One of the greatest temptations for the church and indeed for any Christian is to adopt the morals of the surrounding world instead of adhering to the divine law. When the whole world is saying you must burn incense to the emperor as that is what all right-minded people do; then there is strong temptation to do just that. When you look around and all of the best people, the decent, humane, citizens are burning the incense, then you ask yourself why can’t I and my church do the right thing and do the same? When upright, compassionate, right-thinking, civilized, forward-thinking, progressive, decent, smiling people are burning incense to the emperor, then there is a strong temptation for you to do so as well. When all of the leaders, all of the cultural leaders of the country say you must burn incense to the emperor or be seen as an anti-social, hate-monger, then there is a strong temptation to “burn the incense”..
After all, who wants to be seen as judgmental, backward-looking, retrogressive, hate-filled, condemnatory, indecent, uncivilized resisters to the simple act of burning the incense? How can one resist these decent humane people when they argue that morals have progressed beyond old testament superstitions? They point out that scriptures did not condemn slavery and yet the whole world now sees slavery as a gross immorality! Clearly, humanity can progress morally over the centuries and sometimes it must do so without the support of the divine law as evidenced by scripture.
Scripture, tradition, church fathers, church councils, doctors of the church, popes and saints alike have all condemned active homosexuality (the orientation is a different matter as that is not chosen by the afflicted individual) and none of these authorities have unequivocally condemned slavery (St Patrick was an exception). Yet the modern world celebrates homosexuality and condemns slavery. Members of the church from the Pope down to the laity in the pews wish that things were different. But the record is clear. What the church has historically condemned is now practiced as a liberatory virtue by the modern world. Something has to give. Should divine law bend to the sensibilities of modern bourgeoisie in their celebration of the sexual revolution? Or should the Church LEAD the modern world in observance of divine law?
The church is going through a phase where it wants to be liked by the modern world. The current Pope and much of the hierarchy and certainly most of the laity in the pews basically agrees with the modern world regarding the moral status of the sexual revolution. Masturbation is not really a vice, Homosexuality is not an intrinsic evil. Divorce is OK under many circumstances. Sex outside marriage is not always bad, in fact it is natural and OK. Virginity and chastity are weird and anti-life. Married and homosexual priests are OK (especially when they are both homosexual and married!). Abortion is both virtuous and life enhancing. In fact it is a human right!
The church is in crisis partly because it wants to be loved by the right-thinking cultural leaders of our time all of whom have bought into the values of the sexual revolution. Unfortunately for the current Pope and the coterie of bourgeois bishops he has surrounded himself with, the church has to deal with the long record of scripture, councils, popes, doctors, theologians etc all condemning what the modern world praises.
I myself find some good in some aspects of the sexual revolution and much good in modernity itself (see my articles on Vatican II in this blog) but I despise the leaders of the church who would have the church kowtow, virtue-signal, apologize, bow and scrape to the bourgeois cultured-despisers of religion in the modern world who are demanding and indeed shrieking that ALL must “burn the incense” or be considered retrogressive hate-mongers..