Catholicism has the most rules and is the most difficult to follow.
Think about it...no artificial birth control, no sex before marriage,
no divorce, no abortions, no homosexual relationships, no meat on
Fridays...and let's not forget about all that Catholic guilt! Many
people who have left the Catholic Church claim that they did so
because they were sick of feeling guilty all the time and of being
repressed and held back by all these outdated rules. These people
either join different Christian churches, abandon religion altogether,
or else try to change the Catholic Church and the laws of God to
conform to their own wills instead of God's will.
If you do not accept and live by all the teachings of the Catholic
Church, and you have no desire to learn more about the Catholic faith
and know exactly why She teaches what she so strictly upholds, then
your best option is to leave the Church. What, you say? That sounds so
harsh! The Catholic Church is so exclusive! Why can't we just gather
everyone under all one roof, regardless of all our little differences
of opinion about birth control and divorce and gay marriage? We all
worship the same God, right?
The people who do not agree or follow all the teachings of the Church
all have one thing in common: they think they know better than God.
They think they have God all figured out and that He will look the
other way if they decide to have an abortion, or get divorced, or
engage in a same-sex relationship. They think that the Church is an
outdated and corrupt institution that is overrun with old white men
who want to keep women pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen and who
hate gay people. They think that the Church is in dire need of massive
reform, that it needs to get with the times and catch up with the rest
of the world that is happily contracepting and making love to whomever
and whatever it pleases with no semblance of guilt whatsoever.
These people who reject the teachings of the Catholic Church but still
call themselves Catholic want the Church and Her leaders to re-write
the catechism and re-interpret Scripture to make their sins OK. They
want priests and bishops and the pope to come out publicly and say
"God doesn't care if you have a divorce, if you masturbate and look at
pornography, if you cheat on your spouse, if you use condoms, if you
want to have sex with someone of the same gender. God just loves you
no matter what and God wants you to be happy."
This sounds tantalizing because, like all great lies, it has a grain
of truth in it. It is true that God loves us no matter what. No sin we
commit could ever change His love for us. God also wants us to be
happy. In fact, He gave Moses the 10 Commandments as a blueprint for
how to be happy on this earth so we can be supremely happy with Him in
Being Catholic is hard because it takes faith. It takes faith to
believe that following God's law, no matter how ridiculous or outdated
it seems in the light of our modern culture, will bring us a happiness
and peace far more profound than sin ever could. It takes faith to
believe that what God has forbidden, He has forbidden for a very good
reason, and not always for a reason that we can comprehend.
Now, to clarify, this does not mean that we should take everything on
faith without using our intellect as well. It is a stupid Christian
indeed who accepts everything "just because God says so" and not also
because he has reasoned it out for himself. It is of the utmost
importance to believe in your heart what makes sense with your head.
If your faith doesn't make sense logically, then your heart will
eventually reject it. Jesus Himself warned about this when He
described a house built on sand that quickly washed away versus the
house built on rock that survived even the most disastrous storm. A
faith without solid understanding and reasoning behind it will
eventually collapse under the pressure of the world.
As I mentioned earlier, Catholicism is a dense and difficult religion
to understand and even more difficult to follow if you do not
understand WHY the Church teaches what She teaches. If you do not care
to learn as much as you can about your Catholic faith, then you should
not be Catholic. Catholicism is not for whimps. It requires you to do
much, much more than just read your Bible, go to church when you feel
like it, and claim that you love God. That is the substance of many
Christian/protestant religions today, and it is an easy rule book to
follow. Being a Christian these days doesn't require any sacrifice.
You can still be Christian and a practicing homosexual, Christian and
actively seek pornography, Christian and believe in abortion and
euthanasia. There is no call to action or reform. There is no
suffering.There is no commitment. All you need to do is conform God
into your little box and bend His rules to fit your lifestyle by
finding a pastor and a church that will tell you what you want to
With the exception of Islam and orthodox Judaism,, no other religion
besides Catholicism has stuck to its hard and fast rules for over 2000
years. Most other religions that used to ban contraception, abortion,
gay marriage, and divorce now allow these things with hardly any
exception. These religions have found perceived contradictions or
vague areas in the Bible and expanded these areas to allow what was
once forbidden. For example, since masturbation is not explicitly
mentioned in the Bible, all Christian denominations and many Catholics
consider it acceptable. (As an aside, this logic of "the Bible doesn't
mention it, therefore it is allowed" is extremely faulty. The Bible
doesn't explicitly condemn child pornography, but most Christians and
non-Christians consider child pornography to be a horrific sin.) To
sum this up in a rather crude way, it may be easier to say "if it
ain't broke, don't fix it." The Church has upheld the law of God for
2000 years, through countless wars and cultural revolutions. Who are
we to claim that the Church established by Jesus Christ Himself is
outdated, stupid, and in desperate need of some condoms and rainbow
Who are we to claim that we know better than 2000 years of tradition and scholarship by some of the most intelligent men and women of all time? Who are we to claim that we know better than God?
The Catholic church has been around for many centuries, and it will be around for many many more. It is not up to us, as members of Christ's body under the jurisdiction of the Church He founded, to decide which teaching of Christ to toss and which to keep. Jesus never promised us that following Him would be easy. If you faith is easy, you're doing it wrong. If you are not suffering, if you are not sacrificing something, if you are not submitting your will to God's will, then you are not truly a follower of Christ. Jesus Himself suffered. Jesus sacrificed everything. Jesus submitted His will to the will of His Father. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can follow Jesus without imitating Him in every way and suffering as He did.
Being Catholic is not easy and never will be. Trying to change the Church to make our lives easier is a vain endeavor. We are not God, and we have no authority to amend, revise, or reinterpret God's laws. It takes humility to humbly submit ourselves to God's laws even if we do not understand them and even if everything in our nature rebels against them. Human beings are prideful and stubborn. We don't want anyone, especially not God or His Church, telling us what to do. This attitude is especially prevalent in America, whose very existence as a country came about by rebelling against authority. We see anything that restricts our freedom--even church--as an obstacle that must be swiftly eliminated. But Americans and non-Americans alike all have a warped sense of what freedom really is. Ask the average Joe on the street what freedom is, and 9 times out of 10 he will answer: "The ability to do whatever you want whenever you want it." Sounds great, but is that really the case? Imagine if everyone did whatever they wanted whenever they felt like it...having sex everywhere, eating everything in sight, fighting with people they didn't like, never showing up for their jobs... kind of sounds like a bunch of animals acting on pure instinct! That's why we have laws against public indecency, murder, speeding, and the like. How many people do you know who complain that the laws against murder restrict their freedom?
The Church upholds the law of God for the same reason the state and government upholds the law of the land. No one, and I mean no one, can get away with doing whatever they want whenever they feel like it, and those who have tried have ended up in prison, Hell, or both. Again, this hearkens back to the basic human pride instinct. We want to be like God and do whatever we want. Many of us would prefer to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!
The bottom line is this: the Church is not going to change, and if you don't like that, then you should find a different church that will tell you what you want to hear so you don't have to change your lifestyle. I'm not trying to be snarky here. Sometimes we don't appreciate something until we no longer have it. Perhaps a "vacation" from the Catholic faith will help you realize exactly what treasures you have within Her. Or, perhaps you will discover that Catholicism is really not for you.
It is better to leave the Church altogether than pretend to be something you aren't. The choice is yours.