Deeper Waters Podcast 11/23/2019

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most any joke today about a Catholic priest is fair game. After all, everyone knows that they’re all secretly pedophiles. Never is this kind of joke made about the public school system, but with Catholic priests, all bets are off. Hasn’t there been a cover-up? Isn’t the Catholic Church defending these priests?

For those of us who are Protestant, it could be tempting to see this as a matter that the Catholics need to deal with, but we do as well. After all, this is used as an argument against Christianity in general as well. Second, it could be a case that if we don’t stand up for truth now, who is going to stand up when our opponents come after us?

Speaking of truth, if we’re talking about different relationships, maybe the priests should be out of that position if they can’t help it, but maybe homosexuals can’t help the way they feel as well. What if as the joke song says about it, that homosexuality is in your DNA and you’re just born that way? Does that mean that it’s okay if you’re gay?

These are important issues today. The second one definitely hits home to a lot of us. If someone has a genetic basis for homosexuality or even a disposition to it, is that something that we can blame them for? Are we not going against their nature?

To deal with these issues, I am bringing on a guest who has looked at both of them seriously. He is a Catholic himself and we will discuss how he handles the claims about the church that he belongs to. We will also discuss homosexuality and how we should discuss the question of if homosexuals are born that way. My guest’s name is Paul Sullins.

So who is he?

Paul Sullins SociologyTaken – 10/15/08 – 1:20:58 PMphoto by Ed PfuellerSullins_Paul_003.JPG

According to his bio:

The Rev. D. Paul Sullins is Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Leo Initiative for Catholic Social Research at the Catholic University of America and Senior Research Associate at the Ruth Institute.  He has written four books and over 150 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture.  He recently published  “Is Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse related to Homosexual Priests?” (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Winter 2019); “Danish-like regulations may improve post-abortion mental health risk” (JAMA Psychiatry, January 1, 2019),” “Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents (Depression and Research Treatment, Sept 2016)”, “Abortion, Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Early Adulthood: Thirteen Year Longitudinal Evidence from the United States”, available via Pubmed or at http://ssrn.com/author=2097328, Keeping the Vow: the Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests (Oxford University Press, 2015), and co-edited (with Pierpaolo Donati of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences) The Conjugal Family: An Irreplaceable Resource for Society (LEV Press, Rome: 2015).  Fr. Sullins is also the Director of the Summer Institute of Catholic Social Thought; a member of the board of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS), the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM), and the Natural Family Journal; a Fellow of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI); Associate Pastor of the Church of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Hyattsville, Maryland; and (not least) a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.  Formerly Episcopalian, Fr. Sullins is a married Catholic priest with an inter-racial family of three children, two adopted.

I hope you’ll be looking forward to this episode. We are working quickly on getting new episodes up. Please also leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Clergy on Amendment One

Should restricting abortion be seen as a violation of faith? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife and I were catching up on some of the shows we’d recorded and missed. In the midst of fast-forwarding through commercials, I see one that has clergy speaking in favor of Amendment One. For those who don’t know, Amendment One is an amendment in Tennessee, where we live, that is wanting to have tougher restrictions on abortion.

These include:

  • Informed consent to provide accurate information related to women’s health issues and fetal development,
  • 24-hour waiting period to avoid coercion and reduce the likelihood of an ill-considered decision,
  • Inspection and regulation of abortion facilities, and
  • Hospitalization requirement for riskier late-term abortions.

Now these clergy are speaking out against this. So what do they say? The first is that Tennesseans try to live lives of faith, particularly in the most difficult times. Now I really don’t like the term “lives of faith” since faith is so badly misunderstood, but I’ll go with it for now. For the most part, I’d also agree with the sentiment. Most Tennesseans are probably Bible-believing Christians. In fact, I have been told that Knoxville, where I live, is the most Bible-believing city in the nation.

We also do value this in the most difficult times of our lives. For many people, their faith is a comfort and solace when they are in need. I don’t want to say that this has anything to do with their position being true at this point. For now, I am simply agreeing to the fact that yes, if you are a person of faith, you will value your faith when life is hard.

So the ad starts on a positive note, but then here comes a cloud. Amendment one will lead to government interference in the midst of our most personal and private decisions. Now this might sound like something that is supposed to appeal to those of us of a more conservative bent. After all, don’t we want government to stay out of our lives? In many areas, I’d agree, but then there’s this one question that keeps popping up?

What is abortion?

You see, when it comes to health insurance, I do want government to stay out of it. When it comes to what I’m to eat and not eat, I want the government to stay out of it. When it comes to how I worship, as long as I’m not doing anything such as murder, I want the government to stay out of it. These are areas the government has no invested area in.

But what if we’re right on abortion? What if abortion is the killing of an innocent child?

