Rediscovering Death

One of the most striking situations I have faced as an oncologist pertains to a man who had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. His disease had spread all over his body, and especially on the liver. The only way to treat him was with chemo, but we were unable to do so on account of liver failure. In short, this man didn’t have much time to live and there was nothing we could do about it.

After I explained to him the situation, he just glanced and me, his face overcome by sorrow, and he said:

“Oh, doc… I just got my retirement last month. I have been working hard all my life, sacrificing myself to get a comfortable retirement… I thought this was when I was gonna start living for real. And now this.”

In two weeks he was gone. He never got to enjoy the retirement he strived so much for.

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This real story encapsulates an important life lesson. I must take solace in the thought that his tragic death was not in vain if we get a chance to learn something from it. For you see, this man embodies a very important mistake in our modern days: he lived as if he was not going to die.

In the last five centuries, Man has undergone an unprecedented evolution in the fields of science and technology. This evolution has, in fact, been exponential in growth, so that last century’s advancements dwarf the ones from the four centuries before… and the developments just from last year are too many to list appropriately.

We are now able to talk in real time with a person from the antipodes. We were able to put a man on the Moon. And the developments in the fields of medicine conquered many of the diseases that shortened Mankind’s lifespan.

But there is one thing we haven’t conquered still (and, because of the unforgivable laws of entropy, we may never conquer): Death.

Sooner or later, irrespective of all of our evolution, death will come to us all.

In this sense, death can only be viewed by Modern-day Man as a failure. The frontier he hasn’t conquered and knows not how to. Unconsciously, Modern-day Man “forgets” about death, and concentrates on his impressive achievements, making them permeate all aspects of his life. In short, he lives as if he were not going to die.

There are many symptoms of this. For example, we don’t bring our children to funerals, with the excuse of not “traumatizing” them. In fact, many adults feel “traumatized” with the simple thought as well, and will not enter a place where someone is almost dying. We also rush to buy new pets for our children whenever the previous one dies, so as to make them forget about the deceased one as soon as possible. We watch deaths every day in movies and television, just to see the protagonists “unexpectedly” being brought back to life after the final credits or in the next episode (and even if their deaths are permanent on screen, they are alive as real actors, so it’s all fun and games.)

 

But the most glaring examples come from the field of medicine (since it was medicine that was able to extend life expectancy so much.)

We “medicalized” death… most people don’t die at home anymore but in the hospital. Even when a person is moribund, their relatives just usher him to the doctor, as if he could be sustained a little while longer. The signs of death are not recognizable anymore since it is treated just like any other disease: “rush him to the hospital.”

This is not entirely people’s fault. They no longer have contact with death, so they don’t know how to recognize it. Much of the fault lies with the medical personnel too. Doctors have also been influenced by the modern mindset according to which death is a failure. A failure on their part. As doctors, they have tools at their disposal making them able to produce results which could only be regarded as miraculous by people in the distant past.

This leads to dysthanasia (not to be confused with euthanasia), also known as therapeutic obstination. Even though it seems to stand opposite to euthanasia, it is important to note that dysthanasia is considered by the vast majority of medical bioethical organizations and most religions (including Christians) as a grave bioethical error.

What is dysthanasia? Unduly extending life beyond its limits, instead of accepting the hard fact that that particular person’s time has come. This error usually comes at the expense of a significant break in the person’s quality of life. It is wrong, since it pushes off the boundaries of human activity into God territory: we can’t avert death indefinitely and it’s wrong to increase suffering by not accepting our finiteness on this issue.

Unfortunately, many pro-life activists, in their righteous fight against the evil of euthanasia, have unwillingly embraced this error. Clinging to mediatic cases, they advocate for invasive treatments and diagnostic measures to moribund patients with irreversible conditions, confusing a sober acceptance of one’s own death as letting someone die who might otherwise live (i.e. passive euthanasia.) I truly believe that a proper activism mandates that pro-life people are sufficiently familiar with bioethics to actually fight against the thing they claim to be fighting. Only by knowing one’s enemy will one be effective, instead of railing against windmills, squandering credibility in the process.

If pro-life activists do not learn to avoid the pitfall of dysthanasia, they will multiply the number of cases of inappropriate suffering, that will certainly be used as arguments by the pro-euthanasia folks.

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However, I also believe that the most notorious symptom of this modern discomfort with death comes, paradoxically, from the pro-euthanasia field. How can this be, if they are asking for death to come more swiftly?

It is true that many people who request the right to end their own lives really want to avoid suffering, not death. However, as I noted in my previous article, this doesn’t seem to explain everything. My experience is that all my patients who consistently asked for euthanasia (and not just temporarily venting during an acute symptomatic peak that subsided after adequate medication) did not suffer major discomfort from their disease until the day they died. I remind you, this experience of mine is anecdotal, but I can’t simply eschew my observations as if I didn’t testify to them and shouldn’t learn from them…

If those patients were not suffering from pain or other symptoms, why were they so bent in asking for euthanasia? Well, they were suffering indeed, but not in a biological way. Rather in an existential way. These were usually well-educated people, who excelled in their field of work or in their hobbies. In short, extremely active folks. Suddenly, the rug had been swept beneath their feet. They were told they had weeks or months to live. All their plans immediately turned to dust.

Those who lived their lives as if they would never die abruptly found themselves in a situation where death haunted the rest of their suddenly short lives. They who never prepared for death, for they never thought about it, saw death forcing its way through and permeating everything they did. Most importantly, they who always thought their lives were in their own hands, in the power of their own merits and knowledge and achievements, saw their lives suddenly under the rule of a new master: the Grim Reaper.

In a desperate way to regain control of their own lives, they ask for euthanasia. If death has to come, it must come out of my own choice. When I ask for it. On my own terms. This is a tragic illusion… they are not gaining control, for they still cannot avoid death, they cannot add one single minute to their own lives besides what death has stipulated. What they are doing is claiming an undue mastery over their own lives, opening a Pandora box in the process: the societal notion that it is acceptable (and even merciful) to end the lives of our sick people, as if they were not worth living. The illusion may be comforting, but its ramifications throughout the whole fabric of society are very real indeed.

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People who lived before our day had a more healthy relationship with death. Being more in synch with nature, they saw death as an intrinsic stage of one’s own life, just like birth or marriage. They testified from tender age how the animals in the fields died, sometimes soon after birth.

