Why Do Non-Catholics Want So Desperately for the Catholic Church to Change Its Teachings?

Why Do Non-Catholics Want So Desperately for the Catholic Church to Change Its Teachings? October 29, 2013

 

Why do non-Catholics want so desperately for the Catholic Church to change its teachings?

It’s fascinating, the amount of emotion at least some non-Catholics seem to have about Catholic teaching. I can tell you that when I was in the anti-God period of my life, I did not give one whit what any church taught. I paid them the ultimate diss of not giving a care.

But from what I’ve seen on this blog, there are a large number of people who claim to be atheist or some what-not version of what I was in my anti-God period, who appear to think about Christianity, the Catholic Church in particular, 24/7. They appear to be, in a word, obsessed with the minutiae of Catholic teaching.

If you doubt this, go to some of the atheist blogs. All they ever talk about is God, Christian teaching, and the Bible.

There are a few issues in particulate that really rev their engines. They are:

  • Who gets to take communion in Catholic Churches (which they insist, even while they debate this endlessly, is just a superstition and a wafer.)
  • Why the Church won’t affirm gay marriage.
  • Why the Church won’t say it’s ok for them kill people they want to kill (the unborn, the elderly, disabled, etc.)

When someone confronts them with the obvious inconsistency implied in their obsessive demands that a Church they claim is a stupid cult alter teachings that they claim are based on a myth, they start denouncing Catholics for using their rights as American citizens to vote and advocate according to their consciences.

It’s as if it offends them that Catholics have the same rights to vote, free assembly and to petition their government as other citizens. I suppose it’s true that it does offend them. Because one takeaway I get from reading the comments from most (not all, there are a couple of clear exceptions) of these people is that they are, at base, bullies.

I also think that the core reason they keep coming around here to drop off their load of insults (most of the truly insulting ones never see the light of day on this blog) is that they are either mental on some level, or, whether they will admit it or not, they are God haunted people who desperately want what the Church offers, which is peace with God, eternal life and a spiritual home. It’s just that they can’t bring themselves to go to God on God’s terms. They want Him — meaning His Church — to come to them on their terms.

These are people who refuse to be forgiven for their sins. What they want is to have the Almighty ratify their sins. They are obsessed with finding, not absolution, but vindication, from a Church they claim they believe is a fraud.

However, that’s just my reaction. Yours may be different. I’m going to throw this open for discussion.

Why do you think nonbelievers are so obsessed with the Catholic Church?


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153 responses to “Why Do Non-Catholics Want So Desperately for the Catholic Church to Change Its Teachings?”

  1. “What they want is to have the Almighty ratify their sins.”
    I agree – I think it’s because they have guilty consciences.

    • I am caught in the middle between natural materialism (atheism) and believing in an intelligent designer and some form of divine intervention in the small miracles that I have experienced. The atheist side of me enjoys exposing teachings of the Catholic Church that betray the whole idea that it is always right in matters of morality. Some things that I know are ok at least in certain circumstances but that are condemned by the Church are gay marriage, contraception, divorce and remarriage, abortion (or at least the morning after pill and early term abortions), pre-marital sex, IVF, cloning, stem cell research, to name a few. There are times and situations when things that the Church condemns under all circumstances that reasonable people can agree have little or no negative impact on anyone. They should therefore be ok.

      • Bill, you mention too many things to take on in a combox, but I will say that every single on them in one way or another references the core idea that human beings are special and that we are also subject to certain basic realities about how we are created. Gay marriage is simply a nothing. Two men and two women can’t be married because their union is not what marriage is comprised of. It’s sort of like CO2 cannot be water, no matter how much it may want to be water and no matter if I pass laws saying it’s water or not. It takes the basic components of hydrogen and oxygen — in the right formula and within certain exacting laws of realty — to make water.
        In the same way, it takes the basic components of one man and one woman to make marriage.
        IVF, cloning, abortion at any stage are all directs attacks on the human person. By the very nature of what they do, they create the fiction that an innocent human being’s right to life is conditional of superficial ideas of how that person’s murder may benefit someone else. If we make human life conditional on the benefits that a person’s death may provide for other people, none of us our safe. I really don’t know why people who favor abortion are so blind to this.

        Aside from that, our lives are a gift from our Maker. They are not ours to dispose of as we will.

        You have evidently been given the grace of encountering the miraculous and it saved your life. Stop trying to hand the gift back because of these nattering nothings of issues.

        Go back to square one. You are a live, and that is not and never has been of yourself. Your life is a gift, and you are a gift.

        Sometimes Bill, you just have to take “yes” for an answer.

        • Rebecca,

          I appreciate your response, but I am having difficulties putting any trust in the Catholic Church. I am also still unable to concede that there is anything supernatural even in the chain of events that saved me. Since it is so difficult, the only thing I can do from my heart as well as my brain is surrender to Saint Faustina’s words on the portrait that she described to the artist: “Jesus, I trust in you”. This relieves me of overthinking what you call “nattering nothings of issues”.

          I was too anxious to pounce on those who professed Church teachings on issues that I believed the Church to be wrong about. While I still believe that the Church can be and is wrong, I have bigger fish to fry. Opposing Church teaching is for me an obsessive compulsive disorder. Trusting in Jesus, even if I don’t believe in the supernatural, is the best I can do for the time being. Even when I receive communion, I tell him that I am doing it in memory of him but that I don’t believe he is physically present. I ask him to help my unbelief.

            • I know there had to be times when I frustrated you and you had to censor my comments. My insistence on my being right and you and others being wrong was a psychological burden that is lifted by trusting someone who exists at some level, even if he just occupies my subconscious mind. Whoever he is and wherever he exists, I can do no wrong in trusting my life to him.

