Ever since the US Supreme Court’s ruling last Friday in favor of marriage equality, i.e. legalizing same sex marriage, I have been feeling distressed. Such a verdict should not have affected me at all. I am not even an American citizen and Canada actually legalized same sex marriage more than a decade ago.
For days, I followed the news, or I should say the responses of different religious groups and LGBT communities in US, on the SCOTUS ruling. I was mesmerized and, at the same time, confused by statements made by different bloggers, including those made by the religious and lay Catholics. I was comforted at times by the “rules of the church” posted by some distinguished Catholic writers. Other times, I was angered by images of how people celebrated their “victory” by mocking Christ on the Cross, I felt a sense of “injustice” when those who will not accept, or those not ready to accept, the court ruling were labelled with all sorts of names. When the States allow some to have certain “rights”, do they take away “rights” of others?
I was not even aware of why I was so concerned about the US legalizing same sex marriage until my daughter said, “Mom, Canada legalized same sex marriage many years ago, why are you so upset now?”
It took me a while, actually a good few hours, to reflect on this and I eventually found the root of my new found interest. Yes, it was eureka moment of sorts…
Back when Canada legalized gender-neutral marriage in 2005, my children were young. They were too young to know and care about what’s was going on in the society. I had absolutely no need to explain problems in the society to them. I was also dealing with a myriad of problems and needs, just like other young families. Simply put, there were other things that needed my immediate attention more than any social issue, even if the issue affected humanity.
Now, in 2015, my children are technically young adults. I feel responsible to know the proper Catholic response to this issue, so that I may pass on the correct information to my children, on the off-chance that the recent news become a conversational piece at the dinner table or in a car ride to our favorite restaurant. So, this drives my fascination to follow blogs, tweets and letters issued on the internet. Seriously, if people were not just starting to enjoy their summer holidays, I would organize a WHY@Breakfast presentation on sacramental marriage right away. I would love to have a guru who can give me a Catholic version of the blogs or letters from other Christians that I have read so far.
That’s the problem with most Catholics, including myself. We learned our Catechism when we were in elementary school. Most of the time, there were no school examinations on that. If Church teachings were taught then, as the issues most likely did not have a direct impact on our young lives, we probably did not even try to remember them. It’s only when we are adults and we start to become more aware of the society, of our community, or when we realized that we have the responsibility to know our own Church teachings as Catholics, that we begin to search for answers.
Searching for information on different subjects is not difficult. Searching for the truth is. Time is also a constraint for most people. Problems arises when Catholics do not know what they are supposed to believe in, when they do not know what the church teaches, or they might know what the church teaches but do not understand where those teachings come from and have no way to trust the accountability of what was handed to them, when they do not know the Truth. I suspect so many people turned their backs to the church, in which they were brought up, mainly because of confusion. For a Catholic who does not understand the truth, “noises” from the secular world can easily sway his/her beliefs that were handed down, but not fully internalized and understood.
I firmly believe there is a great need for some type of “continuing education program” for Catholics. Many professionals need to attend seminars to gain points to keep/renew their license in their profession. Is it really too much to ask a Catholic to learn about their own church teachings to stay Catholic? Does it not make sense for a follower of Christ to continuously put some efforts in knowing Christ in order to keep claiming oneself as Christian?
Until then…I will rely on people that I know and speakers that I can invite to tell me more about what our Church teaches on all those difficult issues. All Catholics are baptized to belong to the visible church and the invisible Body of Christ. We need both our church teachings and the Word of God to enlighten us.