Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life: It's Not Complicated

I am feeling very Catholic today. This morning I visited the website of the "Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice", where I noticed the Presbyterian Church USA listed as a member, which piqued my interest because the last church I went to before I became Catholic was PC USA. So I clicked on the PC USA website and searched for "abortion".

Let me tell you!

I knew the denomination was liberal, but silly me, I thought that meant they ordained women and such, not that they supported abortion as a choice for those facing what they repeatedly term "problem pregnancies". I never looked into the denomination as a whole. What does your average Protestant care about church hierarchy crap? I didn't.

Here are a few disturbing excerpts from the PC USA position on abortion:

"Presbyterians have struggled with the issue of abortion for more than 30 years..."

“the artificial or induced termination of a pregnancy is a matter of careful ethical decision of the patient…and therefore should not be restricted by law…”

"We may not know exactly when human life begins..."

"to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision. Possible justifying circumstances would include medical indications of severe physical or mental deformity"...

"Problem pregnancies are the result of, and influenced by, so many complicated and insolvable circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to address or decide each situation."

This last one is the phrase that keeps reverberating in my head; individual women have the wisdom and authority to decide if they should or should not get an abortion, but the Church does not have the wisdom to be able to speak against abortion because it's complicated. How can the body of Christ not know if it is right or wrong to kill an innocent human being? Apparently because the PC USA body believes that what is right in one situation may not be right in another. The Holy spirit may indeed affirm that one women should have an abortion, and he may say "no" to another. In reality, Abortion is not a complicated issue, but calling it so makes people who like to avoid being judgemental feel better about giving up their moral voice. But wait, shouldn't a church, of all things, maintain a consistent moral voice? And how does a church descend to such unfamiliarity with what I will term the Christian tradition, which has always held that human life from conception forward is sacred?

The PC USA page states,"In the Reformed Tradition, we affirm that God is the only Lord of conscience-not the state or the church."

Now I certainly think the PC USA is twisting 'reformed tradition' here by using it as an excuse to bow out of advocating for the lives of the unborn, but it's revealing that they use this statement here. What is being said in this context is that the church doesn't have the authority to say what is right and wrong because only God can do that. But if God is the only 'Lord of conscience', then the Lord of conscience becomes whatever individuals decide God is, and predictably, everyone seems to get a different version of God.

This past week I've made many comments on a post my husband wrote on facebook about all things related to marriage and sexuality. I noticed that there was a common theme running through all the other (non-Catholic) commenter's thinking; that this was a matter of opinion and preference, whether or not the commenter had a loose or strict vision of where the line of sin should be drawn. I notice this all too often among secular and Protestant circles (and bad Catholic ones, too): dialogue is the highest appeal to determine truth. Nothing else can be trusted. Christians may trust God, but there is no authority of authorities to explain God, everything is a matter of personal interpretation.

I expect this in secular circles where oneself is the highest judge of morality, but I would hope better of Christians. We're supposed to have submitted our lives to Christ, and that means submitting to the Church, which is "the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15). (Unless, of course, you belong to a church like the PC USA, which seems a little iffy on the concept of truth).

Besides being so glad I can trust the unadulterated doctrine of the Catholic church, I've come to a conclusion through all this: I really, really don't like the way faith looks when it is disconnected from authority. Faith just lacks integrity without it. When there is no recognition that the Church has authority to interpret scripture consistent with the way it has always been interpreted and to pass on the historical faith, people seem to feel free to go around reinventing whatever facet of Christianity (or life) they see as needing improvement. That's just sad.


Andrea said...

"It's complicated" is the answer I often give to Elijah when I don't think he's ready to handle the true answer to his question. Rightly so, since he's a child.

But we are not children. We need Someone to tell us the Whole Truth. Many so called "churches" these days are positively not about maintaining a consistent moral voice, but making people feel good and enjoying the music. Time to get off the milk and onto the solid food. (1 Cor. 3:2)

jogger mom said...

hey! well said.