When Jesus explained to His twelve apostles that when He left, the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:13), He meant All Truth. When He instructed them to go, baptize, and teach (Matthew 28:19-20), they went, baptized, and taught, exploding out of the Holy Land and turning the world upside down with the teachings of Jesus. They passed on their role and their descendants are our bishops, still guiding by the Holy Spirit into all truth, still baptizing, still teaching about Jesus. This is the Magisterium, from the Latin word for master. They lead the Church, the pillar and foundation of truth (I Timothy 3:15), which has compiled our early leaders’ letters into a holy book, the New Testament; and safeguards it along with the Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament. A good Mother, She has taken God’s revelation, both oral and written, and organized it into a catechism. When the bishops (and chief among them, the bishop of Rome, presently Pope Francis) teach on Christian Faith and morals, we can rest in Jesus’ plan, for it is the truth.
I was recently reading an article written by an old friend, a Protestant pastor, to his congregation regarding his views on homosexuality. Some excerpts:
“I just don’t know … if homosexuality is a sin.”
“Sometimes understanding and interpreting the Scriptures can be a difficult thing.”
“When I think about my two (gay) friends, along with Jesus I don’t condemn them.”
“Should my friend get involved with another man and pursue the equivalent of a monogamous married relationship with him I still won’t condemn him.”
“I want my church to be a place that pursues God’s truth.”
“These views may be too muddled for some of you, but it’s where God has brought me.”
This is an example of what happens outside the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church ~ Christians going rogue, trying to figure out the will of God and Christian faith, calling a homosexual relationship equivalent to a marriage, pursuing God’s truth without the pillar and foundation of truth, thinking that God brought him to a morally and faithfully confusing place. He needs the Magisterium badly. His congregation needs the Magisterium badly. His gay friends need the Magisterium badly.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
#2357. “Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
#2358. “This inclination … constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and understanding. Every sign of unjust discrimination … should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
#2359. “Homosexual persons are called to chastity … by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
#2360. “Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of a man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and a pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.”
Done. Truth. No need to reinvent the wheel; no need to stress and wonder about sexuality, marriage, or chastity. I do not “check my brains at the door” because I accept the Church as a truth-teaching mechanism, set in place by Jesus Himself. One could spend a lifetime plumbing the depths, as Aquinas and Augustine could attest. She teaches the truth She has been given and stands in solidarity, offering life-giving sacraments to a humanity that struggles, suffers, falls, and rises again. This is the Magisterium at work: loving Jesus, guiding by the Holy Spirit, leading people to Heaven.
We need the Magisterium.