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Friday, February 09, 2007

Warm and Fuzzy Jesus? Not so much

This is the second point made by the anonymous commenter referred to in my previous post. (Long post alert!)

2. During the time of Jesus, homosexuality and abortion were just as prevalant then as they are now. Plato and Aristotle, who lived 500 years before Jesus, talk about abortion. Homosexuality and pederasty were a notable part of Greek (e.g. Plato's Symposium) and Roman (e.g. Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars) culture. But yet how much does Jesus himself say about these issues? Virtually nothing. What Jesus *does* talk about is being renouncing your possessions, helping the poor, being unmaterialistic, etc.

Good point, unfortunately not very well grounded in reality and easily decimated by simple logic, early Church documents, and the Bible (which this commenter clearly has not actually read).

Let's remember, first of all, that Jesus came to save sinners. So the fact that all this death and immorality was going on in the time of Jesus only underscores what He did for us on the cross.

Plato and Aristotle were pagans and thus they got to make up their own "moral" code. Not everything they did or said was wrong, but using their error to justify immoral behavior in any age isn't exactly appropriate. The fact that they lived in a time of a decadent culture and thus had the attitudes of that culture is not a bit surprising. Suggesting that their attitudes and teachings on abortion, homosexuality, pederasty, validate such things makes no sense whatsoever.

The Catholic Church has ALWAYS taught against abortion and other immoral anti-life acts. The Didache , which is the Lord's teachings through the Apostles, clearly discusses these things:

Chapter 2.—The Second Commandment: Gross Sin Forbidden
1. And the second commandment of the Teaching; 2. You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, Exodus 20:13-14 you shall not commit p├Žderasty, you shall not commit fornication...


Chapter 5.—The Way of Death
1. And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and full of curse: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rapines, false witnessings, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; 2. persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing requital, not pitying a poor man, not labouring for the afflicted, not knowing Him that made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him that is in want, afflicting him that is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these


Abortion and Homosexuality was wrong in the time of Plato and Aristotle, it was wrong when Jesus walked the earth, after He died and rose again, these acts have REMAINED wrong and they remain wrong today. And the Church has always been consistent in these teachings, in spite of bad Popes and other Church heirarchy who lost their way. Saying that these things happened in history as a way of justification for today's immorality is simply not an argument at all.

Moving on to the next point, all about the idea of an "I'm ok, you're ok Jesus":

As to what Jesus said, let's look to the Bible and let's stop taking it out of context to support the popular "wishy-washy" Jesus people WISH existed. Jesus was very clear in his moral teachings; the fact that people choose not to read what He actually did or said speaks more to the ignorance of those who only want to be comfortable in their favorite sins. Jesus did not want people to be comfortable with their sins; he demanded that sinfulness be renounced!

The most common section people cite in wishy-washy-ness fashion is the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned. Jesus said, “Let those without sin cast the first stone.” No one does, and Jesus said to the woman, “Has no one condemned you? Nor do I.”

Everyone likes to use this phrase to consider the comforting thought of forgiveness. And indeed, Jesus forgives, but not without a strong caveat

Jesus said to the woman, “Go….and SIN NO MORE.”

Jesus clearly condemned sexual immorality. Perhaps he did not speak specifically of homosexuality, but he didn’t need to as he was discussing sexual immorality in general. It would be commonly understood he was speaking to all people of all sexual proclivities, all sinful tendencies. He often emphasized the impurity that comes from within.

Matthew 5:18-23

18 He said to them, "Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
19 since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
20 "But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles.
21 From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
23 All these evils come from within and they defile.
"


So you see, Jesus is discussing those things that defile a person, commonly known today as "sin". We sin from within for our sin comes from our own human nature and our choice to sin. Unchastity, adultery, licentiousness...all this applies to all people, regardless of what they think their sexual orientation happens to be.

