THE FINE PRINT
Looking For Loopholes
Kathy Bernard - Publisher
in a hospital bed shortly before his death, W. C. Fields was visited
by the actor Thomas Mitchell, a good friend. When Mitchell entered
Fields' room, he was shocked to find the irreligious Fields paging
through a Bible. Fields was a lifelong agnostic, and fervently
anti-religious (he once said that he had skimmed the Bible while
looking for movie plots, but found only "a pack of wild lies").
didn't know you were
religious person, Bill,' the friend questioned, knowing his friend
was agnostic. 'I'm not!' Fields said crossly.
what are you doing with that Bible?'
‘I’m looking for loopholes' "
we like W. C. Fields, looking for non-existent loopholes in the
bible to support our lifestyles? Too many people think God's laws
are antiquated and do not apply to today’s way of life. Strict laws
on abortion, divorce, unmarried sex, same sex marriage, are just a
few of the things that have been bent and contorted to suit today’s
thinking. Clear and stern warnings in the bible are carelessly
tossed aside if they stand in the way of personal pleasure and
needs. Choices are justified with loud shouts of rights and
preferences, with anger fueling the masses. But though many search
in vain, there are no escape hatches to be found, for God has
decreed His rules clearly and firmly in Matthew 5:18: ”I tell
you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the
smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is
achieved.” And so self-interpretation of truth to suit is not
acceptable to God. Those who dare to rewrite are in grave danger of
losing their salvation to eternal life.
you search in vain for loopholes concerning living together without
marriage? How about missing mass and stealing the Sabbath for
solely selfish purposes? Looking for loopholes to cheat or commit
adultery? What about abortion? Are some of us trying to find
something in the bible that will allow us to “feel good” about
aborting a human life because it is not convenient to have a baby?
Can’t afford it, you say? Do you drink to excess, smoke pot
because it feels good, ignoring that our bodies are temples for our
souls? Are we intensely trying to find a loophole or a biblical
verse that condones and sanctions same sex marriage knowing such
marriages cannot pro-create as God intended? Are we claiming rights
that God said equivocally “NO” to?
masses gather in noisy crowds to talk about rights, fervently
emploring passers-by to join their ranks. Not the rights of old
such as those that say all men are equal and precious to God. No,
these are rights to change the very laws that God forbids. And
sadly the outrage that many expend on causes that are wrong is
growing as others come aboard. We now hear angry voices pressing to
be heard. Politicians hold onto and sanction to appease for the
votes they need to be elected to office. Changes, they insist, must
be made to accommodate this new thinking. Never mind the old, it
is time for the new, for it is justified they say.
will we tell the Lord when He comes again and we strain to hear our
name being read, only to find it is not there in God’s book of
life? What will we say when we stand in judgment and all the
things God said not to do, we “found” a loophole, a "human
misunderstanding" we claim, albeit shaky, to support our idea of
truth and the right to decide using free will? How will we stand
there and explain what we knew deep in our hearts was a selfish
interpretation of our Heavenly Father's truth?
are constantly hearing that we must change with the times, and move
with that change. Feeling and needs are at stake. The clergy who
tell us we must not indulge in sinful lifestyles are beaten down and
are deemed “old school”, "out of date". Our 'right now' mentality
of earthly pleasures has a massive ticket price when we consider we
are squandering our eternity Christ died to give us. Sadly, those
aborted lives we so easily took for selfish reasons without later
getting repentance to God will loom large when we stand in judgment
can we be strong in these troubled times?
has provided for all things by giving us something that, if we
listen, will enable us to judge these changing times. It is called
“conscience”, a built in God gift called the Holy Spirit. It is the
spiritual thread that ties us to our heavenly Father. It warns us
to reason prayerfully before we give in to sin. It protects us from
evil dangers and is better than all the means of high tech
communication used today.
It is a direct form of
transmitting truth and wisdom from God in support of His word.
1783-5, 1792, 2039 tells us “A well-formed conscience will never
contradict the objective moral law, as taught by Christ and His
Church.” Conscience is the means
God has given us to make moral and rational decisions based on the
wisdom He gives if we are willing to listen. Our faith demands that
we use it: "When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can
hear God speaking." (Catechism,
1777) But we compromise this dignity of conscience if we haven't
formed that conscience well, or taken the care to reason clearly and
objectively as a believing Christian.
John Paul II tells us that conscience is an "interior dialog of man
with himself" about right and wrong. It "is also a dialog of man
with God": it is "the witness of God himself" calling him (or her)
to obey the moral law, and is a person's "witness of his own
faithfulness or unfaithfulness." This is the basis of the great
dignity of the conscience: it derives from its witness to objective
moral truth. (Veritatis
Splendor, 57-58, 60).
