I remember Christmas Eve 1976. Why? Because there are photos of me trying to put together a toy motorcycle for our first child. I guess I didn’t pay (sufficient) attention to the assembly instructions because the front wheel somehow ended up on top of the handlebars! I also remember taking trips when I didn’t pay (sufficient) attention to the driving directions. I either got hopelessly lost or ended up at a completely different destination. Some of us have to learn the hard way that instructions, directions, rules and laws are there for a reason. This is all the more the case when it comes to God’s word in Sacred Scripture. It is a gift to teach us the truths of what to believe and how to live. We ignore it at our own peril.
Some time ago, I received in prayer what I took to be a prophetic word. I felt it was a challenging word for all believers but especially for church leaders. Unfortunately, there are some in leadership positions who have made public statements that certainly seem to challenge, contradict, or call into question the clear teaching of the word of God, especially regarding sexual morality. Here is the word I received:
I have this against you, says the Lord: You do not take my Word seriously. You ignore my Word, distort my Word, change my Word, reject my Word, re-interpret my Word to suit your own thoughts and pleasure. Why do you not receive my Word, rejoice in my Word, reverence my Word and obey my Word, says the Lord!
I have this against you: You presume to sit in judgment on my holy Word when you should instead bow humbly before the mystery of my holy Word.
Why are you no different from the serpent, who questioned my Word, lied about my Word, and opposed my Word? Answer me. Why are you no different from all those others down through the ages who have refused to humble themselves before my Word? Answer me.
“Do you love me?”, says the Lord. Then accept my Word. “Do you love me?”, says the Lord. Then reverence my Word. “Do you love me?”, says the Lord. Then obey my Word.
My Word to you is no joke. My Word to you is no silly, trifling thing. My Word to you is nothing futile, nor in vain. But my Word to you is precious, says the Lord. My Word to you costs dearly. For in giving you my Word, I give you myself, says the Lord. As you treat my Word, so you treat me. As you deal with my Word, so you deal with me. As you receive my Word, so you receive me, says the Lord.
THE WORD OF GOD AND TRUTH
Needless to say, there is a strong connection between the word of God and truth. Jesus prayed to the Father at the Last Supper: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
When the devil tempted Eve, he started with questioning God’s word: “Did God really say that?” (Genesis 3:1). The devil’s purpose is to undermine faith and confidence in God’s word. Likewise today there is an attack on the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture, which says of itself, “All scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The teaching of Vatican II reiterates this, stating that “the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted to be put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation” (Divine Revelation, 11). Ignore at your own peril!
THE TRUTH ABOUT MARRIAGE AND SEXUALITY
The truth about sexual identity is clearly revealed in Scripture: “Male and female God created them” (Genesis 1:27). “Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is clear from the word of God that so-called “transgenderism” and “gay marriage” are absolutely contradicted and forbidden in God’s plan.
The truth about marriage is clearly revealed in Scripture. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). The Church has always taught that a valid marriage is indissoluble and has set up appropriate tribunals to make judgments about questions of validity.
The truth about adultery, fornication and sex outside of a valid marriage is clearly revealed in Scripture in at least ten separate passages, frequently saying that “fornicators and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God.” It is surprising and alarming that, given the clear and strong words of Scripture, there is such a high prevalence of sex outside of marriage.
The truth about homosexual activity is clearly revealed in Scripture. The Catholic Catechism states, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, (Gen. 19:1-29; Lev. 18:22; Lev 20: 13; Rom. 1:24-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1-10), the Church has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’” (2357). Once again, the word of God rings loud and clear for those who have ears to hear!
This is all about sin – what about God’s mercy? Thank God for His mercy! “God wills all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). God’s mercy is available to all who repent. But recognizing sin as sin and repenting of it is the key to receiving God’s mercy. God’s mercy is not at odds with the truth of Scripture. Mercy without truth is not true mercy!
There is a verse that often comes to my mind when I see how the word of God is roundly ignored and ridiculed in our day. It is Galatians 6:7: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” It is indeed perilous to mock God and God’s word!
NOT KNOWING THE SCRIPTURES NOR THE POWER OF GOD
The Gospel of Matthew relates an interesting encounter between Jesus and the Sadducees, a priestly class who denied the resurrection of the dead. In answering their question about a woman who had been married seven times, Jesus made this striking statement: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). It seems to me that Jesus might say the same thing in our day to some in the priestly class who are blatantly advancing opinions which clearly deviate from the word of God: “You are indeed greatly mistaken because you are ignorant of the Scriptures, either by intention or neglect, as well as the power of God – both of which you ignore at your great peril!”