On June 18, U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved a plan to write a document that examines, explains and teaches the meaning of the Eucharist (the Catholic doctrine that the bread and wine of communion become the actual body and blood of Jesus). This decision comes after weeks of deliberation on whether or not those who actively support abortion should be allowed to take communion. Abortion is, in no uncertain terms, called a “moral evil” in the Catechism of the Roman Catholic church.
With this approved plan, the Roman Catholic church has faced scrutiny by some who claim that the church is attempting to “weaponize” the Eucharist to intentionally shame those who support abortion. It is essential that all Christians ask, “Is this really what the Roman Catholic church is doing?”
As a Reformed Baptist, I do not hold the Roman Catholic teaching regarding the Eucharist. However, Protestants are in agreement that we are called to partake in the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus Christ on the cross. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, highlights the importance of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, and so therefore, the question that the Roman Catholic church faces regarding when someone should take communion is inherently a Protestant question as well:
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
Paul writes that people who should refrain from taking communion are those living in sin with unrepentant hearts. Why would Paul write this? Because the Christian should know the implications of taking communion, and they should properly situate themselves for it. If we are living in sin, and we repent, God is quick to forgive us our trespasses (1 John 1:9). Thus, taking communion is a divine reminder to us of the One who took all of our sins upon Him and provided us with His righteousness before God.
However, if one is unrepentant, knowingly dwelling in sin and refusing to ask for God’s forgiveness, then taking communion is a mockery of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. In taking the Lord’s Supper, the unrepentant sinner essentially says that they remember how Christ died on the cross for sins, and they don’t care. Thus, let a person examine their heart before they partake in communion.
The Lord’s Supper is a sacred, solemn observance of the painful reality that Jesus Christ had to be beaten, flogged, crucified and killed in order to justify us before God because of the sin within our hearts. All of us should therefore treat communion with a sober mind.
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