Christianity has probably been one of the most successful influences on Western society, from the permanence of the Ten Commandments to a couple of choice blasphemous phrases. However, it cannot be denied that the historical force-feeding of this religion by the ever powerful white privileged male has corrupted the intentions of a just God, marring them with the human obsession with control and power. Growing up Catholic has led me to realise that for many, it is impossible to love a God and the religion that sustains it.
My perspective on Catholicism is irrevocably shaped by my own experiences, specifically the privileged and unique education that I received at an all girls Catholic school. We were lucky in the sense that our Priest actually read us the bible, he didn’t cherry pick passages that served to empower or victimise us in regards to teachings about women’s status in society. He taught us life lessons that are common to all sexes, races and beliefs, the classic ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’
Going into the real world as someone who identifies as Catholic was a shocking contrast. How often have you heard ‘She’s a good little Catholic girl’ when someone happens to be wearing a crucifix? Never has the virgin-whore dichotomy been so real than in this insinuation that not only am I probably a virgin, I’m almost definitely a dirty one.
The irony of a text that teaches us about the bravery of human feeling and yet also demonstrates the patriarchal obsession with controlling female sexuality and mind is highly confusing. How do you reconcile ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends?’ and ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent’?
The issue of cherry picking is largely ignored in our religion, but actively condemned in others. There is a strong argument for Christianity as the foundation of Western morality, but why do we uphold this idea when almost identical texts are blamed for gross immorality? All of these texts can be warped through cherry picking. We can all make bad judgements, whether it’s the case of the Crusades or ISIS or the person that wrote ‘Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel’, facilitating centuries of racial oppression.
Another lesson that the Bible teaches us is that no one chooses their fate; ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart’. Mary didn’t know that she was to be the ‘Virgin’ all her life and no one knows what power our faith will hold over us. Though I love my God, and the idea of a higher power is often comforting to many people, why do we accept and actively embrace the out of date ignorance of a bygone time? Maybe we need to start cherry picking in a different way; we can learn far more from our contemporaries and their faith than those who lived in a time lost to us.
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