Without cures available to most ailments, most of medicine was palliative in scope. It was as important to heal as it was to comfort. In fact, many early hospitals, created out of the charity of religious orders, focused precisely on that: comforting the sick and the moribund. In light of this, a person with a terminal illness who got to die comfortably, surrounded by his loved ones, at peace with his own story, was a success rather than a failure.

Most importantly, religions tempered Man’s hubris by constantly confronting him with his finiteness. Memento mori, quia pulvis est et in pulverem reverteris (“Remember that thou are dust and to dust thou shalt return”) was a part of the liturgy, namely on Ash Wednesday before Lent. Chapels were built in Italy, Portugal and the Czech Republic, using the bones of deceased people, so as to remind those who entered such sanctuaries of their own mortality. And many paintings featured the Danse Macabre, where any living person would become a skeleton and dance to Death’s song, irrespectively of sex, age, wealth or social status (death was the great equalizer, reducing both king, priest and peasant to the same condition.)

Ultimately, death was made present by the fact that Christian religion taught us that we ultimately live for a life beyond death. Every reality from this world is ephemeral and will soon come to pass. The wealth we earned will not follow us to the coffin, old age will eventually wrinkle all our efforts to perpetuate our beauty, fame and honor will soon give way to oblivion. All of this is vanity, so says Kohelet. But the most important things, on the other hand, are eternal, and can only be experienced in full after the soul has come through the ordeal of death.

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Modern-day Man may counter by saying that such an emphasis on death is too morbid and not as healthy as I make it out to be. Besides, too great a focus on the afterlife may hinder the solving of actual problems in *this* life. There are some merits to these counter-arguments, but still, we can’t say that it is also healthy to live our lives in a complete alienation of one of our most inescapable and intrinsic realities: that we will die someday.

So maybe a balance between those two extremes may be found.

On my end, I think that humility would solve a lot of problems. Yes, Man has come a long way and found a lot of solutions to many problems. Man’s technology has evolved in impressive ways. Man has developed medicines to many ailments… and he continues to do so as we speak.

However, we should not see this with pride and boastfulness, but with gratitude and awe. We should be impressed by the strides made by a species such as ours, so ill-adapted to its natural surroundings (a man is probably less prone to survive in a jungle than a lion), inhabiting a small planet in an inconspicuous corner in the vastness of the universe. Still, those strides should not make us lose sight of our true dimension in the grand scheme of things.

In that grand scheme of things, Man will eventually die. It is a natural part of his life cycle. In the same way, as we should view our remarkable evolution, we should contemplate our lives with gratitude and awe. Every single day is a gift. And this is only highlighted by the fact that our lives are finite. We will not last forever. We can’t eternally forestall what needs to be done. There is a sense of urgency that makes living all the more important.

This day may be our last. So we need to live it to the fullest. Not squander it in vain, shallow and ephemeral activities, but actually use it wisely, like a good administrator of finite resources.

In this sense, death conveys meaning to life. If we forget about the existence of death, we may risk losing track of what’s truly important. We may risk existing instead of living every day.

Modern-day Man thinks he is omnipotent. And yet, death triumphs over Man every single day. It is something that Modern-day Man can never manipulate, something that goes forever beyond his reach, beyond his scope, beyond his power. In this sense, death also serves an important purpose: to temper Man’s pride, lest he forgets about his own limits.

Don’t get me wrong. Death is a harsh, cruel and horrible reality. I do not mean to sugarcoat it, by all means. But we need to live our lives through the lens of the inexorable reality of death. We can’t escape it. We can’t ward it off forever. This is the reality. It is not a failure, it is part of life. We need to accept it and better incorporate it into our life philosophy. Not by making it haunt us, but by making us re-center our priorities.

As my Palliative Care teacher always said: “We die the same way we live. So don’t wait for death to come to start to learn how to die. It is too late by then.”

Pedro Gabriel,
Oncologist
Blogger @ https://wherepeteris.com

Darkness dwell inside us all

Troubled times are those we live in when small things take so much importance in our lives. The crave for possessions, the yearning of being famous, all sorts of things that consume our humanity come from within just keep their breath on.

It’s a fact, darkness dwells inside of us all. The natural tendency to fall into sin lead us to do unspeakable things. In fact, that natural tendency has been minimized by philosophers and liberal theologians, alleging that moral relativism asserts that what is evil to some, might not be to others. Atheists consider it a part of animal behavior that mankind possesses. It is a small shard in the heart of sound doctrine, that creates a blooming infection of the whole system.

As Boromir from The Lord of the Rings said: “It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing… such a little thing“. Sin starts with a little thing. A pitiful lie, a small angry root, a glimpse of sexual lust for what is not ours… So many little things, so small, so feeble before the might of mankind and Christianity. Yet, so capable of getting all together and become master and dominance in our lives.

So this darkness, this Cthulhu awakening, the Kraken of the post-modern days comes not from fairy tales or folklore, but from our inside. All of us fell short before God and deserve to die on the cross for our continuous sinning (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We are not to be punished by Adam’s fault, but we have inherited the consequences of that in our DNA and the cosmos suffers from that error as well. Where once was undoubted unity, sin came crashing in and turn that into a forceful separation. A rupture that needed a rapture operated by Christ on the Golgotha.

With the fall of Adam, both humanity and the entire cosmos were affected. Illness, therefore, is not the root problem, but only a symptom. The far more significant consequence of the fall was the rupture of the communion between God and humanity, between humans among themselves, and between humanity and the rest of creation. For Christians, sickness and death are not the real problems: rather, it is alienation from God, and the resulting spiritual death, which are the real tragedy.” (Paul Meyendorff, THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK, p 84)

As put by the Orthodox theologian, Fr. Ted Bobosh:

The fall did not simply lead man into a biological form of life. It encompassed the whole of his psychosomatic being which, once turned from its intended state, submitted itself to instincts that led to the realm of the passions. Carnal pleasure for the body is equivalent to avarice for the spirit, all of which leads a person to be disconnected and lacking in harmony; it shatters his original unity.

So, what to do? Repent and submit. There is no other way around. To repent is to recognize the fault state we are in, showing a convict desire for change, like the Apostle Peter spoke in Acts 2:38. That leads us to a full confrontation with God’s grace and glory, that makes feel like Job (Job 42:6) or Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5). Once there, the light of the Sun of Righteousness shines on us, removing all darkness from within (Malachi 4:2), doing that by His own merits and unpaid favor based in His love towards us (Ephesians 2:8,9).

