The Catholic exodus

20 12 2018

Rod Dreher linked to a story about why young people are leaving the Catholic Church, which had no surprises in it. A disproportionate number of respondents to a survey said they left due to the teachings about sexual ethics, again, no surprises there. I suppose it has been a question of my formation, but I have never understood why people today separate licentiousness in sexuality from permissiveness in other aspects of life. That is perhaps the wisdom of the great sages of yesteryear, who are now universally reviled for strictly forbidding genital-to-genital contact except in defined circumstances. Supposedly one can have intercourse with a man, woman, dog, table leg, imaginary cartoon character, etc. etc. and that will NOT be detrimental to any other aspect of life, be that the respect for other people’s property, their bodily person, etc. etc. As if one of the reasons people covet property or enact violence have nothing to do with sex… I am not saying that if people kept it in their pants, they would suddenly be saints in all other aspects of life. But why would people be saints in everything if only they were allowed to be licentious in affairs of the flesh? For me, it doesn’t follow.

Maybe I just have a holistic view of the human being (not in the sense of the “Theology of the Body,” we’ve been over that). But more in the sense that all human affairs and interests intertwine substantially. I don’t want to persecute sexual minorities or people who “are different,” but we should expect complications in all moral and ethical levels of life once we start unraveling long-established codes of conduct in the family and personal sphere. The “culture wars” are the result of the debate of where we draw lines, and we are finding that consistency has to be thrown out the window much of the time.  One should at least reflect on the reasoning behind those historic prohibitions, even if (admittedly) they are never coming back.

As for Catholics leaving the Church in general, Dreher and the commenters on his blog wanted to discuss strategies for keeping kids “in the Faith”, that is, practicing as adults. I can’t offer a better answer than showing that you are serious about it yourself. On the other hand, I don’t need to produce theological carbon copies of myself in my progeny, should they ever arrive. Maybe I am a quietist, I expect too much from grace and too little from myself. The other aspect is that such an idea is predicated on ideological monopolies that no longer exist. Just as one’s station in life was predicated by birth, so were one’s beliefs. To think that social and geographical mobility is not coupled with religious and ideological mobility is wishful thinking. Mobility and choice are the zeitgeist, so whether one successfully swims against the current in passing one’s beliefs on to one’s children seems more like a game of chance that a matter of upbringing. If the Catholic Church has a problem with that, maybe it should have fought harder to preserve a confessional state. I can’t put a gun to my adult children’s head and make them go to Mass.


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