Fr. James Martin, SJ, is one of the most well-known Catholic priests in the United States. He is an author, speaker, magazine editor and has appeared on numerous television programs to promote his works and his ideas. Unfortunately, his works and ideas often run contrary to Christianity and specifically, contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. As uncomfortable as that would make most priests, Fr. Martin seems to thrive on his disagreements with 2000 years of Christianity.
In spite of his dissenting views on Christianity, he has been able to continue preaching, teaching, writing and appearing, without being disciplined by his Jesuit superiors or any bishop. This is primarily due to the fact that he is gifted at walking a razor thin line between truth and error.
But while Fr. Martin is extremely careful not to clearly define his error, we can look at his followers to see that error is the message that is received. In other words, people are clearly interpreting Fr. Martin’s teaching to be contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
For example, Fr. Martin posted this on his Facebook page:
In a comment under Fr. Martin’s post, Charlene Dishaw referenced a document once published by the United States Catholic Bishops which encouraged parents not to reject their children if their child announces he or she is same-sex attracted. While that publication was not in error, people can certainly interpret it incorrectly. One of them appears to be Charlene:
As you may see, Charlene may be interpreting the Church’s teaching to mean that we must accept and celebrate homosexual acts when the Church actually teaches that we must love and celebrate the person as a son or daughter of God, but always speak truth to behavior that separates our sons and daughters from God.
Other comments under Fr. Martin’s post are as follows:
It appears the use of the word “hilarious” is a translation issue and that Kiiza is in favor of same-sex marriage in the Church.
Another comment which clearly distorts truth:
Below, Michale Fin responds to Melanie Keras who succinctly pointed to Scripture in showing that homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s plan:
Actually the Bible does say that homosexual behavior is sinful but Michael must not be familiar with those passages.
As you see, Elizabeth feels everyone should be “included in the entire Mass” which sounds like she even feels people in the state of mortal sin should be able to receive the Eucharist without any problems whatsoever.
Then there is this one:
Change? Right now the Church teaches that we are to love the sinner but hate the sin. What should we change? Maybe hate both? Hate the sinner and love the sin? How about Love the sinner and love the sin? Sorry Peggy, loving the person and hating the sin is the only workable combination here. No change is necessary and no change is possible in the Catholic Church.
As you may have anticipated, Fr. Martin jumps in after these comments to offer correction and clarification so these deeply misguided people are not left on the wrong path. Except, he doesn’t.
Fr. Martin, the one with the degree in theology, doesn’t show up in any of these conversations on his page. Maybe I’m being to harsh on Fr. Martin who is in great demand to speak, preach and counsel people all across the country (as long as they pay for his airfare and other travel costs). Maybe Fr. Martin is too busy to correct the flawed perception of these followers of his. But then you see something like the following post and you can see that he’s not too busy:
This is why I’m a bit critical of Fr. Martin. He lets people persist in a terrible ignorance, but he jumps in quickly when someone offers assistance in furthering the ignorance. Maybe this is just an isolated example. I wonder if there is a pattern here.
So it is clear that Fr. Martin does have a lot of time on his hands. He not only posts numerous things on social media through various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but he has plenty of time to respond to comments below his posts.
So I have taken the opportunity to ask him some extremely simple questions about Catholic teachings on morality, hoping he can help clear up some obvious misperceptions among his followers:
These are just three examples of occasions when I’ve asked Fr. Martin a question which just about any 3rd grade child could answer correctly. But Fr. Martin won’t respond to me. However I’m nothing if not persistent:
Others respond, eventually coming to the conclusion that I must be told not to judge. But Fr. Martin remains totally silent. He won’t correct people who interpret him to be condoning a life of homosexual behavior and he won’t respond to those who ask him if he believes extramarital sex is still a sin.
From this we can reasonably conclude that Fr. Martin is teaching people that extramarital sex is not sinful, immoral or contrary to Christianity.
But as I was putting this blog together an interesting thing happened. I discovered that Fr. Martin had changed something that eliminated my ability to comment under his posts. For instance, one of his followers had posted this terribly flawed comment:
In an effort to try and help this poor lost soul (since Fr. Martin wasn’t making an effort), I posted the following in reply to Lee Ann this morning:
Lee Ann Kashmer Please allow me the opportunity to offer some thoughts regarding your post.
