In my part one, I mentioned that the firestorm of debate that the HHS Mandate has created encouraged a number of conversations with people who are not Catholic or Christian…with atheists, with Satanists, with agnostics…with those who outright hate organized religion and those who are just suspicious of it.
Some of those conversations have been openly hostile, others have been vaguely mocking, and a few have been even curious, but there’s one thing they all have in common. They all have made (faulty) assumptions about why I am a Catholic.
So, I’m here to set the record straight…
You’re Only Catholic Because You’re Afraid You’re Going to Hell
This is a pretty common argument from those who reject religion outright. Here is one example from a discussion with an old college coworker (who at least at that time was a self-professed Satanist) on his blog:
The Catholic Church holds itself as the moral standard bearer for the world because it gains its authority from the divine. These rules are not up for a vote or appeal. If its rules are not followed, the sinner is punished in the afterlife. This is coercion not unlike someone giving orders at gunpoint. It negates the possibility of free will.
Or this comment on one of my Facebook posts by a really close friend. We usually avoid religious discussions, and though he likes to poke fun and provoke me, it’s all in respect and love (I hope).
Well I was going to get a vasectomy but knowing the Church is against it and that Jesus won’t let me into the kingdom of heaven if I do, I’m just going to abstain going forward!
It’s a pretty common argument that assumes that the reason I follow the Church’s teachings or even believe at all is based on my fear of eternal consequences if I don’t.
Just like the “You’re Only Catholic Because You Were Raised That Way” argument, this assumption has some basis in truth, but is missing a much bigger picture. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s an analogy that explains that bigger picture…