Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Soft Gospel

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,
and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. - 2 Timothy 4:3-4

I was reading the combox of another blog today, and this verse from St. Paul's letter to St. Timothy was quoted by a person who has left the Catholic Church as one of the reasons he left. I was quite puzzled as to how this could possibly be the case. So I thought for a few minutes about the practices of the Catholic Church that people who leave find most distressing, and there are many, but I think it would suffice to just discuss three: 1) Confession of sins to a priest 2) prohibition of the use artificial contraception and 3) the Papacy.

1) Confession of sins to a priest. Now, I don't know many people who have "itching ears" to hear, "Ok, if you sin grievously against the Lord, you must (i.e. you have to do it) go to your priest and relate this in detail so that you may receive absolution." By relate in detail they mean you must tell the priest exactly what you did, and how many times you did it. That's the rule. What do non-Catholic Christians say? "I will only confess my sins to God!" Usually this means something like, "Lord, I have sinned against you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Amen." Given the choice, I would probably choose the general confession to the Almighty Himself over the detailed account of my ugliest sins to a fellow human being even though he has been ordained with authority from Christ and will never repeat to another person those sins.

2) Prohibition of the use of artificial contraception. Yes, I want to be told that I cannot use artificial means to regulate the number of children my wife and I conceive. That suits my liking just fine what with the lack of sleep plus the added expenses. Forget ever spending quality alone time with my wife! Who needs that?! Potty training alone is the joy that makes me want to follow a church which creates just such a doctrine. The Catholic Church remains the only church who forbids the use of artificial contraception in any form. Do many Catholics not adhere to this teaching? Yes. But who is wrong, those individuals or the Church? Does the lack of adherence implicate the teaching as invalid, or does the teaching merely convict one of sin which sends the Catholic back to the confessional (which I have already discussed)?

3) The Papacy. The visible sign of unity in the Catholic Church is the Bishop of Rome. He has the role of upholding his brethren in the faith. Part of that role is guarding the faith from misinterpretation by individuals. Ironically, what non-Catholic Christians do when they disagree with the teachings promulgated by the Pope is simply make themselves their own Pope charged with promulgating the truth "as they see it." Naturally what I would want to do is follow a church which teaches that there is an infallible authority to whom I must fully assent even if I do not like what he is saying, like not using artificial contraception.

The hard truth of the matter is that there is nothing exceptionally easy about following Christ. There are several episodes mentioned in the gospels which support this statement (the entire sixth chapter of St. John's gospel just to name one). What I find honestly to be the case is not that the Catholic Church creates doctrines to suit the needs of people, but rather people who leave the Catholic Church reject her sound doctrines for those which are easier to follow. They reject the tough gospel proclaimed by the Catholic Church for a soft gospel.


At 9:50 AM, Blogger Peter said...

This might help increase the "joy" of potty training...



Post a Comment

<< Home