WHY I AM NOT A CATHOLIC
I am not a Catholic because I think the Church's theology is irrational, and its moral codes are life-denying, not life-affirming.
The Church teaches we all bear the guilt of the Original Sin of Adam. We are cleansed of this sin by the ritual of Baptism. And we are reconciled with God through Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Thus, our relationship with God is determined by what other people have done.
I reject this theology as irrational, primitive, and moronic. I am not responsible for what an alleged Adam did thousands of years ago. And Jesus' death does not in any way mitigate the responsibility I do have for any crimes I commit.
Furthermore, I reject any theology that puts credulity and submission on the highest pedestal, rather than reason, compassion, and good behavior.
The Church considers infant baptism a sacrament essential for salvation; yet, baptism is basically a ritual done to a child not yet capable of making moral decisions. Ascribing so much meaning to something so intrinsically meaningless, is primitive, irrational theology. It makes a ritual a prerequisite for salvation, as well as making salvation dependent on chance.
In my view such thinking represents a very childish level of spirituality.
And the idea of Limbo, a place where unbaptized babies go, missing out on Heaven but not suffering the pains of Hell, is an idea the Church didn't come up with until the 12th century. In the previous thousand years distraught mothers thought their unbaptized babies went to Hell! In terms of spiritual insight, can there be a stupider concept than a loving God punishing infants in Hell for eternity? I don't think so.
Priests Forgiving Sins
The Church claims priests have the power to forgive sins (paragraph 1461 in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church).
I say that unless the sins are specifically against them, priests, fallible human beings, do not have the power to forgive the sins of others. You would think history would have taught people by now not to give credence to humans claiming to be the administrators of God's powers.
The Church claims it can reduce some of the punishment due to us in the afterlife for our sins, if, in this life, we do certain good deeds, as prescribed by the Church. The Church is in charge of a "treasury of satisfactions."
How come they didn't even know about this until the 11th century? What arrogance. An organization deluded into thinking they are God's chosen minister of justice, right down to the specifics of how to reduce sentences in the afterlife. Give me a break.
The Church has had Popes who have waged war, Popes who opposed scientific truth, Popes who were lechers, Popes who sanctioned torture. It's had three Popes at one time.
The Church's claim of papal infallibility in matters of faith or morals, is essentially meaningless. When you get down to cases, you'll find Catholic apologists basically sidestepping the cases and presenting a circular argument: The Pope is infallible because he supports the basic truths of the Catholic religion. The Catholic religion is the truth, therefore, the Pope is infallible.
Let's have your mother burned at the stake for being a witch, under the orders of a Pope, and then talk to me about any meaningfulness you find left in your concept of papal infallibility.
Basically the Church wants people to obey everything it says as though it were divinely guided; but, it reserves the right to say it is made up of fallible human beings whenever it screws up, and no matter how atrociously it screws up.
If the Church espouses religious freedom, why does it require children of a mixed marriage to be brought up Catholic? That is not religious freedom, but religious coercion. Such a policy serves to keep the human race divided in spirit, rather than united.
Cannot be God's Word. It is internally contradictory (and genuinely so, not only apparently so); and, it is immoral.
A prime example of its immorality is its support of slavery.
1 Pet 2:18 – "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters... not only to those who are good, but also to those who are harsh." Ephesians 6:5 – "Slaves, obey your earthly masters... just as you would obey Christ." Colossians 3:22 – "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything."
Lev 25:45 – "Moreover you may buy the children of... strangers... and they shall become your property."
Exodus, chapter 21 – if a unruly ox has killed a man, verse 29 – "its owner shall be put to death." But if it has killed a slave, verse 32 – "he shall give their master... 30 shekels of silver."
The Bible clearly does not value the life of a slave equal to the life of a free man. Yet the Church regards the Bible as filled with God's sacred wisdom and lofty morality.
The idea of torturing people, forever, eternally, is a monstrously cruel concept. Any God that teaches such a theology is not a just and loving God. And anyone who believes in such a God, should be ashamed of himself.
I am convinced of an ultimately loving God, who does indeed judge us, and may punish some, with annihilation, or whatever, but not with Hell.
Denying women the opportunity to do what they are capable of doing, without reason, is immoral, as well as irrational.
