I noted in a sermon 7/31/16 that the Bible never bothers with psychological studies of human behavior or thinking. It simply describes mortals as sinners needing repentance or as sinners justified by grace through faith. The Bible knows Right and Wrong, and none of the Grey we so casually introduce to minimize human sin.
Our society systematically refuses to see human life in such final terms. It demands we see good in the worst of us and bad in the best of us. While acknowledging scripture’s teaching in sin, Catholic ritual diminishes its finality by suggesting Purgatory as the middle after-life place of purging, rendering all sin remediable if punished long enough.
Since scripture knows only final Saved or Lost, Heaven or Hell for mortals on their one and only trip through life, Christians reject society’s view and the false idea of Purgatory. We inherit from Jesus Christ right or wrong in life and Heaven or Hell afterwards.
God insists that preachers proclaim his word, including these truths, whether anyone welcomes them. The reason is simple: God reserves for himself the right to consider extenuating circumstances in life before deciding guilt or innocence. He won’t have his servants analyzing people to determine that. In the first place, we’re barely competent when preaching his word, and not at all in analyzing behavior. In the second place, only God has all the information necessary to make a JUST decision: how bad environments, home life or personal inhibitions, etc., can affect behavior.
Now, while all this true and stated, the prophet’s role as preacher once fulfilled can, in private conversation, deal in-depth with people’s hang-ups. But not from the pulpit. The pulpit is a platform from which eternal truth is heralded. It isn’t a psychiatrist’s couch for analysis.
Our integrity as God’s messengers demands our strict embrace of whatever Jesus taught. Whatever he denounced as false, we abhor. Whatever he accepted, we believe and defend. We never compromise God’s Christ to keep peace with sinners. We never lose our souls to keep a friendship. This final caveat for all who preach: if we insist on being pulpit psychologists and counselors, we lose integrity as God’s prophets. Preach the word, whether the time seems right or wrong, whether it’s accepted or rejected, whether we keep our job or get fired. Or worse. Be faithful to God. Only when we are do we find personal pastoral work equally effective.