I watch people claim horror that entities like the Catholic Church won’t change some of their stances, as if they should suddenly give up what they believe are immortally applicable scriptures because you don’t agree with them.
Our world changes, and so does its modern cultural morality. Things are moral or immoral based on constantly changing mores, and morality daily becomes more and more humanist. If it feels good, do it. If it feels bad, or makes someone else feel bad, it’s wrong. And that’s the largest moral framework our modern world is adopting.
However, certain institutions — such as the Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations — hold to values set into place many generations prior to today. While they may learn new ways to approach those same values that allow easier adherence, the standards remain constant and ineffable. These unchanging values create stability in what becomes an increasingly unstable world. They create an anchor upon which people can base their lives. That faith sustains them in times of loss and hardship. Should those values change on a whim, so would the foundation of their peace.
For those who don’t abide their emotional and personal stability in an unchanging faith, and instead look for excitement in the activity of modern life, religion seems backward, antiquated and outdated. Why believe something that someone two thousand years ago believed?
Those with faith would say that’s what gives it value, that over time people found a belief system that created stability no matter what else was going on in life. That it had so much value to humans in every circumstance that it had lasted for so very long. Those of Hebrew faith have been around for 8,000 years. Christians 8,000 or 2,000, depending on calculation. Muslims about 1,400. Mormons 8,000 or 150 years, respectively.
Pure humanism has only been around since the late 1800′s, so we’re looking at about 120 years, maybe. I’m not here to debate the merits of spiritual faith versus evolutionary humanism, but long-term faith offers stability specifically for its endurance of the ages, cultures, nations and kingdoms.
So when I hear people begin to complain that modern beliefs of humanism — abortion, birth control, homosexuality — should trump beliefs sometimes nearly 80 times longer in endurance, simply because the person thinks their point of view is automatically better, I can’t help but blink. Really? Something you believe you’ve discovered in 120 years suddenly trumps something people have believed for eight millennia? And I’m not talking about the scientific understanding of molecular theory, astrophysics, and the like. We’re talking about the unchanging characteristics of human nature and the balances between incentive and pressure, justice and mercy, concepts of human approach to living in a civilized world.
Does it work out perfectly in any faith? Of course not. People are imperfect — which is the point. Faith is man’s attempt to pursue perfection, and each man will choose his faith based upon his heart and experience.
Would you spit upon a man’s attempt to pursue perfection because you don’t like that his selection of faith disagrees with your modern auspices? He or she selected faith to create stability, not to suit your beliefs.
So how proper is it that people who don’t believe in these faiths demand that the religious institutions built to support those faiths capitulate to other faiths? For example, some believe the Catholic Church should be forced to provide contraceptives for what some consider are “antiquated” beliefs, but those beliefs are based on eight thousand year-old values that life is more valuable than convenience and ease.
You don’t have to agree with those values. But to impose your own upon beliefs upon others is the higher immorality. You can disagree with the Catholic Church. Go ahead, you’re free to do so. But don’t imagine that you can simply change that institution because of your own. You commit the same sin you believe the Catholic Church committed against humanists or Muslims, or Muslims against Catholics, or Hindus against Muslims, and vice versa. The concept is that imposition is the sin, itself.
So please, next time you want to find ways to coerce others into your belief system, no matter if you think that it’s best for everyone or not (all faiths think it, you’re not special in that regard), you have no right to force others to it.
Respect their rights to belief and the exercise of that belief every much as you want them to respect your own. Otherwise the entirety of our lives is nothing more than a battlefield of beliefs and none of the very peaceful cohabitation everyone preaches so vehemently and yet never seems to actually live up to.
Live in respect, exercise your freedom, protect everyone else’s. Thank you.