Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The two teachings that prove the Church is of God

To my mind, the best evidence of the Catholic Church's divine origins are these two facts:

1) The Church has never changed her teaching on masturbation


2) The Church has never definitively declared what happens to the souls of babies who die without baptism

Knowing what we know about human nature, there is simply no way at all that these two teachings would stand for twenty centuries, for two thousand years, if human beings were the ones making the rules and calling the shots.

Put on your thinking caps, and let's examine the facts.


The Church has always taught that masturbation is intrinsically immoral. Sex is not meant to be a solitary act. Our sexual faculties and reproductive systems are, by design, all about complementary, total union with another. To use sex selfishly, to "have sex with oneself", so to speak, is beneath the dignity of a human being.

Yet, in a fallen world, masturbation is an incredibly common sin.

So here we have a Church headed by unmarried men for century after century after century after century after century. We have had a succession of 266 popes. Not one single male in the long stretch of 266 has changed the teaching of the Church on masturbation. Not one of those men has said, "You know what? Let's loosen up on that one! Let's make life a little easier for all of us. Heck, it would even make us popular, especially among the young! We'd bring 'em in by droves if we said that masturbating was good and holy!"

Knowing what we know about human nature, and thinking of probabilities, how on earth is the teaching about masturbation's sinfulness still in place?

The skeptic might chide me by saying, "But you said that the Church can't change the teachings, that's why!"

And I'd answer with, "Yes, that's true, she can't; the Church can't change her doctrinal teachings precisely because she's of God. However, dear skeptic, that's not what you believe. Your belief, your conviction, is that the Church is a merely human institution. And you firmly believe, as do most skeptics, dissenters, and non-believers, that the Church can and should change her teaching on a number of issues (and you believe she will -- you are just waiting for that 'someday'). So, from your perspective, how on earth is the teaching about masturbation still in place?"

In human terms, of course, the teaching on masturbation should have and would have been changed almost right out of the gate. Or at least later, by one of the depraved, lusty, sinful popes, or the power-hungry popes, or the popes who could be bought, or maybe the popes who were weak and wanted to please.

All it would have taken is one bad apple who jumped at the chance to allow masturbation for himself and everyone else, guilt- and consequence-free!

And yet it's never happened.

If we are honest, we know that there's not any earthly, human reason for this teaching to be standing. Human beings are too weak, fickle, and sinful for this to be anything other than divine protection of Church teaching.

     Babies who die without baptism

The second "proof" that the Church is not merely a human institution is the unanswered question of what happens to the souls of babies who die without baptism.

There are few things more heart wrenching than a mother who has lost her child. The agony of a mother or father after a child's death cannot be overstated. Throughout Christendom, from the first century until today, millions upon millions of anguished parents have appealed to the Church, asking the question, desperate for the assurance that their child is in Heaven. What human being with breath in his body and a beating heart in his chest would not want to do everything in his power to calm the mind and comfort the soul of a grieving parent?

If the Catholic Church operated on human desires alone, there would have been a rush to declare that all unbaptized children go straight to Heaven when they die. Imagine two thousand years' worth of popes witnessing countless instances of profound grief! Most, if not all, would be moved to make a definitive statement about the fate of the littlest souls. In a merely human institution, there would be nothing to stop them from making such a happy, welcome declaration.

And yet, the Church says today what she has said from the beginning: We just don't know definitively what happens to the souls of unbaptized babies. Theologians have debated the issue for centuries, have come up with constructs and theories such as "Limbo" (a place of perfect natural happiness, but minus the beatific vision), and have met and discussed this issue even recently at an international theological commission. But still, the teaching authority of the Church has not pronounced on it. Why? Because Jesus did not reveal it. The Deposit of Faith contains only that which has been revealed by Christ, and the Church has no power to go further than what she has received from God.

The very Church that loves providing answers to the world is being honest when she says that we just don't know. It is exactly because the popes have no power to change what Christ revealed that you will see nothing more definitive on this issue than what we read in the Catechism:
1261: As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,' allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
We humans want answers, and God doesn't always provide them. Many things are to remain a mystery to us this side of Heaven.

If you are frustrated by this, then imagine how frustrated a human pope is when he, as the head of the  Church on earth, is unable to provide an answer to his beloved and often greatly suffering flock!

What merely earthly, human reason would stand in the way of 266 popes giving the answer we all want to hear? I can't think of one.

From what we know of human nature, if these two teachings don't provide enough reason for us to believe that the Church is of divine origin, then dare I say that even a man rising from the dead would not convince us.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (Caravaggio)


  1. Interesting. I thought you were going to go the route of basic doctrine of the Church and point to the identity and 4 marks of the Church that Christ willed, to prove Her divine origins and separate true religion from false religion. But I see your point in these examples. Apologetically speaking, the fact that the Church hasn't changed Her teachings based on human 'group-think' or even 'pope-think' throughout history is pretty compelling.

  2. Nubby, :-) That's what my first thought was, though, not as eloquently! I did a double take. Those two points ARE very compelling.

  3. Leila, could you explain, "popes witnessing (and themselves experiencing) countless instances of profound grief! " Do you mean they had children who died? I know a few popes fathered children, but most didn't.

  4. I can enter a counter argument for number one, not that I believe because it has it's own set of flaws, but...

    I kniw of number of people who truly honestly believe that the Church's teachings on all matters of sexuality, especially something like masturbation which is often seen as harmless, is really part of how the Church maintains power and control over its members. The argument (a poor one, but one I can see being made) is that this teaching has not changed for 2000 years because ultimately the Church's goal is control over members' lives, especially in matters of sexuality, and maintaining control is more important than "allowing" the masses to masturbate.

    Again, not saying this is a good argument, but one I can see some trying to make.

  5. Bethany, how on earth would the Church's ban on masturbation maintain control over its members? If anything, wouldn't that be expected to drive away many people in search of a more lenient church?
    I know you're not actually espousing that argument; I just don't see how anyone can actually think it makes sense.

    1. say you have a teenage boy that has been raised to believe that you should never masturbate, puberty hits and he does, and then he feels terrible and sinful and guilty for what he has done and he comes crawling back to the church that convinced in the first place that he's committed a terrible act.

    2. It's in regard to the person implying that the church's ban on masturbation couldn't possibly be a way to maintain control over people.

    3. I still don't understand how that works. Could you give me a better example? How can teaching right and wrong be some sort of mind game or desire to control? So parents are guilty of the same thing, correct? I mean when they teach their children right from wrong?

    4. Indoctrinating children from before they can form coherent thoughts to believe that they are inherently sinful and can only survive by obeying the church is control.