Let’s look at another section in the Bible, where Jesus develops this even further:

Matthew 5:27

27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'
28 But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
31 "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.'
32 But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Especially check out Matthew 23;23- 39; it is a long section, so pick it up and read it, but I found this quote to be especially enlightening:

(Ignatius RSV-CE) MT 23:33:

“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”

Wow. That really takes away the “warm and fuzzy” idea about Jesus, doesn’t it? In the first section, (Matthew 5:27) he’s really driving home the point that we are judged for our willful sins, such that if we find that they are habitual it is better to remove the offending appendage or organ rather than face judgment and be thrown into Hell.

Admittedly, Jesus is speaking in hyperbole in order to make a point; He does not want us to mutilate ourselves or lop off appendages. What he is doing is driving home the point of the gravity of the sins he is describing.

Then, in Matthew 23, He is going so far as to warn people that if they persist, they are not going to be able to avoid hell.

People, rather than persist in saying that Jesus did not condemn certain behaviors, please save yourself some embarassment, pick up the Bible and really READ what it says. Instead of reading what you want to read, if you are truly seeking God, then SEEK GOD and look for the TRUTH. Don’t waste everyone else’s precious time on this earth trying to change the Bible to fit your justification of your favorite sin.

Any of us can "justify" anything we want; but it will NEVER, not in a million years, make our behavior good and natural and moral.

Jesus indeed preached love, understanding, forgiveness, and against materialism, however, those teachings need to be understood in full context. Jesus came and died for our sins in a very horrible death; He did not do this to allow us to wallow in depravity. Rather, he taught us to renounce depravity and follow him! To live lives of virtue. He spoke of fraternal correction, for it is not loving to allow another to persist in a life of sin, a depravity that seperates that person from God.

One day we will all face our own personal judgment, and Jesus will not hold us accountable only for our actions, but whether we took the time to assist others in the pits they have dug for themselves.

22 comments:

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Excellent post.

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

OF topic: You are getting me a bit worried here.... lots of long posts.... are you sure you haven't quit your job already??!!!!

Adoro Te Devote said...

Kiwi ~ As much as I wish I could say "yes", I quit my job, alas, no, I have not. I DID have the day off, however, and the writing bug has bit me hard.

The two prior posts were this morning's inspiration. It was from a comment recieved a few days ago but I hadn't gotten around to really responding. Until today, and then the inspiration hit.

Last night was boredom complicated by the writing bug, and I just posted on art a second ago.

This will likely be followed by several days with no inspiration. Although I have to say this; the complete RELIEF I feel at knowing I will not be at this job for much longer is adding to my inspiration!

How freeing!

Sanctus Belle said...

Great post - thank you. Its also notable that Jesus was the person who spoke of Hell more than any other in the holy scripture. Therefore He meant for us to realize what danger we are in.

Sweating Through fog said...

Just wanted to comment on your long, and thought-provoking post. I agree with you that Jesus condemned licentousness, and as such it is clearly sinful. Yet I find the fact that you equate the practice of homosexuality with sin troubling. I don't accept the Didache as an authoritative source - neither does the Church. You could have quoted St. Paul, and that would have been a harder argument to answer.

Just to be clear on where I stand. I was born and raised as a Catholic. Yet I beleive in the Catholic doctrine of the informed concience, so I do not necessarily consider every statement of the Church binding. I'm one of those "Cafeteria Catholics" - I have vast respect for the Church and her teaching. I agree with everything in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene creed. Yet I think for myself, and use my concience and judgement on matters of sexual morality. And in that sense I disagree with St. Paul on this matter.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

sweating through fog: I was a CINO too once so I know where you are coming from. I, too, used to be one of those "primacy of conscience" people. In my case, it was all laughable since I knew next to nothing about what the Church actually taught.

A well-formed conscience is "guided by the authoritative teaching of the church" (CCC 1785)

I'm pleased you accept the Creeds. If that's true, then you must accept the last paragraph where we profess to believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church.

I recommend you read the sections in the Catechism on Erroneous Judgement (1790-1794).

CCC 1792 says: "Ignorance of Christ and His Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgement in moral conduct."

Peace.

Sweating Through fog said...