              • My prayer is “I have faith, help though my unfaithful” (Mark 9:24).
                I’d love to hear your testimony Bill. Yu sound like you’re on a wonderful journey.
                mrsdbliss.blogspot.com

                • Mrs. Domestic Bliss,

                  I have moved from atheist to agnostic and have come to the conclusion that I should place my trust in Jesus regardless of whether or not I believe everything that is said about him. The worst that happens is that he only turns out to be my imaginary friend. Even at that, my image of him helps me overcome many of my faults. When I rebelled against him, my life got really bad and I tried to kill myself. I credit him for the circumstances of my rescue and my failure to end it all. I used to argue about politics and religion much more than I do now. I see it as my own obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). When I feel the need to elevate my opinions over those of others, I say the prayer that Sister Faustina had put under the portrait of her vision: “Jesus, I trust in you”. This says it all. Whoever and wherever he is, I can do no wrong by trusting in his divine mercy. He is my Saviour.

                  • Thank you for sharing Bill. I know what you mean by rebelling against him. People think of sin as breaking God’s laws. However, there is a reason for Jesus’ reference to himself as a doctor. I thin sin is more like cancer, destroying life. God bless.

                    • Mrs DB,

                      I think the whole concept of “sin” has become a tool for the Church to control people by offering forgiveness in exchange for the forgiven person’s loyalty and devotion. I no longer look to the Church for forgiveness. Instead, I look to my wife, my sons, or whomever else I may have offended. Instead of offering himself up as a kind of sacrificial lamb for the forgiveness of our sins, I believe that Jesus died because he challenged both religious and civil authority. Shortly after his death, ritual sacrifices at a temple holding central religious authority and the central authority of Rome were both replaced by Christianity.

          • Look, there are Church teachings that I find hard to come to terms with. I don’t like them. But I assent to them because I trust that they were taught by the successors of those Jesus appointed.

            • Succession of authority does not guarantee competence of rule. Look at how bad some popes, kings, czars, emperors, etc. have been. The Church has been corrupted and reformed many times. I don’t think succession has anything to do with legitimizing the Church’s authority. That’s a fallacy from the times that monarchies ruled most of the world.

      • Quick clarification it’s embrionic stem cell not adult that’s the problem. I can’t say things any better than Rebecca except to say on my other comment, I hope you persevere and stay on our team.

        • Thank you for the clarification. I find it to difficult to accept that the Catholic Church has any inherrent authority over what I do, think and say. But, I contribute to it and partake of its sacraments.

          • Bill, the Catholic Church’s “authority” over you is entirely a matter of your own assent. I chose — chose — to follow Catholic teaching, even when, as does happen sometimes, I find it difficult. The reason I do is that my life experience has taught me that my own reckoning can and has led me into advocating horrific things. For me, I guess it’s a kind of humility, or at least an acceptance of my own limits as a moral arbiter. What you assent to is your own decision. This authority you feel weighing down you on you is an illusion. You chose Bill. We all do. That’s how God made us: Free.

            • The only real problem I see is when Catholics take a moral principal that applies to them because being Catholic requires them to accept the principle because it is a Church teaching, and think that it applies to everyone. Gay marriage is condemned by the Catholic Church. All that means is that Catholics cannot gay marry. It does not mean that those not practicing the Catholic faith cannot gay marry. They are doing it and it is recognized by both society and the government. That makes it real to them and others whose faith does not condemn it. The fact that it can’t happen according to Catholics does nothing to negate it. They are just as married to their partners as I am to my wife.

              • What you are objecting to is the fact that, since Catholics disagree exercise their free rights as American citizens to vote according to their consciences and to petition their government according to their beliefs.

                What you are objecting to is the simple fact that democracy applies to everyone. There is nothing wrong with this. I support the right of others to vote according to their consciences and to petition the government, even when it disagrees with my ideas, as in the case of gay marriage and abortion. We all have these rights.

                • Just … no! If the Church will stay out of government, then they can do as
                  they please. We don’t want affirmation. We want you to stop using the
                  government to tell us what we can and can’t do.

                  • In other words, you want people of faith to stop exercising their rights as citizens? There are names for that– tyranny, dictatorship, etc.

                  • In addition to what Rebecca said, I will add, that certain opposing views such as on marriage will come into conflict sooner or later, whether we like or not.

                    There is a reason why certain fundamentals have to stay the same.

                • I object to the Church spending money to influence the outcome of a referendum to allow gay marriage like it did during state elections. I object to Bishops claiming that it is a sin to vote for a candidate who does not oppose abortion. That is dirty politics.

            • I have come to the conclusion that I can put it in Jesus’ hands. I don’t worry about whether I am a hypocrite or not. I simply say “Jesus, I trust in you” and leave everything up to him. Do you have a problem with that?

      • Bill, you “know” all these things are right. But there are millions who “know” they are wrong. Doesn’t that cause you pause and want to back off from “knowing” that they are right, and maybe there are legitimate arguments against them? Each of them has serious drawb acks that the general culture refuses to recognize.

        • Fred,

          Certain things are just facts of life that are counter to Catholic teaching but work nonetheless. There are gay couples who are successfully married and also divorcees living successful second marriages. There are successful couples living together who choose not to marry and those who successfully use contraceptives. There are women who successfully conceive through IVF and the list of people successfully doing things that the Catholic Church condemns goes on and on. By successful, I mean that the intended purpose is achieved at no significant cost to society or those involved in terms of detrimental effects. To me these things don’t need to be condemned by you, me or anyone else.

          • We are honest about our views. You have a hard time accepting the fact that we disagree. It’s like you want our approval and mad that you do not have it.

            This is what Rebecca is talking about.

            Your conscience that is wrestling with itself.