      A child that has been raised for his entire life to believe that masturbating is bad does not wonder why his God would give him urges to masturbate, or why his God would even make it possible for him to masturbate. Instead he blames himself for being weak or not faithful and continues turning back to the church that told him his natural urges were wrong. This perpetuates control because it creates a relationship where the church diagnoses a non existent problem, but then turns around and says we have the cure as long you follow exactly what we say.

    5. Oh, I see what you mean. You are claiming that the Church is a brain-washing machine. How well do you think that has worked regarding masturbation and the other sexual issues such as contraception? ;) Not too well from my perspective as a Catholic! Believe me, I grew up Catholic and I never felt pressured to follow any Church teaching, and I literally went to mass every single Sunday of my life for my entire childhood.

      And you didn't answer my question: So if I tell my children not to steal because it is wrong and there will be consequences, even though they may feel a natural tendency to take things that are not theirs, I'm brainwashing and indoctrinating them into submission so that I can exercise control? Would you claim that? Thanks!

    6. And forgive me, but are you saying that people should follow their "natural urges" in terms of sexuality only? Or should they follow their "natural urges" in all areas of life? I'm a little confused as to your principal there. I'm wondering if you're saying that "natural urges" are the guide to our morality, or that if things are "possible" for us to do, then that means we are morally free to do that.

    7. Stealing is wrong because we can demonstrate objectively that it harms someone or society. Teaching children what is right and wrong has little to do with teaching them to believe in a system where what you actually do doesn't matter as long as you are repentant.

      When did I claim that following natural urges is a principal for everything in ones life? I didn't, what I said was that when kids reach the age puberty and their bodies mature for adulthood they naturally begin to have sexual urges. Sexuality is innate to people and religion is not.

      Can you demonstrate that masturbation is objectively harmful? If our "sex organs are designed to complement each other" then why would God make us capable of masturbating? Surely he could have made us capable of feeling sexual pleasure in a context that he defined couldn't he?

    8. First of all, are you a Christian? I would like to know who my audience is so that I can tailor my comments to the person. Everyone is coming from a different place. So, are you a believing Christian?

      Second, these statements need clarifying:

      "Teaching children what is right and wrong has little to do with teaching them to believe in a system where what you actually do doesn't matter as long as you are repentant."

      I have no idea what argument you are fighting against? I never said, nor does the Church, that "what you actually do doesn't matter as long as you are repentant". Actually, everything we do matters, a lot.

      "Sexuality is innate to people and religion is not."

      I believe that everyone innately has a sense of God, so I completely disagree with what I think you are trying to say here. I believe that a sense of God is innate, and that sexuality is a part of every human being, and has a proper design, place, meaning, and order to it. So, now what? How do we go from here in this discussion?

      As for "why would God makes us capable of masturbating".... um, He "made us capable of many things, including strangulating our neighbors, beating up our friends, stealing from our grandma, and even having sex with a goat. So? Are you arguing that as long as we have sexual urges and are capable of acting on them, we are morally free to do so? I'm not sure your point bears out.

      And as for "demonstrating" that masturbation is objectively harmful (and could you remind me which virtue masturbation falls under?), let's start with your own premise and example, that stealing is demonstrably harmful. Show me how, objectively, it is harmful for a man to take $20 from a billion-dollar company (and assume also that no one will ever find out). Thanks!

      *for the record, I believe that act of stealing is objectively wrong, but I want you to prove that it is, since you made the claim that you could.

  6. Bethany, that is an argument used by skeptics for many teachings (including birth control, etc.). But again, it doesn't hold water with what we know from human nature. To think that not one, not ONE pope in 2,000 years (think about that) would reverse that very unpopular teaching? And I agree with Unknown, it can't be a means of control. People would laugh and leave. Sinning and disobedience comes easy to people. So, they can put forth the argument (and they have) but it doesn't work at all. We can't think of any other analogous situation in human life where that would work. I surely hope someone comes to the thread and puts forth that argument! I'd love to discuss it with them, ha ha!

    And what's really cool about the second one is that a few years ago, a reader said that it was when I mentioned once (probably in a comment or another site) that the issue of unbaptized children is "proof" for me that the Church is not operating on human terms or they would have answered that long ago -- well, that was what clicked for her and she entered RCIA (or came back to Church, I can't remember which). It's powerful if we remember human nature and apply the truths of history.

  7. mom of 6, sorry, that was a confusing sentence! I will see if I can fix it. I didn't mean it that way. :)

  8. Bethany, in other words, your words are true: It's a bad argument they use. I want to hear a reasonable, good argument that doesn't fall apart the minute we think more deeply. That's what I hope someone will give me.

  9. I agree with everything you both are saying. However, you have to come out at it from some (not necessarily everyone else's) perspective. They think it is a reasonable argument. Remember many of them already believe we have been brainwashed by the "big, bad, controlling Catholic Church". From their perspective we are the victims of an abusive boyfriend or spouse and we're either too afraid, or too weak-willed to leave. Given that perspective, yeah, a no-masturbation-allowed rule, could be seen as a way of making us dependent upon the Church rather than ourselves. For them dependecy is a sin far greater than masturbation could ever be.

    Like I said, it isn't perfect, it definitely has flaws, but for someone on the other side, it could be considered reasonable, because they're staring with a different set of Givens in the logical proof.

  10. Bethany, yes, except that we are not talking about it from the perspective of "weak, brainwashed" laity (though it makes me laugh since barely any laity are faithful on the sexual issues, so their theory falls apart right away). I am speaking from the perspective of the popes themselves. Forget the laity, how is it that every one of the popes, for 2,000 years, would not want to change that teaching? That would be akin to saying that the 266 popes are not human beings, but robots. That none has an actual human nature. Would they argue that? It's just unreasonable. They would have to put forth any other instance in human history where such a thing has happened. A duplicate scenario. They can't do it.

    It's like my post on the Resurrection (which is linked in the OP). Not one person has yet come in with more than a sweeping, overarching "theory" for an alternative to the Resurrection. Never can they put details and flesh to the story, or give me a chronology. Until they can do that, their positing remains in the ethers, all opinion and theory, but no actual human experience, no empirical evidence at all.

    Yes, they consider it reasonable. And yes, there are folks who consider it reasonable that Bruce Jenner is a woman. But that's the point. We keep hammering home the facts, beseeching people to think (at least to those who have not taken leave of their senses and suspended all logic). I think people who are so far gone cannot be convinced, but there are so many who initially "buy" the brainwashing line, simply because they have never actually thought about it yet. I can work with those people. :)

    Here is someone who started out repeating the same old canards about the Church, and later, via email, apologized to me for what she saw to be unreasonable when challenged:

    I think we can both agree that there are some people, however, who cannot be reached with logical arguments. Those folks we entrust to God, but I only debate those folks for the sake of the lurkers, not because I think I can change their minds. (Can you imagine having a logical conversation with someone who thinks that boys can change into girls if they "think" it? lol. )

  11. LOL- imagine it? Most of my college friends and some high school friends think that way. There is no logic, they simply don't see the lack of logic.

