It should come as no surprise that religion in general has become a rather hot-button topic in today’s society. It consistently appears perceptible that whenever you turn around, there’s another lie being spread about religion. However, today I’m going to focus on one topic in particular: Catholicism. Many people have a proclivity to stereotype Christians and/or Catholics in general as homophobic, misogynistic, science-denying zealots who blindly follow every word of the Bible as if it’s objective law. Now, this may just be from my personal experience, but if anything, most of what I’ve learned about treating other people with respect can be attributed to my Catholic tradition, whether directly from the Bible or teachings from pastors and youth ministers.
One of the most influential lessons that I’ve learned from Catholicism, despite popular belief, is the acceptance and inclusivity of other people, whether they’re gay, straight, man, woman, black, white, etc. Not only that, but I also learned to be accepting of others who don’t even share in my faith. Here are a few illuminating passages to display that:
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:1-4)
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)
“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Not only have I been taught to accept those whose opinions or beliefs are divergent from my own, but I’ve also learned about something else that completely contradicts what many people perceive about Christians and Catholics: treating women with equality and respect. There are quite a few passages in the Bible about women being treated equally. Case and point:
“In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” (1 Timothy 3:11)
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)
Now, one verse that receives quite a bit of scrutiny from critics, as far as the treatment of women, is this one from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior” (Ephesians 5:22-23). However, some of my youth ministers, as well as my mom, stated that this passage doesn’t necessarily mean that a wife should constantly grovel at her husband’s feet (though the debate over whether that’s what it actually means is still ongoing). The way the aforementioned individuals interpret the passage is that the word “submit” is meant to imply that a wife is supposed to support her husband, just as a husband supports his wife. It simply means that a wife should be there for her husband, and be there to support him and stand up for him, exactly like the phrase a bride and groom say to each other in their wedding vows. That’s just my experience though, so maybe take this with a grain of salt.
Another invaluable lesson that my Catholic upbringing taught me is the general distrust in large government, and instead the advocacy for individual liberty. Of course, if I didn’t believe in these tenets, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to even be called a libertarian. I’ve heard speakers at retreats, as well as my favorite political commentator (Dennis Prager), talk about how the Lord himself is all about freedom. One of the most famous stories in the Bible is Moses leading the Jews out of slavery, which seems to be representative of the literal definition of freedom. Moreover, the Bible and the most important people in my faith have taught me the importance of working for the things you have or want, despite the numerous and incessant contentions of modern social justice warriors who try to convince you otherwise. If you don’t believe me, the Bible spells all of this out in spades:
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Despite all the lies and misconceptions being disseminated on the internet about Christians and Catholics, I myself have learned many positive and uplifting lessons, in addition to everlasting and timeless values, attributable to my growing up in a Catholic family and still being a devout Catholic to this day. My entire life I’ve been taught, especially through the church, to simply treat everyone as a human being and to simply show respect to those who respect you. Peace, love, and respect. Those are the most important pillars of the Catholic tradition, not intolerance, misogyny, and violence.