Randall Smith just posted an article over at The Catholic Thing, entitled Freedom from Catholicism, in which he poses the question:
“Why is it that ‘freedom’ for [‘tolerant’] people is always freedom from Catholicism? The freedom to be fully and authentically Catholic rarely shows up on the radar screen of such ‘tolerant’ souls.”
I don’t mean this to be an antagonistic post (though the article itself expresses a bit of frustration), but I think Smith poses an honest question. There are various “tolerant” voices today calling for “freedom.” The quest for freedom in itself is a good thing, but there is a strange consistency in that what they call “freedom” is always something anti-Catholic. They readily attack the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception, marriage, or even the fact that we simply believe in God. Because of these beliefs, we are labeled “bigots,” “intolerant,” etc. Someone on Facebook just a couple of days ago called those of us who support traditional marriage “racists.” I couldn’t help but cock an eyebrow at that one. It’s funny how most of the news media and so many people can call for tolerance, yet they vilify anyone who holds to the whole of Catholic doctrine. All of this is couched in the language that one will be “free” if one turns against the Church.
I can’t help but see the funny paradox. Smith cites multiple situations in which someone was calling for freedom because the Church teaches the use of contraception is morally wrong. A mother refused to attend her daughter’s wedding because her daughter wouldn’t use contraception. So here we see the paradox: The mother thinks the daughter will be freed by the use of contraception, yet contraception is the vice from which the daughter wants to be free. Contraception is a vice because it traps the user into an objectification of the other: sex for pleasure instead of sex as a full gift of self to the other. Contraception prevents the couple from fully giving themselves (including their fertility) to each other in self-donation. It disrupts the marital act, disassociating it from one of its natural ends (procreation), thereby altering the act and so preventing the fullness of the other end for which the act was designed (union of the couple).
The mother has been so blinded and trapped by the contraceptive culture and the contraceptive mentality that she (as well as the above voices) can only see contraception as a freedom from a perceived evil. But one must ask what this evil is. Many won’t be able to say. Other will give vague answers that the evil is “the Catholic Church,” or “repression,” or “male dominance,” etc. Really, that from which a couple is freeing themselves is responsibility, family, and a more self-sacrificial love of each other. All three of which are goods. The wool has been pulled over the eyes of so many. They are being told that they will be free, but they do not understand that they are being “freed’ from good things, while being entrapped into vices. This same can be said for the other areas.
The above paradox is indicative of the greater problem throughout the world: people are calling for freedom from good things because they think that their particular vices will be the goods for which they long. This has the devil’s fingerprints all over it: the father of lies has convinced these people that things which would truly be good for them are entrapping while these vices are “freeing.” He particularly hates the Catholic Church because it refuses to cave into these lies. In order to fight against God and His Church, the enemy tries to convince these people that the Catholic Church is the source of all evil today, so they must be “free” from these “evil constraints.” The people rail against the Church, but the Church remains strong, simply holding to its roots and proposing a better way to the people.
The pressure against the Church by various media outlets, politicians, etc. has gotten to the point that in some ways it becomes difficult to live the Catholic life. The most obvious threat to that is the HHS mandate, which forces Catholic business owners to pay for insurance programs that must include coverage for contraception. We are seeing a movement in our country against the freedom to be Catholic.
I encourage you to read the Church’s doctrines and see why we believe what we believe about certain things. There are some great websites out there that will help you understand more:
- Catholic Answers
- Family Catechism
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church
- New Advent
- The St. Paul Center for Biblical Study
- and many more
Hopefully you will come to see that the Catholic Church is the one promoting the most free lifestyle possible because She promotes freedom from vice and not freedom from goods. That is true freedom. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)