            • Nothing I object to about Church teaching has any connection to my own conscience. I actually don’t have much of a problem complying with Catholic rules. I am advocating gay marriage even though I am not gay and my gay son is celibate as far as I know and has no interest in marrying another man. I advocate marriage for divorcees even though I have been happily married to the same woman for almost 40 years. And I am not mad about anything. I respect your right to disagree with me and I assume you respect mine to disagree with you.

              • The issue is that you want the church to advocate your views.

                What about the rights of those who disagree with gay marriage?

                • The rights of those who disagree with gay marriage? What rights do they need that they don’t already have? The right to discriminate against gays? None of us have that right. The right to tell other people how to live their lives? I suppose that, beyond freedom of speech and the right to vote, they don’t have as many rights as they would like to have if those rights would negatively impact gays.

          • A sexual contract between two people for tax purposes might work for them, but why should the church trade a covenant for a contract, something more for something less. Why should it reduce commitment to selfish convieniance?

            Reduce aiming for something higher to just settle for the status quo.

            These people might be successful, by reducing people to their base instincts, but the church looks at the larger picture, at the whole person.

      • What makes you think the breakdown of the family and male-female relationships has no negative impact?

        I teach kids with learning and emotional problems, and the dysfunction in their families, gets a greater toll on them, than their disability does.

        • That is not an indictment of gay marriage. If anything, it is an indictment of dysfunctional families mostly involving heterosexuals.

  2. To quote Peter Kreeft: “Because we are the iron ball in the pit of the stomach of the world – we cannot be digested or absorbed.”

    In short, because we’re frightening.

    Happy Hallowe’en!

  3. I assume some of it is the transferred feelings of guilt you allude to, most likely the case with those who seem motivated by rage. Someone like myself, a Protestant who likes much of the Catholic church but cannot get beyond certain aspects of her teaching to go ahead and actually “convert,” can find it tempting to voice disagreement, but that is useless for all of us, as I am an outsider and my thoughts are irrelevant when the issue is your response to the teachings of your leadership… kind of like someone jumping into another family’s internal arguments–it never goes well.
    I DO find it curious when atheists go after Catholics in particular, even tho they don’t much like Protestants who seek to live godly lives, either. Perhaps it is because you have a very well defined hierarchy and virtually unchangeable teachings. While those who hate Christian teaching in general CAN hope to bully or persuade “leading” people over time into adjusting their “understanding” of issues among Protestants (the rot within my own, American Presbyterian church’s diffuse leadership springs to mind), the laws of the Catholic Church and the leadership of the Popes is NOT subject to such cultural drift. Even when specific priests or religious rebel against the Church, we all know that they do not have the power to speak FOR the Church, just themselves. The human ego not being one to abide any refusal to bow before it, I think that makes your Church a target. And yet, when I think of those who thus target her trying to “humble” the Church, I am reminded of the scene in the Disney movie, Mulan, where the leader of the Huns is blustering at the Chinese Emperor to bow to him, and the Emperor replies that no matter how the wind may howl, the mountain cannot bow to it. Which is to say, all their anger will not give them victory, and I think that just further infuriates them.

    • Cynthia, do you watch The Journey Home program on EWTN? It’s a great program of interviews with Catholic converts and what made them overcome their objections. They also have most of their old episodes on youtube. I’m not trying to convert you, but you might find something there you can identify with.

      • Manny, Now that I think enough time has passed that I can reply without hijacking the thread into a Catholic/Protestant thing, I wanted to say thanks for your comments. I am about as close to Catholic as I can get without true conversion, and have tried to wrap my brain around some of the bits that are problematic for me, just to no avail. Now I am married to a very staunch Protestant, so… not likely to happen, tho one never knows. 😉
        At any rate, I wanted to say, in praise of the Church’s unwavering stance on things in the face of popular opinion, I can credit my vague, cultural understanding that Catholic teaching holds suicide to be a mortal sin with getting me thru a suicidal depression in college, many years ago. I know much more now, theologically, than I did then, but I’ve never looked further to see if that is indeed unwavering doctrine. Whether it is or not, just the thought that the escape from pain I was seeking would lead to eternal pain was enough to keep me from trying it, even when fear of failing or concern for how my friends and family would feel no longer seemed significant enough. We Protestants waver, we want to be gracious to those dealing with loss, and sometimes our concessions (which never seem to stop) have the unintended side effect of people feeling license to embrace actions that lead to death. So, I am ever grateful for the Church’s stability. 🙂

        • God bless you Cynthia. I am glad you over came that pain. I understand the difficulites of family pressures. Consider yourself an honorary Catholic. You can be with us in spirit.

        • Did my reply get deleted? Perhaps i forgot to hit post. All I wanted to say was I understand your family pressures, and I hope then you can consider yourself an honorary Catholic. You can be with us in spirit. God bless you.

    • “I DO find it curious when atheists go after Catholics in particular,”

      I was listening to Threshhold of Hope on EWTN – Fr. Pacwa is working through Fides et Ratio. Paragraph 28: People can even run from the truth as soon as they glimpse it because they are afraid of is demands. Yet, for all that they may evade it, the truth still influences their life. […] One may define the human being, therefore, as the one who seeks the truth.

      They “go after” the Catholic Church because that’s the truth that still influences their lives. Otherwise – why bother?

  4. I think they want to be god. It infuriated Satan enough to make him who
    he is and I think many men/women believe that our God isn’t fair, needs
    to wise up to the current times, needs to give them what they want. The
    interesting part of all of this is how extraordinarily unhappy they are
    with getting what they want. As they pass laws against humanity, they
    are only more angry for getting what they want. In the end, they create
    and live in their own hell.