"OK, so why would homosexual acts be excluded from being "sinful"? "

I think the burden is on you, to show that they are necessarily sinful, in each and every context in which they might occur.

"It's understandable that you don't quite grasp the theology behind the teachings, however, that does not mean you get a "get out of Hell free" card by living in willful ignorance or willful rejection of the Truth. I used to make it up as I went, too, and I learend by experience that it was the wrong thing to do."

I certainly don't consider myself willfully ignorant, and I'm certainly not claiming that you are. You admit that you learned the Truth by experience - but now, having arrived at the Truth, would you deny others the right to learn from their experiences?

". . .think for myself, too, and I have arrived at my understanding through study and prayer, and even taking some of the teachings on faith. You are called to do the same.

Or you can continue to reject the Truth. "

I too study and pray, and there are some things I take on faith as well.

Sexual morality, which falls under "adultery" breaks that law."

That is the heart of that matter. It is the Church's judgement that Jesus's statements on adultery and lust can be extended to classes of behavior like homosexuality that I question. I give the Church's teachings great respect and consideration, but I decide for myself, as in the end we must all do.

"Make your choice; Adam and Eve did, too. And so did Judas."

I mean - c'mon! Please be willing to credit others with the same basic goodness, and the same seriousness of purpose that you exhibit.

Adoro te Devote said...

sweating through fog, why are you "troubled" that I am speaking the truth about homosexual acts? They ARE sinful. So is sex outside of marriage for all people.

Why would you say that homosexual acts be excluded from being "sinful"?

You have been misinformed if you think the Didache is not authoritative. Have you ever actually READ it? Do you know what it is? It is the teachings of the Apostles, basically a summary of the core teachings of the faith. It has remained valid and authoritative through centuries and is still used by Catholic theologians today. What ever gave you the impression it is not authoritative? Everything that is in that document is also in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


I'm sorry to hear you call yourself a "Cafeteria Catholic". I used to be one, too, but as I am a thinker, also, I realized that I had to do some reasearch and find out WHY the Catholic Church teaches what she does. I found my answers, and if you are truly seeking and not just resting on your own willful denial of the truth, you will find those answers, too.

We all have a duty to be educated in the faith, and if there is no one to teach us, there are no shortages of resources. I would really encourage you to go out and find those answers. I can point you to several websites, books, and documents if you are interested.







I think that somewhere along the line, someone forgot to inform you that the Church's teachings on faith and morals are NOT optional. It's understandable that you don't quite grasp the theology behind the teachings, (none of us really do; there's a lot to know!) however, that does not mean you get a "get out of Hell free" card by living in willful ignorance or willful rejection of the Truth. I used to make it up as I went, too, and I learend by experience that it was the wrong thing to do.

I think for myself, too, and I have arrived at my understanding through study and prayer, and even taking some of the teachings on faith. You are called to do the same.

Or you can continue to reject the Truth.

But know this; these teachings are not optional. If you reject them, you are rejecting the Church as a whole.

Jesus taught that breaking even one of the Commandments was actually breaking the entire Law. Sexual morality, which falls under "adultery" breaks that law.

Make your choice; if you are choosing to reject the truth, then you are rejecting God. That's what Adam and Eve did first, and Judas was far from the last.

None of us knows or understands everything, but we do have an obligation to follow the teachings.

Jesus never said, "agree with me". He commanded, "Follow me."

Sweating Through fog said...

"I'm pleased you accept the Creeds. If that's true, then you must accept the last paragraph where we profess to believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church."

I believe the Church is all of those things. Yet I need not believe everything the Church asserts.

Regarding CCC 1792 - it states that the conditions cited "can be the sources of error." Yes, my trust in my conscience might well be a source of error - it is a warning, one we'd all be well advised to heed.

Just to be clear - I'm not condoning immorality, licentousness, or selfishness. These are all things that I do consider sinful. I simply do not believe that the practice of homosexuality is intrinsically sinful.

Adoro te Devote said...

sweating through fog ` I want to apologize for my first comment, it was poorly phrased and a bit snarky. As you may have already realized, you responded as I was editing it. I deleted the initial comment.


