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More on Conservative Judaism & Gay Marriage

Noah Millman provides a lot of background and contextual information [1] that helps an interested outsider make sense of the recent decision by the ruling body of Conservative Judaism to endorse gay marriage. Read the whole thing, if this topic interests you. Excerpt:

The formal structural difference between how Orthodox and Conservative Judaism look at halacha is that from an Orthodox perspective, halacha doesn’t get revised, though it does develop, organically, in a kind of common law fashion, with individual rabbis making rulings on new issues based on established precedent and their own view of how this precedent should be applied. Whether those rulings, in turn, are accepted by other rabbis is up to them.

Conservative Judaism, by contrast, has a central body responsible for deciding what thehalacha is – the Rabbinical Assembly. It decides which interpretations of the law are valid (and sometimes it decides that multiple interpretations are valid) and which are not. And it has the power to revise the law as needed, either by rejecting an earlier authoritative rabbinic interpretation in favor of a novel interpretation of scripture, or by (in an extraordinary case) outright “correction” of scripture (on the basis of some higher principle with its own scriptural warrant).

I’m not going to go into the formal justifications the RA has for asserting this power – they have articulated justifications which, needless to say, are not accepted by any Orthodox rabbi I’m aware of. The point is: the halacha as formally understood by the Conservative movement doesn’t work quite the same way as the halacha as understood by Orthodox rabbis. The former is centralized, the latter de-centralized; the former is subject to formal revision, the latter only to common-law-style development.

change_me

I suspect that Dreher thinks it isn’t tenable to proclaim fidelity to a tradition that can be radically revised. But I don’t think that’s the case.

Well, not quite. I believe that an authoritative body making an authoritative change in the tradition is more or less on solid ground, but that there is a big theological problem when the proposed change is radically (= at the root) discontinuous with the past tradition, such that it fundamentally contradicts what was taught before. The ancient Christian belief that there is no salvation outside the Church [2] has been interpreted in a number of ways over the centuries. In 1302, Pope Boniface VIII (in)famously said: “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

Pius IX restated this understanding as late as the 19th century: “For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, will not be held guilty of this in the eyes of God.”

The Catholic Church no longer teaches that. The Church, in its official teaching, says that salvation does come to the world through the Roman church, but if someone sincerely does not understand that, and does his best to obey God within the limits of his understanding, he may be (not “will be,” but may be) saved, even though he is not a Catholic. This strikes me as a humane and reasonable interpretation. Whether or not it can be reconciled with what Boniface VIII authoritatively proclaimed is another question. As I said — and as reader Geoff Guth asserted in another thread — the trick is for traditions to maintain enough flexibility to change as deemed necessary, while making it appear that there has been no radical change at all. If it was true for centuries that to be saved, one had to be a Roman Catholic, and now that’s not true, one may rightfully wonder whether the Church’s authority can be trusted, if it can be so radically revised.

That was the source of my original bafflement with the Conservative rabbis’ decision. Expanding the understanding of marriage to include same-sex unions struck me, an outsider to Judaism, as a shatteringly radical departure from Jewish tradition. Noah explains why Conservative Judaism situates itself with regard to halacha, or Jewish law, in a fashion that makes accepting same-sex marriage understandable. In other words, if I understand Noah’s point, the break with Jewish tradition that made such a move possible had already been made a long time ago. Whether or not that was a theologically justifiable break is another question.

In any case, Noah’s post makes it clear why one should be extremely careful applying the standards of understanding of one’s own religious tradition to different religious traditions. I see this most often on this blog with readers who are surprised and offended that the Catholic Church doesn’t understand itself as a Protestant body, and therefore acts like the Catholic Church instead of the Episcopal Church.

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36 Comments To "More on Conservative Judaism & Gay Marriage"

#1 Comment By Red Phillips On June 2, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

“Conservative” Judaism apparently no longer believes the Old Testament. This is laughable. The Old Testament (and the New) is unambiguously clear in its condemnation of homosexual behavior. It is equally clear that this decision is based on accommodating modern PC standards. Why should anyone take anything “Conservative” Judaism says seriously anymore since they are apparently willing to chuck Divine revelation in favor of PC modernism.

