Considering Catholicism...but I have questions

Hello all-

I grew up in a very conservative Protestant church, and am currently considering joining an Episcopal church. BUT, I feel, and always have, pulled toward the Catholic church.

I have some questions/stumbling blocks to pursuing this, however. I feel very strongly that it would be wrong of my husband and I to have more children given our financial situation, and so we use contraception. I understand the CC is against this, and I can’t believe it is a “sin” to take good care of the children we have, rather than having more than we can care for. Also, I do have more “liberal” social positions (on gay rights, for example), that are in direct contradiction to CC teachings. I can’t see joining a church and not fully embracing its teachings, so I haven’t gone any further in terms of study or RCIA, for example.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? I do feel like I am being guided toward the CC, but I also feel strongly about certain issues and can’t seem to make the two come together.

Thanks,
Angela

Have you looked into NFP?

Also, I do have more “liberal” social positions (on gay rights, for example), that are in direct contradiction to CC teachings. I can’t see joining a church and not fully embracing its teachings, so I haven’t gone any further in terms of study or RCIA, for example.

WHat is it that you don’t agree with in terms of gay rights? Is it gay marriage?

Can anyone point me in the right direction? I do feel like I am being guided toward the CC, but I also feel strongly about certain issues and can’t seem to make the two come together.

Thanks,
Angela

Catholic Answers has some good tracts. You can go on the main page and do a search. Here one that I found.

catholic.com/thisrock/2004/0407sbs.asp

God bless,
Ut

Hi Angela,

When I think about people who consider the Catholic Church but question whether they will “fit in,” I am reminded of an old episode of the TV Show “Dragnet.” Joe Friday is questioning a Catholic priest about the theft of a Statute of the Infant Jesus from a church. The church was left unlocked. Friday asks, “You mean to tell me the Church is left open for any thieves to enter?” The priest responds, “especially thieves, Mr. Friday.”

And so it is, and so it should be. All are welcome.

Please do not let your personal beliefs color your view of whether you wish to become a member of the Catholic Church. I share your feelings with respect to some social issues…but, as I try to grow closer to Christ each day, I have sensed my feelings on these positions changing over time, and coming closer to the Church’s position, as I come to understand the Church’s position and the reasons therefore…and so it is, I suspect, with others. If the Church was only open to those who march in lockstep with 100% of Catholic teachings all the time, churches would be quiet places indeed.

BTW, the Dragnet episode was the first “Christmas” TV episode aired. In the end, after all police efforts fail, the statue is returned to the Church by a little boy. He prayed for a red wagon for Christmas, and he promised the Baby Jesus the first ride in it if he got one. It’s classic…especially this time of the year.

Ah, yes, remember that one. :thumbsup:

We don’t have any problems with birth control. We just ask that you practice birth control in a way that is consistant with God’s plan. Contraception takes God out of the picture. Natural Family Planning is just as effective as contraception, but doesn’t push God out of the decision. Plus you don’t have to deal with the undesireable side effects of the pill. Acne, weight gain, etc.

It is important to fully understand why the Church teaches what it does. Most of the time people are afraid of Catholics because they have the wrong ideas about what the Church really teaches. Heck, many Catholics don’t know what the Church really teaches. Most people think that Catholics think gay people are going to hell. That’s not what we teach at all.

Welcome!

I can understand your concern with having more children. My wife and I have four kids (ages 7-1) and we certainly feel that we cannot support more. We have a small three bedroom house that is just big enough for everyone. We also use the Creighton Method of Natural Family Planning (NFP).

The crux of the Catholic teaching on not using contraception is based on being open to life. Everytime you and your spouse come together, the that act needs to both unitive and procreative. If you remove the procreative aspect from the marital act, you are excluding God as well. You are telling the giver of life that you are not interested in His gift.

The sacrifice that you and your spouse make is that you cannot be together whenever you want. You need to track and be aware of where you are in your fertility cycle so you can be sure that you avoid pregnancy during the times you are most likely to conceive.

End the end, it all comes down to trust in Christ to help you through whatever He sends you. He may help you through another pregnancy, or He may be helping you through a night were you and your spouse really really want to make love, but you must abstain. I can tell you that my marriage is much stronger now that we use NFP. I know where my
wife is in her cycle and I can adjust my behavior accordingly. I always know when she has PMS, so I can be gentler. I know when she is not fertile, so I can plan our dates around that time. And when she is fertile, we do a lot of cuddling and making out.
It’s like a high school date. When she is done with her peak days (fertile days), we send the kids to bed early.

I hope this helps!

I would suggest reading the book “Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West, as it will answer both of your concerns :slight_smile:

Also, maybe do some research into the history of the Catholic Church and the Episcopal church. When they started, who started them, how their beliefs differ.

I know I am probably biased on this, but I do have scripture to back it up: The Catholics Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Jesus told Peter that He would build His church upon him. Jesus also said the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. Since Jesus is not a liar, it follows that since the time of Peter and with every Pope that has followed, the Catholic Church is the true Church that Jesus founded.