  5. I was an atheist for intellectual reasons. The “old atheists”, Russell, GBShaw, Hitchens, et al, made good cases against the Christians whose ignorance and irrationality made me run screaming to scientific materialism at an early age (the best argument for people knowing their faith before thumping others with it). When I became Catholic, I went back to the atheists, hoping to help them see what I saw. Among the “New Atheists” I found what you described. The same ignorance and irrationality that I had run from before. “Feels” instead of thought, and a desperate, heartsore need to be validated as a good person – that’s why the insults on atheist sites, and in comment boxes as they reassure each other that Christianity is bogus. I remember one talk with a friend, who walked me through the 10 Commandments to prove she was a good person even without the first one. She realized with shock that she’d broken all of them except for killing someone. I said great! That’s where we all begin, knowing ourselves, finding the broken and fixing it. I said that that was ok, that she was loved anyway. But she was shaken, scared. She wanted to be perfect already. To her, you threw away broken things and replaced them with new, perfect things. She seemed to envision Hell as the trash can for broken things. Failing to find a religion that ratified everything she’d done, she turned to atheism because it took all the rules away. It was her safe place, but she was still haunted. I learned you have to find and heal the hurt, before people will listen. Unless of course they get a Paul on the way to Damascus moment, like I had.

    • I had my athiest period too but I felt a certain saddness that to my perception God didn’t exist. I wanted the Church and religion to be true but couldn’t see it. Thank God my eyes eventually opened. That’s a great story dancingcrane, and I’m glad you found our wonderful faith.

    • Why are the atheists even downvoting this? Are they just mad that one of their own became a Catholic? Does it offend them?

      Anyways I found your story to be insightful.

    • Sus_1, thing is, Church teachings DO apply to everyone. Now, if someone chooses to disregard those teachings they have free will and will suffer the consequences. That’s what we call sin.

      • It goes both ways then. If Catholics think everyone should live by the Church teachings, then everyone can have opinions on those Church teachings.

      • Thing is, you only claim that the teachings of your church apply to you. And you only claim that we will suffer consequences. Religious people of every stripe, not just Catholics, claim that their god’s rules apply to everybody, and us atheists don’t see any good reason to assess that one religion is more true than the other because we have no good evidence on any side.

        Therefore, when Catholics (and other religious adherents) do things that we find harmful to society, like removing gay rights and contraception, that is when we start complaining.

        • If by gay rights you mean so-called gay marriage, you can’t remove what was not there in the first place. And if you argue that, do you have a problem with the other side complaining about things we find harmful to society?

          • I would call a person who is gay has the right to feel safe in their own home, in their school, at their job, and not have to worry about being thrown out simply because of who they love. Instead they get harassed, assaulted, killed, isolated, abused, raped, and other such painful experiences.

            To treat another with such disrespect and violence isn’t a very “good” thing to do, and to condone it speaks volumes of one’s character

            • Nico, I agree with you about this. However, I want to add that everything you just said about homosexuals can apply — and even more so — about women.

            • Where did I say anything about condoning rape, or abuse, or assault? For one thing, I support anti-bullying legislation as a victim of homophobic bullying myself in the past.

              I kindly ask you to not put words into my mouth. My objection was to so-called gay marriage. We’re not taking anything away. It is you who is trying to put something there that did not exist before.

        • A little intellectual honesty would be appreciated. First, gay rights are a very recent creation, and are being used to directly violate long standing, clearly Constitutionally based freedoms of speech and expression of religion. Second, there is no attempt to remove contraception, just opposition to forcing religious based entities to pay for it.

          • By your logic you support Muslim Americans lobbying the government to pass laws based on the Koran. How does your Catholic constituency feel about that?

            • That would be their right as Americans. It would be my right as an American to petition the government not to do so. Can you understand the idea that everyone in this country has the right to petition their government, including people who don’t agree with you? It’s been this way for over 200 years now.

              • The Catholic Church and certainly has the legal right to lobby the government to oppose gay marriage but one could argue they have the same moral right to do that as they do to restrict divorced people from remarrying or to not allow people access to contraception or to prevent selling of viagra to unmarried men.

      • How is it that Church teachings DO apply to everyone? I disagree. The people who do not belong to the Church but to other denominations or no faith at all are not obliged to follow the RCC’s rules. This doesn’t make them “sinners” this makes them folks who had different ideas that aren’t always those of the Church. There are many other faiths, none superior to another, IMO.

    • The entirety of the moral law taught as doctrine by the Catholic Church can be derived from Natural Law: it needs no necessary reference to sacred scriptures or divine revelations. As long as a proposal, policy or program is defensible via Natural Law — in rational, secular terms — it deserves to be considered on its merits the same as any other proposal.

      To say otherwise is invidious discrimination — that is, a prejudice based on an irrational animus.

      Going further, I would say that in my 60+ years I have always seen official Catholic spokespeople use the public forum to promote arguments which have a strong natural, this-worldly basis. Any sensible person who speaks on public policy — be they Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Mormon, Methodist, or Muslim — will do well to use such arguments, because they are accessible to all.

  6. That’s a great question. It’s akin to a question I ask every time I debate someone who lives in a foreign country (and is not American) why they argue over internal American issues. Why the hell do they give a damn and why should i give a damn what they think?

    • I would agree more with your assessment here if it weren’t for the fact that the United States is currently trying to enter into the charity field with the promise of changing it so that no country can receive charity from others without first changing their laws to suit the godless western “leaders” in regard to abortions, contraception, euthanasia, and homosexuality laws.

      • Well, I would disagree with my country if they were trying to do that. But that’s not an internal American issue. That’s external and I can understand you engaging and debating if it effects your country. I would completely understand.

  7. I think the problem is too many heretics at Novus Ordo who turn other people off because they make the whole thing seem like a joke.

  8. This post could come across as pretty arrogant; I don’t think that was your intention. But a lot of Catholics seem to revel in their “differentness” like they’re living out Brideshead Revisited.