    I have one friend who said a few weeks ago that she and her husband are "One and Done". They have a 1 year old daughter. Just a few days ago she posted a link about large amounts of cousins in families and was incredulous that a co-worker had had only 4 cousins growing up. This a college educated, intelligent woman, who can't see the link.

    As for an argument against the Resurrection, my father questions the validity of the Bible. So, there's that one.

    Some days I feel like I live in a atheistic/agnostic/liberal hole and by the Grace of God, somehow I manage to hold onto the logic and the faith of the Catholic Church.

    St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

  12. Bethany, it's like being Alice down the Rabbit Hole, isn't it? It is surreal. The good thing is that there are still those who want to know the truth, who are actively seeking the truth. The Church is like a lifeline to them. As for the rest, one day, all that illogic, all that cognitive dissonance, it has to catch up to them. They will not be able to sustain it and still have interior peace and joy. That is God's own way of calling them, hoping that they turn to Him.

    Oh, as for your dad... I would love to discuss with him why he thinks the Bible is not good history! And even if it isn't (let's pretend), how does his view account for the writings of the Early Fathers, and the massive growth of the Church (that meant nothing but martyrdom and suffering for the first few centuries) :) A chat for another day....

    Yes, St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!!

    You are a good woman, Bethany. :)

  13. I doubt my father has really ever thought about it. The Early Church Fathers are unknown to him. I have thought about sharing Chesterton with him, because his style would be right up my dad's alley. But at this point my parent's have surpassed simple cognitive dissonance and approach everything like an ostrich with it's head buried in the sand, or like my grandmother who, when confronted with a snippet of reality would actually stick her fingers in her ears and yell "Lalalalalalalalalalalalala!" My parents may not do that literally, yet, but figuratively, we've been there for years.
    Prayers for conversion is all I can offer at this point.

    1. Bethany, it sounds like your parents are just flat-out not interested in thinking things through or seeking what is true. Can't do much with that, I agree, but pray. I did have to smile at the story about your grandma with her fingers in her ears! :)

  14. Jesus never said anything, ever , about masturbation, so your first choice is truly questionable. It wasn't anywhere on Jesus' todo list.

    Jesus did say that childrape was unforgivable in Matt 18:6, yet the Catholic church hid and protected 100% of it's known pedophile priests. Jesus went on in Matt 18:10-14 to say that the Catholic church should have found and gotten help for every childrape victim of the Catholic church, but the church never did this unless they were legally forced to do so.

    The Catholic church is also ridiculously wealthy, being the wealthiest private institution in the world, in defiance of Jesus in Matt 19:21. They could literally cure hunger for 10 cents per Catholic per day, but instead lead by flaunting their opulence, although it is not as bad as when Pope Benedict wore his $100,000 hats while sitting on his $5 million chair, telling people not to obsess with possessions.

    Those are 2 things that prove the Catholic church is not "God's church", and are bot the truth. For that reason, you will probably delete them, or hide them, as the Catholic church did with their child rape and their finances.

    1. "Jesus never said anything, ever , about masturbation, so your first choice is truly questionable. It wasn't anywhere on Jesus' todo list."


      “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Jesus

      So what do think a grown man is thinking about while in the act, baseball stats?

    2. Lol, great point Chris!!!! I missed this earlier.

    3. Chris, and more specifically the following verse: "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."
      Hmmmm, when speaking of lust and sexual sins, what in the world could Jesus be referring to here with this right hand business?

  15. Neilallen76, thank you for being a classic example of anti-Catholic bigotry. First of all, you did not even address the actual point of #1. I was not arguing biblically, if you didn't notice, although I will be very happy to do that if you'd like. You just let me know if you'd like to go ahead with that, keeping in mind that Jesus "never spoke a word" about genocide either, so I guess that was not on his "to do list" either. In the meantime, stick with the argument I actually made.

    As for your other ridiculous accusations, I will address them when I'm on my regular computer, unless someone wants to take them before I do. Believe me, you are far from the first person to throw out these anti-Catholic stats. God bless!

    1. I have a question for you, neilallen.... You say that the Vatican should (I'm presuming) sell off all the priceless treasures of Western civilization (that it protects and preserves for all who wish to enjoy such beauty). Okay, great. It sells it off for a billion or two (let's say). What then? When the money is used to feed the poor for a few months (the Church is already the largest charity on the face of the earth today)... then what? The treasures of Western civilization are now in the hands of private collectors, and there is no beauty for the rest of us peasants to access.

      Anyway, your whole point is in error. The Church is most certainly NOT the richest private entity in the world. Read on:

      With your outrageous diatribe of accusations, I am reminded of a story about Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

      Fulton Sheen: "It's always a moral problem."
      Archbishop Fulton Sheen once told a story of a man he met on one of his many plane trips. As the archbishop settled down in his seat in the hopes of taking a nap, a man sat down next to him. The man saw the archbishop in his priestly attire and introduced himself as an ex-Catholic who used to be an usher at a local parish. The man immediately began tearing into the Church, attacking her doctrines, disciplines and culture with every attack that modernists typically throw at the Catholic faith. Bishop Sheen sat there quietly, listening to the man's many complaints and occasionally interjecting a question. Silently, he was praying the entire time for a way to get through to this man.

      After several minutes of the long tirade, by a supernatural intuition, Fulton Sheen asked the man, "So tell me, how much did you steal?" The man was silent and began trembling; finally he broke down and admitted that when he was an usher he had stolen thousands of dollars from the collection plate at his parish. Archbishop Sheen said that he knew that there must have been something more substantial behind all of the petty gripes this man had been putting forward.

      You can read it all here:

      I will not be so presumptuous to ask you, "How much did you steal?"

      But whatever your animus is, I hope you find help, hope and healing.

  16. From a wonderful reader, Gretchen, who's story I alluded to above. She wrote this on my Facebook page and gave me permission to share:

    "Item #2 is one of my favorite things about the Church. I've told you before that you saying that deep in one of your comboxes was the final nail in my Catholic conversion. As a mom who has had 3 children pass from this life before birth, and someone who wants to know the Truth, not just something that will make me feel better, I love that the Church says, "we don't know, but we trust in the mercy of our loving and merciful Father God."

