Religion, Sex, Politics and Money

They say the three topics you should avoid in polite conversation are sex, politics and money, but those are the only interesting things to talk about!

In fact it’s difficult to have much of a conversation without talking about sex, politics and money, and it’s pretty hard to preach a sermon worth anything at all without talking about sex, politics and money. Why is that?

Because sex, politics and money are code for three topics that are actually vitally important and therefore vitally interesting: love, power and wealth. Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants to be in control. Everybody wants the security and pleasure money can buy. This is the way the world turns–everybody obsessed with the “P” words: pleasure, power, prosperity.

The intriguing thing is that this is the way the world turns–everybody running after the power, the pleasure and the loot, and yet they know that these things don’t last and even if you have them they do not satisfy. There’s a deeper need, and people know there’s a deeper need, but they cannot give up their lust for the power, the pleasure and the loot.

Furthermore, the love of these three: sex, money and politics–engender most of the conflicts, most of the arguments, most of the heart breaking, marriage wrecking, family smashing, life destroying things in life. In parish life, as in family life, the ultimate conflicts are over money, sex and power. What’s the answer:

Celibacy, poverty and obedience. The three Franciscan vows bash the love of sex, money and power on their head. Celibacy turns away from sex. Poverty turns away from wealth. Obedience turns away from power. NOT because sex, money and power are in themselves evil, but because the love of them is the root of all evil. So in a radical act St Francis and his followers teach us that all of us can put sex, money and power in their place and say, “I’m in charge here. Sex, money and power?” That’s the way of the world and I don’t walk that way.

So who am I to say this? I am not a Franciscan friar. I’m a married priest. I have a wife and four kids. I have a decent house in the suburbs and as many cars as any other suburban family man. That’s why we don’t judge by appearances. The real, underlying question is not whether one has these things, but whether we’re attached to them.

One of the sweetest conversations I ever had was with one of my sons driving along in our nice car.

Me: “You know all this stuff we have? The car, the house, the motorcycle, the computers?”

Him: “Yeh.”

Me: I don’t care about any of it. Honest to God. I could walk away from it all tomorrow and be a missionary and live in some jungle hut.”

Him: “I’m like that too.”

Nice.

  • http://thewayoutthere1.blogspot.com/ Fr Levi

    Nice that he said that ‘I’m like that too’ & not that ‘I’d like that too’ when you said you’d be happy to go off and live in a hut in the jungle!

  • Ted Seeber

    I’ll never get used to married priests. But let me ask you- how the hell do you have a modern American middle class lifestyle on a Catholic Pastor’s Salary? The vow of poverty may not be ordinary- but in comparison to what the majority of Americans earn, the average parish pays less than unemployment.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Parish priests usually do not live on as little as you think. There are expenses and benefits in kind. However, money is usually tight. I make some extra selling books, speaking, and Mrs. L works.

      • flyingvic

        I trust that you mean “Mrs L works in paid employment”! Can you show me a wife that doesn’t work?!

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          Indeed Mrs L is a very hard worker and sometimes she gets paid money…

        • Julie C.

          I would like to hit a “like” button on this comment, Flyingvic!

          • Carol t

            Me too

  • Confederate Papist

    I’m glad you’re on our team Father L! God Bless!

  • Julie C.

    Great post, Father!

  • FW Ken

    I have a married priest. They are common in Fort Worth, and three have been my pastor over the years. Good ones all. So it doesn’t faze me. But a cradle Catholic friend in the parish said I’m “permissive”, and I think she wasn’t joking. :-)

  • Alan

    Ive started over from scratch a couple times in my life (divorces) and I have to tell you, in those tragedies, the detachment from all material was a blessing in disguise. Even detachment from the people I left behind, was a lesson in acceptance of what was in Gods hands all along. Proverbs 3:13-15

  • Paul Hughes

    Why call them Franciscan vows? Those vows are central to most religious orders, and even those who don’t explicitly make all three have them as part of their constitutions.

  • Steve

    Father, If you really would not miss these things why not give them up. Take It from someone who was once worldly wealthy and lost all do to the wickedness involved in our financial system and the perverse way the US government handled the housing market for the last 20 or 30 years. And yes, Both of those are related to eachother.

    Until you loose all, you do not really know what you really hold as an idol.
    Praise God for his mercy.

  • “Flamen

    Since you are a married priest do you support marriage for Catholic priests who desire it? Optional celibacy for all Catholic priests?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      no

  • adele young

    Welcome home Father! While I appreciate the sentiments you express here until you have actually
    done this I frankly don’t believe you really know ….none of us know without the actual experience
    including your darling son. It is one thing to say, entirely another to do it. Actually, I think it
    is a bit arrogant to suggest this given that so many people are being thrown into real poverty
    and deprivation, not through choice, but rather the state of the economy. It reminds me rather
    of a friend, very well-off, who took her family to a foreign country for a year to experience living
    on the almost third world economy of that Nation. While it was a bit of an eye-opener, expecially
    for her kids, they always knew they had a rather comfy cushion they could fall back on…Just
    not the same thing or reality of true poverty.
    Anyway, just spouting off here. Truly enjoy reading your blogspot.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      You make a good point.


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