The Black Plague of Paganism
Karen Pansler-Lam, J.D.
O, who will lift up your voice
and cry out against
the Black Plague of Paganism?
O, who will lift up your voice and
as we bury the spiritually dead?
Sorrow cries out; she utters her voice in the streets. She cries outside the Church doors, saying: O Christians, who will lift up your voice and cry out against the powers of darkness? O Christians, who will lift up your voice and sing lamentations as we bury the spiritually dead?
Tell me, who will cry out against the stench of the moral decay of dying souls all around us? Who will weep into the night for the men, women, and youth who are dying from the plague carried by the unclean walking in spiritual darkness? A plague so foul that no man dare speak its name for fear of persecution; a plague so foul that no man dare speak its name for fear of ridicule; a plague so foul that no man dare speak its name for fear of scorn. No, there has never been a plague so dark; there has never been a plague so deadly; there has never been a plague as terrible and powerful as the Black Plague of Paganism.
O Christians, who will cry for those oppressed by the powers of darkness that blacken their soul? Why did they not heed the warning, “Touch not the unclean thing”? At first, the disease appeared only as a small black splotch on their heart; now it ravages their body and soul. Who will help them before it is too late? Why, O, why, did they not heed the warning, “Touch not the unclean thing”?
O Christians, hear the spiritually fainthearted cry out, “Behold my affliction.” But, sadly, their low sighs of despair are too weak to be heard above your loud and boisterous self-interest.
See, the spiritually weak fall. Their lack of spiritual strength weakens their resistance to false doctrines and paganism: idolatry, self-indulgence, and other diseases of moral decadence and immorality. See, how they stumble and fall by the wayside while you hustle by on your way to the Church. O Christians, who will stoop down in the gutter to rescue the spiritually weak and dying? O Christians, . . . .
But proudly adorned in our cloak of extravagant and elegant self-righteousness, we interrupt Sorrow and proclaim: No, Sorrow, we will not condescend to help those dying from the plague. They are afflicted. They are unclean. Do not trouble us to plead with the spiritually weak and dying: Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. No, Sorrow, do not inconvenience us. Let us pass by on the other side, untroubled by those infected by the plague. Please, dear Sorrow, it is getting late. Do not detain us and let us pass by; we must hurry into the sanctuary of the Church.
Do not trouble us, Sorrow. No, we will not go among the spiritually diseased for they are oppressed by a morbid condition. We shall take refuge in our beautiful homes and our beautiful churches, spending our time in entertaining and feasting. Surely, we shall be safe there from the pestilence of paganism. Surely, we shall not perish. Our dainty fare of indifference and our grandeur of self-importance will keep us at a safe distance from those afflicted by the plague. And do not ask us to lead a wholesome life of holiness and righteousness to preserve us from the plague.
And, Sorrow, do not plead with us to cleanse the paganism in our own heart. We repeat, Sorrow, do not trouble us: let us eat, drink, and be merry. Do not ask us to cleanse our hearts; do not ask us to cleanse our minds; do not ask us to cleanse the Church from corruption.
And, Sorrow, do not forbid us the pleasure of dancing with delight in the devilish doctrines of the pagans. No, Sorrow, do not forbid us to cloak our evil black deeds beneath white robes. No! No! No! No! Go away, and do not ask us to turn from our pagan ways and return unto the true God. And do not trouble us any longer with your tiresome lamentation, Sorrow. We repeat; it is late. Let us pass by into the sanctuary of the Church.
Sorrow rents her garment and covers it with tears, with weeping, and crying out: O you hypocrites, the Black Plague of Paganism, bred in the filthy gutters of society, has seeped into the pure wellsprings of the Church! O Church, you have become weak, corrupt, and greedy. Because you no longer shed the true light of the Gospel, the black germ of paganism has infected and diseased many souls sitting in the pews. O, see and hear the plague-stricken Church!
But, ah, we raise our haughtiest voice to Sorrow in our insolent and obstinate defense: Sorrow, do you truly expect us to weep and lament over false doctrine and impure worship? No, do not ask us to cleanse the Church of unholy worship. For we embrace the celebration of carnal desires. Do not ask us to cleanse the sanctuary of profane worship; putting no difference between the holy and the profane; neither showing a difference between the clean and the unclean. You plead in vain. Do you really expect us to worship to please God, not man? We will not, Sorrow. We will continue to entice people with the pleasures of secularism, scented with Christianity, in order to increase our attendance and tithes and offerings.
