What is a ‘Fallen’ Catholic to Do?

This was an eye-opener for me. (Kristina Hernandez via Flickr)

In the past 34 years, I’ve never had anyone defend Roman Catholicism to me like this. 

Shawn A. Akers

This was a first for me. Since 1984, when I left the Catholic church, no one had ever previously labeled me as a “fallen” Catholic—and much less one that needed to be evangelized.

I must admit I wasn’t quite prepared for it. It took me completely by surprise.

In fact, I broke my own rule of becoming offended by a reader. I promised myself and God I would not take offense to the responses of mine or Charisma’s readers. I slipped. I would like to justify my response, but I can’t.

And for that, I beg God’s forgiveness.

Let me put the situation into context. A Charisma reader and I were engaged in a conversation that started out on a pleasant note. She had commented about Rich Wilkerson Jr. and his wife, DawnChere, who had just become parents after an eight-year odyssey of fertility struggles.

It wasn’t clear—and perhaps still isn’t—whether the Wilkerson had used In-Vitro Fertilization or some other method to help them conceive. Yet, the first sentence of the reader’s initial post read, “Many, many people are not aware In Vitro Fertilization and Surrogacy are not of God. A child, a brand-new person and a body and soul, comes about through the self-giving of a man and woman (vowed for life, married before God) in the marital act.”

She then regurgitated something that came from Article 6 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, article 2376 – “Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ right to became a father and a mother only through each other.”

Having come from the Vatican’s website, my guess is that this is man-made law from someone within the Catholic Church. Like the reader, I don’t subscribe to another person’s sperm or egg to be involved in the process. I agree wholeheartedly with that. IVF shouldn’t involve another person in my opinion (because it defeats the process of having your own child). But there are ways of IVF that only involves the parents. And I know many whom have gone through this.

But there are other ways to go about the fertilization process, including IUI (Interuterine Insemination), a method my wife Patty and I used to help conceive our two children, Rachel and Joshua. Please forgive the graphic nature, but that did involve masturbation on my part so that my sperm could be inserted into my wife. The reader says, “artificial insemination, using sperm from the husband, not only involves others in the procreation of what should be to the spouses alone, but also requires the husband masturbate, which is an immoral act.”

I once again agree that masturbation—if done for pure fantasy and self-gratification—is a sin. There can be no denying that. That discussion is for another day. But, if it’s part of a way that God had provided to help us have children, a way that we prayed He would show us and that was all for His glory, then I can hardly label it immoral. I don’t believe God would have put it upon our hearts to do IUI if it was immoral in any way. As you can read here, Patty and I struggled with infertility for years and had a miscarriage. When we decided to leave it God’s feet for him to take care of, he spoke to our hearts about IUI. It worked, but only because we put our complete trust in Him.

A point I am trying to make is that In-Vitro Fertilization, IUI and other methods are not immoral. I asked the reader to find a passage in scripture where it denounced such things, and she could not. That should tell you something.

She went on to say in another response, “There can never be discussion about the valid obvious reasons listed to why IVF is against God. … Who is correct on IVF? The Church giving the reasons for this hard teaching, I know who is. You should too now.”

I realized at that moment that I was speaking with a hardcore Roman Catholic. But, then it got worse. When she discovered that I grew up in the Catholic Church and left when I was 18, she really started to dig into me. I think I gave her the wrong impression about my mother, who used to be a Charismatic Catholic, but is now simply a Charismatic believer (the reader believes my mother still is Catholic). When I said I was done with the “Catholic thing” (perhaps not the right choice of words and ones in which I ask forgiveness for), this was the reader’s response:

“The ‘Catholic thing,’ sounds dismissing, rather insulting. Is that what you say to your dear mother?” It is so hard to evangelize fallen away Catholics. They are more stubborn than some of our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. … Yes, hard to accept Catholicism is it … Jesus is coming to show, you, me, everyone, the Remnant is Roman Catholic. … In Protestantism, each person becomes their own pope. They choose which of Christ’s teaching to accept (you have Protestant leaders professing contraception is no sin at all!) … Jesus did all on the Cross. You are in, you are saved. I can pray.

When I made the statement that: “I don’t see any basis for your argument against In-Vitro or any other artificial insemination located in the word of God,” she responded: “This (her reasoning) is not bias, but fact. This is the problem with Martin Luther’s ROTTEN (emphasis mine) Bible alone. Luther pronouncing the written word is now to be our authority on earth. No way! Roman Catholicism is the Church who gave the world the Bible, she is the pillar and ground of Truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Proves again, with modern IVF, Sola Scriptura is heresy because not everything God has revealed is found in the Bible.”

I Timothy 3:15 reads, “But if I am delayed, you might know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the foundation of truth.”

The reader’s inference in these statements, and please correct me if I’m wrong, are that the Catholic Church is the only true church. By using 1 Timothy 3:15, I interpret her words is that you must conduct yourself as a good Catholic at all times. Luther’s rotten Bible? Roman Catholicism is the Church who gave the world the Bible? I thought the Catholic Church was the one who only wanted their priests and high officials to have the Bible so they could interpret it for the “lay” person.

Needless to say, I stopped the online conversation with the reader. It let my emotions get the best of me to let it go on that far. But, as God has always said to me, “Don’t do that.” I will take care of it. There’s nothing you can say to convince that person you’re right. Let the Holy Spirit do His job.” So, once again, I ask for forgiveness for trying to do things my way.

And for my cousins and friends who attend the Catholic church, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to offend you, either. Please don’t take my words the wrong way.

And now, I ask you to join me in prayer for this reader:

“Lord, you know the heart of this reader. She does love you, and that is such a wonderful thing. But, I ask you now to give her a teachable Spirit. Let her know that some of the things she believes in may not line up with Your word, especially if she puts her faith in the Catholic Church and not Your word. Give her a pure heart and let her see your glory from every side.

And, bless the Wilkersons and their new child and I lift them up to you. You a rewarder of those that wait on you, and they did just that. Thank you for their faithfulness and diligence. And, thank you for your faithfulness.

And, I also pray for myself to continually help me to respond to people the way you want me to. As my friend and publisher Dr. Steve Greene taught recently, “Let my conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).

And, remember to do something to rise up higher in your calling today.

What do you think of the reader’s comments? Please comment below, would love to hear from you.

Step Out of the Boat is a ministry created by Charisma Media Content Development Editor Shawn A. Akers and dedicated to help Christ followers to become spiritual champions and come to a more intimate relationship with Jesus. With its articles, podcasts and other forms of media, Step Out of the Boat encourages Christ followers to daily reach to a higher level in their calling. Shawn is a 35-year veteran sportswriter, a published poet and he published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

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