Monday, June 29, 2015

Explaining a Few Things to the Best of My Ability

I am not a fan of getting into political or controversial issues here on the blog. I like to keep this place fun and occasionally helpful. Every once in a while, though, I just can't let something go.

This is one of those times.

My Facebook feed has been lit up the last few days, and I only have 88 Facebook friends.

And yet, with even such few people, I've seen all sorts of things being said that I just can't let go. There are lots of assumptions and untruths flying around, and I'm going to try to clear a few things up. "Try" being the word you focus on in that sentence. I'm not an expert. I am a Catholic person who does her very best to follow the teachings of her Church. I honestly believe it leads me to be the best person I can be. The person God wants me to be. It is not an easy faith. It asks a lot of us. Self-sacrifice is a theme throughout the teachings, and self-sacrifice is hard a lot of the time.

Let's get to it.

I'm going to start with an opinion that I've seen a whole heck of a lot these days.

People who oppose same-sex marriage are bigots, homophobes and full of hate.

Not gonna lie. Some are. There are most definitely people out there who are opposed to it and have no trouble saying vile, horrible things.

They are giving us a bad name.

I have also seen horrible things said from the other side, too.

They are giving the rest a bad name.

Hate doesn't take sides. It's everywhere.

Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time must know that I don't hate anyone. I've never even hinted at hating anyone. I don't encourage anyone to be mean or hateful.

Catholic teaching is all about love. We take very seriously the call to love others regardless of who they are or what they believe.

The Catholic Church has hospitals, homeless shelters, food pantries, crisis pregnancy centers, disaster relief services, prison ministries, mission trips...The list goes on and on. All of them Catholic, and they serve, with love and respect and dignity, anyone who walks in the door.

We as individuals are called to serve. To love and serve all people, not just those who agree with us. Every single person on this earth has value, an equal value, and they deserve to be shown love, respect, and compassion.

We don't always live up to the ideal we are called to be.

No one does.

We're human with human flaws.

But we try.

We try really hard.

Next up, we're going to have to talk sex. (Sorry, Dad.)

Only those in sacramental marriage should be having sex. It's a big no to everyone else.

The primary purpose of sex is to create new life.

Any sexual act that prevents or is incompatible with the making of a baby shouldn't be done.

That includes using contraception. That includes sex that isn't between a man and a woman.

Even married couples are called to be chaste if they aren't willing to have a child.

Like I said, self-sacrifice. It isn't easy.

I guess this would be as good a place as any to define marriage as the Catholic Church teaches it.

As my Archbishop recently wrote,

"The Catholic Church, along with other faith traditions, teaches that marriage is a natural institution established by God to be a permanent union between one man and one woman, intended towards the formation of a family in which children are born and nurtured."

Clearly this is not a belief shared by everyone.

But neither are many of the Catholic teachings.

Contraception has been used by many for decades. Divorce and remarriage is common. Sex outside of marriage is even more common. Pornography is a multi-million dollar business.

Being deemed "outdated" in our beliefs isn't new.

We aren't surprised that same-sex marriage is now legal.

It doesn't change our beliefs, just as other laws, such as legal abortion, haven't changed our beliefs.

So why are people worried now? Why are your Catholic (and other Christian) friends so concerned now?

Well, I'll tell you one reason.

While you, I, and the Church know that not everyone will follow the Church's teachings, the Church and Catholics can't knowingly help people to sin.

That's why Catholic doctors don't prescribe the pill.

It's why Catholic hospitals refuse to perform vasectomies.

It's why Catholic priests will not officiate same-sex weddings.

It's why Catholic bakers won't make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Discrimination and hate have nothing to do with it. In fact, the opposite is true. It's all about love. When you truly love another person, you encourage him to be better. You encourage him to live better. You don't stand by while he goes off to sin. You certainly don't help him to sin.

We can't, in good conscience, be a part of it.

So when businesses are asked to be a part of a same-sex wedding, the owners of those businesses have to go with their conscience. They can't be a part.

Your Catholic and other Christian friends are worried because they are being punished for choosing their conscience. Businesses are being sued and shut down, with fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, because owners choose their conscience over their businesses. They aren't being allowed to practice their religion. It isn't right, yet it's happening.

It isn't just about same-sex marriage, either.

Laws are being passed requiring businesses to pay for their employees' contraception. Businesses owned by NUNS are being forced to do so. If their appeals are shut down, the nuns will have to close their businesses, because they can't be a part of another person's sins.

The buzz words of the day are show love and compassion. That's what we're trying to do. The question is, will we be allowed to continue to do so?

I realize that this is a broad overview. There is no way I can address all issues fully in one blog post. If you have questions, please feel free to ask them. I'll do my best to answer them.

I also realize that most people reading this won't agree with me. I'm OK with that. I can still be your friend.

Have a lovely day!


