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Before I delve into any of the moral issues that I am so passionate about, I would like to describe Catholicism and strive to show that it ...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Our way or God's way?

I recently got into a semi-heated religious debate/discussion in the English office with a few of my classmates. I somehow managed to stay mostly calm, which is like a miracle for me, and in reflecting on all that was said, I know have better insight as to how others view Catholic beliefs. We covered a variety of topics such as cohabitation, contraception, and moral relativism vs. moral absolutism.

As I was praying the rosary today, a bible verse struck my mind:
"From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."" Matthew 16:21-23

While we were discussing the topic of cohabitation, I was asked about various scenarios that involved cohabitation being a convenience to an unmarried couple, or even to an unmarried/platonic man and woman. Of course there are the usual chastity reasons why cohabitation is morally wrong, yet I now also see an entire other dimension to the issue - solving issues our way versus God's way.

When looking at ANY issue from just a human perspective, usually the more convenient option makes more sense, even if it does prove wrong/sinful. Yet, I wonder what would happen if we started looking at problems from God's perspective? Peter was one of Jesus' best friends and yet even he got scolded by Jesus for thinking as humans do.

Far too often it seems as though us humans (myself included) try to solve problems our own way, while pushing God aside, forgetting all about His infinite love and plans for us. As humans, we have limited knowledge, but God can see the BIG picture - our entire lives and has our best interests in mind, if only we would open ourselves more and more to Him and trust in His ways, which yes, are not always the convenient option, but offers eternal happiness instead.

As a Catholic, I strive to primarily see life through God's eyes, and try to put His solutions before my own. Hence why it baffles me when I hear talk about the convenience of cohabitation or using contraception. Do we really think so little of God?

I'm surprised that the secular world still hasn't quite fully realized that usually whenever we attempt to solve problems without God, it does not usually end well, mostly resulting in chaos, yet somehow the world seems content with chaos.

I have one final thought regarding the topic of moral relativism vs. absolutism? Some of the people seemed quite strongly opposed to the mere concept of absolute Truth and instead insisted on religion being personal, that it's fine that I find Catholicism to be true for me, but that Catholicism may not be true for others...I'm still trying to understand that logic because how can God be both true and not true?

I propose this notion: God is Truth, yet He created each of us with free will, so each human is free to reject God or to accept Him and His infinite love. So, I think what moral relativists are actually saying is: I don't want God to be real because I don't like His teachings on x, y, and z. I think that a lot of people so strongly desire to do whatever they want and it's that desire that keeps people from coming to know God's love and accepting God in their lives.

Hopefully, this made some sense, feel free to ask questions in the comments or email me anytime :)


  1. I'm going to respond to one point you made- "it's fine that I find Catholicism to be true for me, but that Catholicism may not be true for others...I'm still trying to understand that logic because how can God be both true and not true?"

    I don't think that they're necessarily saying that God is "true yet not true". I believe that they're saying that Catholicism, the religion, may not be for everyone. For instance, if I am a Protestant Christian, does that mean that what I believe is not "the Truth"? Just because someone is not Catholic does not mean that that person does not accept God in their lives. You deciding to be Catholic is a "personal choice" because of free will, just like someone deciding to be Lutheran or Baptist or a Buddhist is a "personal choice".

  2. I would have to ask the Protestant what it means to accept God and if they would be interested in seeking Him out as fully as possible. And religion is not about finding one that suits you; it is about searching for the full Truth and then conforming ourselves to the Truth, trusting that God has our ultimate best interests in mind and would never lead us astray. Instead, it seems as though people are trying to make God fit them and their wants.

    1. Have you deeply looked into other religions and what they believe? More specifically, have you looked more into other Christian denominations? It sounds like you're saying that someone who is a Protestant, someone who also considers themself a Christian like yourself, is somehow not seeking out God fully. What do you think is the major difference between a Catholic and a Protestant?

      After reading Leila's post, I understand what she is saying, but does that apply to Christians who belong to other denominations? It seems as if she is saying that non-Catholics, including non-Catholic Christians, need to be saved aka converted to Catholicism. So if I'm a non-Catholic Christian (a Protestant, for example) who has been baptized and knows and trusts in the Gospel of Christ (I pray, go to church, and always do my best to follow God's will), do I still need to be "saved" if I believe that I am already saved?