I have sensed my feelings on these positions changing over time, and coming closer to the Church’s position, as I come to understand the Church’s position and the reasons therefore…and so it is, I suspect, with others. If the Church was only open to those who march in lockstep with 100% of Catholic teachings all the time, churches would be quiet places indeed.

A wise statement. I know of very few Catholics who do not have trouble with accepting some teaching or other, but do not leave. I have trouble with teaching regarding homosexuality. I wonder how many people here know gay couples well.

I worked with a fellow for many years and he became a good friend. After he retired we were visiting and he told me he was gay. When I acted surprised, I was, he said he thought I knew all along. He told me that he has a partner of many years. Both he and his partner are churchgoing Catholics and deeply troubled by the Church’s position. My wife and I have had the 2 over for picnics and the question of sexuality never comes up.
We just have a pleasant visit. I suppose there would be some who would condemn my wife and me for entertaining them.

Jesus as described by the bible was a man who more then anything else preached that human compassion always trumps everything else, that the laws god handed down were to foster compassion, and if you have to break them to further compassion then you go ahead and do that. Refusing to save a life so as not to break sabbath is evil. He showed nothing but the highest scorn, contempt, and rage at those who taught otherwise, and if he were here today I’m sure his number one target would be the catholic church. They continue to lie to people in Africa, telling them that condoms make contracting AIDS easier, because they think the silly rules they made up are more important then stopping a deadly plague. In discussions I’ve had with them on this topic they do not even deny it. They claim that they are fighting a spiritual war and that it is more important than mortal life on this earth.

If someone believes that, there’s not much else I can say to them, I can’t change someone’s values, but what I can do is point out this reality to other people. Fortunately, most people are decent human beings and can see these kinds of actions by the church for the evil that it is. Lying to people in such a way that it causes their death is murder.

Evidence, please.

Hello. Good luck to you as you make your decision…!

I’m sympathetic to your choice, because it sounds similar to the one that I (and my wife) went thru, but the other way around. We were both brought up Catholic, married and had the kids baptized in the church, but have since left.

I found the following item at a website called www.beliefnet.com. This site is a non-denominational site with all kinds of info on various religions. It’s my first stop when looking for something on a religion that I’m not familiar with. Again, it’s not sponsored by any religious group.

They have a multiple-choice test that you can take, asking twenty or so questions about your beliefs. After you answer, they match your answers with beliefs of the major religions and denominations, for example “1. Roman Catholic 97%, 2. Reform Judaism 84%, etc.”. I found it to be a thought-provoking test. It’s also a nice thing to suggest to friends/ family to bring up the subject for discussion.

link to the test:

beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Quizzes/BeliefOMatic.aspx

… I know that this is established in the Cathechism, but remember, Jesus didn’t write that book!

Lying to people?

i suppose you believe that God has no moral values.
are you saying that Jesus would approve of homosexuals getting married? where did you get that idea?

this is not about good descent human beings, being good is no excuse for doing whatever we want without any restrains.

how can you ever blame the CC for the evil of AIDS, are you nuts?
blame in your own sinfull ways of advocating for free sex, divorce and so forth, abortion, and same sex relationships. how is condom resolve the problem of sins against God?

if people listen to the Church, these would not be happened.

do you really believe that God is pleased with same sex marriage, free sex, abortion and every evil that man is advocating?

Mersenne, you are are completely wrong, about essentially everything on your post.

“Jesus as described by the bible was a man who more then anything else preached that human compassion always trumps everything else, that the laws god handed down were to foster compassion, and if you have to break them to further compassion then you go ahead and do that.”
–Chapter & verse? HUMAN compassion does not trump everything else. Perhaps if you speak about GOD’s compassion trumping all else, that may be defensible. Maybe. Maybe not. Human compassion? No. You will need to support your statement.

"*f he were here today I’m sure his number one target would be the catholic church.
–You’re just a hater, and factually wrong, too. The Catholic Church is the #1 institution, worldwide, vis-a-vis providing healthcare, social justice, rights for the downtrodden, etc. Should Catholic hospitals shut down in this country, soo would likely the healthcare system. The Catholic Church has always – despite scorn, mockery, and hate – stood up for the rights of the elderly, the unborn, the imprisoned, the condemned, and literally all those without a voice. Your statement is foolish, and false.

“In discussions I’ve had with them on this topic they do not even deny it.”
–Who are “them?” Please provide names, contact data, etc., so we may verify your (likely false) statements.

“They claim that they are fighting a spiritual war and that it is more important than mortal life on this earth.”
–If so, “they” are right.*

Hi Angela,

If you’re worried about finances, there’s always NFP. Many Catholics who are in your situation use it. It doesn’t have to be contraception…

the Catholic Church teaches that we should be open to life. Just as God created the world out of love, a new human being is created from the love of two people who cooperate in God’s plan. Using contraception is essentially saying to God: “we want to have sex but we refuse any potential consequences, like a new life.” Even if the couple thinks they have a good reason for doing this, it’s still separating sex from one of its primary functions. NFP is different because in that case, a child can’t be conceived in the first place.