The darkness simply vanishes, hence comes light. So we are then called to be like the Apostle Paul (1st Corinthians 11:1), imitator of Christ, the Light of men (John 1:4). Dissipating darkness makes it go away from us, but the threatening shadows still try to entangle us all. In his work “Praying Always”, the Dutch theologian Frans Bakker makes us acquainted with this feeling:

“The Lord sometimes causes the consequences of sin to remain, even though forgiveness has been granted. Thus he keeps his people humble. A bitter aftertaste is left so that a sinful past will not be forgotten.” (Praying Always, Banner of Truth 1984, p.92)

Nevertheless, even the bitter aftertaste can be tasted through the might and power of Jesus. When we endure this kind of fights, we must remember that temptation knocks on our door, just like it did with Cain. Darkness still wants out of the abyss and like Nietzsche proclaimed: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you“. Our fight is a life lasting fight against what rots us from the core, our most and deepest lying hurting secrets, our own tainted will. Because sin even defeated at the Cross, still manages to come and plot against us, to deviate us from the Way.

Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror“, wrote J.R.R. Tolkien, so it is darkness on the contrary. Our hearts may desire goodness, but instead, commit a fault for darkness dwells around us. The Orthodox priest Michel Quenot once taught that: “Man was not created for death and finality, but for immortality and eternity“. In eternity, no darkness shall prevail. In life, no darkness can abide where the Light of the World, the highest beacon of hope and love stands His ground: inside the heart of men.

Dignity

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Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

During a recent (and fortunately failed) campaign to legalize euthanasia in Portugal, I heard an argument which is usually waged on these sorts of debates by those favorable to euthanasia: “We just want people to be able to die with dignity”.

This is an understandable response to watching people (sometimes close family members or acquaintances) undergoing suffering on their last days of life. But as much as I can understand and even empathize with such reaction, I also know it is emotionally-driven and it betrays some confusion regarding end-of-life decisions and practices. Unfortunately, for various reasons, many people don’t get the best end-of-life treatment they can get, because palliative care resources are not widespread in many countries and especially, because a palliative care mindset is not widespread among the general population and, more grievously, among the medical profession. I will address this on a later article.

But, for now, I would like to focus on the “dying with dignity” canard. Usually, this slogan is coupled with lots of repulsive imagery of dying sick people enduring all sorts of physical and psychological pains, with no possible relief, described in the most gruesome way possible in order to elicit a visceral reaction against it, so that people will say: “this person would be better off dead”.

As a doctor who deals with these kinds of experiences every day, I must say this is not close to the reality of facts, at least not on the vast majority of cases. On my end (and mind you, this is an anecdotal experience), most of the patients who were in such dire situations actually were the ones who clung more avidly to life and fought against death the most. And since euthanasia is all about personal autonomy, this means that they would never choose euthanasia… meaning euthanasia would not “solve” the suggestive imagery that pro-euthanasia folks would use to describe such cases.

In fact, all my patients who consistently and consciously asked me for euthanasia were people who weren’t experiencing physical pain from their illness at all… and who died without suffering major pain.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that the “die with dignity” problem is actually more deep than what a shallow Culture Wars approach might think. Pro-life people, fighting against euthanasia legislation, have focused too much on the “die” part of “die with dignity”, and less on the “dignity” part.

The problem is that our human perceptions have a warped idea of what “dignity” is. Our postmodern worldview (with all its utilitarian and hedonist thinking) exacerbates this problem, no doubt. But this warped perception of “dignity” is actually intrinsically connected to our humanity.

I have reached this conclusion by attending elderly patients who, comparing themselves to their younger selves, would complain: “But why am I still here now, doc? Wouldn’t I be better off dead?” They can’t work anymore, as they used to. They can’t do their pleasurable hobbies and activities, as they used to. They can’t perform, as they used to. They view themselves as burdens on their loved ones. And they think this is grounds for thinking themselves better off dead.

Mind you, these elderly people are usually extremely religious and would never, ever choose euthanasia. But still, they also share from this warped vision of dignity, since they think that old age, frailty, and impairment can somehow diminish their dignity.

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However, this thinking is wrong. It means that dignity is based on what you “do”, not on what you “are”. That dignity is somehow contingent on what you can contribute to society or to the family unit. This is utilitarianism pure and simple… and therefore wrong. People aren’t valued more the more useful they are.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, right at its beginning: “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world”. In other words, dignity is inherent to all members of the human family, without distinction… and the human rights that come with such dignity are inalienable.

Mind you, this is a secular document. It is, however, not alone. The very well-known United States’ Declaration of Independence (which is also secular, even though clearly more Christian-based) also states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

By saying that rights are endowed by the Creator, the Founding Fathers were postulating that human rights are God-given… and, for that reason, unalienable. No human authority has the right to take them away. This ties very nicely with the Christian doctrine of Imago Dei (i.e. the image of God). For the book of Genesis states that man and woman were created “in the image and likeness of God” (Gn 1:26-28).

This means that whenever someone infringes on the rights of any man or woman, he is actually attacking a vessel containing the image and likeness of God. Religious people will usually shudder at the thought of someone desecrating some kind of sacred ground, building or object. If it is so, just imagine how much more should we tremble whenever the image and likeness of God are trampled on when someone attacks the dignity of the human person. God will never be mocked… and even if He may remain silent for some time, in the end, justice will prevail.

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From this we can see that it is easier to defend the inherent concept of human dignity on religious grounds (especially religions with the Imago Dei doctrine): in these instances, human dignity is God-given in an unalienable fashion, and can’t be taken away or diminished.

Nevertheless, even on purely secular grounds, we can see that human rights only make sense if they are viewed as intrinsic to human nature. As something so inherent and inseparable from a person, as the concept of “roundness” is to a ball. If it were not so, we would have to arrive at conclusions that are unacceptable to our modern sensitivities (and rightly so).

If human dignity is not intrinsic to a human being, but contingent on external situations, then this means that every dictator who has incarcerated, tortured and eventually killed a freedom fighter who dissented against his corrupt and bloody regime… as won. This dictator was able to take away their human dignity. This dictator has become the taker of human dignity… and, as a corollary, this means that he is also the giver of human dignity, in the sense that a person can only have human dignity if he does not take it away.

Is this really what we want? Do we want to give the authority to grant and take human dignity to other human beings, as fallible and sinful as we are? And yet, even in western and “civilized” nations, we have fallen for the fallacy that human rights are given by governments and other human institutions. An unborn child only has dignity if he/she is chosen by their mother. An immigrant only has rights if he crosses the border legally. In all this, we see that human dignity seems to be contingent on what these human beings “do”, in their external situation.

