“It is all in the packaging.” That is a phrase often quoted and that has much meaning when interpreting the article “7 reasons Catholics leave church.” Many conservative Catholics, including those at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada give the moralism of the Catholic Church for one of the reasons so many parishioners are leaving the Catholic Church. A return to the old values of the Catholic Church, when the church exploded onto the world scene would be a solution to this problem. Romans 1 is a prime example.
Romans 1discusses what “They’ do.” “They” refer to the ways of the Greeks and the Romans. Romans 2: 17 makes it clear that the audience is the Jewish Christians who are in Rome. “Procreation and Contraception” tells how the School of Hillel interprets Genesis 1:28 as being stricter than the major competing first century school on the subject. It is a Mitzvah/ rule to marry, procreate, and have children. Torah forbids us to waste seed.
Greeks wanted to convert to the Jewish religion, but without the rules making Jews Jewish. These Separate Ones were the early evangelicals, those converting the world to their cause. The world wanted to convert, but without having to become Jewish. Christianity thrived because Greeks and Romans could convert to the Judea-Christian religion without becoming Jewish.Acts 15:28-29 discusses whether one can be Christian and not be Jewish.
The Didache states, “You shall not commit murder, you will not commit adultery, nor not commit pederasty… You will not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” Pederasty, as noted in the article from the link, was common in Greek and Roman society. It was something, “They” did.
How is it that Christianity did so well? If Greeks and Romans had to give up the pederasty, and contraception, to follow the dictates of a many times conquered people, why did they convert? Look closer at Romans 1:18-32 and The Didache. St. Paul never says in his letters that what “they” do is OK. Our fundamentalists and conservative Catholics jump on this fact. The answer lies in the packaging. This may well be “In the Law,” but “Law is not about this. Torah is not about this. Gospel/Christian law is not about this.
At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we focus upon Gospel. In our Cathedral this Sunday, we will celebrate Easter. Included in this is our Eucharist. We will also read from Colossians, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God… Put on the new self… in the image of its creator… Christ is all and in all… put on love, the bond of perfection.
When St. Paul says, “You have died,” he means it literally. St. Paul died on the road to Damascus. Today we say he had a near death experience. Part of that near death experience caused him to change his personality. This focus, is what the Eucharist, the heart of the Christian near death experience, and Christianity itself is all about. This focus is what Passover is all about. St. Paul mentions, “Putting on the new self,” putting on love and being community.
The Jewish community encounters its near death experience at Sinai. This sense of love and community is what appealed to the Greeks and Romans. This is why they gave up their life-style, in spite of what the moralists in the early church taught. Our moralists need to do the same. The rules did not prevent the church from exploding in its first four centuries and they need not prevent it from exploding in growth today. Conservatives complain liberals with their alternate life-styles are a threat to the church. If we live our faith, our faith is a threat to their life-styles. “They” will want to be like us.