The body is not meant for fornication; it is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. God who raised the Lord from the dead, will by his power raise us up too. You know, surely, that your bodies are members making up the body of Christ; anyone who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
Keep away from fornication. All other sins are committed outside the body; but to fornicate is to sin against your own body. Your body, you know, is the temply of the Holy Spirit who is in you since you received him from God. You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That’s why you should use your body for the glory of God. (1 Cor 6:13-15. 17-20)
This was the second reading for yesterday’s mass. I didn’t attend said mass, but my father reads in the Church and his number had come up. He was looking over the two readings before leaving and told me that he was going to suggest that they only read the first. Obviously, I can see where he’s coming from, I wouldn’t choose to stand up in front of my local community and tell them they’d been sold into slavery either. Thankfully for my Dad, the parish priest agreed with him; “we’re just doing one reading, we’re not going to do that stuff.”
Now, obviously I agree with them both. This spiteful message from St. Paul is abhorrent, it’s the perfect illustration of religion hating people. By seizing control of sexuality, an innate and enriching part of human experience, by twisting it and contorting it into sin, the Catholic Church has warped our relationships with ourselves and with others for centuries.
However, not reading it in mass doesn’t make it go away. The Church is an absolute monarchy under the Pope. There is no room to pick and mix. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1.1). If you choose to reject the Word, you express a disbelief in God. The Pope is infallible, the Word is infallible.
If you don’t buy a Sunday reading, if you choose to ignore it because it doesn’t fit with your beliefs then you are not a Catholic, however many times you call yourself one.
I think that this cognitive dissonance that exists within the grassroots of the Church is a serious problem. People choose ‘a la carte’ Catholicism and, in the West, the Church facilitates it. In twenty years of mass attendance, I scarcely if ever heard sermons on abortion, on homosexuality, on contraception, on pre-marital sex, on impure thoughts. Why? Because they know they can’t get away with it any more. All people want to hear about is love, peace and charity. And on the ground, if not in Rome, the Church has capitulated. Because it keeps bums on seats and that’s what gives Catholicism its power.
Those of us with attachments to the Church have a duty to recognise that it is still a spiteful institution, built around exclusion, guilt and repression of basic human instinct. When we buy into any of it we buy into all of it. By our presence we give the Church its power.
It still uses that power to exert a stranglehold in the areas where it still can. In the parts of Africa where it wilfully facilitates the spread of HIV AIDS, in the conservative communities where it still encourages hatred for gay people, for single mothers, for victims of suicide, inside the high walls of Vatican City, where the Pope can rail on about how “policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
If you read through this blog you’ll recognise that I feel an attachment to and a belief in elements of the message of Christ and I hope that one day that message will be able to exert its influence in a purer, healthier form.
However, as long as that message is polluted by corrupt religious organisations, it’s not enough to just leave out the bits we don’t like. We have to cut off their air supply, by completely cutting off our support.
If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee (Matthew 5:30)