This cannot stand. We must know that human dignity and human existence are intertwined. A human being in a dire situation does not lose his/her dignity. And this extends also to external situations which are not human-caused, like natural disasters and illnesses. People who can’t “do” what others can, people who are in situations of vulnerability, have exactly the same dignity as any other person.

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Pixabay @ pexels

However, I would like to venture one step even further. Let us not just claim that vulnerable people have the same dignity as others… let us try to understand that they have, in fact, more dignity.

This is most perfectly highlighted in the Christian religion. Christians worship a God Who died in a Cross. As a doctor, I tremble whenever I think of all the biological ramifications of someone being crucified. The suffering and the pain are excruciatingly atrocious.

And yet, who can say that this Crucified man has less dignity than the passersby of this horrible show? He is the living God incarnate! Who in the whole wide universe can claim a superior dignity than the One God of all things? And still, look at His suffering! Look at the miserable external conditions He was put on! Look at how impotent He is, without being able to do anything anymore, with His hands and feet nailed to a wooden instrument of torture… and yet, here is the source and summit of all human dignity.

This same God tried to teach us this lesson throughout His whole life. When the Magi from the East thought that a new king was born in Judah, they went straight to Herod’s palace. That’s where our human nature tells us human dignity is at its highest… someone of superior dignity should be in a royal palace, no? And yet, how many times those who we deem of superior dignity, kings, and princes, presidents and VIPs, have behaviors below their station as Imago Dei? How many times do their hearts get corrupted so that they act in inhuman fashion like Herod did?

No, God means to tell us that dignity lies elsewhere. The true King of Kings was born on a manger, in a stable, for He was rejected by every inn. Still, is there any more dignified vision than a Nativity Scene?

This Jesus of infinite dignity was, at some point during His life, an unborn child, a refugee fleeing persecution in a foreign land, a humble carpenter, a homeless sojourner dependent on the charity of others, and a convicted criminal. This is the perfect antidote to our natural human tendency to warp the concept of dignity into something it’s not.

That’s why, as Christians, we can understand the meaning of the biblical sentence: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me” (Mt 25:40).

Translating this into the secular realm, I think it’s quite obvious that, only by ascribing a dignity of the highest order to those who are most vulnerable can we evolve into a more solidary and civilized society. Only by seeing those who suffer as more dignified versions of the human ideal, can we start to relocate our resources and efforts into what should be our true priorities.

By doing so, we would not spend so much time quarreling over “dying with dignity” or whether the terminal sick have “lives worth living”. Those questions would not make any sense at all. Of course, those sick people have dignity! They have the utmost dignity! And because of that, we should roll up our sleeves to help them, be either through our voluntary work, our charities, but also with our political activism to change unfair political structures. We should fight for the cause that they will be able to have access to affordable healthcare in general, and palliative care in particular… but also be met with those human needs that institutional structures can’t ever provide in full: companionship and empathy. We should seek, above all political fireworks, to alleviate the suffering of those who are ill and help them cope with their situation.

Only by doing so can we achieve a more dignified society, and a Christian one.

Pedro Gabriel,
Oncologist
Blogger @ https://wherepeteris.com

The D day

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Photo on VisualHunt.com

Today we celebrate (this is a term that I am struggling with to keep in the text) the 74th anniversary of the D day or the invasion of Normandy by the Allied troops, against the Nazi Reich in the II World War.

There’s lots of films and series about this or including this subject: “Saving Private Ryan”, “Brothers in Arms” or the classic “The longest day”. They all share the same focus… the beach arrivals, the slaughter caused in the battle, the blood and the gore that we are used to watching on TV. Some are historically more accurate than others, but the facts remain. The D day was a huge leap in the fight against Nazi Germany and its massacre of those who they deemed unfit to be part of a perfect race.

Too much contempt of the truth is nowadays present. Holocaust deniers, revisionists, White Supremacy movements and extreme-right parties are flourishing due to the inability of Men, and the institutions he created, solve problems like impoverishment, crime rates, illegal immigration, globalism, etc. These movements appear as a result of something that was lost but isn’t found. They share the same common traits and pursue the goal of getting back to the old days when things were the way they were and for them they were good.

As a Christian, I must confess this appalls me. The idea of ideology mongering is alive these days, making us forget that we should learn with History what mistakes not to repeat. Unfortunately, the human being is very good with some cycles. The erase, rewind, repeat cycle is one of them. That’s why we must be vigilant about things getting out of hand, hence causing problems or situations where the lack of individual freedom or privacy violation is put to the test.

But as a Christian, I also must remember that we had a D day. What I call The Great Atonement, the King’s Murder, the Day of Penance. For Jesus Christ, himself man and God, came to die for us, laying His life in the hands of the Father to be crucified for sins committed. Not by Him, in who no mischief was found or lie was proffered, but by us who dealt in sin and still do struggle with it. Our simul justus et peccator condition (as taught by Martin Luther) still make us do band when good should be done and do no good. This is the cause of the worst bloodshed in History… not the Colosseum ones, not the ones from the various wars or not even the ones from terrorist attacks.

Rahab, who is a type of the Church, suspended the scarlet thread from her window as a sign of salvation, to show that the nations would be saved through the Lord’s Passion. Just as the house of Rahab and all those with her were saved through the scarlet sign when Jericho was destroyed and burnt and its king, a type of the devil, slain, so when this world is destroyed by fire and the devil who now has dominion over the world is overthrown, no one will be preserved for eternal salvation if he is not found inside the house of the Church which is marked with the scarlet sign, that is, with the blood of Christ.”  Gregory of Elvira, Tractatus 139.

But the one that led an innocent to the death of a guilty man. The guiltiest of all man was wrongly trialed, delivered by the regional ruler to the hands of His murderers, beaten down, scorned, spat on, hanged on the cross, mocked, pierced on His side… All to fulfill the promise of Isaiah 53. The punishment that brought us free was laid upon Him.

We needed an Incarnate God, a God put to death, that we might live. We were put to death together with Him, that we might be cleansed; we rose again with Him because we were put to death with Him; we were glorified with Him, because we rose again with Him.” St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 45, 28

So, today you can approach Abba without constraints, because of our Older Brother sacrifice. A willing, self-denial, pious deliverance to the worst pressure and most horrendous case scenario.