Pope John Paul II teaches: “Jesus alludes to the danger of the
conscience being deformed when he warns: “The eye is the lamp of the
body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of
light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of
darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the
darkness!" (Mt 6:22-23)
United For The Faith
declares: “Moral conscience is
man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary. It is there that “man
discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must
obey” (Gaudium et Spes, 16). In his conscience, man not only
discovers the natural law (cf. Rom. 2:15) but encounters God
Himself, the author of the law. While the natural law written on
our hearts teaches us the general, objective principles of the moral
life, conscience applies the natural law to particular
circumstances, enabling us to choose what is good and avoid what is
evil (cf. Catechism, no. 1777).” But we must listen prayerfully,
not letting others over-ride God’s gentle and loving voice.
are no mistakes in the bible. There are no loopholes, no tricky
passages except those man creates for his own purposes. It is
inspired, meaning "God
breathed and His word is infallible.” No man can change it, no
matter their station or their title. They cannot claim it is
outdated, nor can they look within their conscience with one eye on
what they want, then feel they can successfully change the decrees
of God while still maintaining salvation. Jesus tells us in Luke
13:24-28: “Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to
you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able. But when the
master of the house shall be gone in, and shall shut the door, you
shall begin to stand without, and knock at the door, saying: Lord,
open to us. And He answering, shall say to you: “I know you not,
whence you are. Then you shall begin to say: “We have eaten and
drunk in thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets. And He
shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are: depart from me,
all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of
teeth, when you shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the
prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”
And so, do not be like those who scramble about to find something
they can misinterpret in order to move ahead with selfish, earthly
and ungodly needs. Satan will rejoice in you but God will not.
it hard to accept God’s path for us? You bet it is. Especially in
light of public disdain. But this is a decree of God and we cannot
go beyond it without losing the gift of Jesus Christ. 2 John 9-11
states, “Anyone who wanders away from His teaching has no
relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of
Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. And so
we are subject to it, and will be held and bound to it. There is no
way and no loophole we can use to be released from His Truth.
When we live a life that may be suspect, are
we concerned that there is a God watching and making sad note of our
actions? Are our rights worth forfeiting
said in Acts 4:20 “…we cannot but speak the things which
we have seen and heard.” – Douay-Rheims. And so, fellow Catholic
Christians, we might play “ring around the rosy” with God’s truth
but it will lead right back to the same. Either we follow God’s
precepts or we endanger our souls pursuing what we mortals perceive
and declare as truth.
a speech given in Rome at
Saint Peter’s in 1993 at the Feast
of the Transfiguration of the Lord,
Pope John Paul II in the fifteenth
of his Pontificate tells, “But
temptations can be overcome, sins can be avoided, because together
with the commandments, the Lord gives us the possibility of keeping
them: "His eyes are on those who fear him, and He knows every deed
of man. He has not commanded any one to be ungodly, and He has not
given any one permission to sin" (Sir 15:19-20). Keeping
God's law in particular situations can be difficult, extremely
difficult, but it is never impossible. This is the constant teaching
of the Church's tradition, and was expressed by the Council of
Trent: "But no one, however much justified, ought to consider
himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, nor should
he employ that rash statement, forbidden by the Fathers under
anathema, that the commandments of God are impossible of observance
by one who is justified. For God does not command the impossible,
but in commanding He admonishes you to do what you can and to pray
for what you cannot, and He gives His aid to enable you. His
commandments are not burdensome (cf. 1 Jn 5:3); His yoke is
easy and His burden light (cf. Mt 11:30)".
Thomas Gumbleton is a retired Roman Catholic auxiliary
bishop of the
Archdiocese of Detroit. He states in his October 2006 homily “The
Word of God is, in a sense, dangerous, because if we really listen,
we're going to have to make dramatic changes in how we act, who we
are and so on. And sometimes we're tempted to say, "If only I could
find a loophole. I want to hear God's Word, but maybe not all of it"
-- something like that. …”we get kind of a hint of how difficult
the Word of God can be when Solomon says, "I prayed and
understanding was given to me, I asked earnestly and the Spirit of
Wisdom came to me, and I preferred her to scepters and thrones. And
I considered well as nothing compared with her." Wisdom. Knowing God
and God's Word is more important than anything else. In a way that's
threatening -- people look for a loophole.” Bishop Gumbleton is a
founding member of Pax Christi USA and an outspoken critic of
violence and militarism. He has appeared on numerous radio and
television programs, and has published numerous articles and
reports. By special arrangement, his column is an internet exclusive
on the National Catholic Reporter.
John Paul II
speaking on the Mount of the Beatitudes in the Holy Land in March
2000 says, “Jesus’ call has always demanded a choice — a choice
between the two voices competing for your hearts. Even now on this
hill. Or we could say this morning, even now in this church, Jesus’
call is a choice between the two voices competing for our hearts.
Even now in this church. The choice between good and evil. The
choice between life and death."
you willing to gamble on God's FOREVER with a "rubber stamp"
loophole signed by man or the laws signed in blood by Jesus Christ?
By His Divine Power, God has given us everything
we need for living a
godly life. We have received all of
this by coming to
know Him, the One who called us to Himself
by means of His
marvelous glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:3