    Some of us disagree and want you to change because we genuinely believe you’re wrong, while deeply respecting where you’re right.

  9. Spot on! I have seen this also and have tried to explain to the self described atheists that they are in torment from their sins and that is why they are so angry with God and His Church.

  10. If the Church was only refusing to affirm gay marriages, that would be fine. They can affirm, not affirm, whatever they like. I don’t care if racist churches refuse to affirm mixed race marriages. What makes me angry is when they lobby to prevent other people, who are NOT catholics, from enjoying the rights involved in marriage. And I want them to stop doing that, just as much as I want other groups of people to stop promoting policies that I believe are evil.

    • In other words, what makes you angry is that people who don’t agree with you have the same rights as American citizens as you do to vote according to their consciences and to petition the government. This is not “the Church” doing this, by the way. It is American citizens, exercising the same rights that you exercise when you advocate for gay marriage.

      • “It is American citizens, exercising the same rights that you exercise when you advocate for gay marriage.” No, not the same, not even close. Those who object to gay marriage are doing so based upon only one perspective: religious teachings. That’s it. Those who advocate same-sex marriage do so based upon the need for equality. That’s it. Human rights. The RCC is well aware of it’s track record on human rights over the centuries, and as much as it wishes that record to “go away”, it won’t, and the rest of us will see to it that it stays present in as many minds as possible. We will not allow the RCC to *ever* return to its self-appointed position of power and authority. Never. Again.

        You want to have a religious faith and practice said faith, fine. You’ve every right to do so, and many of us stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you to fight and, if necessary, die for that right. Try to impose your religious doctrines on the rest of us, and you can fuck right off.

        • Sigh. The rights to vote according to personal conscience and to petition the government or to seek redress in the courts are not subject to the dictates of your individual ideas as to whether or not you approve of the motivations of those doing so. All Americans have the right to vote according to the dictates of their conscience and to petition the government as well as to seek redress in the courts. This is what you are arguing against. The issue of whether or not you approve of their private motivations for doing this is entirely non sequitur.

          Have you any concept of the idea that these rights belong to everyone, even people who disagree with you? I begin to wonder if our many visitors from the atheist blogs can understand this notion.

          Oh, and by the way, clean up your language, please.

        • “Those who object to gay marriage are doing so based upon only one perspective: religious teachings.”
          No that is most definitely wrong. Gay marriage is only a phenomena of the last ten to twenty years. All cultures historically have not supported gay marriage, whether on basis of religion or logic. Sorry, no matter how you twist logic, two men don’t make a marriage and neither does two women. The parts don’t fit, or don’t you know about birds and the bees?

  11. As an atheist and a gay man, I can certainly say that I am not “god-haunted”, and I’m not after “vindication” of my so-called “sins”. When I do wrong to another human being, I apologize to them. But some of the things that I do, are simply not “wrong”. There is a huge disconnect between the Church and the nature of humanity, if a person is vilified for finding happiness and companionship with someone of the same gender, especially when that other person is a consenting adult. We have not chosen to have same-sex desires, we should not be expected to completely repress those desires for our entire lives. Likewise with atheists. We find stories of magic to be unconvincing. This is not a “crime” which merits any punishment. Give us more convincing stories, and maybe we will find agreement. But we are not “evil” people just because talking animals and magic powers make us blanche.
    .
    But this is all incidental. Of course, the Church is free to vilify whoever they wish, and to treat human nature as crimes. But the reason that some of us would like to see the Church change its doctrines, is because the Church has a tremendous influence of the world which we must live in. Those of us who wish to marry our deepest loved one, must contend with the interference of religion, even religions we are not part of. We are slandered as “abominations” or “disbelieving fools”, and the resulting stigma can make life incredibly difficult.
    .
    Essentially, the Church is free to make its own decisions, set its own policy, and guide the lives of its willing adherents. Unfortunately, today’s Church has many tentacles in many aspects of the lives of EVERYONE, even non-adherents, and the rest of us are tired of tripping over them.

      • I am unable to tell if you mean “You think the Church is bad NOW, wait till you get closer!”, or if you mean “You need to get closer to the Church because you have a misunderstanding of us, we don’t actually vilify gays”.
        .
        I’m sure the Church teaches a very kind and tolerant attitude toward gay people. As long as we’re celibate. But once we dare seek companionship, partnership, or even sex and marriage, these are “crimes” of some sort, for which we must beg forgiveness. Well, that’s not happening. I haven’t wronged anyone, I have no one to apologize to, and nothing to apologize for. I have no understanding for a doctrine which teaches that I should ignore part of what makes me human, or that I should learn to live without it, simply because it makes someone mad that I’ve never met, seen, heard, felt or been able to confirm their existence in any way. If there is a God, and he wants me to be heterosexual, then his simplest solution would have been to fill me with heterosexual feelings instead of homosexual ones. If he wants me to believe in him, then he should supply more plausible stories. He should stop letting human beings act as his spokespeople, and make an appearance himself. How many religions claim divinity, and truth? How many can be right about that simultaneously? Only one? How many can be wrong? All of them? Those aren’t terrific odds. Resurrections and virgin births don’t help the matter.
        .
        Please understand that my position is not held out of a sense of rebellion, or hatred, for either God or his followers. I am who I am, and I see no problem with that. My partner and I make each other very happy, and neither of us could imagine our lives without the other. I will absolutely reject any doctrine which suggests that we are doing “wrong” and must repent, especially one which cannot provide any proof of its claims. The world is too full of supernatural claims, most of them contradictory to one another, and to follow ANY of them without confirmation is dangerous. You would be just as likely to be following a doctrine concocted by humans, if you have no way to be sure if the doctrine is actually true. Truth is important to me, and I cannot rush to belief until overwhelming evidence convinces me.
        .
        More contact with the Church is not going to serve me in any capacity. I’m sure there are very kind people within who treat gay people with the utmost respect. Unfortunately, they hold many OTHER positions based on supernaturalism, and that immediately raises red flags for me. Faith is an incorrect way to discover truth, and I cannot brook it.

