How can such unconscionable abuse be so widespread among those who claim to have committed their lives to God? How tragic if and when those in positions of authority know about the abuse of the innocent and choose to protect the guilty at their expense. How do they ever get the consent of their own consciences?
Conscience. There’s the key. Amazing what Paul said to Timothy in First Timothy four, verses one through three:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
Did you get that? There will come a time, Timothy, when some people will be hypocritically acting with consciences that have stopped functioning (cannot be pricked) because they’ve been hardened by sin. Who are these people, Timothy? They are the same ones who are forbidding marriage (advocating celibacy) and commanding people to abstain from meats (thus, fish Friday for decades in American schools). Simply profound how Paul nailed it all those centuries ago. Having their consciences seared with a hot iron.
Some Catholic moms have been threatening lately to just leave the Catholic church and take their children with them if better systems of accountability cannot be developed. But better systems of accountability and fixes for all the other gargantuan problems in religion only come when malleable consciences encounter unchanging truth. That doesn’t happen in the having-their-conscience-seared-with-a-hot-iron scenario. Sounds like those threatening moms could be onto something. Maybe they’ve at last discovered the elephant of arrogance in the papal room.
I pray they will find the alternative in the body of people who belong to Christ. There are those who have not departed from the faith. There is a body of imperfect, but forgiven people who humbly know and believe the truth. There are those who still have functional consciences directed by the Word.
* A Woman’s Place Is in the Church, by Lisa Miller; Newsweek; April 12, 2010.