#2 Comment By Liam781 On June 2, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

Judaism has already undergone huge shifts that we tend to collapse and ignore the significance of (and the Jewish tradition itself finds useful to blur), in a way Christianity has not quite.

First, the shift from governance by patriarchs/tribes and judges with localized sacrificial ritual to kings with centralized sacrificial ritual by priests. This displaced who had authority to transmit God’s word, and how God was to be worshipped. Not all Hebrews accepted this shift (hey, even earlier, some of them didn’t even accept going back to Canaan from Egypt!), and it was still a bitter and open issue in Jesus’ own day.

Second, the shift from centralized priestly cult-governance, to diaspora rabbinical common law, in effect. This shift was also strongly resisted by some Jews, and Karaite Judaism (which rejected rabbinical tradition, and instead relied exclusively on a literal scripturalism; we can leave to historians the debate about Karaite Judaism’s origins, whether in the wake of the destruction of the Temple (the Karaite’s view) or the wake of the Islamic wave (the rabbinical tradition’s view) later arose to thrive in certain diaspora areas for centuries. 

#3 Comment By verynew On June 2, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

I think you underestimate their pessimism regarding Gay *marriage* vs Freedom of religion discussion. If Law (and rules) was designed to let their people Live (and not perish), then when hard times come – it can be bend or changed or discarded till they (hard times) pass. When those times would pass this decission would be seen as heresy and abandoned in natural way, but before that they don’t want to look *fundamentalist* and prefer *gay friendly* position.

#4 Comment By SecularMisanthropist On June 2, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

I can think of a few examples where a complete reversal happened. The Mormons allowed polygamy then disallowed it. They also didn’t allow blacks priesthood ordination and participation in temple ceremonies until 1978. Christians didn’t allow charging of interest, but now no one blinks at that.

#5 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On June 3, 2012 @ 1:13 am

Re: Christians didn’t allow charging of interest, but now no one blinks at that.

I don’t think that’s true. At least some Christians think that the charging of interest is still, always, a sin, but that we need to tolerate it as a concession to the society we live in. Others would say that charging of interest *under the conditions which prevailed in the middle ages* would still be a sin, but that some of those conditions (steady state economy, the primary currency being land instead of money, etc.) still apply. Christian socialists would say that interest and other unearned income is still a sin, as much as it ever was, and that’s why we need to replace capitalism with a socialist economy. FWIW I’d consider myself in that last boat- part of the reason I disagree with capitalism is because I think that interest (in the sense in which the early and medieval church understood that term) is actually wrong, and that we shouldn’t allow the existence of a class whose reason for being is profiting from the labour of others. I would prefer that interest and credit be in the hands of the state.

That’s a bit far afield, but I just wanted to point out it really is much more complicated than ‘no one blinks at that’.

#6 Comment By MontDLaw On June 3, 2012 @ 2:38 am

[I can think of a few examples where a complete reversal happened. ]

Paul completely reversed Christianity too.  Before Paul all Christians were practicing Jews, bound by the Covenant and the 613 Mitzvot . After Paul they were not.

 In both cases the earlier rules had become a burden, preventing religious expansion and so were abandoned.

#7 Comment By JonF311 On June 3, 2012 @ 2:43 am

 I’m not sure the Mormons are a good example. Mormon “tradition” is180 years old at the oldst (and was considerably younger when it reversed course on polygamy). Also the LDS views its leadership not so much as interpreters of Tradition but as prophets* who are continually receiving revelation– and there does not appear to be an issue with new revelaltions annulling old ones.

The example of interest is a good one, though note that the Church quietly tiptoed away from that one, never really coming out and saying “we were wrong; interest is OK as long as it is not excessive.” IMO, unless a mistake is profound and a source of great injustice (as persecuting heretics certainly was), it’s probably better for a tradition-based body to quietly alter its stance when it has realized its mistake. Doing so abruptly and with fanfare throws everything into doubt.

* Mormons are welcome to correct me if “prophet” is the wrong term, even analogically.