        • So you don’t accept Church teaching on human sexuality. What then is your beef? Do you expect everyone to agree with you? No one — no one — is stopping you from doing as you wish. The Church will and does support you and help you if you get sick, need help or are subjected to unjust discrimination, regardless of how you feel about Church teachings. The Church will never turn you away because of your opinions or actions. If the Church teaches that some of the things you do are sinful, remember that they are not talking about you, but sin itself. The person who decides whether or not this is a sin and goes to confession about it is you. No one forces you or condemns you or makes you do anything. But if you do go to confession, you will find absolution and kindness there. As for your behavior being a sin, I was once ardently pro choice and had many of the same beliefs that my ideas were right. When I changed and came to the Church, they didn’t just forgive me, they wiped it clean and never reproached me or made me “be” that sin. The Church is loving toward people, even those who disagree with it.

        • Edmund,

          You sound sincere, but try and understand our perspective. The same people who never cared about sacramental marriage are now pushing for major change in sexual morality just to fit in gay marriage.

          They want us to trade something more for something less, and reduce human relationships and marriage to contracts for tax purposes and selfish convieniance.

    • Also, the official Church teaching is often quite different from what the person in the pew thinks. Most of my family is still conservative Catholic and while they may not agree with homosexuality for themselves have little if no problem with it for non-Catholics. I actually don’t know anyone who wants to ban gay marriage. That may be because I’m in Canada and we’ve had it for over 10 years now and they realize it doesn’t affect them or their beliefs any more than allowing divorced non Catholics to remarry.

      • I am Canadian, and Canada is a different country. In the US both state and church are signing up for this and putting pressure on other people.

        • The only pressure I see here is that opposition to gay marriage for all is becoming socially unacceptable and people don’t like it. If a person’s church doesn’t marry gays, that’s okay, but if they wish to say no gays can marry that’s not acceptable to most.

          • You completely ignore all the violations of Christians’ First Amendment rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion that have occurred and will continue to occur as a result of the pro gay marriage movement. I don’t know if you’re truly ignorant of it – for example, the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s prosecution of the magazine Insight for writing about Catholic teaching in this area – or are deliberately ignoring this aspect, or just don’t think it matters, as long as there’s “tolerance” for your agenda.

  12. I’m an ex-Catholic, now an atheist. Speaking for myself and many of my other atheist’s friends I only care about Catholic beliefs when they seek to impose them on a society as a whole. If Catholics don’t want gay marriage, don’t marry gays. But don’t seek to impose that belief on non -religious people or religious people who support the rights of gays to marry. In a similar fashion I would be the first one to defend the right of the Cathoic Church to not be required to marry gays, or gay people or first cousins, people who are living together, or men who are impotent, etc. I don’t agree with those prohibitions, but the CHurch has a right to practice them.
    I don’t want vindication for my choice, just respect my choice and do not choose to impose your choice on me. And I will do the same.

    • You’re talking in circles and trying to limit American freedoms to a small area that you can control. All Americans have the free right to vote according to the dictates of their consciences and to petition their government, as well as seek redress through the courts. What you are arguing for is the limitation of those rights to the people who hold your viewpoints. If this was acted on, in time, it would inevitably come down to you alone having these rights, since no one agrees with any of us absolutely. You can not argue away the rights of democracy from groups of people who disagree with you without also arguing away democracy itself.

      • No, you can’t,but you can impose limits on democracy where it infringes the rights of the minority- as in the case of Loving vs. Virginia, which imposed a highly unpopular view (allowing interracial marriage) on a majority who opposed it (the people of Virginia.)

    • I happen to agree with you, but there are Catholics who do not. They see civil marriage as a stepping stone to gaining entry into the church.

      There are concerns about religious freedom, and the rights of those who disagree with gay marriage.

      • How are the rights of those who disagree with gay marriage infringed upon any differently than the rights of those who disagree with remarriage? Civil marriage has existed for decades for all sorts of situations where the Catholic Church disagrees and it hasn’t altered the Church’s position. Here in Canada we’ve had gay marriage for over 10 years and no CHurch has been forced to accept it. It’s purely up to them.

        • Rationalist1, I just explained the view of the Catholic Church regarding same-sex marriage. The Church considers civil marriages between a man and a woman to be valid, even it such marriages would not be conducted by the Church e.g. a divorced man or woman remarrying. The Church recognizes such “natural marriage” because they fit the divine role of marriage, that of uniting man and woman so that they can be whole. From their union comes many benefits for society., which is as God intended.

    • Savvy, simply because a group of people fear something doesn’t mean their fears are well-founded.

      The
      Catholic Church does not oppose allowing civil same-sex marriage because it believes it will be forced to perform such unions. The
      Church is opposed to same-sex marriage because it considers marriage to
      be a divinely created institution to unite men and women, and thus make
      us whole. In the Church’s view, civil marriage simply is a legal
      ratification of this union between a man and a woman. The Church
      opposes same-sex civil marriage because it confuses society about the
      nature of marriage.

      The Catholic Church believes that marriage
      is essential, not only for individuals, but for society. Marriage is a
      fundamental building-block. Changing the traditional definition of
      marriage to include same-sex marriage is a threat to society.

      Rationalist1, I understand the appeal of your perspective. The view you expressed is popular in the US, and for good reason. It respects individual liberty and freedom of choice.