Today Christ’s holy passion dawns upon the world as a saving light. For He comes of His goodness to suffer. He who holds all things in His hand consents to be hung upon the wood in order to save mankind.” Kathisma Hymn (Tone 1) of Bridegroom Matins of Holy Monday

Make this your D day and twist it into J day. Let the yelling prayer of Bartimaeus come out from your heart and soul:

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:46, NIV)

Adapt. Evolve. Consume.

I was born in the year of 83. Growing up, I learned the art of creating mixtapes, playing Nintendo and other arcade games. The closest to iPods were Walkmans and then portable CD players. No pay per view, at the beginning only two TV channels, that came up to four when I was starting my pre-adolescence. We spent much time playing football outside, drawing in paper sheets and playing hide and seek.

As time past, I watched all types of marvelous things come up. MP3 players, Playstations, laptops, mobile cell phones (oh boy, Nokia did some good job back then), cable TV. And after that, iPod’s and tablets, smartphones, smart TV’s. Top notch Internet connections and wireless devices. Smart watches, app’s to remind us when to do things, to get us doctors appointments…

At the first glance, this might sound like it caused in me one of two feelings: fear or enthusiasm. Well, being tech-savvy I can say that enthusiasm won. But it came with a price. I had to learn three things:

Adapt – The world around us changes constantly by the second. Not all new things will remain and it’s the law of the jungle when it comes up to that. Only the best ones survive. Like companies, we have to learn how to adapt. Adapt is the art of dealing with something new, learn its purpose and use it to fit it in your life. We adapt every day. We adapt to schedules, jobs, trends, life commitments. We can do it naturally. It might come as a hard process, but to adapt is the key to grow stronger;

Evolve – They might seem the same, but they’re not. To evolve is to develop new skills, to pick up something we didn’t possess fully and make it grow and work. We evolve throughout History. From the invention of the wheel and the dominance of fire to the Industrial Age or the computer creation, Men acquired new skills and features. It’s like we were improving ourselves. From Men 1.0 to Men 3.0, we are gaining some skills but growing weaker in others. The constant use of computers and digital equipment is leading to the art of bad handwriting. Evolving comes with two things: creating and erasing. We create this new set of things in us, with the pass of time or the recurrent use of something, but we tend to erase from our lives some things that become obsolete. Be careful to not turn important things into obsolete ones. Evolve your social skills but don’t let the art of silence and time alone to go obsolete and thrown away;

Consume – Consume is the key word for today. Most of what we see are things to consume. Either to our own satisfaction or need, the focus on consuming is stronger these days. This comes because our society grew too quickly without having time to adapt and evolve itself in the process. So consuming is like the keyword. If you’re not consuming the latest trend, you’re becoming far behind and obsolete. I used to listen to a metal band called Fear Factory. I remember they had something that pretty resumes what I mean to say right now. It goes like this:

 

Man is obsolete!
Our world, obsolete!
Man is obsolete!
Erased, extinct!
Obsolete!

Excessive consume will lead to dependence and to the crush of your own being. It tears relations apart, divides families, cuts real presence social tights… We get addicted to something, we search it for consuming over and over. End there and we’re obsolete and ready for extinction. Because materials and goods start to own us, instead of being otherwise. Let us not make the things dominate over mankind. Consume is to handle with care because things are not worth the value of losing humankind and relationships;

This generation isn’t lost. We can still overcome the debts we own due to this three steps process. Master and dominate these three steps wisely, go look for your Jedi master in this and become his/hers padawan. Engage with this culture like it is what it is: just another stage of time that will pass and make us come to a different process.

I’m a true feminist series (2)

Yesterday I started writing about being a true feminist. I decided to do it so because of a part of what was defended by original feminists are things that we can see in the Bible. The topic of the last post began with the abolitionist movement and the fight of Susan B. Anthony against slavery and slave owners. Today, I will engage on another topic. But before doing that, let me state somethings first. Like all movements, feminism is subjected to the changes in culture, time and society. So Susan B. Anthony’s feminist (what I call true feminism) stance does not match entirely what we see today as feminism. This so-called third or fourth-wave feminism have conflicting points with Scripture. And when those conflicting points arise, I’m compromised with God and His written word. In Scripture, we find words of life, teachings that enrich our spirit and we are honoring God. In social justice movements that exceed what God determines as a limit, we can only find disobedience and lack of comprehension of who God is, what He does and how He loves us.

Today I’m approaching the women’s suffrage movements and rights. They’re at the core of the feminist movement since women we’rent recognized as having the right to vote. Women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Hunt and Lucretia Mott had ties with the Quaker movement in the US, claiming that a man and a woman are equal under God. So there is a Christian foundation behind this movement. Women who saw unfair treatments and non-righteous actions stood up to those who committed them. They fought for the future of those who would come to be and that has a record in History. The Universal Declaration of the Human Rights states in its First Article:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

So, why is the right to vote so important? Suffrage is granted to qualifying citizens once they have reached the voting age. At face, we can say that having the right to vote denotes that we are citizens, recognized as equals among our peers, not having a statute of limitation that will limit our exercise of citizenship. Failing to recognize this is a failure to recognize that both man and woman are equal at the eyes of the State. Thus, making that difference viable, it creates a vacuum in which we can slide into other rights like education, non-discriminatory practices like equality of wages, etc. And that will link to God’s moral law. Like Calvin wrote:

The law of God functions to keep evildoers from being as bad as they otherwise might be. Thus, to some degree, it serves to protect God’s people from the sinful machinations of the ungodly

The Lord protects both men and women, so His moral law is applicable to both. As followers of Christ, we are a people of grace and not law. But it is God’s law that demonstrates his spotless character and shows our need for grace. The grace that we receive and that is to be shown in our daily lives and acts.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, KJV)

I hold the belief that both men and women have complementary roles in the eyes of God. Which is not a full rebuttal of feminist equality, but yet a variation of it. Complementary roles are related to functions, not “rights”. But they are equal in terms of salvation, love, receiving grace and others (Galatians 3:28). Men have a set of duties to carry, as women have another. Together they combine in one unique being, which his only possible by God’s grace. Because in our perspective, in what concerns to God, we have no rights, nor demands (Isaiah 64:6). But He is the one who can demand from us since He is the Creator and the one who rules everything with His hands.