#8 Comment By SiarlysJenkins On June 3, 2012 @ 3:25 am

 Nothing about the “Old Testament” is unambiguous: witness the number of Christian denominations and branches of Judaism that dispute its meaning. Incidentally, Jews do not recognize the (to them) insulting term “Old Testament.” It is the Tanach: Torah, Nevi’im (loosely understood by Christians to mean “prophecy,” and Writings. Why should anybody Jewish take Red Phillips seriously, since he has no conception of the Oral Torah, nor the Talmud, and he is  evidently enamoured of a batch of confused Greek syncretisms pompously labeled the “New Testament”? By the way Red, do you scrupulously refrain from eating pork, crab, lobster, and raw oysters? (www.godhatesshrimp.com)

Rod’s a propos remark about “readers who are surprised and offended that the Catholic Church doesn’t
understand itself as a Protestant body, and therefore acts like the
Catholic Church” is right on the money. By the same token, conservative Judaism acts like conservative Judaism, not like Reform Judaism, nor like the Roman Catholic Church, and the divisions within Judaism are the divisions within Judaism, not terribly analogous to the divisions within Christianity.

As for the Episcopal Church, my Protestant ancestors considered it no better than the Church of Rome, but most of my childhood playmates were good Catholics, and I have an Episcopal cousin whose father was Catholic and her mother Presbyterian. Who am I to judge which of them is going to heaven? God hasn’t asked my advice on the subject.

#9 Comment By Nate Wood On June 3, 2012 @ 3:41 am

The point about interest is a good one; that was once a well-established part of Christian tradition that has now been all but dropped among anybody but a handful of theologians. Another example would be theocracy: the idea of a Christian empire is arguably more entrenched in the tradition than the teaching on marriage is, but now you’d be hard pressed to find a conservative Christian here in America who thinks that the heir of Constantine is the rightful ruler over of the whole Christian world, as had been assumed for some 1,500 years, and all the way up to barely a century ago in Orthodoxy. There are a lot of examples of major changes in Christian tradition that happen in large part due to outside influence.

#10 Comment By William On June 3, 2012 @ 5:03 am

 Um, they’re Jews.  It’s not the “Old Testament” to them.

#11 Comment By ThyTwoThou On June 3, 2012 @ 5:10 am

The Old Testament (the only one that governs Jews) is equally clear in demanding the ritual killings of anyone who mixes different cloth varieties, disobeys their parents, works on the sabbath, eats shellfish, gets tattoos, etc.  Part of making your faith more worthwhile is disregarding the parts that are wrong.  This is just the latest in a long religious tradition of revising religious traditions.  

#12 Comment By Charles Cosimano On June 3, 2012 @ 10:31 am

 God did ask my advice and said he should let them all as none of them have any idea what they are talking about in the first place.

#13 Comment By SecularMisanthropist On June 3, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

I have a Muslim co-worker who won’t own bond mutual funds and writes a check to charity for any interest he receives in his bank account. I’ve never known a Christian who did this, so I think the prohibition has collapsed.

#14 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On June 3, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

I’m not sure the ‘Christian Empire’ thing was ever *dogmatic truth* in the same way as the teaching against interest was. Or persecuting heretics, for that matter. Daniel Larison claims that the Byzantine Empire almost never executed heretics, except for Manichaeans.

#15 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On June 3, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

Re: The point about interest is a good one; that was once a well-established part of Christian tradition that has now been all but dropped among anybody but a handful of theologiansI’d say that a lot of people on the Christian left (economic left, not cultural) try to respect the spirit of the prohibition on interest, if not the letter

#16 Comment By Red Phillips On June 3, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Lev 18:22 (KJV)
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Lev 20:13 (KJV)

What part of those verses, prey tell, is ambiguous? This should be good. This is why I say Political Correctness is lying with a straight face. An intellectually honest person can not say that those verses say something other than what they clearly say. What honest people who support the de-sininfication (is that a word?) of homosexuality should say is that they don’t care what the Old Testament says because they know better which is another way of saying they don’t believe it is God’s Word. Fine, then we’ll debate whether it is God’s Word. But it is fundamentally dishonest to argue that the Bible, Old Testament and New, don’t clearly and unambiguously condemn homosexuality. If you would like to forever tarnish your credibility by doing so then have at it.

