum up what has been said to this point. God created a man and a woman, a male and female. They are not equal. They are complimentary. When joined together in marriage, they form the basic structure of the Church. “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there I will be also.” (Matthew 18:20) The mother, father and children are the basic family unit. What is being challenged today is our very understanding of what it means to be a human being. Like the first sin of Adam and Eve, people are deciding for themselves who they are and what they are. Job applications used to have two options for a response, male or female. Today, terms like “gender fluid” are replacing male and female and further confuse the issue. Dr. Jordon Peterson stated that there are ever expanding categories of gender identity with 31 gender protected categories in New York and 58 gender categories on Facebook.
 But as Pope Benedict has already stated, “According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God.”
Romans Chapter one basically states that God is self-evident to everyone and if you chose to reject God, God will give you over to a godless and depraved mind. If you reject God, you will reject truth and you will come up with thoughts and behaviors that will be self-serving, hedonistic and self-destructive. The more you sin, the further you will push yourself away from God, from truth and the more blind you will become. The more you think you are free of this God of rules, the more you will become enslaved to sin. Satan hates the truth, hates rules and is more than happy to suggest a way around the fence to the place where the grass is always greener. “Go ahead, eat from the tree in the midst of the garden. You’ll be like God.”  Life without God is the worst kind of drowning. You think you are living life on your terms but you are drowning spiritually even though you are still breathing. If you exchange the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25), you will become confused and confusion is a hellish uncertainty about life and who you are in life. Confusion is the devil’s veil over the certainty and comfort of truth.     
         Our diocese, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, left a church that decided that Scripture and Tradition were too limiting and confining, too old fashioned and off-putting. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) This would have been His answer to Pilate if Pilate had bothered to continue listening instead of immediately turning away after asking Jesus, “What is truth.” The fact is he did not want to know the truth. Jesus said, I am the way” and in 2008, the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Schori, said that Jesus was a way to God.
There is an old saying in real estate. When you want to sell a house, start by painting the front door. Many of the red doors of the Episcopal Church that represented the shed blood of Christ were repainted with more ‘welcoming’ colors. The other spirit and other gospel were leading the Episcopal Church in a new direction, an inclusive and innovative direction. The Episcopal Church decided on its own to ordain women priests, to consecrate as a bishop, a divorced man living in a sexual relationship with another man. They then decided that same sex couples could be married in church. They have decided for themselves what is good and what is evil. They exchanged truth for a lie.  
         The warning to us in the ACNA is that we need to hold fast to what we believe, but if we do not also live according to our doctrine, to what we believe, we will only become what we left behind. This would be no different than the Israelites fleeing captivity and the idols of Egypt to follow their God into the wilderness only to build a new idol, a golden calf to worship as soon as Moses was out of sight.
         The Roman Catholic Church is in great difficulty today, not because the church has changed her doctrine. She has held fast to her doctrine but her priests, bishops and cardinals are not living in accordance with their doctrine. Predator priests have not been chaste and celibate and bishops have covered up for them for decades. 300 priests were identified as sexually abusing 1,000 children in 6 dioceses over decades in Pennsylvania. A grand jury report this August stated that the bishops knew about it and covered it up.  
This is only the tip of the iceberg. According to NBC news, 13 states are opening investigations of alleged sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
What Pope Benedict warned the Roman Catholic Church about was the danger of allowing contemporary cultural values to overcome and overwhelm the doctrine and teaching of the church. The church and her people must believe the truth, hold fast to the truth and live according to this truth.
         I say to you today, especially you younger folks. How important to you is what we confess every Sunday? Is our Nicene Creed an eternal truth? How important was it for us to leave the Episcopal Church, A church that abandoned truth? How important is what we believe and teach and how we live? Are you ready for an increasingly godless society to persecute you?
         What is the upside in this? You know the truth. The pagans are desperate and desperately looking for a way out of their Egypt. Simply living as our Catechism states, “In a Christianly Manner”, you are a beacon of light to those drowning in a sea of uncertainty and sin. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 peter 3:15)

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