The Basics of Christianity
by Fr. Robert D Smith
Many who claim to be Catholic in today's world say "I accept the Church's
moral teachings except for that on abortion, or except for that on contraception,
or except for that on divorce and remarriage, or except for that on sodomy, or
except for that requiring church attendance every Sunday." And of these people,
a great many would claim to be still Catholic even when they reject all five of the
above moral directives. "I still accept most of the moral teachings," they say.
"Besides, the other parts of the Catholic religion are much more important. The
points above are only minor elements of religious practice, not essential parts of
the faith at all."
What have such people done when they reject one or more of the Church's
moral directives? Is this really a side issue? Is this, indeed, really irrelevant to the
basics of Christianity? What they have done by rejecting a moral directive of the
Church is to reject one of the Ten Commandments. The moral teachings of the
Church are the same as the Commandments. The Commandments, correctly
understood, are the same as the moral teachings, the moral directives, of the
Church. A person who has rejected one or more of the moral teachings of the
Church has placed himself back with the pagans. This does not make him
excused from the Commandments, any more than the pagans are excused. The
pagan and the renegade Catholic both still have the Commandments written in
The faithful Catholic has the Church helping him on moral matters, warn-
ing him that what his heart tells him about right and wrong is correct, and that
the world is wrong. The pagan and the renegade Catholic have only that tiny
voice in their hearts, so opposed to the world, telling them that the world is wrong.
The renegade Catholic breaks away on the very thing that will keep him on the
road to salvation.
Abortion is cruelty, it is the killing of an innocent person, and is directly
contrary to the Fifth Commandment,"You shall not kill." Contraception, the use
of contraceptive devices, is engagement in a sexual perversion. Divorce and re-
marriage is adultery. Sodomy is also a sexual perversion. All three of the above
are contrary to the Sixth Commandment, "You shall not commit adultery." They
are all forms of adultery. Those who skip regular churchgoing, and who do not
substitute for it by some kind of religious reading or prayer at home or elsewhere
for an hour a week year 'round, are disobeying the Third Commandment,
"Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day." The need to worship and learn
about God on a regular basis is written on everyone's heart. The Third Command-
ment defines a minimum for this.
Disregard of one or more of the Church's moral directives is not a trivial
matter, nor a matter of secondary importance. It is disregard of a Commandment
of God, disregard of something required of every man on earth. Moreover, even on
essentials, this comes first. The reason that Christ came to earth was to reveal
to man in doctrinal religious form a correct and exact explanation of the
Commandments, and to teach that repentance according to these correct
notions of the Commandments is required of all men on earth, Christian and non-
Christian, Catholic and non-Catholic, as an absolute condition of salvation.
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'The Other Side of Christ' copyright © Fr. Robert D Smith. All rights reserved.