Returning to equality, God used numerous courageous women in History like  Zipporah (Exodus 4:24-26), Deborah (Judges 4:6-7), Ruth (Ruth 3:9), Hannah (1st Samuel 1:12-18), Abagail (1 Samuel 25:30-33), Esther (Esther 4:15-16) or Mary (Luke 1:38), that served His purpose for His glory and our benefit. These women acted while females, obeying God and putting themselves into action to stop harm, unfairness, and tragedies. I would dare to say, they are the true Bible feminists. Those who did it guided by God and to the benefit of those to come after them, while maintaining their female sense and personhood.

I’m a true feminist series (1)

I’m a feminist. And a true one. In a hyper-assumption culture, I’m assuming myself as a feminist. I’m not one of those wannabee feminists that desecrate churches, have the need to show themselves naked, confuse seriously women rights with exceeding good sense and doing what thou will says. Such groups like Femen are a disgrace for women rights and for the legacy that was granted to a woman either by social activists, either by God. They act based on instinct, not on logic or good values. The main motif is to contradict whatever they come across and that does not bow to them. That is not Feminism. That is subjugation of women by women, in a culture of no holds barred, posing as true defenders of feminin sex but diminishing it as they act like cults.

Feminism should not be about elevating women above men, of fighting a supposed “patriarchal” society. It should be grounded in providing women enlightenment about who they are based in God’s relevation and the complementary work between two equal valued and loved beings: a man and a mon. So I’m assuming this subject. It might come to be controversial, but the truth is to be put up high so it can lighten the world. Want to know why? Because of this:

  1. I share the same anti-slavery convictions of Susan B. Anthony. One of her maxims was: “No compromise with slaveholders. Immediate and Unconditional Emancipation”. I share the same conviction. Either through Capitalism or Marxism (or any other theory), the exploitation of man by man is sinful. William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist Christian at some point called the US Constitution: “covenant with death (…) an agreement with Hell“. Slavery is cancer that spreads through the globe and we take part of it when we ignore it. The Global Slavery Index gives us alarming numbers:

    “On any given day in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery. Of these people, 24.9 million were in forced labor and 15.4 million were in forced marriage.”

    Historical figures like English activist William Wilberforce, Methodist preacher John Wesley, Presbyterian Charles Finney (who argued for slavery being a moral sin), Theodore Dwight Weld (who wrote The Bible Against Slavery), the well known “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon or Sojourner Truth fought for the right of free men and women. I stand with them. Christ came to release us from the bondage of sin and to give us a new life. Those who seek to shackle other human beings are not following the example of our Lord.

    No Christian can compromise with slavery, either like in the African exploitation, nor like the consuming slavery that drives people to suicide resulting from pressure in their jobs. No non-Christian should accept to compromise with these events too. They quickly create a degeneration in humankind, creating first, second and third class citizens, much like the chast system in India. No one should be anyone’s paria. Our generation has to compreend this on the basis of creating a generation weaker in morals and ethics. A generation that won’t consider the value and cost of human life since their income and goods are guaranteed. Today we can be changing the future just by embracing social justice, acting upon slavery with no remorse of fighting it.

    For those who will argue with the word “slavery” in the Law of Moses, let’s enlighten the subject and end it quickly. The translated word, ebed is used in a different context:

    not only actual slaves occupied in production or in the household but also persons in subordinate positions (mainly subordinate with regard to the king and his higher officials). Thus the term >ebed is sometimes translated as “servant.” Besides, the term was used as a sign of servility in reference to oneself when addressing persons of higher rank. Finally, the same term was also used in the figurative meaning “the slave (or servant) of God.” Thus, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prophets, David, Solomon and other kings are regularly called slaves of Yahweh (Exod 32:13; Lev 25:55; 1 Sam 3:9; Ezra 9:11, etc.). Similarly, all the subjects of Israel and Judah are called slaves of their kings, including even wives, sons, and brothers of the latter (1 Sam 17:8; 29:3; 2 Sam 19:5, etc.; cf. also Gen 27:37; 32:4). Addressing Moses and prophets, the Israelites called themselves their slaves (Num 32:25; 1 Sam 12:19, etc.). Ruth refers to herself as a slave girl of her relative Boaz (Ruth 3:9). Being a vassal of the Philistine king Achish, David called himself his slave (1 Sam 28:2).” (Anchor Bible Dictionary, David Noel Freedman (main ed.), DoubleDay:1992)

    From here one can conclude that the concept of “slave” is not to be taken literally, but in context. Much like the Greek doulos which comes close to being equal in significance of ebed. We can then see that there is no contest between someone who is humiliated, taken out of its place and enshackled against it’s will, moved to a foreign country and forced to work there.

    Modern day activists like Hillsong’s Christine Caine and the A21 Campaing are doing God’s job in which concearns social justice, freeing girls and women from sex trafficking all over the world. In this matter, Caine is more of a feminist than Femen alltogether. Not only because she acts upon fighting evil, but because she’s doing it by God’s grace and for His glory (and those women benefit).

And Curry misses the shot – part 3 of 3

Bishop Michael Curry from the U.S. poses for a portrait at St George's Chapel in Windsor castle ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windso

I’m ending this series on Reverend Curry with the most bashing (it might not sound good but it’s what it’s gonna look like) post. The past two posts we saw that he does not consider marriage core doctrine and that for him, a declaration produced by the Anglican Church it’s core doctrine, equalizing it to the Sacred Scriptures.

But now, we’re gonna focus on the most sensible spot: his endorsement of LGBT activism. Now, some might argue that this is an ad hominem attack, that Curry has the right to choose to act and support which causes he dims fit to. True. He has that right, as a person, as an individual he can choose between good and bad, true and false, left or right.

So what makes Curry the wrong guy for the job (besides denying core doctrines and lowering the Bible to the level of a fallible organizational declaration)? What leads an activist who preached so eloquently about love to mess up and not to conform with the Gospel? This:

For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he added. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.

Curry openly admits his endorsement of the LGBT community and that can be fine to him. But it cannot be fine to a Reverend, much less standing behind a pulpit, preaching a sermon and hammering on words like love and fire, forgetting the Gospel along the way. Up ’till this point, things seemed fine:

Love is the only way. There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it.

It is true, Love is the only way. God’s love is the only way humans can get their lives fulfilled. For there is a hole inside ourselves that money, fame, success, possessions, lovers, anything you can name won’t fill in or fit in. And even love cannot fill in that spot. Especially if it is the wrong kind of love. The love that distorts what God created and turns into unlove but pride and lust (Romans 1:24,25). Quoting Blaise Pascal:

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator made known through Jesus Christ.

