Of late I have been looking into the current state of religion in our world and more specifically in my general vicinity. I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and received a relatively thorough indoctrination into its tenets through a 12-year course of primary and secondary Catholic education (boys only high school with religious brothers as faculty) along with multiple members of my family in the Catholic clergy (priest and nun). In fact, my uncle was pretty high up in the administration of a Catholic order so I got to see a bit more of the nuts and bolts of Catholic clerical hierarchy than I cared to.
From all this I have come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church rarely has much to do with God. First of all, making unmarried men the spiritual leaders of your community is completely insane. Some young man who has never been married and will never have children is the last person I would go to for advice and spiritual guidance when my back is to the wall. Secondly the idea of forced celibacy on young men is also an incredibly unstable arrangement. I’m sure there is a subset of men for whom it can work. The idea of abstaining from sex could allow for concentration on less worldly concerns but I suspect that some form of castration would be the only practical way to eliminate the hormonal influences on a man’s mind. And the horrors of the pedophile history of Catholic priests is all the proof I need that it is a terrible idea. From what I’ve read celibacy is more of a business decision that the church adopted as a way of preventing nepotism from infiltrating up the hierarchy of the Church. Originally parish priests could marry. Only the ambitious clerics who eventually wanted to climb the ladder to monsignor, bishop or higher remained celibate in order to be considered for this advancement.
Because of this restriction the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been conquered by homosexuals all the way up to the Vatican. The grooming of young men in the seminaries is an abomination. Any legitimacy it may have had as the primary vehicle of Christ’s Church on earth has been completely forfeited by the sins that its priests have committed against innocent children and by the failure of its leadership to uncover these crimes and hand the criminals over to the authorities for the heaviest sentences that can be handed down.
I have of late been interested in the Orthodox Catholic denominations and the Traditionalist Catholic. The Greek and Russian and other churches have much in common with the Roman Church and would probably be relatively familiar to me. The lack of a celibate clergy is to my mind a big advantage. And the liturgy would be familiar. I will have to do a good amount of research to understand whether any of the problems of the Roman Catholic Church exist to a greater or lesser extent in the Orthodox churches.
Not having attended services to any extent in any of the protestant denominations my knowledge of their practices is based on popular information. One of the recent innovations in some of the denominations is female clergy. Another recent innovation is acceptance of homosexuality in the ministry and finally the sanctification of homosexual marriage. As you might guess I won’t be interested in any sect that stands for any of that. In fact, I won’t even get involved in any church that starts editing gender neutral wording into its Bible. I’ll stick to the most archaic wording I can get. King James is plenty recent enough. If necessary, I’ll go back to the original Greek. I can read that just fine.
I went to an article on denominational differences and put together this list of “safe” choices. I eliminated any denominations that ordain women or sanction homosexuality in any way shape or form. Interestingly that even knocked out the Mormons, which surprised me. These are the sects that were left. Adventist, Southern Baptist Convention (stopped ordaining women in 2000), Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, United Pentecostal Church International, Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Now of course I actually need to know more about the other aspects of their beliefs. Then I’ll have to see what local congregations exist in my neck of the woods and do a meet and greet with the ministry and find out if I fit in.
And finally, if all of these choices fall through then I have seriously considered starting my own church. After all what did Saint Peter, Martin Luther and John Knox have that I ain’t got? I’m just as created in God’s image as any of them and I can definitely side step a whole bunch of pitfalls that they’ve stepped in along the way. And I sure as hell won’t be introducing celibacy into my ministry. In fact, I think that I would require anyone thinking of leading a church to be the father of grown children and I’d use the job that he did raising them as prima facie evidence of his ability to guide his flock. And I’d also want to meet his wife. If she is a feminist that would be big old stop sign in my evaluation of his judgement. And finally, I’d find out if he voted for Donald Trump. If he didn’t, I’d boot him out and slam the door behind him.
But seriously, religion is a personal relationship between man and God. The Bible says that the way to pray to God is to lock yourself in an empty room and talk to Him directly. No one needs a big shiny church or a guy in a black suit to help you. But if you can live in a community of people who have the same beliefs as you that is an enormous advantage spiritually, psychologically and physically. And that’s the reason for my search. I’d like to find a community. If I have to, I’ll build it myself. And with the COVID lockdowns I already have a beard that would do any Old Testament patriarch proud.