      I just explained the Catholic Church’s position, and I realize you disagree with it. That is okay. However, the Church can not be expected to back away from what it sees as fundamental to the welfare of everyone and required of us by God. The Church regularly advocates for values in keeping with its faith e.g. feeding the hungry, welcoming the immigrant, etc. The public opposition of the Catholic Church to same-sex marriage is of the same cloth.

      • I don’t expect the Catholic Church to back away from its viewpoint but they have no right to impose it upon others. For instance my viewpoint and the viewpoint of most Canadians (many of them religious) is that same sex marriage is not a problem and actually good for society. Should the majority of Canadians seek to impose that viewpoint on a Cathoilic minority? No.
        Can you see why we shouldn’t do that? And if so why the converse is qually unacceptible?

        • I don’t know much about Canada’s government, but in America, everyone has the right to vote according to what they believe, to petition their government to change laws according to their personal desires and beliefs and to seek redress in the courts. That is the only way in which Catholics try to impose their will on others. To the contrary, practicing Catholics both here (and from what I’ve read, in Canada, as well) are more and more being asked to do things that violate their consciences as a condition of their employment. Of course, they are going to seek redress in the courts and petition their government for protection of their rights. As for people of faith trying to pass laws that reflect their beliefs, that is exactly what those who favor abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia do, as well. What’s sauce for the secularist is also sauce for the Catholic.

          • The pro-gay marriage movement doesn’t simply want tolerance for gay marriage, it demands approval and the silencing of all who disagree. That movement bullies, belittles and attempts to intimidate those who exercise their rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion.

            In your own country, the Alberta human rights commission prosecuted a Catholic priest and magazine, Insight, for doing nothing more than citing church teaching on sexuality and explaining how the right to gay marriage would eventually impact all Canadians’ ability to exercise their religious liberty. The fact the commission would even open an investigation into a a Catholic magazine based on complaints from the gay lobby shows that they are not only determined to impose their beliefs upon society in general, but they are also determined to deny others their long held civil rights.

        • Rationalist1, the Catholic Church is simply one voice in the public debate. Catholics do not form a majority in the US population (i am not familiar with the situation in Canada). But even if Catholics were in the majority, repeated surveys show that a large percentage of Catholics dissent from the teachings on the Church with regard to social issues.

          Granted, Christians nominally from a majority of the US population. However, there is a great deal of disagreement among Christians, and among Christian denominations with regard to social issues. There is no Catholic bloc or Christian bloc (although leaders may wish to think so.) I mention this because the participation of the Catholic Church in the public (and political) debate is not a matter of a majority imposing its will on a minority. We are all simply players in the same game and protecting the rights of minorities is definitely an important consideration.

          You suggested that Canada’s legalization of same-sex marriage did not affect those who disagree with it. I am not sure that is true. Changing the definition of marriage in such a fundamental way affects definition and function of marriage within the society. This change affects everyone within it, whether they are gay or not, married or not.

          How much of an effect it has remains to be seen. Likely, it will not be felt for a generation or two, as children grow up in a different cultural landscape.

          • Hi Dale –
            For sure, the Catholic church has the right (and probably a Christian responsibility) to participate in the public debate. Having done so vigorously, it’s surprising that the author of this post is objecting to those who take issue with the church’s very public position. Further, it always surprises me when the church makes a moral judgement about others (e.g., “gay relationships are immoral”), then objects when others make a moral judgment about her (e.g. “the Catholic church is bigoted”).

            • Since you mentioned me, I’ll butt in briefly. I didn’t “object” to anything. I merely asked the question why some people, who claim to be unbelievers, are so obsessed with getting the Church to change its teachings. The rest, as they say, was rock and roll, as troops of offended unbelievers descended to post comments in varying degrees of angry (the vast majority of which were deleted, much to the commenters chagrin) to “prove” that they are not obsessed with getting the Church to change its teachings by … well … giving a fine exhibition of that exact obsession.

            • Hi Ford, thanks for joining in the discussion.

              Yes, I agree that if the Catholic Church is in the public square, advocating for change on a political or cultural level, it should expect some pushback from opposing views. This is well and good, the essence of democracy and free speech.

              However, I have noticed over the years that there are many people in the US who believe that clergy or religious denominations should be silent on matters of public policy. I disagree with their objection, and I think that was part of Rebecca’s disagreement as well.

              I have less experience with the other aspect of Rebecca’s article; that non-Catholics would like the Catholic Church to change its teachings. I suppose it is related to the first objection. Some people may recognize the right of the Catholic Church to participate in public policy discussion, but these people would like the Catholic Church to change what it is advocating. For example, such persons might approve of the Catholic Church advocating for increased funding for food stamps, but those same persons might object to the Catholic Church advocating to restrict abortion. (At least, I think that is what Rebecca was getting at. I hope she will let us know if I got it wrong.)

      • Same sex civil marriage is opposed by the Church because it confuses society about the nature of marriage??? Confuses? Really? I disagree. SSM is a threat to society? I disagree there too. SSM most certainly doesn’t fit the Church’s definition, but it isn’t a threat to society, IMO. 2 people who love each other and wish to stay together as a couple do not threaten anyone or most certainly isn’t confusing anyone either.

  13. Pope Francis made this wonderfully Catholic loving response in his interview with Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit journal whose content is approved by the Vatican.

    In a remark then that produced headlines worldwide, the new pope said, “Who am I to judge?” At the time, some questioned whether he was referring only to gays in the priesthood, but in this interview he made clear that he had been speaking of gay men and lesbians in general.

    “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he told Father Spadaro. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

    I hope that this gives everyone, whether Catholic or not, the truth about what the Catholic faith teaches us about. It is what Christ taught, love and mercy.

    I can only guess at the many reasons people feel the need to project hatred. In my experience of life and as a licensed pastoral counselor, many times we hate others when we hate some part of ourselves and when we feel out of control of something in life. There is a deep human need, a God-gifted need to be accepted and loved. When this does not happen, it hurts us. As humans we must turn to God when we hurt, examine ourselves, and move on to true healing.