S. Augustine of Hippo had realized the same thing many centuries before when he wrote in his “Confessions”:

Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

It is in the love of God that we find rest, peace, acceptance and loving care. Like stated in the other posts, being made in the image and resemblance of God make us carry His mark, but we must admit that sin endangers our lives (1st John 1:8,9), come to repent and go on through the path of a life which pleases God (Acts 2:38). And to please Him is to truly love Him, those around us, according to His commandments (Matthew 22:36-40), just like Jesus did (1st John 2:6).

The issue with Reverend Curry advocacy for LGBT rights is a fight that we, as a Church, must not enter, for it is a civil fight. It concerns Caesar, not Jesus Christ. It is a court fight, something concerning the civil rights and those, fall shortly before God when they impede the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 5:29). And as a preacher, Reverend Curry should know better than politics and Gospel do not combine, for society is demanding changes to fit its own pleasures in stupid ways, turning its back on God and highlighting Man. The same arrogance that led to the fall of Satan is installed and will lead to the fall of many if repentance is not done (Jude 1:22).

As a Church, we must embrace those who come from the LGBT communities, love them, teach them the Gospel and make room for the Holy Spirit to operate in their hearts and minds. Come has you are, but do not stay the same, to paraphrase Pastor Jonh Burke’s Gateway Church motto. This acceptance of love has to come hand to hand with the “go and sin no more” of Jesus to the adulterous woman (John 8:11). Because to meet with Christ truly, it operates a transformation in our lives. The Sun of Righteousness arises and shines over us (Malachi 4:2), inviting us to come to Him and live (Amos 5:4), healing our wounds (Isaiah 53:5) and leading us into everlasting life (John 3:16).

Reverend Curry continues to speak about love, but diminishing the Creator and exalting the creation:

Ultimately the source of love is god himself. The source of all of our lives. There’s an old medieval poem that says, where true love is found, god himself is there.

God is the origin of love. Not ultimately, but primarily. Not all things we love come from God. Not everything that says it’s true love is in the presence of God or makes God being present. God is love, but love is not God. The cause explains the effect, but not necessarily the other way around… If we love addictions, violence, porn, money, war, blood, lies, etc, then we are not loving God. We are building a golden calf and idolatry has kicked in like adrenaline in our heart so hard, that we bow to it and beg for another dose. Those things come from the devil, whose role is to destroy (John 10:10). Nothing more. The devil craves for our souls, he rounds us, sheep, like a lion roaring with a mighty roar in search of who he can devour (1st Peter 5:8). He is not here to satisfy us or amuse us by likeness. He is here to do it so, so he can grab our souls and drag them to misery, poverty, shame, inhumanity and away from God’s path.

Sometimes, while arguing we have to go back to the basics before evolving in a speech that sounds nice to anyone. And this should be done. I’ve seen Christians applauding this sermon, not caring for the man, using the excuse of Balaam (who tried to curse God’s people but wasn’t allowed by Him) and saying that what’s vital is to get the Gospel out in the open so people can hear it. And I woe… And then question, where are you’re minds? What Bible have you been reading (if you have been reading it at all)? Who put this kind of snare on your front so you can step in and be ensnared by such a lie? Because they are being fooled by a nice speech, coming from an activist, not a minister who shows commitment with God, and are led in the foolishness of new fables that post-modernism creates (1st Timothy 1:3-5). By doing so, one is limping on two crutches, making himself like a cloud dancing in the wind.

Thomas Cranmer wrote:
The commandments of God lay our faults before our eyes, which putteth us in fear and dread, and maketh us see the wrath of God against our sins, as St. Paul saith(…)

So to the account of that, immorality rises up each day stronger because Christians are not praying enough. We are not being disciples enough to fight the good fight. We’re succumbing to the power of distraction, while the will of God is being put aside (1st Thessalonians 4:3). This must end. The Scripture must be our center of faith and morals. Christ is our risen Lord. If one wants to grow deeper in knowing Him, then search the Church Fathers, the Scholastic theologians, the Reformers, but stay away from liberal and post-modern thinkers who desire a second Renaissance.

I’ll be ending with a quote, so that we can all avail truly what a Reverend, from a rite that is being shunted by going against God’s words and denying Jesus teachings, should do (as we should too):

“I beg and beseech you, Lord: grant to all who have gone astray a true knowledge of you, so that each and every one may come to know your glory.”
St. Isaac the Syrian

And Curry misses the shot – part 2 of 3

Screen_Shot_2018-05-19_at_7.24.45_PM_1

Yesterday I wrote how about Revered Curry misses the goal towards marriage. For him, marriage is not part of the core doctrine of Christianity. Instead of abiding by God’s Scriptures, Curry resonates a different concept of what doctrine is, contradicting himself along the way. That’s another of the problems with Curry sermon at the Royal Wedding. Because, and quoting the dearest Reverend:

The Holy Scriptures and the Old and New Testament are core doctrine.  Other sections of the Chicago–Lambeth Quadrilateral are core doctrine.

So Curry is saying that the Holy Scriptures are core doctrine. Right! If they are core doctrine, then what they teach should be core doctrine. Giving space for discussion, one might argue that not all which is written in the Bible should be considered core doctrine: Samson’s death, the Flood, the captivity of both Northern and Southern kingdoms, etc. But once again, even if these “minor” things are not core doctrine, they are at least godly truths and events, that are present to teach us. Paul lays it out in a simple manner to Timothy:

All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage];” (2nd Timothy 3:16, AMP)

As much as we would like to separate and shred pieces of context, there’s no opposing proof that Curry contradicts himself. Scripture is food for Christians. It is given by divine inspiration, not to please those who read it, but to confront them with their state: the absolute need of God’s love and salvation. So, quoting or paraphrasing passages from the Bible, assuming the Bible itself is core doctrine, but then denying God’s commandment and word on matters like marriage open the Pandora Box. For Curry, what are the Bibles instructions to follow and what are those who are to put aside? Is rebuking to put aside? Is the true religion that James describes (James 1:27) to follow? Where and who dares to draw the line?

See, the problem with Christianity is that we, who are Christians, must accept God’s commands and live according to it. They are not evil and masochist. They seek not to limit our freedom and our free will. But they do provide us with the moral, sanctified directions given by Him so we can live towards Him and not the other way round.

