A few months ago, I had a great conversation with a former parishioner about his growth in his faith, and especially his return to orthodoxy (small “o”, not the big “O”). For a long time, he had decided to turn his back on his faith because he couldn’t understand why the Church would say what it does about a variety of topics.
For him, the turning point was in the question he was asking. For a long time, his question was “WHY would the Church say that?!?” Now it’s hard to place the proper linguistic emphasis in that question while I’m typing this blog post, but the question was really more outrage than a question. He realized that in his heart, he didn’t care what the Church (or really anyone) would have to say, and had started making his faith about himself, rather than about Christ and his Church.
The question he learned to ask over time was rather, “Why WOULD the Church say that?” Yes, there are fewer question marks and exclamation points, which makes it slightly less threatening, but point is that his question took the focus off himself and his need to be right about everything, and allowed himself to be open to what the Church says and why. This is all about humility, and recognizing that the Church has been around a lot longer than I have, and has painstakingly mulled things over by the grace of the Holy Spirit to teach the truth. It takes a lot to admit that it’s not about me, but about God, and my being open to him.
It’s getting more and more uncomfortable to agree with the Church’s teaching on things like abortion, contraception, divorce, and especially today, the dignity of marriage. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and passion that so many people are feeling and think we know what the Church teaches and why it’s wrong. But take a second, if you can, take a deep breath, say a prayer to be open to the Holy Spirit, and actually read why the Church says what it does. If you do that, I think you’ll find it’s not about inequality or a hatred of a particular people or ideology, but about the love and dignity imparted to us at the moment of creation by our loving Father.
Check out the link below for a great page explaining many different aspects of the Church’s teaching on marriage. It is an initiative by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, so it’s about as official as you can get!