Vice President Joe Biden performed a gay wedding earlier this month, getting special certification from the District of Columbia to allow him to do so. He also supports the right to an abortion. Both put him squarely against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and yet he remains an active member in good standing.
Westminster Seminary theologian Carl Trueman asks, why doesn’t the appropriate bishop discipline him? Is there anything a Catholic politician could do that would get him in trouble with the church?
Trueman is Reformed, not Catholic, so he sees church discipline as one of the marks of the church. Since, as we have seen, Catholics can go to Hell, perhaps church discipline is not so important in that tradition, though one would think such a possibility would be a matter for pastoral care. How would other church bodies, such as Lutherans, come down on this?
From Carl Trueman, Hey, Joe! | Carl R. Trueman | First Things:
When Joe Biden officiated at a same-sex wedding recently, he was not only doing what politicians do best—indulging in a bit of faux-courageous populism that really cost him nothing and entailed no risk—he was also thumbing his nose at his own Church.The scenario was sadly predictable. The list of Roman Catholic politicians who publicly oppose by their words and actions the official teachings of their Church is a long one. Protestants probably fare no better. But it may be that, due to our denominational fragmentation and lack of public profile, we Protestants are better able to hide our lies under a bushel. . . .
We cannot bring clarity to the identity and testimony of the church unless we draw some pretty clear boundaries about who belongs and which beliefs and behaviors are legitimate. If nothing you say or do can merit your removal from the Church, then the Church really has no distinct identity and ultimately no distinct mission.
Biden and his ilk need to be excluded. Period. If you are advocating abortion or presiding at a same-sex wedding, then your behavior places you outside the bounds of the Christian faith and should be treated accordingly—for your own good, for the reputation of the church, and for the reputation of Christ. That might seem hard and unloving in our emotivist world, but I see nothing loving in not stating the obvious in such situations. In word and deed, Catholics like Biden demean the teachings of their Church. Why should they be offended when someone points that out and then acts accordingly?