Moral/Sexual Issues

Was Jesus Nice?

by Steve Ray on October 15, 2014

I'm OK, you're OK. Be yourself! Gotcha covered buddy!

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me. “That was not very Christ-like.” This response usually comes after being honest to the point of making someone upset.  The implication is that Jesus was a cuddly little nice guy who was always smiling, always accepting with kind words – in short NICE.

In America we tend to be pretty nice, except maybe if you live in New York City. But in contrast to the rest of the world we tend to be very polite, genteel, gracious and nice. Tour guides in other countries say that Americans are the nicest people. We transpose our niceness onto Jesus and think he was a lot like us.

But does LOVE = NICE?

Of course Jesus was loving. He is God after all and God is love (1 John 4:8). We also know that love does not always equate to NICE. God allowed Paul to have a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble (2 Cor 12:7). Three times Paul prayed for it to be removed. God said NO.  God was not acting very American. He certainly wasn’t very nice about it.

Nice is defined primarily as “pleasant or commendable, kind or friendly” (Collins English Dictionary). It originally comes from the Latin meaning “simple, silly or ignorant.”

"He's not a tame lion, afterall" Quote from Narnia series

There is such a thing as “tough love.” It is the kind of love that cares enough to be honest, to confront, to discipline, to cause temporary pain to bring about eternal glory.  On the surface “tough love” does not always appear to be nice. How often has a child, sent to the corner blurt out “You are not very nice!”

Was Jesus nice?

Like Aslan the Lion in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, Jesus is approachable and loving, but don’t ever consider him “tame” or too cuddly. Jesus is God as well as man. He expressed the wrath and anger of God as well as the mercy and love of God.

Imagine coming to the Temple in Jerusalem one day to pray. You hear a great commotion and run over to see an angry man throwing over tables, grabbing the money from the merchants and throwing the money on the ground.

Whipping the money changers and dumping over their tables

But worse, you see him make a scourge of cords – a whip – and striking people with it. You are shocked that anyone would be so rude and destructive, so inconsiderate and mean to lash people with a whip. People ran in fear! Everyone was upset. Jesus was red in the face and scowling.  It certainly wasn’t very “Christ-like.” How nice was that?

Jesus was always loving, but he was not always nice, as we Americans count niceness. Here is just one example. Jesus spoke very harshly to his fellow Jews.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. . . .  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:27,  28, 33).

Ouch! Doesn’t sound very kind and courteous: not very thoughtful or nice!

So, maybe there is more to WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) than we’ve been led to believe. Maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about being nice, being liked, acting like  genteel Americans. Maybe we ought to be more honest and forthright about the things that really matter.  Maybe we should be more willing to hurt some feelings, step on some toes, show tough love to those in sin.

Maybe we should be more Christ-like.

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(From Franciscan University of Steubenville)

After serving 25 years in state and federal prisons, Utah polygamist Addam Swapp was released from parole supervision last week. Incarcerated since 1988—at a time when marriage was defined as a union between one man and one woman—Swapp returns to a country that is now abandoning that definition.    

Convicted of orchestrating the 1988 bombing of the meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Marion, Utah, and implicated in the shooting death of Utah Department of Corrections Lt. Fred House, Swapp claimed that he was acting on a revelation from God to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the Church leaders had abandoned their commitment to polygamy.

Using dynamite to blow up the LDS building, Swapp believed his actions would lead to the “resurrection” of his father-in-law, John Singer, a Utah polygamist, who was killed by local law enforcement officers in 1979 when he pointed a loaded weapon at the officers as they entered his property to serve him with a contempt of court citation at his ranch in Marion, Utah. Singer, described by the Salt Lake City News Tribune as a “fundamentalist Mormon,” had been “embroiled in a years-long feud with local officials that began when he and his first wife, Vickie, decided to homeschool their children.”

During the years following Singer’s death, Swapp lived a polygamous lifestyle, having married two of Singer’s daughters.  He began to believe that Singer would be resurrected if he destroyed the LDS Church. After the bombing, which occurred on the ninth anniversary of Singer’s death, Swapp fled to the Singer ranch with 14 members of his extended family and began a 13-day standoff that ended violently with the death of Lt. Fred House. While he did not personally kill Lt. House—who was shot by Swapp’s brother-in-law, John Timothy Singer—Swapp was held responsible because he had created the conditions for the standoff. 

The US government’s opposition to polygamy within Mormonism (which officially rejected polygamy in 1890) was based on the government’s definition of marriage at the time—a union of one man and one woman. Both Swapp and Singer lived as polygamists with the memory of more than a century of opposition to their lifestyle (and that of their ancestors) from the government. Now that the government is sanctioning what it calls “same-sex marriage,” it will permit marriage between same-sex couples on the basis of a legislative negation of the previous definition. This is the same definition that has been used for more than a century to oppose polygamy.

For the whole article, read here: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/3362/utah_polygamist_returns_to_a_world_without_a_definition_of_marriage.aspx

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Cohabitation, Canonical Form and Marriage

by Steve Ray on September 12, 2014

Cohabitation and canonical form

by Dr. Edward Peters

The latest tizzy is over Pope Francis’ plans to preside at the weddings of several Roman couples, including some couples who have been cohabiting for lengthy periods. There are two perspectives from which to look at this news, one canonical, one pastoral.

Canonically, this is a non-issue. No divine, natural, or canon law impedes a wedding between cohabiting persons (cc. 1083-1094) and therefore the fundamental right of the faithful to the sacraments in general (cc. 213, 843) and to marriage particular (c. 1058) should prevail in such cases. Unquestionably, these couples can, and must be allowed to, wed.

Pastorally, however, this might be a bigger deal.

Many parishes and dioceses have developed practices (even formal policies) against offering weddings to cohabiting couples. While, as one should conclude from the above, such approaches have always rested on canonically thin ice (cc. 838, 843), they seemed, in some cases at least, to have been pastorally successful in getting couples to realize that marriage (as opposed to concubinage or even just regular pre-marital sex) is a momentous step to be undertaken by those with more than a passing awareness of what it means. Whether the pope’s action will likely make it more difficult for priests and bishops to persuade cohabiting couples to approach their wedding as a life (including life-style) changing event remains to be seen.

Of course, if canonical form were not required for the validity of Catholic weddings (cc. 1059, 1108), then cohabiting Catholic couples could be invited to enter marriage—presumptively valid, sacramental, indissoluble marriage—by any public act, whereupon the Church would simply record that fact and recognize, as she should, such couples as married; meanwhile, those couples desiring a “church wedding” could be expected to demonstrate a higher level of commitment to preparing for that wedding appropriately. A no-cohabiting prerequisite could easily be made part of such preparation and no one’s rights to the sacraments or to marriage would be impinged thereby.

If canonical form were not required for validity.

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  My good friend Fr. Kauth from Charlotte NC is embroiled in a huge fracas because of teaching JPII’s Theology of the Body in a Catholic High School. He is the chaplain at the high school. He invited a Dominican Sister to give a speech. She has a doctorate in theology. In the course of [...]

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