    It comforted me greatly to have the Church say, "we hope along with you" in the moment of our grief, to walk alongside me in my misery without claiming to know more than she does.

    I want the Truth, no matter how it hurts or challenges me to grow, and I ran headlong into the Church's arms when I read Leila's words long ago and looked them up in the catechism for myself."

    1. I hate talking into my phone, because I appear illiterate! That should be "whose".

  17. Shared your article on a FB group. It took on a life of it's own. The group is "I'm Catholic Why Aren't You?" I think you have to join to see it. Just want you to know it is making the Catholic rounds!

  18. I don't think the prohibition on masturbation is unique to the Catholic faith. There are numerous Protestant denominations that espouse the teaching that sexual intimacy is only permitted between one man and one woman who are married to each other. Although certainly many of these same denominations permit artificial birth control. There are those Catholics who claim that sexual intercourse with the use of artificial contraception is mutual masturbation. I would certainly not equate those two things, but I have heard that - a lot. In any event, masturbation is not just something that the Catholic church has stated is a sin.

  19. Hi Pro-ACA! I actually was not making that argument. I was not arguing that no other Christians (only Catholics) believe that masturbation is wrong. First, none of the Protestant denominations are more than 500 years old (and most are much, much younger), so it would not be an apt comparison. Also, they are not headed by an unbroken string of celibate males, so that also is a barrier to comparing the two situations.

    I was specifically arguing that an institution headed by 266 successive celibate males (who supposed have "all the power" over doctrine) over the course of 2,000 years (that's a heckuva long time!) might have had a rogue pope (or more than one) who would have happily changed the teaching.

    As for Protestants, only a very few (and not sure if any of the mainlines) teach that masturbation is wrong. In fact, I was SO disappointed a few years back to see that James Dobson caved on the issue and (I believe) even said that it was healthy! Yikes!

    But anyway, whether or not some Protestant denominations, headed by married men, have taught the sinfulness of masturbation for a couple of centuries (if you can find me a denomination that old, and that still teaches that) was not the point of the first argument.

  20. Lidia, that sounds like fun! I need to check it out!! :)

  21. Well, okay, if the focus is on number of years, let's go with Judaism. Orthodox Judaism has always held masturbation as a forbidden sexual practice. Judaism, as you know, is about 3,000 years old, but regardless, older than the Catholic faith. Of course Judaism has not been headed by 266 celibate men, but Orthodox Judaism still prohibits the practice today. I just don't think the fact that the Church is headed by celibate men, sometimes evil or rogue or whatever, makes the unchanging nature of the teaching any more marvelous than any other tenet of the faith. There has certainly been corruption and various other evils in the development of Judaism over its centuries, and still the Orthodox Jews prohibit the practice. If you were using celibacy in the priesthood (which of course is not an appropriate analog because that teaching could change) then the celibate leadership argument makes more sense because there was arguably a pope that may have wanted a legitimate family life. Anyway, just saying I don't really track with you on this. Masturbation as a sin is not a uniquely Catholic precept, and the Church was not the first to adhere to it.

  22. And, I would also like to respond to Leila's response to neilallen. But I would have responded quite differently. I would not say, "how much did you steal?" I would say, instead, "how old were you when your parish priest raped you?"
    My experience has been that when there is vitriol and anger and hatred toward the Church from an individual person, that person has often been a victim of clergy sex abuse. Leila, perhaps no one you are close to has a husband or brother or uncle that was sexually abused by a priest 30 or 40 years ago - or even more recently than that - but there are so many of them out there. If he is a victim survivor, I would say to neilallen how terribly sorry I am and God Bless him and bring him healing. If he is not a survivor, perhaps he is voicing the pain on behalf of another, and my heart goes out to him and the victim, and all victims. I pray that God helps all victims.

  23. ProACA, you're still missing the point. First of all, Catholicism is the fulfillment of Judaism, so it's not strictly true to call them separate in terms of ancient orthodox Judaism. Jesus was an Orthodox Jew, after all. :)

    The point is that celibate men have the most motivation of anyone to want the teaching changed (not the case with any other religion, which does allow its clergy to be sexually active, usually within the context of marriage). And yet, in the history of the Church, not one has attempted to do so. Yes, that discipline could change, but it's been hundreds of years, I think perhaps a thousand, since married clergy were the norm.

  24. See, I think you are still not understanding my point at all.

    First, I have never said that masturbation is a uniquely Catholic precept, in fact, it's a natural law issue and so many, and not just Christians, have said that it's sinful. That makes sense. It's universal (we can know it's wrong via use of our human reasoning skills; we don't even need revelation to know it).

    Second, Orthodox Judaism is the only other religion aside from Catholicism that is also totally true.... it's not complete (the Church is the completion of Judaism), but it's true as because its adherents keep the covenant they were given.

    Third, the teaching on celibacy could certainly chance in the Latin Rite (we already have married priests in the Eastern Rites, and a few in the Latin Rite), but even in the Eastern Rite, there are no married bishops. I don't think you will ever see a married pope, since there are no married bishops.

    Fourth, I have argued often that the unchanging nature of ALL the Church's moral teaching is what is marvelous. All of it together is stunning and convicting. But the point of 2,000 years of human, celibate men, all of whom (according to secularists) have this stunning god-like power to change doctrine like a king (not true, but that's what people think) -- they have not changed the teaching.

    Let's be honest. Masturbation is a very tempting and special kind of sin for men in a way that the other sins are not. We see that, don't we? The point is... most men would like to be able to "get away with" that particular sin (at least at some point in their life). And no, I am not talking about ALL men. There are men who do not and would not masturbate. But don't you get my point? Men like to masturbate, sometimes compulsively. 266 celibate men, who can (supposedly) get away with any moral teaching change, and not a one, not even the worst popes, sneak that change in? C'mon, you get my point, don't you?

    (And in Judaism, there is not concentrated "power" in one man. The pope sits on Moses' seat now, but there is no one on Moses' seat in Judaism, for obvious reasons.)

  25. "Leila, perhaps no one you are close to has a husband or brother or uncle that was sexually abused by a priest 30 or 40 years ago"

    Actually, I have a very close friend whose brother was abused by a priest and it ended in his tragic death years later after it triggered drug abuse. So, I know how horrific the pain of abuse can be. I also know people (more, in fact) who were abused sexually by family members in most horrific ways (non-Catholic and Catholic). I also know those who were abused in the public schools. Horrible crimes and no accountability.

    If the gentleman who commented was abused, that is a terrible, horrible crime. But it gives him no right to misrepresent and slander the Church, or to tell lies about the Church. We blame and hold perpetrators accountable, yes, but we don't tell falsehoods. Absolutely, we need to pray for this man, whatever his issue is, because he is deeply angry, troubled and wounded.