Let’s put it this way. Suppose the amendment was about an amendment forbidding parents the right to murder their toddlers if they want to. Would it work to say “Amendment One will interfere with our most personal and private decisions.”? Not at all. Hopefully none of us would say “I’m personally against you killing your toddlers, but it’s not my place to interfere.” (And if you would say that, please seek help immediately.)

Before we decide on if the government should interfere in an area, we need to know what it is that we’re talking about, and no one is saying anything about that in the commercial. No one is really asking about what abortion does to the child. For that matter, are we even dealing with a child? I think that’s a good question to raise up, but it’s a horrible question to ignore!

From there we move on to what to do if a woman has been raped, but there is nothing on Amendment One banning abortion in the case of rape. Naturally, most of us oppose that, and as a married man I can say if someone raped my wife (Something I don’t even want to think about) then yes, it would be extremely difficult to watch what happens.

But you know what? The rapist is the sinner in this case.

Why should the baby be punished for what the rapist did? The baby is no less human in this case. If we don’t want a reminder, there is always adoption. The reality is that when we talk about unwanted children, we really mean unwanted often by biological parents. There are parents who will be thrilled to take in most any child.

And what about if a woman has cancer? Again, abortion isn’t being banned. This is a question medical professionals can answer. In fact, if we were talking about abortion to save the life of a mother if the baby would die also, most pro-life people I know I suspect would agree that in this extreme scenario, it is allowable to have this done.

We are told that in truth, only families can make these decisions. In essence, yes. No one can force a decision for you, but you should have an informed decision. Furthermore, there are some decisions the government does not allow you to make. You are not allowed to give a sick child an illegal drug if you think it will make them feel better. You are not allowed to rob from the grocery store to feed your family. You are not allowed to murder someone who is your competition in getting a job.

So how about children? Are you allowed to kill your own children? Once again, before someone says I’m assuming an argument, by all means we should discuss if the unborn are children or not. Why doesn’t this ad do that?

We are also told that these people make decisions in alignment with their own faith. At this point, the term faith becomes problematic. Does your faith say anything about reality? If you’re a Christian, you sure say it does. You say that you think the claim that God(The second person of the Trinity to be specific) came and lived among us, died on a cross, and rose again. Maybe for the sake of argument, that’s wrong. There cannot be the denial of the claim that the person who believes it thinks it’s right.

So does your faith really say anything about reality? Of course it does. What does it say about the unborn?

Do we really want to say that reality is different for people of faith? If you think Islam is true, then the world is really different for you. If you think atheism is true, then the world really is a world without God? With claims like these, someone is right and someone is wrong. People will try to live consistently with their faith, but the question we have to ask is what is the world really like? We would not allow someone to murder their toddlers because their faith said it was okay.

Naturally, we come to one pastor who says “And who are we to judge?”

Tell me, if you’re a pastor, what message are you preaching? Are you preaching that anything is sin? Jesus did. That’s a judgment. Are you preaching Jesus is at least a revelation from God even if you don’t think He’s the only way? If you are making any claims about reality whatsoever, then you are judging. Judging is unavoidable.

After all, if I go to your church and I pay tithes, do you decide where the money goes? Isn’t that a judgment. Do you decide what you’re going to preach your sermon on? Do you decide what is going to be in the curriculum for your church? Everyday you make decisions that will affect the lives of your congregations.

And of course, the Bible tells us to judge. John 7:24 says to stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment. 1 Cor. 6 says that we saints will judge the world and we will judge angels. It in fact tells us that we must be qualified to make judgments among ourselves. So who are we to judge? People who take seriously what the Scripture says.

In fact, saying you’re not judging is itself making a judgment. It is making a judgment that what is in the womb is something that is not necessary to defend. It is saying that your tradition has nothing to say about those who could very well be the least among us. It is saying your tradition has nothing to say about matters of right and wrong in these areas and in fact, that right and wrong are entirely subjective.

Of course, I already had enough reason to know not to attend such a church.

Finally, we are told the amendment goes too far.

How far is too far if it comes to saving the lives of kids? Of course, there are some actions we would not condone, but isn’t this a question worth considering? Note also we are not talking about a ban on abortions. We are simply talking about a restriction on abortion such as making sure facilities are places that are not dangerous (Although they are for the baby) and to have a waiting period.

It’s a shame that people like this are often leaders of the churches. If abortion is indeed the killing of innocent children like myself and other Christians think, then that means that people who support this and encourage us to not do all we can to lessen it are going to have blood on their hands because of their actions.

And if they claim to believe in a holy God, then they should realize that he is a holy one who is the one to judge and that He will judge if they went too far in their actions in not restricting abortion.

They should think about that, as should all of us.

After all, if we believe that abortion kills an innocent child and we do nothing about it, are we not just as guilty?

In Christ,

Nick Peters