To answer some of your questions, the burden is in fact, NOT on me to "prove" anything. I speak for the Church in this case. I can, however provide you with some links that may assist you:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Early_Teachings_on_Homosexuality.asp

http://www.catholic.com/library/Homosexuality.asp

Personally, I'm very interested to know you you arrived at the conclusion that homosexual
behavior is not sinful?


As far as sharing my experince; it's all over my blog. No, I have not committed every sin in the book, but I certainly also do not need to go through and detail each of my sins and how I overcame them. I came to the Church through study and faith and by God's grace (primarily). I do not have to justify my beliefs to you, but in charity, I can answer legitimate questions.

And again, sweating...we all make that choice to sin or not to sin. What the Church declares is a sin, is a sin. Period. You can make your choice; but so did other characters in the Bible. We all face our individual judgment, for we of course all use our individual judgment. We are all sinners.

Check out the links I provided, those will answer some of your questions. You can also read Christopher West, Jason Evert, I think Amy Welborn has a book, all on the Theology of the Body.

The think about "thinking for yourself"; if you are using good resources, it is an aid to thought.

What you are really saying in yoru context of "thinking for yourself" is that you are willfully choosing to reject some of the moral teachings of the Church. That's between you and God, but please do some more research on the topic.

Thi is taken from the CCC, quoting Galatians:

1852 There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."127


Homosexual behavior is "fornication". Fornication is clearly a sin, that which seperates us from God. It is not God who seperates from us; it was WE through our sins who distance ourselves from the Lord. However, when we do this, we lose our salvation.

You can actually search the CCC at:

http://www.internetpadre.com/

Adoro te Devote said...

sweating through fog - here's some more info for you from the catechism:

http://scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2390


IN BRIEF

2392 "Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being" (FC 11).

2393 By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.

2394 Christ is the model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life.

2395 Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person. It includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery.

2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.

2397 The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.

2398 Fecundity is a good, a gift and an end of marriage. By giving life, spouses participate in God's fatherhood.

2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

2400 Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.

Adoro te Devote said...

This series of articles and other links is very enlightening:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/HUMANITY/HOMO.HTM

http://catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0086.html


http://www.catholic.net/RCC/Periodicals/Homiletic/06-96/1/1.html

Sweating Through fog said...

Adoro,

The links you provided demonstrate that the Church from the beginning considered homosexuality sinful. I grant the truth of this, and acknowledge that it has been consistent on this issue down to the present day.

I've never been at all persuaded by natural law argument like these:

"The same reasoning applies to the case of homosexual behavior. The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality—that it is wrong because it is unnatural. "

It is advanced like a reason-based argument from what is prevalent in nature, but it ends with a fundamentally emotional appeal. In other words, we have an inner feeling ("intuition") about something unusual or abhorrent, therefore that feeling must be trusted in regards to that unusual act, and hence we must form a doctrine on the basis of that intuition.

It is worth noting that in these opinions by the Church fathers, homosexuality was seen as one of the manifestations of a corrupt and sinful Roman society, together with greed, prostitution, adultery, incest, pederastry etc. Their clear and (and herocally courageous) insight into the morals of many people of that age was surely correct and should serve as inspriration for us down to this day. However, their extension of that insight into a doctrine that homosexual acts, by their intrinsic nature, are sinful is incorrect.

Regarding your excerpts from the Catechism:

2392 "Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being" (FC 11).
I aggree

2393 By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.
I aggree
2394 Christ is the model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life.
I aggree
2395 Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person. It includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery.
I aggree
2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.
I aggree - except for the last point.
2397 The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.
I aggree
2398 Fecundity is a good, a gift and an end of marriage. By giving life, spouses participate in God's fatherhood.
I aggree
2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).
I aggree
2400 Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.
I aggree

I fear we are at an impasse, based on your belief: "What the Church declares is a sin, is a sin. Period. " I don't accept that each and every statement of the Church says about sin is necessarily true. The Church is a human institution, subject to the same human frailties we all have. Like all of us, the Church has a history that has lead it to truth in many (I wpuld say almost all) areas, but blinded it in some others. I see no reason why the Church, which has a history of errors on facts, must be followed absolutely on matters of morals.