  26. I just disagree with your point. The fact that they may want to do it or the fact that the worst popes do it with reckless abandon doesn't necessarily translate to changing Church teaching if they could. If something is wrong, it is wrong. I think that evil and corrupt popes had no need to change anything - that just did things they weren't supposed to and didn't care. So I don't see even the worst of them saying, "look, this is really a victimless sin, and no one really thinks it is that bad anyway, so I'm going to just change Church teaching on it." Rather, I see them saying "look, this is really a victimless sin and no one is getting hurt by it so I'm going to do it whenever I want and if others do too, I really don't care." I see your point. I guess I just don't agree that it translates to some sort of impetus to change Church teaching to permit the conduct.

  27. You see all of them (or at least the most sinful ones, and the weak ones) saying that same thing? I guess I just see 2,000 years of popes as not having identical thoughts and motives. They are all as different as the rest of us.

    If you look around at the relatively short history of Protestantism, then you can see many different reasons, motives and personalities behind the changing of teachings, even if the sin ultimately accepted is the same one. If that were going to happen in the Catholic Church, if we think of the "low hanging fruit" of the easiest and most obvious change in teaching a pope (or many popes) would make, I think it would be on this issue, or the issue of infants dying without baptism.

    But we disagree and that's okay. If it convicts some folks (esp. men, I would think!), then it was meant for them to read. Different folks are convinced by different things.

  28. Hi Leila, thanks for another great post. My question is how would you answer an atheist saying (not a direct quote, just paraphrasing what I've heard several times), "Everyone knows even popes are masturbating, so as long as the popes go to confession and say a few Hail Marys, everything's fine. No need to change it." I hope that makes sense. Basically, the argument is that (and it's very snarky) popes are all sinning behind closed doors and then just clean up with an easy confession. Not saying I agree with this AT ALL, just wondering about a reasonable response to that. Thanks!

  29. Hi Beth!

    Well, my first response would be to be sad for his cynicism and his belief that no one is able to practice virtue. No, all popes are not sinning mortally (although some have and all sin venially). But if he won't accept that, and he won't, then just remind him that God cannot be mocked. A requirement for absolution is that a person must have true contrition and really intend not to sin again. If the pope in question is just playing a game in confession, he will not be forgiven. So, you can assure the atheist (who clearly has a guilty conscience by the way), that such a pope will likely be going to hell for the willful commission of mortal sin, so the atheist can rest easy. ;)

    You can say it a lot simpler than that, but that's the gist.

    You could say, "Nope, not everything is fine if he did that; he'd go to hell. God cannot be mocked." And then smile. :)

    Hope that helps! :)

  30. Okay, I'm off to the east coast, so I won't be around today to post much! Thanks for patience! Have fun without me and play nice everyone. :) :)

  31. "Everyone knows even popes are masturbating, so as long as the popes go to confession and say a few Hail Marys, everything's fine. No need to change it."

    “Everyone” just “knows”, huh? Well, I never knew, so that theory is wrong.

    If the atheist mindset is that popes automatically sin and disregard the teachings, it still doesn’t follow to the conclusion they try to make repeatedly which is that the Church is headed by power-hungry men who want to control the masses of money and minds of people. So then we should be seeing concrete relaxing of this teaching, which is Leila’s main apologetic point.

    The point is, they make concrete conclusions with faulty logic flow. It’s all flowcharts, folks. Alllll about them flowcharts…

  32. If we really want hit home a point with our atheist friends about this whole conclusion they have about the Church being money-hungry and power-grabbing, simply point them to Church’s faulty marketing tactics, then.

    If the Church wanted to take our money and our wills, it would follow the very delectable and palatable marketing strategy of the secular world. Look at the fantasy football gambling outfits. Look at that in play. Just see how tempting and promising and fulfilling they make it all appear. Look at this promising jackpot. For just a little bit of money to start with…hmmm… so tempting. Such good marketing strategy. Such promises.

    So either the Church is completely inept at marketing for mind control and wallet-grabbing, or it really doesn’t follow that the Church cares about that at all.

    Following the Church’s teachings on human sexuality is a struggle for many in the Church, especially when it comes to sexual desires and our fallen nature. The point is, the Church isn’t selling a product. The Church is passing on a faith that is part a very large tapestry of biblical and non-biblical authority, that in its fullness, shows the natural law coupled to the Divine law. So the atheist who demands the Church is only in it for a control of the demographic, they're either ignorant of marketing themselves, or the Church is, or... maybe that's no even tied to the reality of why the Church exists.

    1. Brilliant, Nubs!!! Exactly. And forgive me for breaking my rule about not hitting "reply", but it's really hard for me to cut and paste and navigate on this stupid phone while I'm out of town.

  33. I think I'm massively confused. It is my understanding that the Pope (meaning all of them) does not have the authority to change Church teachings on anything whether they want or the laity wants the teaching changed because of how the Church was set up 2,000 or so years ago.

    1. Sorry I missed this earlier, LizaMoore!

      You are absolutely correct in your understanding. But this post is addressed to people who need some convincing, i.e. because they believe that the Pope has the power to change things as he wills, and that the Catholic Church is not of God. So, it's not really directed at people who understand that the Church is of God.

  34. Leila
    How can you possibly know whether all 266 popes masturbated or not?? Isn't that a huge assumption? There have been very corrupt popes, some popes who fathered children (therefore certainly not celibate) so why assume they never masturbated?

    Ditto to LizaMoore above. These examples are not convincing to me at all because the Catholic Church by definition can't change her doctrine. So if the Pope tried to change the doctrine he wouldn't be the head of the church because the church specifically says he can't. It would be an oxymoron.

    You once wrote a post saying (paraphrasing) that if atheists were right, and if there were no heaven, that your life and the lives of your children would have no meaning (or something like that). And your Catholicism depends on the fact that the church is infallible. Therefore it would be infinitely less comforting for the Pope say that babies not baptized can go to heaven than for the pope to stick to doctrine. Because believing that doctrine is divine and unchangeable is the back bone of what gives your lives meaning.

    Forget the laity, how is it that every one of the popes, for 2,000 years, would not want to change that teaching? How do you know that none of them wanted to change to teaching? You have no way of knowing that. Perhaps their human heart wanted to but of course they never would because they were the Pope.

    The "proof" you give that Catholicism has divine origins, IMHO don't prove anything except that Catholicism is self-referential.

    Please do not take this as "anti-Catholic bigotry" Just how I see it.


