Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Justification by Sex

Bad theology creates bad sex. Our fundamentalist brothers, and it does seem to be the men, believe that to be saved one must do good works. What do have to do or rather not do in order to be saved? No sex before marriage, no sex for homosexuals and no pre-marital sex. These abstentions are good works that will get you into heaven. Oh yes, they believe in feeding the hungry, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But when some of those ministers get horny they seduce unsuspecting maidens by assuring them that having sex with the pastor is a “necessary evil to bring us back to a God-consciousness.” Leafing through my Bible, I just can’t seem to find sanction for such an approach to theological ethics.

This swam into my awareness as I read in the SF Chronicle about Archbishop Earl Pauk, 80-year old leader of suburban Atlanta’s megachurch, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. He had sex with his brother’s wife as well as at least one other parishioner. Odd that as these events became known church membership dropped from 10,000 to 1500 people.

It is important to note that dynamic, energetic charismatic leaders, including clergy, have high sex drives. Few high-powered people know how to handle this part of their personality and often get into sex troubles. You don’t build congregations of 10,000 members without a lot of powerful hard driving clerics. Billy Graham and Robert Schuler have huge ministries but have not been marred by sex scandals.

But back to bad theology. I believe we are not saved by any good works we do. Feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, working for peace and social justice do not save us, get us into heaven or bring us heavenly bliss. We do those important activities to make us better human beings and create a more humane society.

We are saved by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. That is the message of salvation for Christians today.

Bad theology says to follow the rules, the Biblical teaching recommended by the local pastor, no sex outside of marriage, do good works for others, give lots of money to the church and obey the appointed leaders, no matter who appoints them –Popes, Mormon Apostles, congregational votes or some other ecclesiastical authority. If you do all these things then God in Jesus Christ will surely save you from hell and allow you to rest in heavenly bliss.

This of course is an ancient discussion highlighted by Martin Luther’s confronting the Pope’s call for indulgences, paying priests to say masses for the dead insuring their entrance into heaven, profits going to build St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. Luther cried thatjustification is by faith alone, not good works.

So having sex with the pastor may be fun, illegal and exciting, it won’t get you into heaven. Beware of bad theology.

RWC

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