I've been hearing a lot of commentary lately from the media and public forums about the standings of the Church. Newsweek ran a few articles in the past month proclaiming the fall of Christianity, others profess loudly that the Church is outdated, or that it needs to adjust to our modern age.
Frankly, I'm tired of it. It would seem that many people do not understand the basis of religion. The purpose of a religion is to hold people to a standard and to remind them that there are things that do not bend to their likes or dislikes of the moment.
From the way that I hear arguments on the subject today, people believe that they are the first generation in history to recognize the teachings of the Church as difficult to live out in our lives. They somehow have gotten it into their heads that the purpose of religion is to make them feel good, or to entertain them and reassure them that they are good people. Let's be perfectly clear: Christianity has always been a difficult path to walk. This was true in the first century, the middle ages, the renaissance and we should expect nothing different today. There are very, very few who do exceptionally well in it; we call them saints.
Many arguments, if you push them further, lead to the statement that they don't like the Church telling them that they can't do, or forces them to do some action or another. Again, let's be perfectly clear and honest on the subject. The Church does not, and cannot, force you or restrict you from doing something. When was the last time a member of the clergy broke into your house and threatened you for committing a mortal sin? Any sin? What rights of yours were stripped away? Were you imprisoned?
At this point, I'm guessing people will say that they're told they're going to hell, or that they couldn't receive a sacrament until they'd been to confession and repented of their sin. Yes, you might have been told that you're going to hell if you don't repent. Please understand, it brings the Church no joy to tell you this. A true Christian wants you to get to heaven as much as they want to get themselves there. We are not graded on a curve, or against one another, but against the measure of right and wrong. By reminding you of your sin, the Christian hopes that you will repent of it and be saved.
Our generation needs to remember that something does not cease to be a sin simply because the majority of people cease to believe it is one. Our Church is not a democracy; the trends of the day should not sway teachings that are to be the very declaration of truth. We should also recall that the Church does not have the authority to reverse the moral law. God does not take a vote when He declares His law and, once declared, it is not open for debate.