I believe that Jesus himself, in explicitly building his Church upon Peter, was giving us an important message. Like Peter, the Church is hard-working, good-hearted, and heroic - all the qualities we hope for in facing trials, but far from perfect.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Sweating: The Church has always taught that the purpose of sex is procreation of children. Thus, the only acceptable sexual relations are between a man and a woman in the context of marriage.

Homosexual relations, masturbation and contraception do not allow for the opportunity of procreation. This is why the Church teaches that homosexual relations, masturbation and contraception are contrary to the natural law.

Homosexual inclination in and of itself is not sinful. It's the acting upon them that is. The Church teaches that we must be merciful and loving towards those with homosexual inclinations. The RC Church is one of the only, if not the only, Faith that explicitely teaches this mercy towards homosexuals in its official teachings.

Sweating: You are correct in that the Church tells us that we cannot be forced to accept its teachings. However, denying any of the Church's teachings means we deny the fullness of His Truth. The denial also means we are not really Catholic.

By the same token, I could claim to be Jewish since we have common faith roots and some practices that are similar. But, I'm not really Jewish because I don't embrace the fullness of their beliefs.

There is a wonderful organization called Courage that you may want to read about. http://couragerc.net

Peace.

Sweating Through fog said...

Cathy: "The denial also means we are not really Catholic." Very well then, I am not Catholic. Nevertheless I will continue to attend mass, pray, and follow Jesus in my daily life.

I owe an answer to a fair question that was asked earlier: "Why would you say that homosexual acts be excluded from being "sinful"?" I allow for the possibility that a homosexual couple could have a monagomous, loving, caring relationship all through their lives. To fulfill the same obligations of fidelity, committment and love that are made in marraige, even though it is not
a marraige in the formal sense. Considering this possibility, I can't consider the act, in its nature, sinful.

Adoro te Devote said...

Odd, my last post just disappeared.

Sweating, you may remain obstinate in your belief, and and no matter what you do or say to justify it, it does not make homosexual behavior right or moral. You are free to reject it. I would strongly suggest that you read "Theology of the Body" and/or the books by Christopher West, Jason Evert, and others who discuss it.

I see by your blog that you are married with a housefull of teenagers, which leads me to suspect that someone close to you suffers from Same Sex Attraction.

Enabling someone in their sin does not same them and it is not the loving thing to do. Would you enable an alcoholic (my Dad died of this disease). Would you enable your daughter if she was a nymphomaniac?

Trying to justify sin is not the answer. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, homosexuality has ALWAYS been condemned; you are willfully choosing to ignore this fact, and thus it is between you and God.

You may think that this response is heavy-handed, and perhaps it is, however, In good conscience, I simply cannot let you "go" without informing you that if you, or someone you know, is engaging in homosexual acts, or if hetero, sex outside of marriage, they are in a state of mortal sin, and thus should refrain from recieving communion.

The Bible, the Didache, and Catholic teaching throughout the centuries has taught consistently that we must not recieve the Body and Blood of Christ if we are in a state of grave sin. To do so is to eat and drink judgment upon ourselves.

You may not consider the act sinful, however that only says that you are rejecting the authority of the Church. It proclaims that you do not, in fact, have a sufficiently formed conscience.

Disagree if you'd like; it's your judgment, it's the judgment of those you love. I have friends who are gay; I have friends who are alcoholics, I have friends with various favorite sins, and I find the need to go to Confession myself to try to overcome my own "favorites". None of us has the right to change moral teachings; none of us has the right to declare ourselves God and submit to moral relativism.

There is such a thing as good and evil. Our job as the laity is to get over ourselves and recognize our humility before God and the Authority of His institution on earth.

