Tuesday, March 5, 2013


   Recently the parents of a gay man refused to attend his wedding because they believe it is God's will not be marry another man.  They are sure they know God's will.  Are they right?  Or are they stuck in their understanding of God's will, and therefore missing the evolving development of the truth?

   In the page, "An Evolution Story," we see how the ancient Hebrews grew in their awareness of God's will, at times badly misinterpreting it, e.g., when they believed God willed them to kill every man, woman, child and animal in a land they conquered.  The Bible shows how the people's understanding of God's will evolved and changed over time.

   Today we increasingly understand that while we may possess a basic kernel of truth, the truth itself is alive and constantly revealing itself to us.  For example, I know that I am me and have always been me.  But my awareness and understanding of myself has evolved throughout the experiences of my life.  As the truth possessed me ever more deeply and clearly, I changed my view of who I am (while still remaining me).  To paraphrase St. Paul, when I was a child, I understood myself as a child.  As I grew up, I put away my childish understanding and began understanding myself  in a more adult way.  Throughout all the changes, I always possessed the same basic truth.

   The same process of growth pertains to the one, evolving Truth that we possess as Catholics.  We infallibly believe, for example, that God exists, that God has created the universe, that Jesus is our divine-human Savior, etc.  But our understanding of the basic truth keeps evolving over time.  The Nicene Creed, for example, shows how the one Truth was received and expressed in the 4th century.  It calls God, "Father," because the church, following the male-dominant cultures, preferred the male designation.  Also, creation was considered a male activity.  Now in the 21st century, we are more sensitive to inclusive views and language, and can easily accept the truth that God is neither male nor female.  So today for example, we can believe that God would joyfully will that we also say, "God birthed forth the universe from her divine womb."

   The Creed also says that the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets.  Vatican II tells us that we all share in Christ's prophetic office.  So would it not be better to say that today, God wills that we say the Holy Spirit is speaking through the prophets?

   As we saw in my opening paragraph, the question of God's will is especially sensitive regarding today's great moral problems, e.g., sexual orientation, contraception, just war, capital punishment, etc.  One major key to understanding God's will today is our spiritually evolved, 21st century understanding of ourselves and our everyday experiences.  Today, it is spiritually and theologically legitimate and necessary to accept that God's will is experienced and discerned in our everyday lives and experiences, as well as in high level, abstract principles.  And it is also legitimate and necessary to admit that everyday experience has shown some abstract principles to be incorrect.  Let us humbly remember how church authorities misunderstood God's will regarding the Crusades, the Inquisition, and slavery.

   As a new pope is elected, we will be faced anew with the challenge to work to have our own legitimate spiritual discernment concerning today's moral challenges seriously considered and respected.  We have a rightful and important role in discerning God's will today.  We owe our great efforts to ourselves and to the world; we owe it to the living, evolving Truth, who is God.  We owe it to God's will. 

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