Above, you ask: So herein lies my problem. Is receiving communion in a state of sinlessness God’s law or man’s law?
That is Man’s law and it is a heresy called Jansenism which led to a lot of problems once upon a time. However, God’s law says that we are not to receive Jesus in the state of mortal sin. You can find this is 1 Corinthians 11:23-32. As you know, there are two kinds or categories of sin, venial and mortal (1 John 5:16-17). The Eucharist actually heals us from our venial sins, but receiving the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin only adds a new mortal sin of sacrilege to our soul. Before we receive the Eucharist, we must be cleansed of mortal sin through the sacrament of reconciliation.
You also ask: Who is to say what is a sin?
Scripture and 2000 years of Christian teachings pretty clearly define right from wrong and therefore, generally speaking, sin is no longer up to speculation. If you have any questions about any specific behavior or omission, there are a lot of resources you can turn to for help, but Fr. Martin is not one of them. Galatians 5:19-21 is one of many places in Scripture in which the inspired and inerrant word of God spells out some of these sins and sinful ideologies. There are also many great documents to help you examine your conscience. I suggest you look at some of those.
You ask: Why is it when we need God the most, we are denied Him because we may not be pure?
Again, Jansenism says you have to be pure (sinless). That is a heresy. However, you can certainly receive Jesus after a good confession and when you are not in a state of mortal sin.
You ask: Once again, did God say we couldn’t have communion unless we were pure or did man?
No. That is Jansenism – see above.
You state: Perhaps one must feel they are sinning in order to be in a state of sin.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1857: For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” While a feeling can be helpful, the feeling can also be very misleading. The primary issue is your knowledge. If you know or suspect it is wrong and do it anyway, you have probably sinned and at least need to speak with a priest to see if it is something to confess.
You ask: Why is loving someone a sin?
It isn’t. Having sex outside of marriage is a sin. I focus on this specific sin because it is the relevant one for purposes of this OP and the subject matter of the comments below. There are many ways to love a person without engaging in sexual behavior (thankfully, since incest is horrid). The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy are great examples of chaste ways to show authentic love for our neighbors.
You ask: Did God command that only man and woman may be married or did man?
God. See Genesis 2 and Matthew 19 as well as the 4th Commandment. Additionally all the references to marriage in Scripture are male/female marriages, even the polygamous marriages. Polygamy is rejected by God and those who engaged in polygamy in the Bible suffered negative consequences for it. One could argue that the absence of something in Scripture is not an argument regarding that behavior, but when the presence of something in Scripture is prevalent and never contradicted, it is a powerful testimony to its truth. Marriage between a man and a woman is Scriptural as well as scientific (natural law, biology, medicine, etc…) and logical. Then there are those really blatant Scripture passages that clearly list homosexual behavior as a grave sin right along with adultery, stealing, etc… I know there are many who are trying to interpret those passages differently now, but the fact is, they have been there for thousands of years and anyone who tries to explain them away now is just being dishonest.
You state: I think it’s easy for straight people to say that those who aren’t should “pick up our crosses and change our lives” but we aren’t talking about giving up soda or chocolate.
You are correct about the ease of being a Monday morning quarterback or a backseat driver. But it is also easy for a healthy eater to tell me to push my plate away after my first serving of pie. My difficulty in seeing that truth does not change reality. Too much candy is bad for us no matter what we believe. If nobody taught us the negative effects of too much sugar, many of us (who have sweet-troths) would grow sick and die from painful illnesses. We need help from people sometimes, especially if we are highly attracted to something that is not good for us.
You state: I think that we should embrace our fellow humans no matter their persuasion.
Absolutely. But we have no obligation to embrace all of their decisions and behaviors and we certainly should not embrace their sin to celebrate it, condone it, encourage it or otherwise glorify it. If we embrace someone, it should always be with authentic love, not purely a short-sighted form of compassion which only leads to the continuation of their walk away from Jesus.