And yes I eat pork because the New Testament clearly overturns the dietary laws for Christians. But Jews who don’t accept the New Testament and consider the Old Testament Divinely inspired should still follow the dietary laws. Hopefully in route to accepting their Messiah.

#17 Comment By Eric On June 3, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

This is such an annoying rhetorical habit, and everyone does it.  I’ve heard Christians ask people whom they know to be atheist “don’t you want to be saved from your sins?” and being completely unable to understand why that’s not a productive line of inquiry for converting someone to Christianity.  Similarly, I’ve heard non-religious people criticize the Catholic Church for its stance on birth control because it takes away control of your reproductive life, completely unable to understand that being able to control your own reproductive life is not a goal of Catholicism.

#18 Comment By Red Phillips On June 3, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

“Part of making your faith more worthwhile is disregarding the parts that are wrong.”
Well if you believe your Holy Book to be Divinely inspired you can’t just “disregard” it now can you?

#19 Comment By sketchesbyboze On June 4, 2012 @ 12:22 am

 Red, I think you’re confusing “Judaism” with “Protestantism.”

#20 Comment By ThyTwoThou On June 4, 2012 @ 12:39 am

So Jews should still be killing people who get tattoos or mix two types of cloth? Each are no less abominized and death-worthy in Torah than is homosexuality.

Jews don’t believe in Jesus but know enough to disregard the death laws. So in a discussion of Judaism, what’s your point? Are you pro-murder? Or do you think anyone who is not pro-murder is not a real Jew? Help me out here.

#21 Comment By William On June 4, 2012 @ 1:42 am

 The most obvious ambiguity is what “lieth with a woman” means in this context.  Since a man doesn’t have a vagina (putting FTM transsexuals to one side for the purposes of the argument), lying with him as with a woman is impossible, if the statement is to be interpreted literally.  (Obviously, I’m going by the English here, the original Hebrew may be phrased differently, and I’m no rabbi.)  So right away you have the question of which sexual acts are being specifically prohibited.  Does the penalty apply to both partners, or only to the “active” one who takes the “male” role lying with a man as with a woman, or only to the “passive” one who lieth as a woman.  If one man takes another’s penis into his mouth, he is clearly not treating the other man “as a woman.”  So its really not all that clear.

#22 Comment By SiarlysJenkins On June 4, 2012 @ 1:50 am

 Cold comfort if you happen to be a Manichean. From a Jewish viewpoint, Christianity itself is Manichean. There is nothing in Jewish teaching remotely comparable to the Christian notion of THE Devil, the enemy of God. Satan, in Jewish teaching, is God’s faithful servant, God’s tester.

#23 Comment By SiarlysJenkins On June 3, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

Let’s leave the Jews alone for a moment, and talk about the Romans:

The Church, in its official teaching, says that salvation does come to the world through the Roman church, but if someone sincerely does not understand that, and does his best to obey God within the limits of his understanding, he may be (not “will be,” but may be) saved, even though he is not a Catholic.

 My, what a patronizing concession, wrapped up in the usual hubris. I notice that when I acknowledge that the Roman Catholic Church is entitled to be considered a legitimate Christian denomination, just as much as the Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Orthodox, Congregationalists, Quakers, etc., certain adherents take this as an insult because it references their beloved church as merely one denomination among many.

I don’t mind any church saying “We believe this is the way to be saved.” But that should be tempered with something like “We’re only human, and God said ‘my ways are not your ways. We are each responsible for our own choices, and God will judge as God sees fit, no matter what any of us believe.” I don’t buy the “Whore of Babylon” thing either. Most of the Catholics I know are perfectly nice people, and I doubt very much that God will send them all to hell for being Catholic.

As to the “early Church,” I think the Mennonites have the best claim to be practicing as the early church practiced. But who really knows for sure?

