In light of all the revelations of horrific abuses and festering corruption within the Church, some of our friends harbor a question: how can any decent, independent-thinking person, in good conscience, associate themselves with this “organization?”
I cannot say my family has been spared the wounds an imperfect Church can inflict. We have seen, first hand, how its laity, as well as its clergy, can be cowardly, callous, clumsy, cruel and outright unchristian. And much, much worse for other families, as revealed by the “summer of shame” that came to break our hearts.
But, yes, I am staying. And no, I don’t mind if anyone asks why. It is a valid question, and I will gladly answer.
It has to do with the harsh reality of darkness.
“We live in a difficult age which, in many ways, hearkens back to the dark world into which Christ was born — a world where humanity is lost in a darkness which is often of its own making,” writes Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas. “This darkness is generated by the human heart which ignores God, is totally focused on the self, and has embraced sin as not only acceptable, but as the established norm.”
I stay in this Church for the same reason I don’t fly into a rage and smash all the light bulbs on the shelf at Home Depot when the filament in my reading lamp burns out. Or curse the sun itself for my inability to read in the dark.
If we spend any time at all with Holy Scripture, nothing should shock us. Hurt, maybe. But not shock.
And yet, I am.
2018 was that kind of year. The gates of hell at our backs, we are no longer blind to the demons before us.
My eyes burn, welling with tears. Either from smoke or sadness. I can’t tell which.
The fight or flight response kicks in. Good. I will need all the epinephrine I can get. I already know flying is no remedy for the sin that has caused this pain. So I am left with no other choice.
Fight like hell for what I love.
Not for the religious hypocrites who shine the outside of their cups, and inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
Not for scribes, who walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places and places of honor at banquets.
Not for the disciples who quarrel about which one of them is the greatest.
Not for the crowd eager to stone the woman caught in adultery while harboring its own secret sin.
Not for the disciples who abandon their teacher when His sayings are too difficult.
Not for the disciples who try to keep the children away from Him.
Not for the disciples who doubt His concern for their welfare because He is asleep in the boat while the storm rages.
Not for Martha who complains that she is doing all the work while her sister Mary slacks off and sits at His feet.
Not for Judas who betrays Him.
Not for the three apostles who fall asleep when He is in agony and asks for an hour of their prayers and vigilance.
Not for Peter who denies Him in order to save his own hide.
Not for Pontius Pilate who recognizes His innocence but offers Him up to death for political gains.
Not for the angry mob who demands His death so a subversive criminal can go free.
Not for ninety-two percent of his closest friends who run scared and abandon Him during His torturous death.
Not for any human that has come before me in history, or any human in the pew next to me on Sundays, as much as I long to love and be loved.
Not for anyone dressed in chasubles at the altar, even the ones I respect, trust and admire and call my friends.
And certainly not because I am expecting any kind of eradication of the sins, crimes, flaws, greed, lust and hubris of humanity — either inside or outside the Church.
More than two thousand years have passed since Jesus was born into the dark world. Still no utopia here. There is only the duty to fix whatever is in our power to fix, coupled with the hope of helping as many people as possible get to Heaven someday.
In the meantime, I try not to let anything erode my allegiance to the One who died to get us there. Not only because of the huge price He paid so he could have us there with Him. But because I have already had a taste of the alternative, and frankly, I don’t like it very much.
“The helpful voice of history reminds us that many generations have had to rise to the challenges of their day and have done so with heroic virtue,” Bishop Strickland writes. “Christ is our hope, and with Him in our hearts, no one can prevail against us.”
As far as I can see, there is only one way out of this darkness. And it is not by abandoning the Light.
Copyright 2018 Sherry Boas