You say: After all God did say love one another as I have loved you.
He did. Then he suffered ridicule, humiliation and rejection for it. Jesus died because he challenged people entrenched in the world. They couldn’t see the truth of His new message of sacrificial love. Many times, Jesus had to confront lies with a very challenging truth. Today, we are called to speak truth in the face of the lie of the LGBT agenda and the culture of death. We will be chastised, criticized, even persecuted for it. Our own family members will sometimes reject us because the truth is sometimes painful at first. But like Christ, we must be willing to suffer these things in the name of truth. Mercy is not possible without truth because a seemingly merciful approach that is not grounded in truth is actually a lie and the Father of Lies loves that. Laying our lives down for others is of no use to anyone unless we do so in truth.
You say: Life is too short to live it judging each other.
Yes, and eternity is too near to ignore behavior which can send people to eternal suffering. We are not judging another’s heart, we are judging the words and actions that are right before our eyes. A person’s words and actions are not the person. This is an essential distinction. More on this below. We offer truth in order to help people move toward God. We don’t pat them on the back as they stroll toward Hell.
You say: Perhaps we should leave that [judgment] to God.
We have no option but to leave actual judgment to God, that is the judgment of another’s heart (soul). This is because we lack the supernatural power to actually see into another person’s heart. But helping people look into their own heart is not judging them, it is loving them. It helps them consider whether they should repent and amend their lives. If they still resist and continue in their sinful ways, it is their decision and they therefore, condemn themselves if we have been accurate in our assessment of their behavior. But God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. This is why we are called to help people live virtuous lives, not facilitate their demise. The only way we can do this is to respond to the words and actions of others. We can see and hear them, then ask them to consider whether these things are true, in their own best interests and/or consistent with the way we are created (psychologically, physically and spiritually). Some great Scripture verses for reflection are: Ezekiel 3:17-21 and 33:7-12. There is also Matthew 18:15-17, Luke 17:3, John 7:24 and 1 Corinthians 4:14. And finally, a great message for us in James 5:19-20, which tells us of the merit available through fraternal correction.
I hope this helps you find answers to your questions. Much of this is very pertinent to Christianity, but since you are posting on the page of a Catholic priest, I presume you are Catholic or that at least you are not a skeptic. Let me know if you have any other questions.
But as I returned to that conversation for a screenshot for this blog, I noticed my reply was gone. I thought that was interesting, especially since I was respectful, charitable and adhered to Scripture, the Catechism and was at all time, consistent with all the Church taught on the issue. Then I noticed that my “reply” button was no longer available on Fr. Martin’s page.
It is unfortunate that Fr. Martin finds my comments so challenging that he not only ignores my questions, he is now deleting my comments and blocking my ability to add new comments, even when his followers are appreciative of my clarifications such as with Nokra:
So between 8:41am and 5:01pm yesterday, I responded to Nokra, helping her understand why she felt confused about Church teaching and how to find the proper answers. She read my response, thanked me and chastised Fr. Martin for being confusing. I’m not sure which of my responses got me banned from Fr. Martin’s page (maybe it was Nokra’s conclusion that Fr. Martin is a wolf in sheep’s clothing). Keep in mind that I never varied from Church teaching and I never made comments which were disrespectful, uncharitable or inappropriate in the least.
So this is how Fr. Martin handles an offer to dialogue:
It is unfortunate that Fr. Martin is being dishonest with the LGBT community, the average Catholic and with me. It is clear that he does not want to dialogue and that he is very intimidated by someone who does nothing more than use the teachings of the Church to show where he is in error. I was able to comment and attempt dialogue as early as 8am this morning, but now he’s trying to shut me up. I guess I should have just congratulated him and asked him to come speak in Hastings (on my dime), then he would have responded to me.
The reality is that Fr. Martin knows he’s lying and he knows that his lies cannot stand up to scrutiny. Therefore, he must avoid all conversations with those who will show that he is teaching error.
In the end, we know what Fr. Martin really believes. He believes in a Church which condones and even celebrates sex outside of marriage. He also believes in dishonesty. Do yourself a favor. Avoid Fr. Martin and help others avoid him too.