Sunday, August 31, 2014

Stumbling Blocks, Lawsuits, Harlots

A few points to be gleaned from today's readings from the Bible.

From Romans 12:1-8 we heard this,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-- what is good and acceptable and perfect.

And then from Matthew 16:21-27 we heard this,

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
The lessons that 1) Christians should not be conformed to this world (Romans 12) and 2) that when our minds are on human things rather than divine things we are identified by our Lord as being Satan himself (Matthew 16) should strike home to each and everyone of us. We let our beliefs be swayed by the ever changing norms of society, and we see our minds forget the divine as we become preoccupied in our daily activities.

The image of the stumbling block, a block of stone, carved from a quarry, made of the very dust of which we are made causes me to think about just who it is who places the stones in the path of the unwary. Who moves them from place to place, from one issue to the next?


Of all the numerous stumbling blocks the Episcopal church has pushed around, perhaps the one that has done the most damage is the Revisionist heresy. This heresy sneaks into virtually every discussion of issues in the church, and you don't have to dig very deep to find it as last week's post on the revision of Ephesians 5:28-29 by the Task Force on Marriage, and the worst sermon ever by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church where the possessed slave girl in Acts 16 gets re-cast as a spiritually gifted soul abused by St. Paul so aptly demonstrate.

I have even heard attempts to justify going to court to fight over church properties. All such attempts must appeal to a revisionist approach to 1 Corinthians 6 (which was part of my private Bible study this morning).

1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?
4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?
5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?
6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
The modern conflict wherein some maintain that sexual immorality can be seen (revisioned) as a blessing from God as opposed to those who hold firm to the traditional interpretations of Scripture puts us pewsitters in the awkward situation of heeding the call to flee the harlot and having to give her the keys to what we have historically been told was God's house, a house for which we are asked to contribute our hard earned dollars without running to the civil courts for a judgment.

Pay the harlot so that she can create more stumbling blocks for other churches? I understand why people go to court to fight over church buildings.

See how easy it is for my mind to focus on human matters and to become a stumbling block too.

St. Paul's solution that we go before the saints in our conflicts begs the question: "Where do we find saints these days to resolve our conflicts?"

On Earth, one person's saint is another person's harlot.

We must look heavenwards. We must turn to scripture, to the lives of Jesus, to the witness of the Apostles, to their wise lessons, and we must find a way to avoid the stumbling block of revisionism which is always going to be out there seeking to ambush us.

Reverend Fun - Best Stumbling Block


  1. I said in my homily on Sunday that a Saint can often be overheard saying, "Can I get you something while I am up?"

    1. A real saint won't take your chair when you leave.