Difference between wrong moral living and wrong moral teachings
Some people confuse the two concepts of wrong moral living and wrong moral teaching. If we study scripture carefully, we will realize that right from the beginning God has condemned both wrong moral living and wrong moral teaching. However, we also realized that even so, there has been no period in history when the world has been completely rid of evil or wrong moral living.
Moses, when God asked him to hit the rock to produce water, did not acknowledge the holiness of God before the people – Numbers 20:1-13. Remember that this “crime” was big enough to prevent him from entering the Promised Land, along with the others who had rebelled against God earlier.
Peter, the great pillar and first leader of the church, denied Jesus three times at His trials – Matthew 26:69-75 (or Luke 22:56-62 or Mark 16:66-72 or John 18:15-18,25-27). He also, at Antioch, set up a hypocritical example for the gentiles and his fellow Jews: he used to eat with the gentiles, but as soon as some Jews arrived from Jerusalem he started withdrawing himself from the gentiles; for which St. Paul had to rebuke him – Galatians 2:11-14.
How did God react to wrong moral living?
With the behaviour of Abraham, Moses, Saul, David and other people, God did not disclaim Israel as His chosen people. Abraham’s behaviour did not make God withdraw the promise He made to him that he would be the father of many nations and that through him He would bless all the nations. The people of Israel that Moses led through the desert rebelled against God several times. The punishment He gave to them was that those particular generations did not enter the Promised Land, yet retained the people of Israel as His chosen people. Even with the conduct of David, God promised him a lineage of royalty, which He fulfilled. In spite of the conduct of Peter, God retained him as the head of His church until his death. Jesus had given him the keys of heaven and hell and had promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church He was to build on him.
All the above illustrate that no matter who is in the driving seat, we individually have weaknesses and tendencies which sometimes surface and lead us into wrong moral living.
The same thing applies to The Church and her leaders. People have tried to use the life styles of some leaders of the Catholic Church to condemn her. I do believe that as much as spiritual leaders owe it a duty to the “sheep’’ they are shepherding to show good moral examples, through correct moral living, it is possible that they can falter at times in diverse areas of life. But that does not tarnish the credibility of The Church as a unit and a pillar of the truth because it is not the teaching of The Church that those leaders should live wrong moral lives. Just as we, as lay members of the Church can fault at any time, so I can they. Whoever thought that they have supernatural powers and are beyond sin should think again.
This is precisely what led to the Protestant Reformation (Revolution). It is true that a very good number of church leaders were corrupt, living morally unspeakable lives, but these were individuals. The Church as a body did not sanction that. It is just similar to situations in the lives of the people of Israel when there were mass rebellions, including the leaders, against the ways of God, leaving only on few devout and righteous Jews to hold the fort. Nevertheless, God punished them and still maintained them as His chosen people.
Therefore, when certain people, especially leaders, live morally incorrect lives, it does not mean that the church teaches those morally corrupt ways of life. The Church holds morality in high esteem. So do not confuse wrong moral living with wrong moral teaching.
We should beware of the many warnings about unity we have in scriptures, especially the New Testament, and do not let partial analysis of scriptures divide us: