Churchly Quality Control IV: Members (particularly a certain member in Boston)
I firmly believe Churchly Quality Control (CQC) should extend to members, laity, not just clergy or staff.
I’m not going to be able to fully post on this today, but there is a rather public case of such CQC in Boston. A priest has asked a state representative to step down from two ministries due to her support of abortion rights and gay marriage.
Her response is rather interesting: ''I'm trying to be a good Catholic. But this should be a separate issue. Church should be a sanctuary for me and my faith and not have anything to do with my work."
Hmm, so church shouldn’t have anything to do with her work. I could write a long post on how this is absurdly typical of American – and thoroughly unbiblical -- compartmentalization of life and faith. It suffices to say that, no, you can not separate everyday life from faith or from church. And the church can not ignore a member’s life outside church walls. The church certainly can not ignore a member’s willful public sin.
Among many factors, there’s one very practical reason I say this. The pastor at my old church on occasion tells of a time someone came to visit the church, but saw something that caused him to turn around and walk out. What did he see? A businessman that he knew was unethical.
When a church member is involved in reprehensible conduct, if the church doesn’t deal with it, then it becomes not just the member’s scandal, but the church’s as well. That goes double if that member is involved in any ministry. And indeed, the representative’s continued church leadership has caused offense within the Boston congregation. And I would be offended, too, to say the least. And from the outside, few things kill a church’s credibility with me than for it to pretend it’s o.k. to support outrages like abortion on demand.
It may rub some (many) the wrong way for me to say so, but I think the priest is doing the right thing in asking her to step down from the two ministries. Further, he would be wrong to ignore her public wrong and go on with business as usual.
Comment away. I intend more on this subject in the future.
(It is very unlikely that I will post tomorrow, however.)