    2. Yes I have looked into other religions (I minored in Religious Studies) and was more or less Protestant in my beliefs throughout high school since I had no real understanding of Catholicism, so although I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for 9 years, all I had was meaningless knowledge. Throughout college, although I studied English, I spent more time reading about Christianity/Catholicism and found that Catholicism truly is the fullness of God.

      There are many differences between Catholics and Protestants - one of the main ones being that Catholicism traces its roots back to Christ through apostolic succession and the papacy, which originated with St. Peter. Also, while we highly value the Bible, we realize that it is not the be all and end all (we don't do the sola scripture thing).

      The Catechism explains it as: "Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline."

      You mentioned that you do your best to follow God's will, what if it were His will for you to enter into the fullness of Truth, which is Catholicism?

    3. And what if it is not God's will for me to enter Catholicism? What if it is His will for me to remain a Protestant? What if I believe the fullness of Truth is in Protestantism? You quote the Catechism, and that quote does not say that Catholicism is the Truth, it mentions the Gospel. The Gospel is my source of saving truth and moral discipline, yet I am not Catholic. Can I not also use the Gospel as my source as a non-Catholic?

      While Catholicism does trace its roots to St. Peter, it does not necessarily follow all of the same exact practices today as it did then.

    4. Check out this answer.

      Which denomination of Protestantism is the fullness?

    5. I honestly don't believe that answer because there is not enough evidence to support it.
      "Catholicism is true"- okay, so another denomination cannot be true? I can easily say that the Baptist denomination is true.
      "Unless we strive to be faithful to the truth to the best of our understanding, we will not be saved."- and who's to say that I am not doing that right now? Who can be the judge of that but God?
      "The farther one is away from the Church, the less the chance of making it to heaven."- by the "Church", I'm assuming this is the Roman Catholic Church. If I don't go to a Catholic church, I have less of a chance of getting into heaven? Why is that exactly? If I go to a Baptist church, I can't make it to heaven?
      "Those who culpably refuse to embrace the truth in the Church cannot be saved because they are ultimately rejecting Christ."- so because I don't agree with everything that the Catholic church preaches and presents as doctrine, I'm rejecting Christ? How is that so?

      What makes you so certain that YOU will make it to heaven by being Catholic? I just want to hear your answer, I'm not saying that you will not get into heaven by being Catholic.

    6. What makes the Baptist denomination true and in saying that, are you implying that all of the other Protestant denominations are false? Or just different versions of Truth? What about the fullness of Truth? Why settle for a version or a partial form of the Truth?

      You are correct that only God can judge the state of souls, however, it is our responsibility as Christians to be our brother's keeper and help each other strive for holiness. How many times did Christ say to people: "go and sin no more"? I cannot judge people's souls, only their actions, and I simply want to help people avoid sin as much as possible. Isn't it more loving to keep people from sin, rather than just keep my mouth shut and allow them to persist in sin?

      The Catholic Church's doctrines come from Christ, so by rejecting the doctrines, it's a rejection of Him and His will.

      And by no means am I assured of Heaven, I must work out my salvation "with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12) meaning that I must seek to avoid sin and when I fall, beg for God's mercy through the Sacraments.

      Ultimately, all the rules, rituals, doctrines, etc. of Catholicism involve loving others as Christ does. If you have questions on specific doctrines/teachings, let me know.

    7. I am not implying that any denomination is false because I don't believe that any of those denominations are "false". This is a discussion that may go nowhere with you since you clearly and truly believe that the Catholic church is the one true church/religion, which is completely fine. Because you believe Catholicism is the fullness of Truth, you will see every other denomination as "versions" or "partial forms" of the Truth.

      I am not telling you to keep your mouth shut and allow people to persist in sin. Yes, it is our duty as followers of Christ to spread the Word to others, and that is what we should do.

      Do not other denominations' doctrines come from Christ as well?