I believe that every child is a gift from God, who He planned before creation. It is not up to us to interfere in His plan, which contraception essentially does.

As for gay rights, the Catholic Church doesn’t teach that it’s a sin to be homosexual… but that homosexual behavior is sinful because it is not how God planned and so gay people should live celibate lives. I’m sure that is difficult and big cross for people to carry, but God rewards it, I believe… and the Church teaches that single heterosexual people should also be celibate, and so do people in religious orders :slight_smile:

in the Bible, homosexuality is not talked about in a positive way… the Catholic Church stays closer to the Bible in this area than many “liberal” churches, but at the same time it has a more charitable approach than some conservative Protestant churches that say even BEING gay is a sin. Homosexual people are welcome at the Catholic Church and can be full members of a parish, and are not any “lesser” or worse as Christians. And they are not any less loved by God.

Many “liberal” churches say they’re all about love and compassion, but love without truth is incomplete… we need both. Our charity needs to be based on truth and a recognition of what sin is.

I wanted to also let you know that it’s alright to join RCIA just to learn more, without yet knowing if you want to be Catholic. There’s no pressure to convert, in the end.

God bless

telling them that condoms make contracting AIDS easier, because they think the silly rules they made up are more important then stopping a deadly plague.

Raise your hand if you would have sex with your AIDS infected spouse because he said he would use a condom!

A non Catholic Harvard scholar who has studied the spread of AIDS stated that he would have to agree with the Pope with regard to Africa. I could probably find the source if needed. The problem in Africa is men sleeping with a lot of women and the answer is monogamy.

I think you’ll find, if your exegetical analysis is honest, that the Jesus of the Bible was primarily concerned with holiness.

Lest we fall into the error of reducing Christ to little more than an ancient Palestinian social activist, we would do well to remember that it was He who made statements that create no small difficulty in such a myopic context:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine” - Matthew 7:6

“Let the dead bury their dead; but you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” - Luke 9:60

“The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have Me.” - Matthew 26.11
**
**

Just to try to “re-rail” this discussion for a moment. Some understanding and belief of the Church’s teachings is a gift as a result of following Christ if he is leading you toward the Church.

What it comes down to is, either the Church is what she says she is, or not. The Church says she is a body that was founded by Christ and is led by the Holy Spirit to keep from defnintively teaching error in faith and morals. If this is correct and you disagree with the teachings of the Church, you are not arguing with the Church, but with the Holy Spirit. As a result of the grace received from the sacraments, you may come to see that the Church is correct. In any case, your obedience to them will help you to grow in virtue.

If the Church is not what she says she is, I can’t see any reason for joining. (There may be reasons, but I don’t know them.)

The Catholic Church is not like a Protestant denomination. I attended a wide variety of Protestant churches for more than a decade. When you are looking for a Protestant church to join, you look to see how well it suits you. Do you agree with its public teachings? Do the sermons help you to grow in your relationship woth God? Does it have the kind of worship service or liturgy that you are comfortable with? Do the members of the church seem like people with whom you would like to fit in? I am not condemning choosing this way. I did it myself and it seems to me the best way of choosing a Protestant denomination.

However, if you believe that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ and “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it,” then you have to take the Church as she is, and to some extent consider whether you will be able to make yourself suit her. If you want to increase in holiness (and be a good and faithful Catholic), you will have to try to believe as she teaches (although you don’t have to succeed since that isn’t entirely in your conscious control). And you will have to act as if you believe. So for example, you don’t have to believe that homosexual behavior is wrong, but you have to learn why the Church says it is wrong and try to accept it on faith. And you can’t, e.g., vote in favor of “gay marriage.”

But the thing is, that most Protestants, and quite a few Catholics as well, don’t know what the Church actually teaches. I’d suggest getting a Catechism and reading a little bit at a time, all the way through. You’ll probably find quite a few surprises. You definitely do NOT have to believe all that you think the Church teaches when you start learning about the Church. Partly because as I said before, some of that may come through the grace of the sacraments later, and partly because you are probably to some extent misinformed about what the teachings are.

But if you think the Church might be what she says she is, find out what the teachings really are, and pray to find out what is really true, e.g., “Jesus, I don’t feel that contraception is wrong. Please lead me to understand the truth about it, whatever that may be.”

God bless you on your journey!

–Jen

Jen,

Your reply is spot on. We are all on a different points on our journey. I am part of an RCIA team and have copied your reply for reference. Thank you.

Wow.

I really appreciate all of your answers. I am going to give this some serious thought. Jen, I appreciate your response in particular.

Tomorrow I’m going to go to my local parish and ask about RCIA classes and see where that leads me.

Thank you all for your guidance…

Angela

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.