When someone says that a document that defines in four points what is the Anglican identity is core doctrine, but denies sound core doctrine declared by the Lord himself, then we have another problem. Relativism comes to become the subject, the personal interpretation of doctrine is led by human will and not by the Holy Spirit… And then, it moves to put something that is not declared as divinely inspired to the same level or above of what is. That gives us the grounds to add up to the Bible, to err on our own will and deliberately. Creeds, catechisms and confessions of faith are important. They help us grow, they give us historical backgrounds, the help to cement out belief in the Rock. But they are not the Rock, they do not assume the same value of Jesus words when the Lord says:

“So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24,25; AMP)

In a way to try to explain what his words meant, Reverend Curry speaks:

Rabbi Friedman and others taught us that when we are in conflict, don’t try to find quick solutions. You must find the points of clarity and stay in a relationship with each other. I think Rabbi Friedman called that maturity. That is a sign of potential maturity – capacity to disagree profoundly and deeply, and yet to stay on a relationship in Christ.

It is true that quick solving conflicts sometimes don’t work (Proverbs 15:18). Because people just want to put aside the argument and don’t want to have to deal with the work of reconciliation, which takes time, energy and humility. And to find common ground and be able to maintain a relationship is part of our free will and a showing of maturity. But maturity also comes in accepting we are wrong (Proverbs 1:7), that we must fallback from our mistakes (Proverbs 1:23, Proverbs 8:5), that the declarations and positions we take as servants of God, with the grievant of being a Reverend (who should lead its congregation and flock with God’s wisdom and teachings) must not be taken lightly and they cannot undermine the Lord’s mandate to us (Deuteronomy 27:18). We are to speak the full truth. Not half, not a quarter, not a tenth. The full (Psalm 37:30).

When quoting Rabbi Manis Friedman, Curry is quoting someone who does not engage in a proper sight of marriage also. Which could be comprehensible since a Rabbi does not take the New Testament for granted, but which is odd since the Old Testament gives the base for Jesus teaching on the matter. Rabbi Friedman gives an interpretation of marital love and marriage that is based in something rather the Old Testament:

The love between a husband and wife isn’t like that. Their love wasn’t always there; they didn’t always know each other; they weren’t always related. No matter how well they get to know one another, they aren’t alike. They are different from each other physically, emotionally, and mentally. They love each other in spite of the differences and because of them, but there isn’t enough of a commonality between them to create a casual, calm love. The differences remain even after they are married, and the love between them will have to overcome these differences.

Genesis 2:24 is simply laid aside. He forgets the junction that God performs. It is a mystery, how a man and a woman, different in sex, emotions, in their beings can become one. But they do. And they do it spiritually, with the blessing of God’s grace. Because it is God that operates, with a synergy of the human will, but God can create a calm and steady love between two who become one. There is no schizophrenia in God. Nor in His actions. And the answer that pops up, starts by: “Have you never read(…)”?

 

 

And Curry misses the shot – part 1 of 3

 

©UK Pool/Sky News via AP

 

Can’t quite stop to think about the Presiding Bishop, Reverend Michael Bruce Curry of the Episcopal Church, the presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church sermon this weekend. In fact, it was a beautiful sermon, where love, redemption, and fire were the keywords. A sermon that caught attention from all the globe, that provoked hearts to think in love as a weapon of redemption in this war of attrition and disputes we live today.

But it raises me a couple of questions, and I don’t know how deepened that Theological sermon got into peoples hearts, but even worse, how well understood could it be by those who are not Christians.

My problem with Revered Curry starts with him actually. A Reverend is someone committed to preaching the Gospel and to maintain himself faithful to the faithfulness of God and the Scriptures. One cannot preach whatever it makes the congregation goes cheerful and deny to preach what God demands to do so.  And that failed to happen… The Revered positions about marriage are contrary to the Scripture. Proving that, there’s only one way to proceed: repent and restart. Curry starts by stating that:

Many believed that marriage is part of core doctrine. No individual church can change core doctrine. Many felt that the expansion of who may be married on our part was a change in church doctrine. Therefore it was in part on that basis that many felt that we had overstepped our authority as a province. I didn’t agree with that but I respect that that was the understanding of many. For me, marriage is not part of core doctrine.

One of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity is about marriage. Paul talks about that in Ephesians 5:22-33, when he matches the union of husband and wife to that of Christ and the church. That union has a name. It’s marriage, a direct ordinance from God to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27,28), repeated by Jesus (Mark 10:1-12) and Paul (1st Corinthians 7:2-4). So, if something is defined by God, repeated again by Him and then through one of His Apostles, it’s definitely a core doctrine. It is not a cherry picking thing. Curry failure to acknowledge that is harmful, even more, if he is preaching in a marriage.

In the words of St. John Chrysostom (Homily 20, Homilies on Ephesians):
The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love. St. Paul would not speak so earnestly about this subject without serious reason; why else would he say, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord?” Because when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends, and relatives praise the result. Great benefits, both of families and states, are thus produced. When it is otherwise, however, everything is thrown into confusion and turned upside-down.

This force can only be obtained in and through marriage with the grace of God. Because it is Him that solidifies the union, that takes two different persons into one, without making them lose their traits and personalities, rather shaping them and helping them shape themselves in love for each other.

But unfortunately, Reverend Curry continues by saying:
Marriage is a sacramental right, it is a solemn and sacred matter of faith and practice. But it is not core doctrine.

Quoting Lea Baugh :
Sacraments are not practices the church made up or that evolved over time. The sacraments are specific practices Christ himself gives to Christians for their sake. Thus, these things are vitally important for the church and Christians to practice and should always be done with the Word of God and in the way the Word of God commands them to be done.

If it is given by Christ, it’s a commandment, not an option. Of course one might opt not to follow it, but then one will be deliberately not following the Lord’s commandment to receive His grace and to take part has a body in full union with Him. Regarding Church, unity is a very serious issue. The Church is the body of Christ, it’s head (Colossians 1:18), or so to say, it is His visible expression in the world. One body separated from its head dies. In a manner of seconds, minutes, days, years… It dies and does not grow back to live. It becomes like “autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted and lifeless” (Jude 1:12, AMP).

It is because of these kinds of teachings, like the ones subscribe to, that heresy comes to appear and wolfs attack the flock from the inside of the barn. In a note from 2016, current Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany in the United States, Reverend William H. Love declared: “The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.

Concluding this first part, we can see that Revered Curry fails to comply with the sound doctrine of God, relegating marriage to a position where it should not be, perhaps explaining why some many marriages end in divorce. Because of the lack of pastoral care, the absence of doctrinal teaching and the example set by themselves as leaders.

 

 

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