  35. Johanne and Liza Moore,
    You both need to re-read the post, starting with the fifth paragraph under Masturbation and follow it down. Leila's salient point is right there.

    To thiscomment by Unknonwn:
    It's in regard to the person implying that the church's ban on masturbation couldn't possibly be a way to maintain control over people.

    Exactly how does this ban on masturbation tie together with mind control? The exact opposite would be the way to control minds-- "lifting the ban" would tickle the ears of everyone who would then bring their wallets and wills to be disposed of by the big baddies in the good old boys club.

  36. Johanne, i'm on the road in Maryland making my way to Annapolis to see my nephew, so I can't give you a full response right now. But first off, you completely misread my point! Never, in anyway, in any shape, or in any form, did I ever say, not once, that no Pope has masturbated! Never never never did I make that assertion! In fact quite the opposite, I believe I mentioned corrupt sinful and lusty popes. Even some great popes might have! Never did I make that argument, which is why I think you missed the rest of my argument as well, and I will come back to that as soon as I can, when I'm not on the road. Thanks for patience!

  37. I'm sorry, Leila. I did misunderstand it. But I don't think I missed the point completely.

    "All it would have taken is one bad apple who jumped at the chance to allow masturbation for himself and everyone else, guilt- and consequence-free!"

    I don't think any Pope would jump at the chance to change doctrine because that would mean he had no power at all because the Catholic Church, as it has been, would dissolve. Catholicism states that the Pope is infallible, meaning he never changes doctrine, so if he changed it he would give up being Pope. And that calls up a more basic human desire than changing any particular doctrine--both for the Pope and for the laity.

  38. Johanne,

    Actually, the pope as "infallible" was not explicitly defined until close to 1900 years into Catholicism. It's not like the laity at the beginning or even later would have done anything other than just listen to what the hierarchy said and, because they believed fully in Christ and hIs Church, obey. The idea that the laity (including peasants, the illiterate, etc). would somehow have a theological understanding of "infallibility" is not plausible.

    It's always strange to me that people who believe that the Catholic Church is completely human talk about all of its stunning consistency and cohesiveness as somehow an exercise of its power-hungry leaders. I guess my question is, do you feel that the Catholic Church is power-hungry to the point where it overrides human nature of wanting to be popular or wanting to take the (natural) path of least resistance? 2000 years is a lot longer than we can probably mentally imagine in a quick thought of ours, and it covered so many different eras of humanity, and yet they were all of one mind? Always? Where else do we see a parallel? Think of America for example… We are approaching only a little over 200 years and already we think completely differently with different "doctrines" than we ever started out with. We were pretty strong and "power-hungry" nation, no? And look how quickly strong men have reversed their specific "American ideals".


  39. See, the thing that confuses me is that all the dissenting Catholics, the ones who "just know" that is soon as they get a "wise and enlightened" Pope in place, all these yucky old patriarchal doctrines will fall. There are people with in the College of Cardinals who think so, after all! Lol.

    So just to be clear, it's almost as if you, Johanne, have more confidence in the unchanging nature of the Catholic Church than people like the "nuns on the bus" or the people who were on the Vatican's birth control commission in 1968, or the theologians in most of the Catholic universities in the western world, and all the Catholics like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Buden and Caroline Kennedy and the Cuomos, and the majority of the German and Austrian bishops, etc. etc. -- they believe a pope can change teaching precisely because the pope has the power to singlehandedly change doctrine.

    So it leaves me wondering: which is it? Because those dissenting Catholics fully and truly expect that the church will change. I am sort of impressed that you know that the Catholic Church will not change. For the wrong reason of course, but at least you know the truth of it. Why do you suppose those others believe that the pope can and will change doctrine, that it's just a matter of time?

    Maybe you could explain to them that the Church will never change her teachings! :)

    Sorry, I am in a little hotel room with only my phone to talk into, so I'm not saying things as clearly and thoroughly as I wish.

    1. Sorry, some of that was redundant.

      The dissenters think that the pope has (single-handedly and individually) the power to change anything. Catholics like me know that the Pope has NO power to change doctrine. You are in a third category I guess?

  40. "Catholics like me know that the Pope has NO power to change doctrine." Yes, that's true.

    I don't understand the point you are trying to make. Not sure how the doctrine against masturbation and babies that died without baptism proves anything. Maybe you are speaking to the dissenters and not Catholics who know the doctrine can and will never change.

    You can be a faithful Catholic like you Leila, and not agree with everything. There is doctrine that I have a hard time with. Have faith that I will be at peace with it with time. The answer is to pray.

  41. LizaMoore, yes, the entire point of the article was to speak to those who don't believe the Church is of God and protected by God.

    If you or anyone believes that already, you need no convincing. And there might be teachings you don't understand, but how can you disagree with a teaching if you know that the Church is of God and her teachings protected by God? That's the part I don't get, but you are so right about prayer! Obedience, faith seeking understanding.

  42. "do you feel that the Catholic Church is power-hungry to the point where it overrides human nature of wanting to be popular or wanting to take the (natural) path of least resistance? "

    " I am sort of impressed that you know that the Catholic Church will not change. For the wrong reason of course, but at least you know the truth of it"

    Is the "wrong reason" you're referring to the idea that the Catholic church is "power-hungry"?

    If so I think this time you are not understanding my point! First of all, I've been on your blog for four years so how could I not understand that Catholic doctrine (to devout Catholics) is unchangeable. I am not saying thatI believe it's true--from what I know I believe very little of it and certainly not that Catholic doctrine comes from God. But the point is that's what Catholics believe.

    And so not changing doctrine, as I see it, is not about being power hungry. It's about not taking away the thing that gives your lives meaning--The Church. I think it would be incredibly cruel for a Pope to start changing besides the point that by definition he can't.

    It is tricky to discuss this because Catholicism is self-referential--as in "the Catholic doctrine is infallible because Catholic doctrine says so."

    It surprises me that you say the idea of Papal infallibility didn't come around until the 1900s. If so, you can't claim that doctrine hasn't changed in 2000 years. Because isn't Papal infallibility a central tenet of Catholic doctrine?

  43. I don't know all the reasons why I have my doubts on some of the teachings - most I agree with and accept fully. I'm sure how I was raised comes into it somewhat but I don't think that's all of it.

    Better to admit it, pray and study more intensely. If I blindly accept something that I'm unsure of, it wouldn't be sincere but lying to myself. It isn't hard being obedient where my doubts lie.

    Intense praying and studying about my doubts has brought me closer to the Church. That could be why the doubt is there. I'll keep at it.