      Maybe I make myself seem like a "weak" Christian because I do not believe that the various denominations are false. I guess I'm just one of those silly Christians who believes that Jesus did not want organized religion, He wanted all people to follow His teachings and the Word of God, and He wanted His followers to spread the Word to all those who do not know of Him. Various denominations were created by humans, not God. Many men prayed to God for guidance in creating a unified community of followers of Christ, and many men went on to create their own churches. We have the best intentions in mind, but ultimately we are fallible. I believe that once we leave this earth, God will recognize that the followers of Christ did their best. We are all sinners, but we've been saved by the blood of Christ. I do not believe that only Catholics or Baptists or Lutherans or etc will go to Heaven- all followers of Christ can make it to Heaven, regardless of denomination.

    8. Why would Jesus create multiple denominations with conflicting teachings? God thinks multiple things about divorce, charity, etc? I think the most important thing to remember in Christian unity is that Christians worshipped the Eucharist since the time of Jesus until about the Reformation. The first popes wrote the emperors of Rome to explain the Body and Blood of Christ. John 6 is truly an excellent chapter.

    9. Jesus did not create denominations. Man created denominations. I don't believe that God thinks multiple things about divorce, charity, etc., but since God is not the one who created denominations, how can a person be completely certain that their denomination is the "one and only Truth"? Celebrating the Eucharist is something that unites Christians, regardless of denomination, correct?

    10. Quick question before my responses: is there only one "Anonymous" or has a second person entered this discussion? Instead of being Anonymous, could you please use a name (doesn't have to be your real name if you'd rather me not know your identity) so I can keep things straight in my head? Thanks.

    11. Some of the doctrines from Protestantism do stem from Christ, but far too often, the doctrines have been changed to suit personal interests, such as many Protestants accepting artificial birth control, while the Catholic Church remains unchanged in teachings regarding sexuality.

      Why wouldn't Jesus want organized religion? Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru_tC4fv6FE for a better explanation.

      The Catholic Church does follow His teachings and spread His Word, most notably through the Mass, in which Jesus Christ offers His Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity for us to receive. That's another huge difference between Catholics and Protestants - the Eucharist. Catholics recognize it as the literal Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity of Christ, while Protestants see it as symbolic. For Catholics, receiving the Eucharist means being in full communion with the Catholic Church, hence, why only Catholics in a state of grace (free of mortal sin) may receive the Eucharist. For anyone else to receive is blasphemy.

  3. Also, my friend, Leila has an excellent post that I think complements mine quite well:


  4. New anonymous here.
    It seems like you attack and condemn people for what they believe rather than accept them as individuals who believe things differently than you. Just because their faith isn't Catholicism doesn't mean that they lack morals or a faith in anything. If those people find absolute truth in their religion, why is it so wrong for them to follow what their "god" put on their heart?
    I also wanted to ask why you would continue to pursue a friendship and hang around these people when you disagree with who they are fundamentally. Do you think it is your job to convert them? If so, maybe you should stop trying.

    1. Hello new anonymous, thank you for your comment. I apologize if my comments either on here or in real life come off as attacking or condemning, I promise that is not my intention, yet I realize that what I say may be misconstrued, especially since my passionate nature sometimes comes off as harsh, it is a fault that I am currently working on.

      As a Catholic, I am called to love everyone as Christ loves them, going back to His greatest commandment to love one another as He has loved us. One of my favorite Catholic speakers, Chris Stefanick sums my point as, "Jesus Christ loved everyone enough to accept them as they were. Immoral behavior being as damaging as it is, but He also loved them too much to let them stay that way. Jesus taught His followers to do as He did: to welcome everyone but also to teach about sin, since love demands warning people about what can hurt them. Furthermore, the ideals set forth in Scripture challenge us to judge actions without judging people."

      Hence why I strive to befriend all people, regardless of where they are at religion-wise. Yet, Catholicism is an evangelical faith - Catholics are not supposed to just settle with keeping Christ to themselves. No, He desires for His love to be shared with everyone. By myself, I cannot convert anyone, that is the job of Christ and His Holy Spirit. All I can do is propose Him to others and pray they will come to experience His wonderful love. Ultimately, I am absolutely in love with Jesus; I have experienced many many graces from Him and I want all people to share in His wondrous love. However, I ain't perfect, and as I said earlier, I'm working on being less harsh, more gentle, and striving to treat others as Christ would.