That title pretty much sums up modern feelings about Western religion, I think. In Catholicism we see not just the advent, but the acceptance, of cafeteria-Catholics. In Anglicanism we see the slow but steady discarding of ancient moral standards, beginning with the acceptance of divorce at its beginning and on to contraception, ordaining women and making active homosexuals bishops. In other Protestant sects we see division after division of Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, etc. on points of doctrine and discipline until there are thousands of “denominations”. Some put the number as high as 30,000 denominations when you include the independent non-denominational churches.
As a side note… How can you be NON denominational? Even if you are alone, that is a denomination. The First Church of Speaking in Tongues may only have 17 people in it, but it’s still a denomination.
Anyway what I see happening is an age-old story. It started in the Garden with the first parents. It continued every time Israel broke their covenant with the Lord. It continued when some disciples left Christ over eating His flesh and drinking His blood. It continued when Peter and the other Apostles fled at Jesus’ arrest. It continued with the Gnostics, the Arians, the Pellagianists, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, you, me…
Whoa there, Boy! You talkin’ ’bout me?
Well, yeah. And me too. Hopefully we both come to our senses, repent in Confession and continue to work out our Salvation in fear and trembling as St. Paul said.
The issue is authority and who has it. Everyone has some kind of authority, even if it’s just over their own thinking. The problem comes when we start to usurp the authority of the Church which Christ left us to guide us. We decide we like our sins a little too much and no longer go to Confession. We decide that we are more sophisticated than an old man in Rome and therefore know better. We decide that as long as we feel OK about something, it’s no longer a sin.
In other words we become not only our own Pope, we become our own God. We decide what is sinful and what requires repentance. We decide what dogmas are correct and what disciplines are outdated.
The problem is that once you start down this path, you begin to throw out everything. You throw out the little sins, because they don’t really hurt anyone. Then the big ones, because everyone else does it too. Then you start to resent that old man in Rome and all his cronies for telling you what to do. After all it’s none of their business! Once here, you begin to see the “absurdity” of celibacy, the all-male priesthood, the Real Presence and just about anything that requires REAL FAITH to believe.
You pride yourself on your open-mindedness and acceptence of everyone and whatever they do. Doesn’t matter if all Christians taught is was sinful for 1900 years, start contracepting! Abortion? Well, it is a woman’s right after all. Who am I to say? Who is anyone? Gays getting married? It’s only fair.
Once we start turning to anything other than God and His revealed Truth, which the Holy Catholic Church is here to guide us in, we take God from the top of our list of what to love and honor. If we no longer love God first, we are now heretics and idolators.
Because looking to anything other than God and Church for the Truth is essentially worshipping something else. It may be yourself. It may be money. It may be your career. It may be some guru. Doesn’t matter what it is. The point is that we no longer submit ourselves to God’s Holy Will. We no longer seek His guidance or His Wisdom when we choose what is true based on our feelings rather than what He has revealed.
How often have you asked yourself if you can do something and not commit a sin? Every time we do this, we are really asking ourselves if we can sin and have it not count.
But it counts every time.