Sometimes I talk to people in the Christian blogosphere, and read what they have to say, and then I wonder about my own life. How do these people manage to be so…Christian?
Like, many are married. For the Catholics and some Protestants, how on Earth do they ever find anybody who is willing to completely forgo contraception? I haven’t met somebody like that yet, and I went to Catholic School. Or met anybody who truly doesn’t want sex before marriage, for that matter. I’m a real weirdo for believing either of these things.
Plus, there is pressure from my family – they’re generally nominal Catholics; I’d frankly be afraid of telling them I don’t want to use contraception. I would be judged for this. Not shunned; my family is very loving and would never do that. But they certainly would disapprove. People in my own nuclear family have called me a “radical” and “extremist” because of my views on right to life issues, contraception, and Catholicism in general, let alone other people. In College I’m genuinely afraid to speak my mind lest I be labeled a bigot.
Then, there are practical issues. Not using contraception, and using NFP properly, WILL mean a large family. I have no issue with that, but I don’t see where I’ll find a woman that would still be okay to have sex and forgo contraception after the fourth or fifth kid. And it’s not totally unreasonable – raising a family is hard work.
Then there’s reconciliation and Mass. As a college kid who still isn’t driving (there’s a legitimate reason for this) and wouldn’t have a car if he could, I’m reliant on my family for this. Mass is normally fine – except for non-Sunday Holy Days of Obligation. Then forget it. Or really Holiday Masses period. Too long.
But reconciliation – You’re kidding right? If I asked I’d be interrogated (because it must have meant I’ve done something REALLY BAD) and if I couldn’t/didn’t give a reason short of “I stabbed a man in Reno just to watch him die” (I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture), then I’m ridiculous for asking and I’m not going. So when I DO go to Mass I can’t take Communion, something else that’s awkward. My issue is that I don’t take Communion because there are (probably) Mortal Sins on my soul. But if I say that I’ll be asked what they are. Try telling your Mom “masturbation” and see what happens, and sometimes I don’t WANT my family to know my sins. Besides the extreme awkwardness, they’ll also find it weird that I even think that’s a sin. It’s a counter-intuitive notion.
I also live in a world, now that I’m in College, where traditional Catholics are Bigoted People – Traditional Christians period, really. Don’t agree with gay marriage? Bigot. Believe in traditional sexual morality defined in the Pauline Epistles? Sexist. Defend the Church in the face of the sex abuse scandal? What the Hell is WRONG with you?
If I’m seen praying the Rosary, I’m “ultra-religious” which is codeword for extremist. If I start to make an argument and bring up God or love during the argument things either get really awkward or I’m shouted down immediately.
So I don’t understand the world where a lot of these bloggers come from. I mean, avoid miniskirts? Really? I will NEVER find even a girlfriend if that’s a qualifier. Veils in Church for women? Where do these people LIVE? That’s not happening.
In my world, and the world of my friends, some of whom also try to be faithful Catholics, things are never as simple as “Follow these teachings!”. Well yes, okay, but…besides many being difficult in the first place, we live in a culture actively trying to discourage us from practicing our belief system. So when I talk to Christian bloggers and the advice I get is, say, “Go to Confession!” (looking at you, Fr. Z) or “Look for a good Christian wife,” it gets kind of discouraging. If only it were that easy.
I mean, I know I’m not in the Middle East or Africa. The Church is still in relatively great shape here, as are my religious liberties. But what I just wrote holds true regardless.
I could never really do it, and I don’t even think it’s really the right thing to do, but sometimes I wonder how good the Amish really have it. There’s something to be said for leaving the rest of the world behind to live with like-minded people doing only what you think is right. Christians should be willing to leave the world behind to follow Christ anyway. I suppose my biggest concerns with the Amish are that I disagree that it’s inherently sinful to use technology and I think an emphasis should be placed on evangelism, which means trying to engage with the rest of the world. Yet sometimes, I still wonder…