To be clear, this thread has nothing to do with the actual judgments of the upcoming synod on marriage and the family. Doctrine is not, and must not be, determined by emotions.
But I’ve noticed that a lot of emotions seem to be coming out, among people who oppose the Church finding a creative way to extend mercy to sinners without compromising the indissolubility of marriage. People are unwilling, for example, to seriously consider the types of situations that deeply grieved Pope Benedict, and prompted him to start this whole process leading toward the synod. They are certainly defending doctrine, and defending it skillfully and passionately, but my sense is that they are offended that this issue is even being brought up.
I’ve seen people ask things like this, actually: “If THAT person can get a divorce and remarry, and then get communion, then why should I stay in MY marriage, even though it is hard?”
That sort of statement is almost directly out of Scripture, but Scripture does not endorse it. It is the feeling of the Prodigal’s brother, or the feeling of the workers who have worked all day in the vineyard. It is an understandable thing, but also an *ugly *thing. It is another way of resisting grace, by placing one’s own merits over and above God’s mercy. From the parable:
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
What I would really love in this thread is if people would be willing to confess that they DO experience this sort of resentment, when Pope Francis seems to support new ways to extend mercy to sinners. The resentment is just like any other sinful feeling (rage or lust, for instance): it needs to be repented of, and turned from. I would be in AWE of anyone who confessed their own “older brother” syndrome, as it applies to the Synod and related matters. It would be an inspiration to all of us.
But please, I don’t want us to get sidetracked into talking about the details of the synod. I know there are good and rational reasons to maintain current teachings and disciplines. What I’m interested in here is the emotions we experience defending such teachings – surely if we purge ourselves of these harmful emotions, we will be able to more gently and lovingly advocate for the correct theological decisions.