    1. LizaMoore, Yes, keep at it! And remember, it's not "blindly accepting" if you believe in the authority that instructs you. For example, if you heard directly from Christ that a certain sin was wrong, you would believe him, even if you didn't fully understand. That is the same thing with the Church. If you believe her to be what she claims to be, you will not be "lying to yourself" when you accept her authority on things you don't understand.

      Just like children of good parents aren't "lying to themselves" when they accept that they must do A, B or C even when they don't understand why, but are told by the parents they love and trust. Later, when they are more seasoned, they look back and understand.

      Anyway, you are on the right track and your heart is open!

  44. Johanne,

    Quick question, how can Catholic beliefs/doctrine be true for Catholics but not true for others? It's genuinely fascinating to me how someone can come to an understanding of the Catholic faith, yet think of it as false. Do you think it is possible for Catholicism to be true for everyone as well as being objectively true regardless of whether people believe it or not? Thanks! :)

  45. See, this is where I wish that we could have this conversation over coffee because we are completely missing each other here.

    Of course faithful Catholics know and believe that the Catholic Church cannot change truth. But that's not the point of this piece. From a secular perspective, the church is merely a human institution. So what if there is a "rule" that they human institution can't change teaching? If it's merely a human institution, then in 2,000 thousand years, some week or evil or even mentally ill leader would break the rules. That's just human nature. Give me one other institution which even begins to compare with this 2,000 year record of every unique and diverse leader saying the same thing? And you are assuming that all the Popes actually were totally faithful and saintly. At least you must think that because you think they're all perfectly obedient and would never go against the church teaching, and yet we know that many popes were actually quite evil. How do you account for the fact that even day, even the ones who had preached heresy as bishops up until the point of being elected pope, suddenly stopped being who they had always been before, and taught the truth? I'd love to tell you the one story about the pope who was a heretic and promised to the Empress that once he inserted himself in the papacy he would start teaching the popular heresy that many bishops already were teaching. When he was anti-Pope he actually did teach that heresy, but the real Pope was still in prison. When the anti-Pope actually did become the real Pope when the previous Pope died, he suddenly refused to preach the heresy that he and the Empress had agreed to. They're all sorts of amazing stories but the point is, even the evil Popes ended up not changing doctrine.

    Every secular or dissenting person I've ever talk to assumes that the pope can change teaching whenever he wants to. But you are saying that he can change teaching (because it's a human institution only) but he won't? Even through millennia? If that's what you're saying then what would be the reason other than... I don't know? Because he's faithful? No, many popes were evil and I'm faithful to Christ. That he is power-hungry? Well, it was every pope a power-hungry scoundrel? And they would be a lot more power if they said things that more people agreed with wouldn't they? I'm trying to get at what a *secular person* or non-Catholic would think the motive is for each Pope over two millennia to preserve Catholic doctrine. And how this would this uniformity ever actually happen in merely human terms? Can you give me any sort of parallel in any other organization with hierarchical leadership? Especially one that spans millennia.

    And at some point I'd still love to talk about truth and how you arrive at that. What is the source of truth? How can we know truth? That's at the crux of everything and that is the conversation between Jesus and Pilate.

    Anyway, I hope I'm being clear but maybe not. This post was not about what the laity or the faithful think, it's about how this could possibly be the case if the church is not of God, not founded by God. I'm interested to know how that could be.

    I totally get that you understand that we Catholics believe that the Church is founded by God and does not teach error in doctrine. That's very basic, and I'm glad that you have gotten that from reading this blog. But that doesn't have anything to do with my question.

    And no, I didn't say that the idea of people infallibility did not come around until recently, I said it was not officially defined until recently. It's similar to how the church *always* believed in the immaculate conception of Mary in her mother Anne's womb, but did not officially define that teaching until recent centuries. Usually something is officially defined when there is a popular heresy arising, or a specific reason in history to emphasize the teaching.

    1. *papal infallibility not people infallibility ha ha

    2. **Many popes were evil and unfaithful to Christ.

      Oh I hate voice texting or voice writing or whatever this is. This machine can never understand me and I really just need to give it up ha ha! I sound completely illiterate and I should never attempt this except when I'm at home on my computer. Please forgive me because what you read was a complete mess thanks to misinterpretation by this stupid machine. I love clarity so I'm frustrated by how my comments are ending up! Anyway, I'm on a plane most of tomorrow and I will try to straighten things out when I get home ha ha.

  46. It is tricky to discuss this because Catholicism is self-referential--as in "the Catholic doctrine is infallible because Catholic doctrine says so."

    No not at all. That is not how we arrive at the conclusion. We look at the history and know that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead. We also look at the history and we see that he established a church to teach in his name. If Jesus rose from the dead than he is God. If he is God then we can trust the church he founded. It's very linear, it's not circular at all. It starts with history and it starts with the resurrection.

    And oh my gosh I really hate this phone because I can't scroll back up easily and look at what you guys wrote and what I'm writing, and I can't wait to get back to my regular computer. Bear with me.

  47. Margo
    No, I don't think Catholic beliefs are objectively true but I understand they are unquestionably true to Catholics.

    Leila-- I have answered your questions several times but I think you're right that we're talking past each other, because I don't have any response that I haven't already stated. Thanks.

  48. Johanne, how can the beliefs possibly be true to Catholics but not objectively true? Either Jesus Christ is the one true God or He's not, right? What other option is there?

  49. Johanne,

    So my interpretation of what you said is that either a) every single pope for 2000 years was unbelievably faithful and docile to the church out of the goodness of his heart and belief or b) every single pope for 2000 years was power-hungry and would do anything to make sure that the power of the church was manifest in complete consistency and continuity.

    If there is another option please tell me. I am open to hearing what you are saying that I am missing. What is the third option? But those two options above do not comport with human nature and real life at all. If you can show me where anything like it has ever happened, I'm listening. I don't censor you. You can make your case by giving a third option, if I have misunderstood you.

  50. Margo-
    Johanne, how can the beliefs possibly be true to Catholics but not objectively true?

    Very simple. human beings believe all sorts of things that they are certain are true that other people don't believe at all. I'm sure there are many things I firmly believe and experience as true that would be false to you. Either Jesus is or isn't the one true God. I firmly believe he isn't but I can't know for absolute certainty that he's not. No one can. The reasoning that Leila and many other people describe (which are different--people come to the conclusion that Jesus is God by different routes) for that conclusion make no sense to me. Just because you, or Catholics generally believe something fervently doesn't mean it's true.

  51. leila
    it's too late to answer you coherently!

  52. Either Jesus is or isn't the one true God. I firmly believe he isn't but I can't know for absolute certainty that he's not. No one can.
    The reasoning that Leila and many other people describe (which are different--people come to the conclusion that Jesus is God by different routes) for that conclusion make no sense to me. Just because you, or Catholics generally believe something fervently doesn't mean it's true.

