Today I’m thrilled to be featuring Bonnie Engstrom from “A Knotted Life” with a sane, sensible and perfectly-suitable-to-social media conversation on that pesky concept of religious freedom and what it means to discriminate against a person (no good) versus a person’s actions (completely and utterly essential to daily living.) Bonnie writes from Central Illinois about life with her 5 small fries, one of whom is an honest-to-goodness alleged miracle whose story figures prominanantly in Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s cause for canonization.
For the record, I want to live in a country where there is a difference between an event and a person.
I believe people should be able to understand that saying “no” to an event is not the same as saying “no” to a person. Even more so, I wish our society understood that we can disagree about things – even incredibly large things like religion – and still be genuinely kind and respectful to one another.
I do not think it makes you a bad person or a good Christian if you turn down providing a service for an event you personally disagree with. I do think it is absolutely ludicrous that so many people in this nation think it does.
I have met bakers and photographers for whom their small business is a passion. It is a part of who they are and they pour themselves into that work. I get it when those people have a firm belief and conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman, forever and they don’t want to bake a cake for a polygamous marriage, a gay wedding, a divorce party…
What I don’t get is how people don’t see that the same law that protects those bakers and photographers (and so forth) is the exact same law that will allow:
– a photographer to say to a member of the KKK, “I will not photograph your upcoming rally.”
– a protestant to say to me, “I’m sorry, I don’t bake cakes for first communions. When you need a graduation cake, though, I’d be happy to help.”
– a gay event planner to say, “I do bar and bat mitzvahs, house-warming parties, bridal and baby showers, graduation parties, anniversary parties, and birthday parties. I’m sorry, I do not do anti-gay marriage rallies.”
Again, if you personally have no qualms about those things and will bake a cake for anyone or anything because it’s just a cake and it pays the bills – fine. I’ve got no problem with that. But why is it so wrong for a person to legally be protected so they can say ‘No’ to situations that they believe are truly wrong? I am sincerely confused about this and I’ve noticed that just asking questions or stating a differing opinion is enough to write someone off as a bigot.
I am not a bigot, I just have a different definition of sex, marriage, gender, and family than some. A really basic run-down of what I believe:
– Sex is for marriage only because sex is incredibly and specifically intimate, meaningful, communicative, and fun.
– Contraceptives (the pill, condoms, vasectomies, tubal ligations, withdrawl, etc) should not be used for birth control because God designed marriage and sex to create families because families, life, and love are awesome.
– If a couple needs to not get pregnant they can use natural family planning, because nfp does not prevent or destroy our bodies from doing what God fearfully and wonderfully made our bodies to do.
– Men and women are different but they have equal dignity, and this is true from the very moment of their conception all the way to their death.
– Marriage is for one man and one woman and the only thing that can end a valid marriage is death.
There was a time when I didn’t really believe these things, mostly because I didn’t really know these things, and I definitely didn’t know that the above list was what the Catholic Church taught.
In fact, as I learned more about my faith I was both elated and annoyed. Annoyed that I had never had these things explained to me. Elated that there was so much consistency from teaching to teaching, unlike pretty much every other denomination I knew. (If you want to learn more about these things, I encourage you to read the Catechism and this grouping of articles.)
The consistency, the beauty, and the truth of the Church’s teachings on sex, family, gender, and marriage does not mean that it’s always easy to live out. Of course individuals may find any and all of these teachings to be easy or difficult to embrace depending on their personal crosses, family influence, inclinations, virtues, and temptations. However, even if individuals struggle to embrace and live out these teachings it doesn’t mean the teachings are not true or that it’s okay to not try.
Christ is not a warm fuzzy, a fluffy bunny who exists to make us feel good and let us do whatever makes us happy because God is love and “religion should open your heart not close your mind.” Our hearts definitely should be open and ready to love but our minds should be closed on some things. There is a true right and wrong and if we don’t acknowledge that we are dooming ourselves and our children for Hell.
If you don’t believe that you are worshiping a god you have created.
Christ has asked us to pick up our crosses and to follow Him. This is not about comfort and being happy – this is about redemptive suffering and everlasting joy.
Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, “I didn’t go to religion to make me ‘happy.’ I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
I would go a step further and say I especially don’t recommend Catholicism.
Please do not misunderstand: I am not saying “shape up or ship out.” The Catholic faith is true and beautiful and for everyone.
I want you to be Catholic and I want you to fully embrace and live out its teachings and culture. I want you to know and love and serve not fluffy bunny Jesus but God as He truly is: Lord God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, who cares for and loves you deeply, fully, and passionately. I am certain that if you do, though you will certainly still have burdens, you will also have immeasurable joy.