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Monday, 4 March 2013

Hypocrite - or repentant sinner?

So, my faith in Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien was misplaced!  I had said that, from the little personal knowledge I had of him, it would require some very clear, and incontrovertible evidence before I would consider him to be guilty of the alleged offences that had become headline news only a week ago.  I have to accept that a personal confession is pretty compelling evidence!

So that's it - at least as far as some appear to think!  The man is a total hypocrite.  There he was, helping to spearhead the move against the redefinition of marriage, referring to same-gender marriage as "a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right" while, all of the time, he had been playing 'hanky-panky' with some junior priests!

At least two things need to be said.  First of all, "inappropriate behaviour" - which is the charge levelled against the Cardinal, and to which he has now confessed - does not even suggest homosexual activity!  However, there is an even more important point.  These activities, whatever they were, appear to have taken place some thirty (or more) years ago and, even although it now appears to be "open season" on the Cardinal, no further (and later) accusations have been made.  This would indicate, to this particular sinner, that he had repented, i.e. turned away from the relevant sin. If that is true, then his forgiveness is, surely, assured.  Last night, I quoted from the (old) Anglican Prayer-book, in its call to the Lord's Table:“You that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in His holy ways; draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort, and make your humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your knees.”  Who am I; who is any one of us; to assume that Cardinal O'Brien did not, all of those years ago, repent of his sins? 

Someone else has asked the questions: "Which of us has nothing in our past that could be made to look bad in the newspapers? Which of us has not “fallen short of the standards” expected of our state in life?" Alongside such perfectly legitimate questions, I would simply place the words of the only One Who could ask even His enemies, "Which of you convicts me of sin?" (He received no answer!): "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!"

The Cardinal, it could be argued, has an even more difficult path to tread now than even those with whom he behaved in an inappropriate fashion so very long ago.  While in no way condoning his former actions, I wish him well - as one sinner (saved by grace) to another!

[By the way, there is a whole chapter on the subject of "Repentance" in my e-book: "Getting to know you - Great Words of the Christian Faith".  Details at the top of the blog!]


Harry Pearson said...

Excellent observation Brian - I agree wholeheartedly.

Tim Weller said...

Thanks for these excellent thoughts on the need for repentance by us all. My own less worthy thoughts follow!

Are you not missing the point, Brian, that although his own sexual orientation appears to be gay, he was speaking out, very vigorously in recent years and months, against homosexual activity and orientation. Therefore, the charge of hypocrisy remains and his repentance - if it ever happened and you are only hoping it did to help salvage your position(!) - was not genuine.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien remains in a very strong state of discrimination and prejudice from his outspoken comments, something that the Lord Jesus Christ never did. In fact, He embraced gladly the outcast minorities of His day - women, lepers, tax collectors and sinners. And you must know who the sinners were (while telling them not to do it again, I know!). But the good Lord was really rather namby pamby on such issues of sex, according to Dr Luke. He was much stronger on preaching non-violence. He was, too, dead against empire building, according to temptation no 3 - something that we Christian Brits have been particularly good at down the centuries, along with the violence.

Did you also oppose the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, Brian? Do you, now wish the law to be repealed?

Tim Weller

C.Brian Ross said...

First of all, Mr Weller, my apologies for the delay in publishing your comment. The reason is simply that I didn't want to leave it without a response, but have been unusually busy for more than a week (due to my own pastor having taken ill, and my taking on a number of his speaking engagements to add to my own!). I also realised that your comment could not, adequately, be answered in just a sentence.
Okay, you suggest (or is it an accusation?!) that I may have "missed the point". I think not. You see, I have read the conclusive proof that the so-called "gay gene" does not exist, so I do not assume that Cardinal O'Brien's sexual orientation even appears to be 'gay'. Many people 'experiment' with a lot of things - alcohol, nicotine, illegal drugs, infidelity, shoplifting, etc. They then decide - whether caught, or not - that this is not for them. Does their experimentation mean that they have a particular proclivity to take certain substances; to be unfaithful to their spouse; to act dishonestly; etc.? Are they, then, hypocrites for having experimented? I would not say so.
Now, if I am actually indulging in any of the activities mentioned, and still urging others not to do so, I am indeed a hypocrite. Cardinal O'Brien does not appear to have fallen into that particular category!
You also seem to be suggesting that the Lord Jesus was never outspoken! I suggest that you try reading all of the Gospel record! To give just two examples: Matt.3:7, where He calls some Pharisees and Sadducees a "brood of vipers"; or Lk.13:32, where he calls Herod a "fox". In that culture, those were not considered to be polite terms!
You also state that the Lord Jesus "... was really rather namby pamby on such issues of sex ..." May I respectfully suggest a look, always in context, at, e.g. Matt.5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk.10:2-12.
It is also worth noting that even Jesus was prepared to use violence on occasion (see John 2:13-16), although why you should have raised that matter in the context of Cardinal O'Brien, I fail to understand!
I doubt that I took much interest in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. Homosexuality was not decriminalised in Scotland until the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980! I had certain other matters on my plate at that time but would, undoubtedly, have opposed it! It was the thin end of what has proved to be an increasingly large wedge.
I think that I have covered all of your points. By the way, I take it that we are already good friends - or are you one of those who believes it to be acceptable to be familiar enough with a total stranger to use a personal name?????!