Moral/Sexual Issues

St. Paul Walks Passed the Brothal

by Steve Ray on November 4, 2015

Today we are touring Ephesus and I am showing the tour group my favorite  things in this ancient city. We filmed here for our Paul and Mary DVDs and have brought groups here on numerous occasions.

One of my favorite things to show people in Ephesus is the Billboard for the Brothel that is carved into a large stone on the main road. Every man getting off the ships in the harbor, would see this advertisement. Of course it is well worn with age after 2000 years, but it is still clear enough to “read.”

Men looked for these kind of ads when they arrived in a new city. Where are the prostitutes? Sure enough this billboard carved in the stone gave them directions. If you want the love (heart shape) of a pretty girl (image of pretty girl) turn left (left foot) at the next crossroad (T-shape). Sure enough, archaeologists found a two-story brothal up the road to the left. It was even connected by an underground tunnel to the library.

(If you want to visit Ephesus with me next March on our Footprints of St. Paul Cruise, click here for more info.)

Men have always been tempted by sinful lusts and passions. St. Paul and his fellowworkers had to resist the same ubiquitous temptations confronting men today. But I suspect things are a bit more subtle and insidious today. Men don’t have to step out of the door or risk the embarrassment of being seen going into a brothal in the heart of the city. Today they can watch porn in the privacy of their own home. This insidious and addicting sin can destroy a man, a marriage, a family and bring the soul down to hell.

Paul challenged the men in Corinth to avoid the prostitutes and sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:15-16). He said to flee immorality. We have joined ourselves to Christ; how can we then join ourselves to a prostitute. Strabo wrote that at night 1,000 prostitutes descended from the Temple of Aphrodite to entice the men in the city. It was wicked then; it is wicked today. Like Paul we have to pass by the brothal, the magazine rack, the internet porn. When men win this moral victory the angels in heaven rejoice. St. Paul, pray for us!


This morning  Janet and I are in Rome for a few days awaiting our pilgrimage group as we embark across Italy and then by ship voyaging around Greece and Turkey to follow the footprints of St. Paul and the Early Church.

This morning, from the rooftop of our rented apartment as we eat breakfast, we’re looking out over the Vatican (see St. Peter’s dome over my head) and we can imagine the rushing wind and the flutter of wings as the Holy Spirit is busy at work – as the Synod on the Family takes place below. 

I can imagine the dust cloud as ideas and controversy and theology swirl about. Many of the Prelates from Africa and other conservative areas of the world are wondering why the West is so fixated on irregular marriages and homosexuality. And those in countries where these issues abound the question is, “What do we do?”

More than one Archbishop has asked if Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, not to mention St. John the Baptist, were wrong in their assessment of a irregular marriages. Others ask if the German Bishops think they know better than Jesus Christ.

As we sit sipping our espressos we pray for our Church, realizing it’s not really ours but Jesus Christ’s and He is the one building and protecting it. He’s done a good job for 2,000 years and we decided to trust him for the next 2,000 years :-)

So we pray for God’s wisdom and the superintendence of the Holy Spirit as we sit here looking out over the place where the Holy Spirit is certainly busy doing what he does best. We feel an anxious calm.

We pray for our leaders, the bishops and the Pope, that they will make decisions in compliance with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and toward the salvation of souls and the integrity of our one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. 

UPDATE AT LUNCHTIME:  Here is what we saw as we walked out later in the day for lunch. The Synod must have let the bishops all out for lunch. Bishops and Cardinals everywhere. I saw five in a matter of two minutes! God bless them and their decisions.


Conscience and Communion and Marital Issues

by Steve Ray on October 21, 2015

STEVE RAY HERE: After the excerpts from an interview with Archbishop Cupich there has been a lot of discussion raging around the issue of conscience and divorce and remarriage and gay marriage.

There’s a fear that everyone knows the laws of the Church cannot be changed but they can possibly change the way the laws are applied by making conscience override the word of God.

This article by Jimmy Akin addresses a lot of these issues and it was so excellent I thought I would post it here.

There is a good bit of conversation about how conscience may play a role in the question of whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Holy Communion.

For example, Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich discussed the subject at a press briefing in Rome during the synod of bishops.

What the archbishop said or was trying to say is not entirely clear to me from the quotations I’ve seen in the press, and I do not wish to speculate based on incomplete press accounts.

I have, however, received a number of queries about the role of conscience in this area, and a brief look at the question may be in order.

1) Acknowledging past abuses

Some people immediately become suspicious whenever the word “conscience” is brought up in connection with controversial moral subjects.

That’s understandable. The concept has been much abused.
After Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae there was a huge push to justify dissent from the Church’s teaching on contraception using conscience as a guise.

