The separation of doctrine from practice

After much study and debate among the bishops, Pope Francis has issued a letter on the family entitled Amoris Laetitia (the joy of love).  In wrestling with how to minister to gays, the problems of modern families in a time of sexual revolution, and  whether or not to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion, the Pope is characteristically unclear.

He upholds traditional morality, pro-life ethics, and historical Catholic teaching on the family, and yet he speaks much about “individual conscience” (which is usually problematic in Catholic theology) and pastoral discretion.  As usual, his pronouncement is controversial and is being taken differently by all sides.  (See this and this.)

The best thing I’ve read on the document is from Ross Douthat, who says that Catholics have been upholding doctrine (pleasing the conservatives) while allowing great flexibility in actual practice (pleasing the liberals).  He says that what is new in Amoris Laetitia is that the Pope is giving official sanction to that separation of doctrine and practice.

I would add that this is not just a Catholic phenomenon.  We certainly see this in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod when it comes to official insistence on, for example, closed communion, even as many congregations ignore that teaching in practice without any official consequences.  (Can you think of other examples in non-Catholic churches?)

Is this a necessary accommodation in a fallen, complicated world?  Or is it evidence that churches don’t really believe their own teachings? [Read more…]

Forbidding the use of “husband,” “wife,” “dad,” “mom”

A professor at the University of Florida is forbidding her students to use words like “husband,” “wife,” “dad,” and “mom” as being insufficiently inclusive. [Read more…]

The most romantic things you can do

Go to church together.  Pray together.   According to a new study, couples who do those things have stronger and more satisfying relationships.

Read the whole article by Rachel Lu in The Federalist, linked to an excerpted after the jump.  She also ties this research into that Swiss study that found that when the father goes to church, the children will go to church when they are adults (and vice versa).

[Read more…]

The vocation of a teenager

Vocation is in the here and now, and it’s something all Christians have.  It doesn’t mean just “job” but refers to the arenas God brings us to for love and service to our neighbor.  So teenagers aren’t just preparing for a vocation in the future; rather, they can love and serve now.

Scott Keith, at the Jagged Word (a multi-author blog you should keep up with, affiliated with 1517: The Legacy Project), has written a great piece about his daughter Autumn and her service (to which I have a personal connection), along with misunderstandings people have about a teenager’s vocation. [Read more…]

Less than half of American children live with both parents

There are lots of disturbing statistics that get thrown out by every latest study.  Phil Lawler identifies the most disturbing of all, the one that has the most devastating implications for our society, our culture, and our people:  Fewer than half of our children today, 46%, live with both of their parents. [Read more…]

Sexual ethics are part of social justice

Many people, including the Pope, are saying that the church should devote more attention to social justice as opposed to to sexual ethics.  First Things editor Matthew Schmitz, a Catholic, reminds us that sexual ethics are part of social justice. [Read more…]