reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

Long before I even considered becoming Catholic, I found that on moral issues I was in the Catholic camp more often than not.  For some reason, in my own Protestant churches, I could not find a lot of common ground on some things I considered very important.

Such as: the indissolubility of marriage, abortion, birth control, the death penalty, euthanasia, obligations to the poor and to works of charity, etc.

On moral issues I found my leaders strangely silent and when they did speak out, it was….soft. To say the least. It was as if they were afraid to really come out and say, “These things: x,y,z, are moral evils. These things are sin.” Protestants find a lot of grey where the Scripture and Sacred Tradition is pretty black and white.

Of course there are godly Protestant leaders. I do not intend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But, largely, as a group, Protestants can be rather ambivalent about some really important moral issues. Because for a Protestant–without the teaching authority of a greater governing body–morality is largely individual. Everyone, in some measure, just defines their own. Of course, I know very godly and moral Protestant individuals. But I don’t know of a Protestant church or denomination that has made moral issues an issue of dogma or doctrine to the extent that the Catholic church has. On some issues they take a stand and on others, they refuse to even comment. (For example, the pastor may very well take a strong stand against abortion. But, if asked his thoughts about the death penalty, you will not hear nearly the conviction.)

Then I had a day where I thought…..can one separate one’s morality from one’s theology? Does one not inform the other? Are they not like two wings of a bird, both essential to be in agreement in order to lift anything?

Can Protestant theology (I know, it’s too broad, but for the sake of this reasoning, we’ll just leave it like that.) be completely right when the moral conclusions it reaches I know inherently are wrong?  Can Catholicism be completely wrong when the moral conclusion it reaches I know inherently are right?  Although there are some areas where we question and we wonder if this or that is a sin, for some things there is a moral law written on our hearts and we know. We just do. We might try to justify the knowing away, but that’s another story….

A bad tree cannot produce good fruit.

In the end (echoing the sentiments of GK Chesterton), I want a religion that will tell me when I’m wrong. Especially when I am wrong but think I am right.

GK Chesterton

One thought on “The Moral Issues

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