As I near completion in reading Pope Francis’s recently released, “Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family,” what is coming through, loud and clear, is a disintegration of values and boundaries which had once been established.

My experience of dealing with Catholicism was about the age of 10.  My best elementary school friend was Catholic and it was through him I learned about their faith and dealings.  What I came away with, then, was the understanding they, (the Church) was very strict.  I could relate, because it was the same as I saw Seventh Day Adventist, my church.  There was a way you acted, dressed, spoke, ate and lived overall.  There was to be no deviation, and by doing this demonstrated your faithfulness to God, or not.  But this is now changing!

When I was eleven years old I won a contest for writing and was published.  I was to appear on a television program, a dinner and award ceremony, but I was not able to attend because the event took place on the Sabbath.  I was downhearted but my care was left to my mother who would not let down the boundary, not even for one day.  I wonder what most parents would do today.

“Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.” Deut 19:14 (KJV)

This text now has new meaning.  I’ve come to understand—now, when I read the laws written in Deuteronomy that they DO have bearing on us today.  We look at them as laws written for the Israelites and when reading the Bible have a tendency to skip over them because we do not see them relevant to our life, but, we are mistaken if we hold this view.  God had a reason for giving us, yes, US, these laws, too.  So, when it comes to mixing fabric, seed, and the laws of boundary, God wants us to think about what it meant then and what it means now, as pertaining to our salvation.  God doesn’t waste anything and He did not waste giving these laws.  We just need to use some common sense and update them and make them practical for our living.

When it comes to what Pope Francis is doing, this new movement within the Catholic Church has much to do with moving the “boundaries” which were aforehand established for the guidance of the Church and in keeping with what they believed, at one time, was given them from the Church Fathers.  Adventists are no different.  We, too, have boundaries given to us, we believed, from the Church’s pioneers and Spirit of Prophecy.  Yet, we are just as guilty as the Catholics and most other denominations for now having a spirit of deviation, making excuses by lessening the restrictions.  Let me ask the question:  “Was the church too rigid then or are the people become too lax now?”  Do we continue lessening what was once believed to be a boundary, given by God, because it causes too much discomfort to the people within and to those we are wanting to bring within?

When I bought my second home in New York, there was no natural boundary line other than what was pointed out to me by the realtor.  So, when it came to cutting my lawn, I would cut, carefully so, to what I was shown to be my property.  Now, it didn’t matter how I was feeling that day or how generous I might have wanted to be, but it was my duty not to exceed the cutting, even if it was to make them do less work or to have them think, “What a nice guy our neighbor is!”  When my leaves would blow onto their lawn, it was not my obligation to breach the boundary and go and retrieve them, nor when their leaves blown onto my property.  I might have wanted them to come get them, but the fact remains, boundaries were in place and they needed to be respected.

The Catholic Church is restating the boundaries of their faith and making it appear, because of “love”, to release the boundary which they first had regarding family, marriage and what constitutes marriage, by instructing their clergy to approach the difficult unions: same-sex marriage, live-in family, divorced and remarried civilly families, et al.  The same has already occurred in the Adventist family by the same lessening of the boundaries.  I remember how divorced members were treated in the early sixties as I watched my parents going through it.  I remember how ministers who couldn’t keep their family together were losing their pastorate.  We can offer the excuse, “Well, if we want to “love” them, we need to make them feel comfortable.  How many times are we hearing now, how this perversion of “love” when it comes to moving boundaries which were once established for the protection and guidance of the church?  It explains why we are the mess we are.  Nobody remembers or want to remember the boundaries God has determined for His people and so by lessening them, I find myself now doing my neighbor’s whole yard and have an expectation one day I will wake up and find my lawn cut without any effort of my own.

It is the boundary of the seventh day Sabbath which is greatest offender and many will offer all kinds of excuses for it.  One woman told me yesterday, “don’t judge”, when we are called “to judge” and to “give warning” when boundaries are being breached.  The “greater” love is being able to stand to principle and truth and not waver in its defense.  We don’t make anything better because we change the rules.  The Commandments are not suggestions but commands.  But alas, most of this message will have fallen on deaf ears because for those of us who grew up with the boundary have found satisfaction not adhering to them anymore and those who have been given us, our children are not taught them so they have no point of reference, and as a society and church, we are lost and don’t even know it.

But, there is coming a reformation—again, which will point out the boundary of God.  This has happened time and time again over the history of man and one more is just ahead called the “Third and Fourth Angel’s Message”.  One has already begun and the other is soon to make his voice heard, in much power and strength and we, they, all will be required to either accept or reject because either we personally will be accepted or rejected as to how we will deal with it.



May 5, 2016