Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Please Apostacize Over Something Big

Over the last few weeks, I've run into a couple of online personalities who have declared themselves to be apostacizing over the Church's teaching on "pelvic issues" such as homosexuality and birth control. This has always bothered me a bit, but it took me a while to sort out exactly why.

As Christians and Catholics we believe some rather incredible things. We believe that the universe in all its beauty and vastness and order was created by God. We also believe that God created us in His image, making us rational creatures with immortal souls. We believe that we sinned and separated ourselves from God, and that to heal this rift between us and our maker, God became man and walked among us. We believe that God allowed himself to suffer and die a humiliating death on the cross, that He rose after three days to show us how he held power over sin and death, and that He gave a Church, guided by the Holy Spirit which preserves His teachings on Earth and provides us with the sacraments which nourish us with God's grace. We believe that we are called to live according to Christ's teachings and that by the act of uniting our wills with God we can be unit with him for eternity in heaven.

We claim to believe all these things, and we have before us the example of many holy men and women who have given their lives, either in service or in suffering and martyrdom, for the faith. By accepting these claims and beliefs, we unite ourselves with something beautiful and incredible, we claim membership in a Church that claims to have been founded by God and to be guided and preserved from error by Him. We pledge ourselves to hold these truths even unto death. And we are united through the Church with priest and religious who have given up the natural human cycle of family and reproduction in order to devote themselves entirely to God's work, to the next world.

If someone has truly accepted all these unlikely and radical beliefs, if someone is truly prepared to live the faith and if necessary die for the faith, does it make any sense at all to renounce it over its teachings about sexual morality?

If we have really believed all of these rather incredible things about God and His creation of the universe and incarnation and suffering and death and resurrection and founding of the Church, shouldn't we be prepared to sacrifice much more than our sexual ambitions for that belief?

The sad fact is, all too often we believe rather cheaply. What does it cost us to say or feel, "Oh yeah, I believe that." And yet if we really think about what a major act believing something such as the Catholic Faith is, we should consider believing in the Faith in the first place to be the great decision. And if we are ready to be serious about the idea that the Catholic Church teaches the truth, than living out that truth should seem a rather little thing compared to the grandeur of what we are asserting to be true.


Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I guess it's another case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Or swallowing the camel but straining at the gnat.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Catholics reason from the premise that God himself instituted the Church to give us the gifts of Truth and Life and he guides his Church in that giving of gifts, so to speak. It would be odd for one to accept that premise and yet dissent from the Church's teachings on human sexuality, particularly in light of the fact that the Church proclaims the sacredness of human sexuality and weds it to its sacraments: its means of giving Life. If the Church is wrong about human sexuality, then it's wrong about one of its sacraments, one of its very reasons for being. So really, if the magisterial "Chaste Caste" is fundamentally wrong about the "pelvic issues," the Church's whole credibility falls to pieces. At that point, what is the point of being Catholic?

Darwin said...


I agree with you, of course, that Catholics reason from the premise that God himself instituted the Church to give us the gifts of Truth and Life.

I guess the thing is, from my point of view, that if one is able to get past accepting that the Church does indeed serve that function in regards to questions such as the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, the Eucharist, the canon of Scriptures, all these other things -- it seems ludicrous to then turn around and say, "But I just can't accept that marriage can only be between people of the opposite sex, so it must all be wrong."

Though I'll concede, it does seem a very human thing to do, since the Church's moral teachings in areas like sexualities are the things that actually touch us most of the time.

In a sense, giving assent to the Eucharist or to the resurrection is cheap -- it doesn't require anything of us other than to say, "I believe".

But it seems to me that we shouldn't sell our belief cheaply, and as such, it seems to me that if one is able to believe all of these much more extraordinary things, one should simply be willing to take the moral precepts on authority.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Yeah, it is strange that what gives some people the most trouble with the Catholic Faith isn't its teachings on matters un-provable, miraculous, or supernatural, but its principles on very natural, down-to-earth human activities.

A factor in all this may be our difficulty with obedience, a difficulty more realized in basic human behaviors than with supernatural events.

CourageMan said...

I wrote virtually this argument over at my own site in February:

I will never understand leaving the Catholic Church for some other Christian body over the teaching on contraception. Not because the teaching is objectively correct and you'd have to be ill-willed or stupid to think otherwise; I can well imagine being unpersuaded by the church's teaching on any particular matter.
It's that, if you have any faith to begin with, it just seems so petulant ... jeopardizing your soul over a matter that, while not trivial, is not life-or-death either. And it occurs in that field of human activity where ... to put it delicately ... the human capacity for self-delusion, selfishness, rationalization and being-guided-by-passion are at their greatest.