Friday, June 7, 2013

How will they know?

So yesterday I read a random blog post I found through a Twitter referral and probably couldn't find again if I had to.  It was on the five reasons people struggled to remain Christian.  The first (and I'm not sure they were presented in any sort of order) was the people had been taught the Bible was inerrant and then discovered it to be self-contradictory.  Number Two was they felt scientific reasoning won out over religion.  Number Three was that they didn't understand how God could let bad things happen, and I can't remember Number Five at all.  (Sorry.)

Number Four was that they thought Christians were horrible people.

Now, as a Catholic I've never been taught the Bible is inerrant, and I've always been taught that science teaches us to marvel at the intricacy and wonder of Creation.  So I've never had an issue with #1 or #2.  Number three is a complaint universal to much of humanity.  It's Number four that gets me.

Christians are horrible people.  Christians are bigots.  Christians are homophobes.  Christians are idiots.

No, not all of us.  At least not all of the time.  The problem seems to be not so much a part of Christianity--there's no place in the Bible, inerrant or not, where Jesus is a horrible, bigoted homophobic idiot.  Over and over, Jesus responds to people with love.  The problem is that we all want to be right about our version of Christianity.  We like our rules, whatever they are, and we want everyone else to abide by them, too.

In a recent sermon, Pope Francis called Catholics out on this type of behavior.  He gave the example of a church who refused to baptize a child because it was born to a single mother.  Pope Francis said that here the church had a chance to welcome a child into the faith and show love to a woman who'd bravely chose to carry and keep her child.  Instead, they got caught up in the rules.  They forgot about love.

Which is a tragedy.  A song I learned in childhood--one of those awful praise-and-worship Catholic songs that showed up in the 1970s, when I was in Catholic grade school, so that I only remember it sung with the sort of dirge-like swing we middle schoolers adopted whenever Sister Dominic threatened to smack us with her ruler if we didn't sing a little louder--was "And They Know We Are Christians By Our Love."  The refrain went, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our llooovvvee, yes, they'll know-ow we are Christ--ians by---our----luvvvv."

The question is, will they?