Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Me Me Me & Catholicism

The world’s Catholics have a new Pope – Benedict XVI. And like his predecessor - Pope John Paul II - he’s a conservative who is expected to uphold the traditional teachings and values of the Catholic Church. Naturally, many people are screaming bloody murder. “The Church is sexist, homophobic and mired in the middle ages” they say. It’s almost as if these people believe that the Church should bend to their sensibilities rather than vice versa. Like they, in their small short lives have somehow gathered the wisdom to tell a 2000 year old institution what values it must espouse.

Now I have to admit, I’m not a Catholic. I’m a lapsed Protestant. Sometimes I question the motives, if not the very existence, of God. I am no religious Reggie. But, I can’t help but admire a Pope and a Church that stays firm to its convictions despite being contrary to the winds of popular belief . So many other weaker churches have not been so resolute and have changed their values and doctrine in the face of public opposition. Values that were held dear and seen to be true for centuries have been thrown out the window to appease the wants of the modern day.

Think about it. For thousands of years Churches have followed what they believed to be the will of God. Only to recently find out, with the help of today’s enlightened generation, that they have been wrong all along. How humbling. I hope that God understands. I hope the billions of Christians who followed these Churches throughout the ages aren’t in Hell. After all, if the new religious order is right, yesterday's Christians must have been wrong. How sad for them. Oh well, at least today’s crop of new-age, modern Christians will see the Pearly Gates. After all, they know what God really wants. Don’t they?

I can’t help but wonder, if God is eternal and all knowing, and his followers had a certain understanding of his expectations throughout the ages, why now does God want something different? I suppose there are two possible explanations: either man has misinterpreted God’s word all these years and only now is coming to terms with what he really wants; or God wants what he has always wanted and the modern churches are wrong. Clearly the Catholic Church believes the latter.

The Catholic Church is against artificial contraception. Many people think this is nuts. They see sex as a recreational pastime more about pleasure than procreation. Can’t blame them really. I like it too. But the Church isn’t supposed to be in the business of gratification. It’s supposed to be in the business of sharing Gods will.

Critics lambaste the Catholic Church for its stand on condoms and the pill. They say that denying condoms to people in the third world, particularly Africa, condemns them to a slow death from AIDS. They question the Church’s stand on the pill, saying that many babies born in these areas starve to death, so they shouldn't be born at all. What they are saying is that people should be able to have their sexual fun with no limits and no repercussions. That people don’t have the ability to put anything above sex. That people are nothing more than rutting animals controlled by instinct, not rational thought. Well, the Catholic Church disagrees. It apparently believes in the nobility of the human spirit - that survival is really about using the mind that God gave you and making moral, intelligent choices, not about latex and pharmaceuticals. How utterly prehistoric eh?

If you don’t want to get AIDS, you should find a mate, be monogamous and stay with him or her throughout your life. What a silly notion. And if you don’t want kids you should practice natural family planning (commonly known as the Billings ovulation method) or abstain from intercourse. More silly notions.

What God in his right mind would expect his followers to put the survival of themselves or their potential offspring ahead of instant sexual gratification? After all, that would take a civilized, disciplined, intelligent mind. (Remember now, I’m as guilty as anyone of weakness of the flesh. I am not passing judgement. If I was, I’d have to judge myself as being deficient. I’m only saying that, if there is a God, maybe he expects more from us. If I was God, I would. But I’m not, so I guess that makes me a rutting animal (an exceptionally loyal, monogamous, married animal, may I add.)

These days, it all seems to be about me, me, me. Don’t ask me to make sacrifices. Don’t ask me to deny myself the things my body cries out for. Don’t ask me to believe in any God who would not put my needs first. Because if you do, I’m not going to believe in your God. After all, why should I bother with the your Church’s stand on condoms, birth control or abortion when I can find a Church that won’t require any sacrifices at all. I want my fun.

Anyway, here we are in Canada. We are Gods ourselves in many ways. We fly across the globe. We control reproduction. We are well fed, well informed, warm, comfortable, and (don’t deny it) the Centre of the Universe. No God is going to tell us what to do. And if he does, well, we’ll just invoke the Charter and put him in his place. We decide for ourselves what’s right or wrong. And any so-called God who dares to disagree, well, he can just go to hell.


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