LIFE-DENYING MORAL CODES
I think prohibiting a raped woman from having an abortion, is validating an act of violence and hatred. Such a teaching denies the true spiritual sacredness of life, in favor of a legalistic, biological concept of life.
I think the Church's prohibition against birth control shows a very negative concept of sexuality. The Church makes procreation such a big concern, and the expression of mutual love so secondary. The Church tends to see sex as an appetite to be wary of, rather than a gift to be experienced within a good context.
Not to mention the fact that most Catholics in practice ignore the Church's teaching anyway (over 70%, Gallup poll, 1993).
The Church is categorically against divorce, but there are many people who get divorced, and then have a very good second marriage. They're more mature, they understand themselves better, they find a person more compatible.
Sure, ideally, there shouldn't be divorces, but human beings are human, and relationships are complex and often go in unpredictable directions. Yet, the Church would tie people to a mistake, in an effort to legislate social stability, regardless of the unhappiness it causes.
I think, as in so many issues, the Church really is motivated by power and control, and not at all by compassion or concern for genuine human happiness.
The Church reveres the prolongation of life, over the dignity of life.
The Church denies gay people the right to have an intimate relationship. I think this is a cruel and unloving position, born of simple fear and hatred for those who are different from the mainstream.
Most gay people are that way by nature; and it's part of who they are. To have an institution, claiming to speak for God, tell them they are profoundly bad human beings unless they deny their sexuality, is awful. Just awful. The damage and pain inflicted is tragic. In no way does such a narrow-minded code of morality represent a loving God.
If I found gay people generally or consistently to be inconsiderate, uncaring, lousy people, I might think differently. But my experience tells me conclusively that sexual orientation is not a moral indicator, any more than being left-handed is.
I think the Church's attitude toward sex is life-denying. I think sex is good or bad depending on the context of the relationship. A marriage approved by the Church does not make sex within a marriage a positive thing. And, conversely, sex between unmarried people is not automatically a negative thing.
Love, affection, and caring, sanctify the experience, not an institution that knows little of what is really going on between the two people. I find the legalistic mentality of the Church militates against what is best in human experience.
Masturbation is a mortal sin according to the Church. In other words, it is a very serious offense to God. You did something really bad. Bad enough to deserve being punished forever. Yet the vast majority of humans have masturbated. So, the only logical conclusion is that most of the human race is horrible, and deserves to go to Hell.
I don't buy that at all. I think the Church's teaching on masturbation is insane, and springs from a Puritanical, ascetic, life-denying mindset.
The Inquisition was behavior so appalling I could never see the Church as a divinely guided institution. These were not just some misguided individuals; this was Church policy! Pope Innocent IV officially sanctioned the use of torture in 1252. (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 7, page 538, vol. 14, page 208)
No matter how much an apologist may try to excuse or rationalize away such behavior, a divinely guided institution would never, never, support such a policy.
The liberals, of course, readily admit this atrocious evil, but they fail to see that it obliterates any meaningful concept of divine guidance for the Church in matters of faith or morals.
The Church teaches suicide is a mortal sin. That is a compassionless ethic. It puts a lot of decent, and very loved, people in Hell.
The modern catechism backpedals furiously, saying extenuating circumstances, like being emotionally distraught, can mitigate the guilt. Well, who isn't emotionally distraught when they commit suicide!? If the Church had any divine guidance in its moral pronouncements, it never would have promulgated such a cruel principle in the first place.
In the middle ages people believed in the divine right of kings. I think that idea was fostered because the people in power wanted it fostered, and because the masses wished it were true (that God is indeed behind the behavior and decisions of kings).
But it really wasn't true, was it?
Same with the Catholic Church.
People are attributing divine guidance to this institution because they want to believe in God's definitive presence and authority on earth.
But I think the reality is: Catholic theology and moral codes come from the flawed wisdom of fallible human beings, and a gradual, often arbitrary process, and not… from God.
I think, on the one hand, Catholicism serves to give fallible human beings unwarranted power and control. And, on the other, masses of Catholics have submitted to that control because they need something definite to follow, and they like having a shared tradition, whether it makes good sense or not.
But I think we honor God by using our heads and hearts honestly, by following reason and compassion, not by being sheep to the religious powers that be.
I conclude that Catholicism is a false and harmful religion, and is not at all what God wants.