Monday, December 03, 2012

Defending My Faith... Or Not

I like to think of myself as a passive person for the most part.  Or passive-aggressive if it's something that I think or know I'm right.  I avoid (or try to avoid) confrontations at all costs.  I don't like to talk religion or politics.  I try to judge (lets face it, we all judge) with a grain of salt and the benefit of the doubt. 

Am I always successful? No.  But I do try.

I have this friend.  A really good friend, one of my best friends, who has an aggressive, take no prisoners, personality.  She feels what she feels and says what she says because that's how she is.  She means nothing by it if she offends you, but if she does offend you, that's her way of saying she thinks you're wrong... no offence.

I hate to talk politics with her, not because we're on opposite ends, hardly so, but neither are we on the "same side," I guess you could say.  When it comes to politics, she has a side....  and I'm Switzerland.

What I REALLY hate to talk with her about is religion.  I'm Roman Catholic, she's Southern Baptist. 

Now, I don't know if it's all Southern Baptist churches who think their religion is the shit and everyone else's is wrong, or just a handful that seem to think this way.  But her's seems to be, lets say, strongly opinionated.

They (my friends) pray for the Mormons to find their way to the one, true Christ.  They crack on the Jewish faith because they believe Jesus died, the end.  They think we Catholics are a bunch of quacks with our statues that we pray to and child molesting priests we hold to the same level of power as our Lord.  They think gays are going to hell no matter what kind of life they lead.

I may be the worst Catholic in the world, but I'm okay with that.  I'm not answering to the world, I'll be taking up my business with our Lord when its my turn to knock at the pearly gates and I hope He sees that I tried, the best I knew how, to live a devout life.  I hope He sees that while I may not agree with all, I try as I might to be agreeable with and accepting of all. 

You will never find me doing things like picketing outside of Planned Parenthood, because they really try to do and do, do more good than harm.  But you'll also probably never see me privately praying for those women and families' hearts to heal after having to make such gut wrenching choices.  You'll never see me protesting same sex marriages or scandalizing gays in the military.  I don't see same sex couples banging down the Catholic Church doors to demand an official marriage contract and the higher tax rate that goes with it, they're too busy trying to convince City Hall.  Who cares if they, too, want to have the convent task of serving in the line of fire over in one of the many conflicts our armed forces are taking part in?

I don't care if you are Mormon, or Jewish, or Gay, or you don't flat our believe in a higher power.  That's okay with me.  As long as you're a good person who contributes in some positive way to society.  Its not me who will be asking the questions in the end, so why should I cast final judgments to begin with?

What brings up all this crazy talk?

Today, my friend and I got into one of those discussions where she asked why we do some of the things we do in the Catholic Church.  (Its not the first time she's inquired, nor that last, I'm sure.)  I'm okay with the asking of questions to get an understanding of other people.  But she doesn't, and didn't, and never seems to come off as wanting to understand our faith.  It's more like she's judging our faith, and trying to tell me in the kindest way she knows how that we are SO WRONG.

Today's topic was confession, and why we confess to our priest.  She just kept saying things like, "YOU KNOW, when you're confessing to a priest, he's not really God."  "YOU KNOW, you can confess on your own when you say your prayers."  "You don't really believe that when he absolves you, he's speaking for God, do you?"

I don't know how to answer her.  I NEVER know how to answer her.  She's so opinionated and absolute in the what she believes that I truly don't think she's wanting to understand the methods to our madness.  Its more like she's just trying to politely tell me that we're wonky and an incredibly mislead flock of sheep.

And you know what?  That's okay if that's really what she's thinking.  I just wish she'd quit trying to subtly tell me. 

I believe what I believe because it makes the most sense to me.  I also believe she believes in what she does because it makes the most sense to her.  She plunges into society trying to do acts of kindness in the name of our Lord and the Baptist Church because that's what she believes she was called to do.  By all means... two thumbs up and keep up the good work.

But I still believe I'm falling short in defending my faith, some how.  I know it's not her intention to always be putting me on the defense, but neither do I think its her intention to accept me in my faith at face value. 

I find I often want to kick myself for not having a better argument in my own defense.  But maybe in order to do that, I'd have to be more aggressive than passive.  And I just don't have  aggressive in me.

And then I feel guilt for saying that.  Which proves I'm a true Catholic.


  1. I love that last line! (I think I actually snorted when I read it.) lol

  2. It's funny, when I was standing outside Planned Parenthood (because no amount of good can really absorb the taint of 300,000 intentional abortions a year), I had the same problem with the Catholics standing around me. I'm not passive when it comes to discussing doctrine (call it the Calvinist in me), but I know when an argument is going nowhere. Some of them were a little slower to pick up on the fact that I wasn't going to jump ship, and some of them stopped talking to me when they did pick up on it.
    My advice would be to point out Romans 4:14 "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he will stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand." And then, very tactfully and repeatedly change the subject (That's going to take some perseverence, but it will work in the end.) If she asks why you don't want to discuss it, just say that it's obvious that she doesn't really want to understand your side of it, so you don't see a point in continuing a point of conflict. Or you could quote Prov. 21:9,19;27:15, but those might not help your friendship because they are all rebukes to contentious women.

  3. P.S. We are not required to argue for the faith. We are required to have an answer about the hope that we have. If you really want help with that, I'm sure your priest would be delighted to give you some pointers.