This one was another difficult post for me to phrase, but it is a genuine question of mine, especially in recent weeks due to events in my life and hearing Catholics (including one of my daughters who I have posted about here) speaking about.
As my religion box denotes, I am a deist (Succinctly I believe there is one God, who may or may not have an interest in humanity but I am very skeptical of any organized religion that claims to a unique revelation, purely because so many have and the reasons to back it up, especially in the cases of dubious figures like Joseph Smith are shady at best).
That said, if there was one revelation I would be most inclined to acknowledge as genuine it is that proposed by Christianity. Rather unlike several other prophets I can find few sources (by few, I refer mostly to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas) to suggest that he was anything less a holy man (utterly mad several leading deists and atheists might argue, but admirable in his own way all the same). Likewise by virtue of it’s age and other factors such as it’s legacy of theological works over the ages if I was to pick a denomination that was most likely to be true to it’s claims it would likely be either the Catholic or Orthodox Church.
That said, over my time studying theology, and during my marriage with a devout Catholic there has been one particular area of Catholicism that I have always struggled to find reasonable on any level; Catholic social teachings on several matters.
I’ll use contraception as an arbitrary example; long story short Catholics are not to use artifical contraception because it denies the unative aspect of intercourse/it places a block between man and wife and prevents full giving/maxes sex just all about the pleasure…Pick whichever party line suits you prefer, I’m sure we all know them by now.
It’s all made to sound all so quaint and romantic during pre-cana, but when push comes to shove it’s a really gruesome affair. After five children my body is a battered wreck, I can say quite confidently from personal experience there is nothing whatsoever glorious about perpetual pregnancy and that while NFP may work for some, the medical profession and my own experience proves otherwise (That’s right, I’m on the pill after complications after my last Cesarian and nothing short of a miracle is getting me off it).
On a larger scale too, countries which lack contraception (take Africa and the Philippines for instance where the Catholic Church has had a big hand in getting it banned in parts) are suffering from extremely high STD rates, overpopulation and famines brought on by overworking the land (in a world with modern medicine where most couples children survive to adulthood the land cannot provide enough food to sustain so many massive families). Take a look at the UK where they can’t even build houses fast enough to sustain the growing population.
It’s when I contemplate things like this I have to ask myself; if Catholic teaching is correct and true, why does it often appear unethical, unrealistic and on some occasions even destructive?
Don’t get me wrong, there are issues where I agree with it, I’m an active pro-life campaigner (albit I prefer to work with non-thiest groups on that matter) but on others such as Homosexuality, the role of women (not women priests) and political policy (it often seems nothing but a Catholic theocracy is acceptable) it seems to most outsiders like myself…Immoral,and in the case of the latter quite often tyrannical (I really can’t think of a softer way to put this).
I know I’m rambling, but I think my question can be summarized like this. If the Church is good, surely all of its policies should be good and recognizable for it, so why aren’t they? Several of them have little argument backing themt (by that I mean arguments that can’t be dismantled in three lines or less) short of “God/Pope XXXX said so” which for one who doesn’t believe in Papal Infallibility is little reassurance. A good idea tends to make sense, and people tend to pick up on it fast. Some of these ideas make so little sense, even Catholics don’t follow them (I read some figure that the number of Catholics who use artificial contraception was as high as 83%!)
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had was off an elderly Jewish lecturer; “If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true”. I can’t help but feel this whenever I read or hear any of the Church’s arguments (put forward so far) against contraception, for annulments or on several other topics. I’m sure some of you are converts, how have you reconciled this, if you’ve managed it?