#24 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On June 3, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

I don’t think individual people opting out of interest is the way to go (though I think that if the bulk of your income is coming from unearned income like rent, inheritance, interest, capital gains, then that’s morally unhealthy). The change I’d like to see is for banking and credit to be nationalized and for the gains from interest and investment go into the public treasury to be used for the common good. That would get around the traditional prohibition of interest, as I see it.

#25 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On June 3, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

Catholics can still control their reproductive lives to a certain extent with NFP (which is highly effective when done right). It’s only certain methods of contraception which are prohibited

#26 Comment By Red Phillips On June 3, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

You’re joking, right? This is some sort of deliberate parody?

#27 Comment By Monterey22 On June 3, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

This isn’t about judaism, but I did see a woman standing outside an uber-liberal church (UCC–same denomination as Obama’s Jeremiah Wright church) today, holding a sign that said “Another christian for marriage equality”. I wanted to stand next to her with a sign that said “Another christian standing for the truth”—and that truth would be that God isn’t so hot on the whole gay marriage thing. He called homosexuality an abomination. If you don’t like that, I suppose you can take it up with HIM.

#28 Comment By Sharon Astyk On June 4, 2012 @ 8:25 am

Rod, I think it is incredibly hard to understand any other religion fully from outside of it. speaking as someone who has been a convert for quite some time, there are still things that I don’t instinctively grasp in Judaism – and the huge difference between religions we tend to view as largely similar is perhaps starkly more obvious to me. For example, a commenter above talking about Jews not really “believing” in the Torah/Old Testament (which is the only testament we have, btw, so we don’t call it that ;-)).

I think you can say that only if you believe that Jews and Christians read text the same way – and they really, truly do not. With the exception of Talmudic commentary, for the most part Jews read their texts much more literally than Christians do – but the word “literal” here has a different implication than it would for Christian fundamentalists or Biblical literalists. While Christians would read the book as literally true, but having sweeping implications (that the Levitican prohibition against two men lying together is a blanket prohibition against homosexuality) Jews would tend to read it LITERALLY as saying what it says – and no more. So for the most part, most Jews see a specific Torah prohibition against a particular sex act that two men might engage in. It is not in and of itself for most Orthodox rabbis the primary justification against gay marriage – or against two men engaging in different practices. That comes from other sources, as do prohibitions against lesbianism (which are all Talmudic and doesn’t get discussed in the Torah at all).

Christianity, probably because of its long history of reading the Torah/OT backwards to find evidence for the NT, has a much broader interpretation of text than Judaism generally does – Jewish exegesis tends to focus on what the text actually says, while Christian readings are very different, read with a stronger sense of metaphor and broader reaching for meanings. Neither is good or bad, they are just hugely different.

The fundamental difference between conservative and orthodox Judaism is in the question of whether the oral law (the Talmud) is divinely inspired in the same way that the written law (Torah) is. Orthodox Jews say yes, Conservative Jews say no. That does not mean that the oral law (halacha) is not an important part of the tradition, nor that the Rabbis who wrote it don’t have a real vote – but it is a vote, not the word of G-d.

Even Orthodox Rabbis tend to read the Levitican prohibition literally in the sense that it prohibits a single act between men. It does not prohibit all homosexuality. Most of the conservative and orthodox gay men I know do not engage in that act. Prohibitions against other acts and against lesbian are rabbinical for the most part, part of the Talmud. For Orthodox Jews who tend to believe that rabbinical law is divine, those prohibitions have a very large weight – but much less so in a Conservative community that sees traditional halacha as central, but not divine. The difference has existed as long as the Conservative/Masorti movement has existed.

Fundamentally, the fact that I am allowed on the bimah (altar), that I read Torah (I’m a woman), that I can touch other men in a friendly way (rather than be presumed as always niddah, lest a man accidentally touch me during my cycles), that I do not sit behind a Mehitza (dividing curtain or wall to prevent men from hearing my voice raised in prayer), that I would sit down to eat at a table in your home, Rod (were I there), even if I didn’t eat non-kosher meat, that my husband and I don’t sleep in separate beds for 12 days a month, that I ride to shul in a car from my farm 20 miles distant etc… are all equally and just as deeply fundamental alterations from the Orthodox as gay marriage. I realize it is hard to understand from outside, but truly, driving on Shabbat is probably structurally more alien a move than allowing gay marriage – the differences between Orthodox and Conservative are simply that great, and always have been.

