OK so here's the issue, let me know what you think...
When I bring up religion among "non-religious people" the first things that always come up are homosexuality, contraceptives, and abortion. Have you noticed this? It was particularly noticeable last week as with the media coverage surrounding the Papal conclave. While most of the "insider" commentators were talking about evangelization, liturgy and curia reform; outsiders brought up these three issues over and over and over again.
Why is that?
I asked this question to a "non-religious person" this week. and this is what they said.
"[These issues] are a huge part of the conversation because the church is politically influential. With that political influence, they can shape the laws of a country, and thereby have THEIR religious beliefs impacting the lives of people who are not part of their religion. That's unfair! That's why atheists and nonbelievers are often hostile towards the church, because after making a strong, conscious choice to abandon religion, religion is still shaping and controlling my life.. I don't view religion as an evil, but as an option that a human can pursue. And if it makes them happy and enriches their life? Fantastic! But if that same religion turns around and starts forcing people who are not of their belief set to conform to those beliefs? Then it is most certainly evil and a detriment to society.."I know that many of you read this and want to argue with this person, I'm tempted to myself, but I've began to feel that that isn't the best way forward. I've done a lot of arguing over the years and it hasn't stopped one person from walking out on the church or convinced a single person to trust in Jesus.
I don't know too many people who are part of a Church because of these issues, but I know literally hundreds who aren't a part of a church because of these issues.
People feel that the church is hurting people and because of that, mentioning Jesus, without fail, results in someone accusing his followers of being hateful and harmful toward others. Somehow the "issues" surrounding moral teaching have eclipsed the good news that God loved us all so much that God took on our humanity in all of it's brokenness so that we might be adopted into God's life in all of it's fullness. People do not hear about Jesus and think of hope but rather hurt.
There is something very wrong with this.
I'm a Christian because I find Jesus fascinating. That God would choose to communicate God's own self to us in the universal language of flesh and blood has changed my life. I'm a Catholic because I believe God continues to use Jesus' flesh and blood to communicate with us.
This reality has led me to explore and appreciate the Church's thinking on issues surrounding sexual ethics and human life. There is a lot of gold hidden in the mind of the church. Unfortunately this gold is so often spun into dross when it is presented to the outside world that it's hard to even begin a conversation. People have so many preconceived notions that everything is run through that effective communication is almost impossible.
I don't have any answers. I am posting this today because I have run out of ideas. I have no idea how to move forward. Something is seriously wrong and I don't even know where to begin. I have lost my voice and don't know how to speak.
Jesus I trust in you.