  1. I do agree with you. You have a right to what you believe in. In many ways religion is the ultimate goal here. To remove all things religion is the goal. In any way possible. There has been an attack on religion for a very long time. Not Islam, but Christianity. There lies the real issue. The left is always talking about love and acceptance, but only to those things they believe in. If you don't agree then you are a bigot, racist, terrorist and ignorant individual. That's what's happening. The other thing that happened with this decision is it took the states right to govern it's state and put that in the hand of the federal government. That was the other thing they needed done.

    This is way deeper than what it appears to be. And bits and pieces will come out as time passes.

    Thanks for having the courage to post what you believe.

    Have a blessed day my friend. ♥♥♥

    1. "This is way deeper than it appears to be." I agree. Just as with so many other issues, ramifications will present themselves in time.

      Thank you for the encouragement. :)

  2. Your ability to explain is phenomenal! I'm so glad you wrote this.

  3. Your ability to explain is phenomenal! I'm so glad you wrote this.

    1. Oh,no, it looks like my computer is back to double-commenting! Sorry about that. (And I'm crossing my fingers this only goes through once.)

  4. I do not believe you are a homophobe or a hater. I believe you are entitled to your beliefs even if they are wildly different from my own.
    I think the big issue of where we differ is that your view of helping others not sin is my view of restricting others' rights. But we'll just be friends and not talk about that issue, shall we?

    1. Thank you for understanding my intentions.
      Since you brought it up, I'm going to ask for some clarification. And then we won't have to talk about it anymore. :) When you say we are restricting others' rights, do you mean by not doing weddings and prescribing pills? I have seen this come up in other places, and it gets ugly quickly. I would rather talk about it with a friend.

    2. Let's see...I believe abortion should be rare but legal because I cannot decide for others what is right. Or, I think providing insurance for birth control is the moral choice since some people do not have the economic means to have children.
      When I married Brian (Brian is Jewish), the rabbi at the reformed synagogue in our town would not marry us. I found this beyond offensive as if he thought I was "less than" for not being raised Jewish. So, theoretically I can accept that a priest would choose not to marry an interfaith couple, but from a person perspective, I found it deeply hurtful. We found both a rabbi and a preacher who felt their call was to minister to all of their faith no matter their choice of spouse. I am more comfortable with this practice.
      As for the doctor situation, I'm not sure. Clearly, I don't have a clear line here. :)
      What a difficult conversation. I'm so glad we can have it as friends.

    3. First off, I am sorry you felt belittled by the rabbi. Catholic priests can and do marry interfaith couples. Many of our married friends have one of the spouses who are not Catholic. We recognize (I don't know if that's the word) the baptism of other churches. I don't know specifically about Jewish/Catholic marriages, as I don't know anyone personally, but I can research it if you want me to.

      This is a difficult conversation, but I'm glad we can have it. As I told Lizzi, discussing things with others, including people who believe differently than I do, helps me nail down what I really believe about things. It helps me figure out WHY I believe what I believe. It's important.

      So, let's talk rights. :)

      I think you and I have different thoughts on what a right is. We see few things as rights, but many as wants. As an example, I will speak specifically to birth control. As far as the Church and Catholics are concerned, birth control is not a right. It is a want. No matter how much a woman wants it or thinks she needs it, it isn't something all people are guaranteed. An employer or doctor won't stop a person from using it (like he/she could anyway), but he/she couldn't help the person get it or pay for it. Instead, a Catholic doctor would teach the couple all about Natural Family Planning. (If you have not heard of this and are interested in what it is, let me know.)

    4. Jumping in here for just a second... David and I are an interfaith couple. He is Jewish, I am Catholic. We were married by a Catholic priest (his Rabbi and Cantor would not participate, but that's another discussion). We have answered questions about the Jewish/Catholic combination in our marriage often over the years. I'm happy to talk with anyone who has questions, wants info, etc. NFP as well.

  5. I am so very impressed with your explanation of the Catholic beliefs, which I have to admit, I know very little about. And you are brave to write about such a controversial subject. As for me, I'm one of those folks who is all about love who ya wannna love whether it be a man, a woman, an animal or a vegetable as long as ya ain't hurtin' someone else.

    1. Man, all of these people telling me I'm brave is making me more nervous!
      I'm glad you found the explanation helpful. I have found that many, many people don't know much about Catholicism, so you aren't alone.
      And we will still be friends. :)

    2. No need to be nervous, Christine. You have a strong grasp on Church teaching and you explain it well here and do so with compassion.

  6. Nicely done Christine. Although my beliefs may differ, I was trying to help someone understand this exact premise (of it comes from a place of love and concern vs bigotry) the other day. I dont think I did it nearly as good as you just did.

  7. I'm glad you wrote this. It was done well and respectfully and with not a jot of hate, but with lots of love and compassion. My views are constantly evolving, and I've never been Catholic, and I think the fact that a medical diagnosis could have voided my marriage is not really very loving, so I get tangled there, in thinking it's a rule for a rule's sake. Song of Songs doesn't seem to be just about babies. It's all tricky, I guess.