And, Sorrow, who is really to blame for the waywardness of the Church? Do not lay the heavy black burden of blame at our doorstep. Blame the clergy. Blame the pastoral hirelings who lead their sheep astray. Blame the hirelings who lead their flocks into the paths of unrighteousness to drink the impure waters of paganism and eat the bread of hedonism. Is it our fault that hirelings baptize us in the polluted waters of paganism, not in the pure living Water?
And, Sorrow, is it our fault that indulgent hirelings posing as shepherds seek the favor of man, not God? And is it our fault that hirelings do not bar the Church doors against paganism; but allow it to parade proudly down the aisle and sit triumphantly in the pew? And is it our fault that hirelings preach a diseased doctrine devoid of repentance and remission of sins?
Well, Sorrow, we adore the vain jangling of self-worship rather than the truth. Yes, our hearts yearn for a theology of decadence. Yes, our hearts yearn for a theology of self-glorification. We will follow gladly the Pied Piper who preaches sermons that make us dance with delight in ourselves and make us feel self-important. But, no, Sorrow, we will not follow the preacher who exhorts us to repentance, holiness, and righteousness. No, no, we will not! Go, do not trouble us, Sorrow. Go and leave us alone. It is late; we must hurry into the sanctuary of the Church.
There is a deep silence. Then Sorrow lifts up her strong voice: Woe unto you, hirelings, who cover your noses with dainty handkerchiefs perfumed with indifference to mask the stench of the dead souls rotting in the pews! Woe unto you, hirelings, who cover your eyes with your delicate hands so you cannot see the spiritually weak lying in the gutters of filthy paganism! Woe unto you, hirelings, eager for the praise of men! You sweeten your lips with sugar-coated Christianity refusing to solemnly warn sinners unless they repent, they will suffer everlasting torment in the fiery pit of hell!
Woe unto you, hirelings, who remain distant and indifferent to the souls perishing from the plague of paganism! Woe unto you, hirelings, who recline lazily and elegantly on your brocade cushions, feasting your eyes on the tithes and offerings of your flock; ignoring the helpless cries of your weak sheep as the wolves devour them. Woe unto you, hirelings, who sit comfortably by the warm glow of the fireside; refusing to go out into the cold dark of the night to rescue your sheep, hounded by the wolves of darkness driving them to the edge of despair! Woe unto you!
Behold! Blessed is the true shepherd. The true shepherd does not hide away in the comfort and quiet of the dwelling place of the Church, shunning his flock in distress. The true shepherd does not bar the Church door against the weak and dying crying outside, “Behold my affliction.”
See, the true shepherd watches over and protects his flock. The true shepherd goes after the sheep that have gone astray, comforts them in their sufferings, binds up their wounds, and carries them back safely to the fold. Hear, he cries aloud and warns his sheep of wolves within the fold: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Yes, blessed is the true shepherd who works tirelessly to heal the spiritually afflicted so they will not die of the plague. The true shepherd encourages the spiritually weak to drink the living Water and eat the Bread of life. Blessed is the true shepherd who consoles the spiritually weak and dying, and pleads with them to repent before it is too late.
The spiritually weak and dying! O, how my heart laments over their misery. The weak cry out in dark sighs of despair to the Christians hurrying by, “Behold my affliction.” But their weak voice is drowned in the noise of the business of the Church, and the busyness of secular affairs. O Christians, will you not stop your vain pursuits and selfish diversions to offer words of strength and hope to the spiritually dying? O Christians, will you not stop to help them regain their spiritual strength? Their last chances of eternal life are lost through want of the living Water and the Bread of life.
Who will cry tears of sorrow for the bodies of the spiritually dead heaped outside the Church doors? Who will rescue the rotting corpses of the moral outcasts before they are attacked and their bones are picked clean by the pagan vultures? Who will pray for the revival of dying souls before they are unfleshed by the vultures; and their bones are tossed into the eternal pit of Gehenna?
O Christians, who will lift up your voice and cry out against the powers of darkness? O Christians, who will lift up your voice and sing lamentations as we bury the spiritually dead? Tell me, who will cry out against the moral decay of dying souls all around us? Who will weep into the night ? . . .
But we wrap our cloak of extravagant and elegant self-righteousness tightly about us and exclaim: Sorrow, we have heard enough of your tiresome lamentation. For the last time, do not ask us to reach out to those afflicted by the Black Plague of Paganism. We have told you repeatedly, we will not reach down and touch the unclean outcasts. Go, leave us alone, Sorrow. Now it is late and we must hurry into the Church.
Unmoved and feeling triumphant, we enter the sanctuary of the Church; and secure the doors behind us.