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Chris Christie is the former governor of Jew Jersey, and, as of this writing, is a republican candidate for president of the United States. Christie is known to be rather brash, and is never shy about expressing his opinion. As for his religious beliefs, he identifies as a Roman Catholic, and in the past, in keeping with this Catholic faith, he was a vocal opponent of gay marriage. The Roman Catholic faith does not recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.
In recent times, however, the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has moderated the Catholic position somewhat on that subject. While he has not changed the overall doctrine of the Church in that regard, he has now proclaimed that it is permissible for priests to bless individuals who are in same-sex marriages.
This has, obviously, created a lot of tension, and dissension, within the church. Those who hold to traditional Christian beliefs believe the Pope has crossed a line, and that what he is authorizing is biblically immoral. However, there is a large contingent of Catholics who are of a more socially liberal persuasion, who believe it is well past time for the Catholic Church to accept gay marriage. While this move to allow blessings does not satisfy the social liberals completely, they do see it as a softening of the traditional position, and a step toward full recognition of same-sex marriage by the Church.
As it turns out, Chris Christie is of the more liberal persuasion, and now proclaims that he has changed his position on the subject. He recently said: "What I know is society has changed and what people are accepting in our country now is different than when I was growing up, certainly than when I was your age. And you know I don't have any objection to it any longer. ... In the end, I think I've been convinced."
In announcing his change of heart, Christie justifies his new position on his perception that, "Pope Francis is now allowing blessings of same-sex couples.” He goes on to assert that, “... even the Church is changing."
In considering this argument, it is useful to note that the Roman Catholic Church looks at its ultimate authority source differently than how it is viewed in evangelical circles. While the Catholic Church does look to the Bible as its primary authority source, it is not its only source of authority. Catholics also have a set of church traditions that it considers equally authoritative. Thus, beliefs such as their understanding of Mary’s immaculate conception, their sacramental view of how sins are forgiven, their view of the role of priests, their understanding of the authority of the Pope, and other beliefs that are not specifically backed up by the biblical text, are accepted based on tradition rather than Scripture.
So, when the Pope declares that it is okay for priests to bless people who are in a same-sex marriage, or living immoral lives sexually, he is speaking into a tradition that considers adding new things to church tradition to be acceptable. The ultimate result is that many Catholics, those of Chris Christie’s ilk in particular, will look at the Pope’s proclamation and believe it is now morally acceptable to engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage. Essentially what we are seeing is that religious belief is being guided by modern culture, rather than modern culture being influenced by biblical beliefs.
While the Catholic Church may be changing (at least among a certain demographic) the actual church (the body of Christ) is not changing. The morals and values taught in the Bible are not subject to change. They are God’s revelation to man concerning Himself and His ways, and God does not change.
Certainly, we are not saved by the morality we live by, but the morality we live by does reflect whether or not we are actually saved. When people come to know Christ, their lives are changed, and their moral beliefs and practices reflect that.
No, the church is not changing – at least when it comes to biblical beliefs.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books entitled The Truth Mirage, Rules for Christians Radicals, Liberalism vs. Conservatism, and his latest book Shattering the Truth Mirage and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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