    No one here has ever said that ‘fervent belief’ is what makes our beliefs true.
    For the love of everything intellectual, I hope that lurkers understand that Catholics don’t close our eyes and make a wish that our beliefs are true. We use our brains and a priori and a posterori reasoning. The same avenues of thought everyone should (and does) use, Johanne.

    So your assertions here beg a few questions:
    What kind of reasoning do you use to say Christ is not truly God?
    What criteria do you look at? And how can you be so firm that he’s not God when you just said you “can’t know for certainty that he’s not”.

    How can you give us a certitude of response when you are not certain in your own conclusion? Makes no sense.

    You talk about “routes” people take, like you just hand-wave those away. Then you should understand those routes (intellectually) and not just shrug at that, because, truthfully, you take the same exact routes—everyone does. Reason is the gauge. We use it or we don’t.

    What historical, logical, or theological records/arguments do you look at?
    What do you put on the table (intellectually) to consider?
    What do you contrast or compare?
    How do you reason?
    Do you trust what you’re looking at?
    Do you fill the holes of what you don’t know with knowledge or do you hand-wave our beliefs because you think beliefs are merely strong wishes based on no evidence?
    Don’t you see any logical holes in the path itself?

  53. Thank you nubby! Yes I hope she will answer your questions.

    Johanne, just to clarify one thing you said. I actually never said that everybody takes different routes to know that Jesus Christ is God. I have said many times that God, meaning the Father, calls each of us according to a voice that we can hear. Absolutely. He is drawing you to himself, he is drawing everyone on the planet to himself and they can either reject his call or accept it. Some people hear him through truth predominately, some through beauty predominately, some through goodness predominately, Etc. eventually the route will lead them to know Jesus Christ, either in this world or the next. But it's so much better to know the fullness of truth that was left for us here on earth.

    But as for how we come to know specifically that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity incarnate, i.e. God: Yes, I guess you could say that some people get a direct revelation that Jesus Christ is God, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus. But people also conclude that Jesus is God by an understanding that the resurrection actually took place. If Christ did not rise, then he is not God. To Nubby's questions, what sort of investigation have you done to see if the claims of the resurrection are true? Or do you dismiss them out of hand because they seem too impossible?

    Forgive me if my comment is not coherent ha ha because for me it's too early! I've got to get to mass here in beautiful Annapolis at the Naval Academy and then catch a plane!

    Oh my gosh the United States Naval Academy… I'm just blown away by its beauty and I have so much respect for everyone here. Everyone should take a trip here and walk the grounds and take a tour.

  54. This perpetuates control because it creates a relationship where the church diagnoses a non existent problem, but then turns around and says we have the cure as long you follow exactly what we say.

    Your assessment is incorrect.
    So is it a question of what’s being taught, or is it about the fact that something is taught at all? Is it the subject matter itself, or the fact that it’s being taught that makes it “mind control”?

    Because colleges teach all kinds of ideas, so if it’s the actual act of teaching itself that’s the “mind control” variable, then I could easily argue that colleges are also into “mind control”. (Leila actually has made some good points in various comment threads in the past underscoring the truth to this idea of “re-education” of college-aged kids.)

    And if it’s about the subject matter, do you label it “mind control” because it’s merely going against what you believe? Because I could argue the exact opposite. That it’s “mind control” when you teach things your way.

    We choose to conform to Church teachings based on intellectual understanding of the truths presented. It would only be “mind control” if we had no choice. So it’s not “mind control” at all.

  55. So, Unknown, how exactly do you explain converts like myself? I was raised Lutheran. I was never raised to believe that masturbation or even premarital sex was wrong. I wasn't raised to believe that abortion was wrong. I was raised to believe that using contraception was the responsible thing to do when you became sexually active.

    Despite this upbringing, I freely and voluntarily converted to the Catholic Church at age 22.

    So exactly how was I "brainwashed" by the Church? I'm really interested to hear your explanation.

  56. Can you demonstrate that masturbation is objectively harmful?

    Easily demonstrated when you hold it up to the base level logic of the Church which is natural law coupled to divine law, to begin with. A believer can and does see that this act harms his own soul because it goes against both types of those laws. Not too difficult for us to see how this is a sin once we understand that.

    If our "sex organs are designed to complement each other" then why would God make us capable of masturbating? Surely he could have made us capable of feeling sexual pleasure in a context that he defined couldn't he?

    We don’t live life equating every human urge or human capability to automatic goodness. The fact that we feel all kinds of impulses and we are capable of acting on those doesn’t mean we’re free from exerting any self-control.

    That’s just like saying, “Why am I capable of anger? Why am I capable of punching someone? Hmm. God made me this way with these urges to punch, so obviously, He wants me to punch. So I will punch at will because I was made this way, and this urge is good and beneficial.”

    Or, “Why am I capable of eating a six-layer dark chocolate cake? Surely, God made me this way, so I will eat the cake every time I get the urge, because this urge is good and holy, and it hurts no one but me to eat this entire cake.”

    Extrapolate the logic and the law together and there’s your answer.

    We are not animals operating without reason. We have the capacity for higher reason. This gauge gives us higher understanding so that we can act according to our higher nature—not merely according to base animal instinct like sexual urges, violence, or eating.

    People are capable of all kinds of actions, does that automatically mean they’re good things to do, and should be acted upon, simply because they exist? Unhealthy attractions should be acted upon? Unhealthy habits are okay because they’re driven by urges? No reasoning is involved in this free-pass thinking.

  57. Teaching children what is right and wrong has little to do with teaching them to believe in a system where what you actually do doesn't matter as long as you are repentant.

    What does this even mean? And what does this have to do with the working reality that actions do in fact matter, even when we are repentant?

    The whole point of repentance is to turn from vice to virtue. It’s not about acting like what we do does not matter. You think Catholics believe that because we can confess that we can be careless?? How do you tie that together with the whole idea of “dying to self” which is the central teaching of following Christ? This is not even accurate analysis.

    Sexuality is innate to people and religion is not.

    False. People are naturally drawn to the mystery of life – hence the bigger questions: Why am I here? Was I created for something special or am I forever just a wandering pack of atoms? What does our existence mean? Am I really part of a bigger picture that I don’t yet understand?

    “Religion” or religious questions are very innate in all of us. Those questions have been put forth by every race and creed since the dawn of man. It’s also the entire intuitive foundation for certain branches of philosophical thought.

    The fact that people are intellectually lazy or religiously ignorant doesn’t mean religion is not intuitive or “innate” in the human heart.


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