A reader writes:
I am a recent convert (within the past year) from Evangelical Protestantism and am married to a man who is nominally Christian. We were recently discussing issues of sexuality and the various moral issues that arise around that subject and my husband, of his own accord, decided to look up “Christian” sexuality. Of course, he got a very wide spectrum of opinion on the subject. When I attempted to explain to him the Catholic position on these issues I had a hard time convincing him that there is sound basis for believing what the Church says is true and that I don’t just accept it because an old guy in a funny hat says so.
I found a good book on Catholic sexuality that’s very accessible and he’s happy to read it with me. But I am concerned that even after understanding the logical reasons behind the teachings on the subject he still thinks it’s all just the arbitrary judgment of a group of old guys in robes and funny hats.
So… I have been trying to find a good resource on Catholicism for absolute beginners so that he has a place to start in understanding why we believe and do as we do. I spent two years researching Catholicism before I even set foot in a Catholic Mass and I spent many years prior to that researching Christianity in general in addition to being raised in a church-going environment so I was already familiar with the basics of Catholicism and Christianity in general when I started my faith journey into the Church.
My problem is that my husband comes from a non-religious upbringing and his conversion consisted of being baptized at a Baptist retreat at the age of 15 and going to church sporadically for about a year afterwards. He is not hostile to the faith. He is actually very supportive of my Christianity and professes belief in Christ as Savior himself. But in all honesty he’s never taken it seriously outside of expressing his desire for us to raise out children as Christians and his pleasure and approval of my doing so. And he has just about zero in the way of foundation. He knows very little about the Scriptures outside of the Ten Commandments- and nothing else of the Old Testament- and the general story of Jesus’ life. He has almost no churching at all. So when I try and explain even small things, it quickly gets complicated because the basics just aren’t there for him. And I’m scared that my explanations do more harm than good because of his lack of foundation. He is, for the first time, expressing genuine interest in why I believe as I do and why I converted and I am terrified that my own explanations- that are so often predicated on understanding the basics that he’s just doesn’t have- are going to turn him off.
So, now that I’ve written you a small dissertation (sorry!!) my question is if you could recommend a book or some other resource that is a good place to start him out. I know about Catholic Answers, which is a good resource, but I have no idea where to even start him out on the site. I love your book By What Authority, but I doubt he has enough grounding in the basics for the information in there to click with him. Any ideas?
Here are some good overviews written for folks with no appreciable background in the Christian faith
Also, if he wants to attempt the challenge, I recommend Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, which is one of the most brillian defenses of the Apostle’s creed ever written. Also, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity is a fine basic intro to the basics of the Christian faith, though as an Anglican he avoid ecclesiology.
As far as the matter of sexuality and the Catholic take on it, here is something I wrote a few years ago giving my own account of how it came into focus for me. I hope it helps.