Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Consistency of the intellect

For the life of me I cannot understand the mindset of those who claim to be Catholic yet reject or sharply curtail Her teachings when it conflicts with modern vices.  Perhaps it is my more cerebral nature, but the intellectual consistency of the Church's teachings is one of the main reasons why I remain a Catholic.

The most amazing thing to me about Her teachings is how one doctrine flows into another.  The interwoven nature of the doctrines and how one truth points to another.  The nature of Her teachings are connected, making a whole that is inseparable from others.

Conversely, the rejection of a particular doctrine has a variety of results that impact other doctrines.  To reject one of the Church's stances on a moral issue has reverberations throughout the body of Her teachings, and more often than not calls into question several doctrines in order to maintain the original error.  Thus, when one opposes one doctrine, he opposes many even if it was not his intention.

Perhaps the most obvious problem is when Catholics attempt to square support for "gay marriage" with the teaching of the Church.  This position damages the notion of everything from the Church's understanding of the human being to the interaction between morality and law.

Now in theory it is possible for someone to come up with an entirely consistent moral philosophy that is consistent.  If given enough time I suppose one could dream up a litany of doctrines tested for publication that is both consistent and interwoven.

But in my own experience one of two things often happens when this strategy is employed:

  1. The principles that one espouses are inconsistent.
  2. The principles are not lived out to their logical conclusion.
For the first item, it is actually really hard to dream up a consistent morality that holds up in comparison.  One can look at other "man-made" philosophies and see there is either inconsistencies or a "back-door" principle that bails out the philosophy (usually an ad-hoc rationalization).

The second one though is far more common in our current day and age.  The issue really is that modern man professes a particular moral creed, but cheats and lives his life as if he believed something else.  This is different from "weakness" in that while weakness entails a failure to live up to one's creed, this inconsistency due to a lack of reflection on the implications of the creed.  

This to me is another reason that there is a Divine spark in the teachings of the Church.  The elegance of Her teachings and the gentle but firm consistency leads us to an understanding of the human being that is unrivaled in experience, depth and dignity.  All the more pity when we try to deny a doctrine and cause a great deal of harm.

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