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A Good Start

  • November 29, -0001
Remember that old joke about 500 lawyers at the bottom of the sea? It came to mind yesterday when it was reported that Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin had instructed Patrick Kennedy to cease from taking the Lord's Supper because of his position on abortion. The Catholic Church has been clear and unwavering in its opposition to abortion, and for the Church to take such a stand - no matter who the disciplined person - is simply to be consistent with its own convictions.

Church discipline as a tool to encourage holy living has long been in relative disuse among evangelical churches. These days a kind of "live and let live" - really, "sin and let sin" - attitude has taken hold, in which church leaders acknowledge that we're all sinners and don't really have any right to judge one another. Let's just hope for the best and keep it low profile.

But in fact Christian do have a responsibility to judge one another, as Jesus plainly teaches, and to use the standards of His holy and righteous and good law to encourage one another along the path of holiness. When we refuse to do this we simply encourage sin to take root within the community of faith, which it does, and has, with disastrous results.

Mr. Kennedy's supporters tried the spurious approach of saying that Mr. Kennedy is a "good Catholic" and doesn't allow his religious views to mix with his political responsibilities. Which is just another way of saying, as Bishop Tobin sees it (rightly), that Mr. Kennedy is not a good Catholic at all. The faith of Jesus Christ pervades every aspect of a believer's life, and every believer is accountable in every area of life to pursue holiness in the fear of God. You can't set the Lord aside for political - or relational, vocational, avocational, or any other sort of - reasons.

Thanks to Bishop Tobin for consistent practice of his pastoral duties. May his tribe increase.

T. M. Moore

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