It’s not hard to see why someone would think asking the Catholic Church about sexual morality is like asking Joseph Stalin for help with a summer camp. The appalling sins of priests who used their position to torment vulnerable children are exceeded only by the failure of bishops for decades to purge the church of this evil.
It doesn’t take an atheist to think the church is hypocritical in these matters. Has hypocrisy cost the Catholic Church all credibility when it comes to matters of sexual purity? Is it smart to ignore the Catholic teaching on sex?
My goal in the next few paragraphs is to make a case for listening to Catholic teaching on sex. If you are considering a conversion to Jesus as a Catholic, but the sex scandal makes you wonder, then please consider the following.
Jesus has two things to say about hypocrites – one might surprise you
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes a hypocrite who tries to give instructions to other people. He pictures the hypocrite as having a 2 x 4 piece of lumber sticking out his eye, yet he is trying to pull a splinter out of someone else’s eye. This guy can’t see a thing, but that doesn’t stop him from undertaking the painfully sensitive task of poking around in somebody else’s eye.
Jesus draws the obvious conclusion about the hypocrite – he should get rid of the 2 x 4 before he tries to correct someone else. This is big stuff to anyone who is a Christian because Jesus is the unquestioned head of the church – and he seems to believe a hypocrite has no standing to correct someone else.
Maybe that doesn’t look so good for the Catholic Church talking about sex these days…
Yet, just like “real life”, it’s not so simple. Days before he was killed, Jesus again blasts hypocritical leaders who “sit in the seat of Moses” and teach people what to do, yet they break the commands themselves. He tells people to avoid imitating these hypocrites, yet at the same time he tells the people to obey what these leaders teach. He makes a distinction between what those hypocrites taught and whether their personal lives should be an example of how to live.
So it looks like even a hypocrite could teach truthfully.
Three LITTLE reasons to accept the Catholic Church’s teaching on sex
- The validity of the Catholic teaching on sex does not depend on some jerk priests in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The teaching on sex is old, some of it thousands of years old since it goes back to the Ten Commandments. That there were men willing to hide behind Catholic vestments in order to prey on children doesn’t mean what they taught is incorrect. It just means they are among the greatest sinners ever.
- It is not the church that is a hypocrite. It’s the priests and bishops who passed themselves off as something they weren’t even trying to be, namely sincere followers and imitators of Jesus.
- The issue of hypocrites and criminals in organizations is an old one. It’s heart-breaking (it really is) when a worthy institution like the United Way or the United Nations or the US government turns out to have harbored some miscreant. It offends justice and makes it harder to accomplish the good the institution pursues. But it doesn’t mean the United Way is no good – it means someone who worked for them was no good. The same is true for the Catholic Church.
One BIG reason to accept the Catholic Church’s teaching on sex
The big reason is Jesus. Jesus is everything.
There are excellent, even compelling reasons to believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Everything depends on this. A guy who gets up out of his grave and has a quality of existence never before seen – that guy demands to be paid attention to! He especially demands attention when he makes the claim he can give you the same life he has and give you that life in such a way we dare to call it eternal.
Jesus left a church which he intends to use to give you that life. The fullest embodiment of that church is the Catholic Church. Not every gift God gives us is given through the church. But because it is his primary purpose that we love other people and serve them, especially other Christians, then it follows that most of his gifts are either given through the church or in the context of the church.
Don’t drop Jesus because of the Church
With all its failings, some of them disasters, the Catholic Church has been able to lead souls to God for 2,000 years. Her teaching and sacraments offer the chance to touch a world beyond our imagining and to touch that world now. And then we are given to live in that world for all eternity after we leave this one. To live forever in a world of permanence and perfection where we will be enabled to fulfill every wholesome dream of humanity.
Over a billion people believe this promise of God as Catholics. They are not fools. They live lives of hope and faith and love with the supernatural help of God. Please consider the gifts God gives through his church. And please consider what she teaches regarding sex. Before you reject the Catholic Church because of sinful priests, please consider the points I try to make in this little summary of why I converted to Catholicism.
Or go to Dave Armstrong’s massive website of Catholic evidences. This is Armstrong’s home page. Or here’s a place in his website where you can pick from several subjects in favor of the Church.
Or go to this site where thousands of questions about the Catholic Church are answered.