    1. Lizzi, I'm sorry that I didn't explain this properly. Your marriage would not be "voided". (There isn't such a thing.) The Catechism says it better than I can:

      "If a husband or wife are infertile, due to old age, or injury, or illness, the natural marital act remains moral because it is still the type of act which is inherently directed toward procreation (even if procreation is not attained). The essential moral nature of any act is determined by its inherent ordering toward its moral object, not by the attainment of the moral object."

      I hope that helps.

      Pretty sure most people are always learning. I question my faith all the time. Discussions with both Catholics and non-Catholics alike help me to nail down exactly what it is I believe. My questions always lead me back to Catholicism, but I've learned something along the way.

    2. But then his behaviour, which was decidedly NOT inherently aiming towards any kind of moral object (its attainability or lack thereof being almost inconsequential by that point) would have voided the marriage? Or can you have a sexless marriage and it still be valid, because there IS no act which is inherently directed towards procreation, therefore it doesn't matter?

      *I* didn't think it was valid, for the record. And it appears nor did he.

  8. "Any sexual act that prevents or is incompatible with the making of a baby shouldn't be done."

    So, once you go through menopause, you don't plan to have sex, right?

    Just mentioning this out of love and concern. I wouldn't want you to sin.

    1. Kelly, thank you for pointing this out. Between you and Lizzi, I realize that I didn't explain this fully enough.

      The Catechism says it better than I can:

      "If a husband or wife are infertile, due to old age, or injury, or illness, the natural marital act remains moral because it is still the type of act which is inherently directed toward procreation (even if procreation is not attained). The essential moral nature of any act is determined by its inherent ordering toward its moral object, not by the attainment of the moral object."

      And just so you know, I do sin, and I appreciate it when people help me avoid it.

  9. You did a lovely job of explaining your position. I enjoy and respect points of view that are different from mine when the person offering that point of view can do it as well as you. You talk the talk AND walk the walk of the Catholic church; I don't know very many people who say they are Catholics who do more than just talk. Thanks for sharing, my friend!

  10. Written with grace and charity for all. Thank you.

  11. I have a great deal of respect for your beliefs and just as others are allowed theirs, I'm hoping that everyone will offer you that same grace. These subjects are always very polarizing. I learned quite a bit about the Catholic faith in this post and I'm always grateful for an opportunity to learn. Good for you for standing strong in your faith and your beliefs and raising your family to do the same.

    As a side note, I haven't been here in a really long time and I need to change that. I always left your blog feeling a certain kind of way....lighter, happier....I miss that. AND I love the new look!

  12. I applaud your honesty and your convictions. This is a difficult time to stand firm in faith, but your response--IN LOVE--is exactly what Jesus calls us to do. Speak truth in love. This was a wonderful post.

  13. Excellent post! I am glad you asked Sarah to clarify some of her statements. I can see how such a discussion could get heated and I'm not sure I would be able to stay quite as calm and charitable as I should be. Your discussion with her was enlightening and respectful. Thanks!

  14. Christine, I've read this about five times now. This is perfectly stated and so much of what I am feeling right now and just have not put into words myself. (Mostly because I have a cold and am ignoring the world.)
    The thing that pains me most in all of this is the opinion you summarized at the start of your post - that those who oppose same-sex marriage must be bigots, homophobes and full of hate. That thinking is just as oppressive and just as hurtful as any other. It bothers me is that there is an expectation of acceptance, but in many instances that is not being done in return - it's a case of accept what I believe or you're wrong. And that's wrong.
    I'm with Sandee - this goes much deeper that what it appears to be and the whole thing is far from resolved. And you know what? It never will be. I don't say that to be negative or defeatist. As long as humans have breath to do so, this and so many other things will continue to divide.
    I'm sure I have many more thoughts on this discussion, but like you said here, too, there are far too many points to cover it all in one place at one time.
    I am glad that you found words for what you (and many others) are feeling and thinking. And you are a fine example of how more should behave - your opinions and beliefs are stated clearly, without hate or judgment, and you are open to the debate that inevitably follows things such as these. And if I'm rambling, forgive me - still have a horrible cold.

  15. I really valued the theme of your post. This is a voice of clarity not often heard now days. While I am by nature fairly liberty, e are being force-fed by the media and society to accept anything and everything as ok, even if it falls outside our beliefs. I do not judge others, or I try hard not to, and I love without condition, but I am not willing to say that it's all ok, because really I don't believe that it is, and it doesn't make me a bad person to feel that way. Tolerance and compassion are extremely important, so is respect for other's beliefs, whether they are ours or someone else's. I am proud of you for stating exactly where you stand, and why. I can respect that.

  16. excellent post, Christine. Can I share this on the Association of Catholic Women's blog? I post there once in a while and would love to share this there.


Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you're thinking!