It does not mean we do not think for ourselves; quite the contrary. When I thought as you did, I was not thinking for myself as much as I proclaimed it so; rather, it takes a great deal of faith and reason in order to be and accept the teachings of the Church, and to pass them on to others.

You came here for a reason, perhaps looking for justification for what you want to believe. Or perhaps you simply are seeking the Truth. Arguing against it will only convert you, as it did Jeff Cavins, Scott Hana, and others.

God bless you on your journey.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Sweating: When you reject one Catholic teaching and you perceive no consequences from the rejection then it becomes easier and easier to reject more and more Catholic teachings. It's easy when society keeps telling us our Faith is wrong.

Gradually, there is less and less left of the Faith. You wake up one day and discover you are really a Lutheran not a Catholic.

Sweating Through fog said...

I thank you for your blessing, and for the clarity and directness with which you have offered it.

In my view, the people I know suffering from SSA are not suffering so much from the attraction, but rather the dread that loneliness will be their lot, and that they will be denied the joy of a lifelong, intimate companion.

Actually that wasn't what drew me here - what drew me here was this: One of my interests is the danger of extremist Islam in the world. I've been studying the reasoning of Islamists, and I've been troubled by what I think is a complete rejection of basic human rights and the right of independent inquiry, and by what I feel is a slavish devotion to a book and its interpreters.

For example, just before I got to your site I was reviewing a Muslim text on whether particpating in Valentines day - even to the extent of eating a heart-shaped chocalate candy - was forbidden. Sure enough there was a meticulous, almost painful survey on the Koran, the Hadith, the Surah and statements by various Immans. Sure enough, any - even the smallest - participation in Valentine's day is forbidden.

How I got to your site I don't know. But I got there soon after I read the exegesis on Valentine's Day, and I saw on your site a catholic argument on an issue of morality, one with an appeal to ancient books, and to historical and current authority - albeit this time considering a far more important matter.

Now to be clear - I am not drawing any equivalence whatsoever between Islam and Catholicism. I am not a moral relativist. Nor am I claiming that your way of deciding the matter was similar in essence to the Muslim approach, because your explanation relied on reason, on insight into human frailties, and on compassion - not just books. Most importantly, you gave consideration to your own personal experience, the truth that you yourself learned.

The only thing that was similar, and that I have a problem with, is the appeal to an absolute, final authority.

So when I was reading your analysis, I had to ask myself - do I have to beleive this? Despite my judgement, despite my knowledge, despite what I think are mistakes in the Church's position? And if I have to believe this, and accept this, than what makes me different from a Muslim, whose highest aspiration is complete submission - even of his reason. There is a parodox here - I can believe in the Church just because it represents not an absolute, unchanging truth in the particulars of life, but a far more fundamental truth about the essential relationship of man and God - one that is based on Jesus, but elaborated by human history, human experience, human reason and the continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit.


cathy;

Yes - there is the danger that once we start rejecting a portion of our beliefs, it becomes easier to reject others. We can indeed become sloppy in our thinking. But institutions that are never questioned, and never change, become rigid. They have the illusion of strength, but not the substance. The church used to insist it had absolute authority on not just morals, but physical truth as well. By making such a determined insistence, even when evidence showed it was clearly wrong, people started discounting it on matters of faith and morals as well.

Lutheran - God forbid :)

But seriously, I feel we owe Martin Luther a great debt.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Sweating: Institutions may be questioned but obedience is holy too.

There is one authority and that is God.

You cannot seperate: Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium from Catholicism. Furthermore, they are all to be given equal weight.

I highly recommend Pope John Paul II's encyclicals Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) and Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth)

Martin Luther was not sucessful in changing the Church. He was dismayed that his efforts went as far as they did. Starting his own religion was not his goal. Yet, it happened.

We each have our own private religion when each of us decides individually what is best for us.

Sweating Through fog said...

Cathy,

Thanks for recommending those encyclicals - I'm reading them now and they have much to offer me.

God Bless.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

sweating through fog: God Bless You and your love of Walt Whitman!

Anonymous said...

Sweating through fog....I agree with you completely!!!!