    Who knows what God will say when we come to meet him at our physical death?
    I think God must laugh at us a lot! I can hear God saying while shaking his/her head “Oh my gosh, that’s NOT what I meant!”

  14. Recently, the Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee, who is a strong proponent of gay marriage, announced that he will not allow Episcopal priests to bless or preside over gay marriages. He said that although gay marriage is an important civil right, there is no theological basis for it in the Episcopal tradition.

    When he announced this, many Episcopalians were stunned. After all, wasn’t it hypocritical to call for civil gay marriage, but refuse a religious ceremony?

    The lesson in this is that if it is bigoted to deny the equality of gays in the public sphere, it is bigoted to do it in the private sphere as well. Those who want the Catholic Church to allow civil gay marriage will not stop when it is legal. They will want the Catholic Church to perform gay weddings as well.

    Americans often say they don’t want morality to be legislated. In reality, declaring something to be wrong is really the first step to making illegal. The number of people who want the state to allow gay marriage, but who have no problem with a religious tradition denying its gay members marriage, is small indeed.

    • Erasite, the reasoning you presented is faulty. There is no conflict if an Episcopal bishop (or anyone else for that matter) supports civil marriage for same-sex couples but denies religious marriage to those same couples. Those two types of marriage are independent of one another. It is possible to have a civil marriage without a religious ceremony. Similarly, it is possible to have religious marriage without getting it legally blessed. This basic separation is well understood by proponents of same-sex marriage. .

      Simply because some Episcopalians think their denomination should perform same=sex marriages is not a reason to think that The Episcopal Church will be forced to conduct them. The only way this change would happen is if the leadership of that denomination decided to change past practices. Granted, such changes seem to be occurring in some Protestant denominations due to pressure from their members.

      However, there is no reason to think that the leaders of Catholic Church will change its beliefs regarding the sacrament of marriage. We have a different view of Tradition, and its divine origin, than do Protestant denominations. For example, some degree of popular sentiment to allow female priests exists in the Church, but such a change is not going to happen.

  15. Christianity is the de facto civil religion in America. As such it affects our civil laws, which in turn affects the lives of both believers and unbelievers.

    I know a lot of atheists/agnostics and people of faith from other religious Traditions who simply want a more inclusive spirit in our society and see a threat in exclusivist religious beliefs that they feel marginalize and/or disfranchise their fellow citizens for a life-style choice that they believe should be strictly personal.

    I am a Christian person of faith who has been influenced by the wisdom of other Christian and non-Christian Traditions who believes that there should be zero tolerance for predatory behavior and that non-predatory behavior should be a matter between the believer or non-believer and his or her own conscience.
    Stop a moment and compare the Church’s teaching with the revelations of the Catholic sex scandal and think about whether it is their sins or the institutional sins of the Church that may be disturbing both Catholics and non-Catholics.

    “My own peculiar task in my Church and in my world has been that of the solitary explorer who, instead of jumping on all the latest bandwagons at once, is bound to search the existential depths of faith in its silences, its ambiguities, and in those certainties which lie deeper than the bottom of anxiety. In these depths there are no easy answers, no pat solutions to anything. It is a kind of submarine life in which faith sometimes mysteriously takes on the aspect of doubt, when, in fact, one has to doubt and reject conventional and superstitious surrogates that have taken the place of faith. On this level, the division between believer and unbeliever ceases to be so crystal clear. It is not that some are all right and others are all wrong: all are bound to seek in honest perplexity. Everybody is an
    unbeliever more or less.” ~ From “Apologies to an Unbeliever” by Thomas Merton

  16. In my opinion, non-Catholics seek to change the Church and its teachings because it is apparent to them that there is a valid and moral way of life associated with it. Because of this, people will try to match up their way of living to the Church as much as they can without changing the bits of life that they are unwilling to give up. I just finished reading Emily Simpson’s new book, “These Beautiful Bones,” which is all about the Catholic way of life. In it, she states that “While the resurrection of the body is the work of a moment, the redemption of the body is the work of a lifetime.” While we undergo our redemption of the body, the Catholic Church gives us teachings to help guide us on our path, without specifically prescribing the direct steps. That is part of the beauty of being Catholic. This also seems to be why non-Catholics want to change the Catholic teachings. They want to be included, but they are unwilling to be the ones to change.

  17. This is semantics. Non Catholics don’t care much what Catholics believe. It is the people that used to be Catholics and driven out who want the Church to change and obviously the reason is that they would like to go back and be Catholic again.

    • No, that’s not necessarily true. IRL the people I know who are most obsessed with Catholicism are atheists or agnostics who are not ex-Catholics.

  18. I believe Catholics can believe whatever they want. I do object when the Catholic hierarchy try to impose their beliefs on everyone else. Catholic bishops like to talk about their “religious freedom”. What about those of us who want the freedom not to have religious dogma/teachings imposed upon us ?

    • We’ve been over and over this on this one post. The Bishops do nothing other than express Church teachings and exercise their rights as American citizens. Catholics who vote their consciences and petition their government or seek redress through the courts are doing the same thing. What you are objecting to is other people, who have ideas that differ from yours, exercising the same rights that you exercise yourself. I have no idea what is wrong with people that they have such a dislike of democracy, but it seems to run strong in some people’s minds. Freedoms such as these belong to everyone, even people who think differently than you, or they don’t exist at all.

    • It sounds like this article was written with you in mind specifically.

      Why are you claiming to be Catholic?

      If you just want to go sit in a room — when you feel like it — with a cross and listen to a feel-good lecture, there are many ecclesial communities where they do exactly that. Why not just join one of them?

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