Sharon

#29 Comment By SecularMisanthopist On June 4, 2012 @ 9:29 am

Hector_St_Clare, in our culture you need passive income to retire. It can be either a pension, investment gains, reverse mortgage, or bond interest. Social security and medicare are usually a small portion of most people’s retirement income. Restructuring our economy in the manner you describe will not happen.

It other news it looks like Disqus has been given the big heave-hoe.

#30 Comment By Jon On June 4, 2012 @ 11:09 am

I am curious – is there any example in the history of the Catholic Church of a position that was adopted by one of the Ecumenical Councils that was later reversed?

#31 Comment By SecularMisanthopist On June 4, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

It occurs to me that Geocentrism would be another example of a reversal in Christianity.

#32 Comment By Red Phillips On June 4, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

Were there some comments lost in this (temporary?) conversion away from Disqus, or did mine just not make the cut?

#33 Comment By Erin Manning On June 4, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

Meant to get out here yesterday, but am glad now I waited–no Disqus! Yay!

Rod wrote: “Pius IX restated this understanding as late as the 19th century: ”For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, will not be held guilty of this in the eyes of God.”…The Catholic Church no longer teaches that…” etc.

Rod, the Church currently puts it this way in the Catechism (and I apologize for the length, but this is important stuff):

[Begin quote]:

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”338

[End quote.]

To me, the most important bit here is the sentence “Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” It makes it clear that the ancient formulation of “outside the Church…” refers to those who *choose* to be outside the Church, having first become convinced that the Church is exactly who and what she says she is: the Church which Christ Himself founded, the conduit through which His grace is poured out upon humanity especially through the sacramental life she dispenses, the mystical Bride of Christ spoken of in Scripture, and so on.

It is impossible to understand the “extra ecclesiam” statement absent a look at Christian history. For much of Christian history to be Christian was to be Catholic–or to choose personally to belong to some heretical sect, e.g., Arianism. That is, of course, simply no longer the case, and the Church makes it clear that she respects sincere Christians of many denominations and Churches while still insisting that the fullness of faith is to be found in the Catholic Church.

My point is that some of these nuanced developments of already-stated doctrines simply can’t be twisted into “reversals” or examples of the Church teaching something that is in open contradiction to something it used to teach. Those who pin their hopes on the Catholic Church blessing gay unions or allowing divorced people (for whom annulment is impossible) to remarry or blessing cohabitators, etc., just aren’t being realistic about Church history and what the development of doctrine really means.

#34 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 4, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

What about those who *choose* to be outside the Roman Church, having first become convinced that the Roman Church is NOT AT ALL who and what she says she is? In other words, the majority of Christians?

If the necessity of Baptism affirms the necessity of The Church, in what church’s rites did John the Baptist pour water over his cousin, Mary’s son?

#35 Comment By Tony D. On June 5, 2012 @ 12:37 am

“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church…”

An oldie but goodie: So a naked Heathen is talking to a missionary.
Heathen: “So you say you’re here because you don’t want me to go to Hell.”
Missionary: “Right.”
Heathen: “And you say that, if I hadn’t heard about Jesus, through no fault of my own, God would not condemn me to Hell.”
Missionary: “Right.”
Heathen: “Then WHY DID YOU TELL ME?”

#36 Comment By Keith Neal On October 3, 2012 @ 12:29 am

Believe it or not, It all started with Israel And it will end with them As well, God said I change not, So the law on gay marriage Changes not also, It is still an abomination. Out of all the nations in the world that surrounded Israel back in Ancient times, has not changed even in our time Israel is still the chosen people Out of all the nations in the world. Read your Bible from beginning to end, Study it well, seek and search, learn the difference between Hebrew and English meanings, you will see they’re not the same so you’re not going to get the same understanding it started in Hebrew it will end in Hebrew. let every man study for himself and learn for himself truth and stop listening to everybody else thinks, remember always pray and ask for truth wisdom want you to know everything….