But, there is one thing that always surfaces each time a new pope is selected (or whenever a pope makes any pronouncement regarding the behaviors of those who call themselves Catholic), and that is how certain public figures who proclaim they are 'Catholic' participate in behaviors and proclaim views that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church. That got me to wondering ... 'Why do these people choose to associate with a church they don't agree with?'
What is the purpose of joining a Christian church (any church)? I suppose most would say to secure eternal security, to fellowship with like-minded believers, to worship a Holy God, to render service to the community through self-sacrifice, to acquire knowledge about the Scriptures, and, finally, to submit to the lordship of Jesus and the fatherhood of God.
So, why do certain politicians chose to associate themselves with the Catholic church when their views (and political activism) work in direct opposition to the teachings of the Catholic church? Perhaps they should find another body of believers who share their views? .. or perhaps they aren't believers in Jesus at all? What purpose is served when people call themselves 'Catholic' but do not believe in the teachings of that church?
Well, here's a short list of reasons some of these public figures call themselves 'Catholic' when there is little evidence in their life or speech that they actually practice the teachings of that church.
- It's popular to be a member of a church. I am not sure this is as true now as it may have been in the past, but, for politicians, I suppose those who call themselves 'Christian' are slightly more 'electable' than those who do not. From my perspective, however, people can call themselves whatever they want, it doesn't mean they are what they claim to be. You can sit in your garage and call yourself a car, but that doesn't make you a car.
- Something we have 'always done' Tradition has a powerful bond on many people. If you come from a family that has always been a member of a particular denomination, then I suppose it isn't easy to step away from that. But, here's a newsflash, if you aren't practicing the teachings of the church you 'attend' .. then you have already 'left' that church. Don't be an idiot. Being in a church building has no meaning.. it is the life you live the other 167 hours each week that really matters.
- Subversives. There are those who call themselves Christians (or Catholics) that have no interest in following Christ, have no desire to learn about or emulate Jesus, but, who actually undermine the work of God's Church. These subversives don't exist in the minds of many people, because many believe these people are 'made up' by those who love to believe in 'conspiracy theories'. Well, call me crazy, but when someone is occupying one of the highest offices in government, calls themselves Catholic, are members of a political party that denounces God and cheerfully fights to protect a 'woman's right to kill her children' .. I am not sure how you could view those individuals as anything other than subversive church-members. Those behaviors don't build up the church, in fact, it could be the devil himself who is directing those behaviors.
I can't get get into the hearts and minds of these public figures who call themselves Catholic (or Christian), but I will say that the evidence in a person's life is the most powerful indicator of whether they are (or are not) followers of Christ. And, just like the rest of us, they will be called to account for their actions (or lack of action) one day.