Dissidents were turning Jiminy Cricket’s slogan “Always let your conscience be your guide” into “Always let conscience be your guise.”

This is one of the reasons why the word “conscience” appears more than a hundred times in John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor and why the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a lengthy section specially devoted to conscience.

The concept has been profoundly abused.

And it’s no surprise that many become suspicious whenever conscience comes up in a moral controversy.

On the other hand, not every invocation of conscience is contrary to Church teaching. So what does the Church teach?

2) The primacy of conscience

It is often stressed that one must obey one’s conscience. This can be a tactical dodge to justify rejection of Church teaching, but it is not necessarily so.

The Church agrees that one must obey one’s conscience. The Catechism states:

A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself [CCC 1790].

In other words, it is a sin to defy a certain judgment of your conscience. If you are certain that you must not do something and you do it anyway, you are sinning by violating your conscience. You are similarly sinning if you are certain that you must do something and you refuse to do it.

Notice that this applies when you are certain. If you are uncertain, the situation can be different.

Even when you are certain, that doesn’t mean that the judgment of your conscience is right. The Catechism continues:

Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

What happens when a person’s conscience is wrong? Does that mean he’s off scot-free?


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If Divorce and Remarriage are OK …

October 20, 2015

  If divorce and remarriage becomes acceptable (or gay marriage) then did St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher die for nothing? Was John the Baptist beheaded for nothing? King Henry VIII was right after all? Reas excellent article by Archbishop Samuel Aquila

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A New Creed for the Modern World

September 21, 2015

Everyone knows the ancient Christian creeds are outdated and passé. It is time we have a new creed that fits everyone in our brave new modern world.  We believe that God is in all of us; He has been created in our image We believe that each one must find the truth that is right [...]

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Debating Doctor-assisted Suicide

September 18, 2015

Here is a great article and list of resources provided by Jimmy Akin on his blog:     After having failed to get a doctor-assisted suicide bill passed earlier this year though the normal legislative process, the California legislators who are in the pocket of the assisted-suicide lobby recently rammed one through in a surprise [...]

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Pope Francis on the Divorced and Remarried: 10 things to know and share

August 6, 2015

By Jimmy Akin Pope Francis recently gave a general audience in which he discussed the situation of those who have divorced and remarried without an annulment. His remarks are particularly significant in light of the upcoming Synod on the Family and the proposals to give Holy Communion to those in this situation. They also attracted [...]

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Expect More of this: “Religious Beliefs belong in your House of Worship or your own Home!”

August 3, 2015

While flying home from Europe two days ago I was reading the USA Today newspaper. There was a section on the new policy of the Boy Scouts to allow openly gay leaders and employees.  One of the comments (see to right) demonstrates two things I have been predicting for a long time. First, we Christians [...]

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July 7, 2015

   The day after the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land, J. Patrick Hornbeck II married Patrick Anthony Bergquist at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan. This would hardly be newsworthy, except for the fact that Hornbeck is the Chairman of the Theology Department at Fordham University, a Catholic university [...]

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Was Jesus Nice?

July 5, 2015

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 [...]

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Are Gays Born that Way?Most Americans now say yes, but Science says No

June 30, 2015

My Earlier article: Homosexuality in Genes and in Animals? PRINCETON, NJ, May 20, 2015 ( — For the first time, a majority of Americans say that homosexuals are “born that way. According to the latest Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans say that people are born gay or lesbian, while only 30 percent say outside factors [...]

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Supreme Court just Legalized Same-Sex “Marriage”

June 26, 2015

Oh boy! Here we go again. The battles are mounting and we Christians are becoming the despised sub-culture.  This ruling is the second blast of a double-barreled shotgun, the first being legalized murder through abortion. With these two rulings which destroy the family and the high view of marriage, sexuality and human dignity we are [...]

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Superpowers Rise and Fall: Where Is America on the Rise and Fall Spectrum?

May 27, 2015

By Susan Wills: George Santayana’s famous statement — “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — would be a great subtitle for a little known essay called “The Fate of Empires” (1976) by the little known British general and historian Sir John Bagot Glubb. He explains that we generally fail to learn vital lessons [...]

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Homosexuality in Genes and in Animals?

May 14, 2015

A while ago I had a heated discussion about homosexuality with some good liberal friends. They contend that 1) homosexuality is seen among animals (still to be proved and if it is it is only in unnatural situations; more in my response) and, 2) since God “made people homosexual” it is natural, normal and must [...]

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Stop Eating Animals! It is Against the Plan of God!

May 12, 2015


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Excellent Response to “gay marriage” Challenge

May 2, 2015

Excellent response to “gay marriage” challenge. 

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