Loving Oneself to Destruction

“For whoso loveth himself, not God, loveth not himself: man that cannot live of himself, must die by loving himself; and he cannot love himself, who loves himself to his own destruction. > Saint Augustine, Catina Aurea on John 21:18-19

God? Human? Why? Heaven and Hell? Oblivion?

No longer is societal understanding of these questions based on Judeo-Christian belief. Atheistic nihilism seems as good a label as any. The shift has been growing beneath the surface of society for a while, hidden, then burst out in the last decade, coinciding with the Obama Presidency.

These fundamental questions are underneath the strife in our cultural clash about social issues. One side, Judaeo-Christians, are left scratching their heads wondering how the love they feel for every person, made in the image of God, is “hate;” the other side, atheistic nihilists, cannot fathom how hate could ever be love. This unbridgeable chasm makes dialogue about life, abortion, women's rights, men's rights, gay rights, gender-identity, gay marriage, definition of marriage, immigration, racism, suicide, euthanasia, income inequality, religious freedom, free markets, climate change, ape rights, dolphin rights ... etc., impossible. Until we come to recognize why the same words — human, love, hate — mean different things to each other, dialogue is not possible. Perhaps this exploration will help.

Is there a God?

Catholic: Absolutely.

Atheism: Nope. Maybe. Depends on what you believe. So ... no, I suppose, because a God that depends on belief isn't much of a God. God is for primitive, unthinking people. Believe in one if you want, but you're less of a person because of it.

Why am I here?

Catholic: To breathe into the world the unique breath of God breathed into you at the moment you were conceived, a breath that only you can share with the world.

Atheism: Up to you, really. Not for me to say.

Why are you here?

Catholic: Same reason each of us is here. God so desires deep, abiding, eternal relationship with us that He made the world this way, giving us free will to join Him by His grace, or reject Him and be whatever god to ourself we can be, our choice, knowing we would reject Him, fall into original sin, and need to be redeemed by the love and sacrifice of His Son, Jesus our Christ. Humble obedience to your Creator or be your own god with whatever powers you can muster. Choose wisely and humbly: there are eternal consequences, a judgement day, and none of us has the ability to be saved on our own, or even with each other.

Atheism: How should I know? It's your truth. You figure it out. I'll celebrate with you when you do, unless you harsh on my truth. That's hate. Nothing higher than personal truth. Well, except the truth that there's nothing higher than personal truth. Wait. Does that even make sense?

What does it mean to be human?

Catholic: To be made in God's image, contain the unique breath of God breathed into each of us at our conception, which gives us value, meaning, and purpose beyond fathoming.

Atheism: Up to you. You decide. It's all about my truth. Your truth.

Do I have value?

Catholic: Yes. As the only being in the universe to be you, with your unique breath of God, only you can share that aspect of God with the world. That give you, and every human, value, meaning and purpose beyond reckoning.

Atheism: Well, there was this study that showed that after we die the minerals of our body are worth a buck thirty four? Something like that. So, yes. A little bit.

Do you have value?

Catholic: Absolutely. Same as everyone else. This is our human dignity. We are called to uphold everyone's human dignity, which includes aiding one another in coming to know and choose God.

Atheism: Up to you. You decide. But whatever I decide, you can't disagree with or you deny my humanity. Don't worry. I won't deny your humanity. Unless you hate. Hate happens when you think there is a truth higher than personal truth.

Why?

Catholic: Every person has human dignity because they contain God's unique breath in them that only they can share with the world. Breath of God, priceless.

Atheism: Ummm... sure. Whatever you want. Personal truth is personal truth, so ... go with it.

Do I have a purpose?

Catholic: Yes! Yes! Yes! Given to you by God and yours to joyously discover and humbly, delightfully light up the world with Christ's light as you do! How may I help you come to know your breath of God?

Atheism: Up to you, again. Seriously? Don't you get that yet. It's all up to you to be and do whatever you want, until it gets in the way of whatever I want, and then it's all about whoever has the bigger stick. And I really object to that nihilism comment. That was hateful. Come closer, so I can reach you with my god power stick.

What is the Highest Truth?

Catholic: God's Truth, including the full revelation of Jesus Christ in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, which includes our understanding of God's natural law.

Atheism: Personal Truth. Whatever you decide. Except if your personal truth is that there is a truth higher than personal truth, which there can't be. It's complicated. You wouldn't get it. Don't hit me with your hateful logic and reason and fallacy of logic hate speech!

Is there sin?

Catholic: Yes. Adam and Eve defied God. They were removed from the Garden of Eden and fell from God's grace, all creation and subsequent humans with them. Of our own, we have no capacity to not sin, nor to unite with God.

Atheism: No. Well, there is the sin of saying there is sin, when there isn't, because personal truth. Do I have to keep explaining this truth that there is no truth outside of personal truth?

Can I be anything I want to be?

Catholic: Yes and no. If you choose humble obedience to God, then you are called to accept who God made you to be, His breath of God within in. This includes gender, as assigned at conception. God also breathes into a vocation, and specific gifts to aid you in breathing your unique breath of God into the world. Humble obedience to God means humble obedience to who God made you to be. True freedom is the capacity to choose God, for sin is what enslaves us. Within that, yes, you can be and express who you are and find the greatest joy through being who God created you, and only you, to be.

Atheism: Youbetcha! You are your own God. Who are you? Be that. Until you aren't, then be THAT. Until you aren't ...

Freedom of Religion?

Catholic: Absolutely. God gave us free will and it is a sin to force belief on others. Faith can't be coerced, it must be chosen. But, until recently, society had agreed upon natural law understanding of basic human truths, such as marriage is between one man and one woman, we are the gender we are born, human life is precious and to be protected from conception, among others. With personal truth becoming the only truth, there no longer is a common truth or understanding, and that creates a challenge of how do we exist together in the same society? Being forced to celebrate someone's sinful choice, such as gay marriage, gender identity change ... it is a sin to do so and a sin to make us, and a sin to call us not celebrating sin hate. We love the sinner, hate the sin. That's how we uphold human dignity.

Atheism: Religion is hateful. That's all it is. An excuse to hate. Instead, everyone should be required to uphold everyone's human dignity, which means whatever each person's personal truth is.

What happens when I die?

Catholic: Eternity happens. Either eternal life, union with God in Paradise by God's loving mercy through Jesus our Christ; or exactly what those who reject God want ... eternal death, utter separation from God, except for your inner breath of God, which is yours to keep; however, it will torment you, separated from your Creator.

Atheism: Oblivion.

Conclusion

We know in our clay, because it yearns for our Creator, whose breath we contain and fingerprint we bear, there is Something Greater. The discord we experience is not the absence of God, but our fall from God, and our God loves us so dearly He sent his only Begotten Son to sew the unbridgeable chasm between heaven and earth with the love of his flesh and his blood and buy us back that we may be adopted sons and daughters of God. Believe what you will. As for me, God defines Love. I love what He loves and hate what He hates.

“For whoso loveth himself, not God, loveth not himself: man that cannot live of himself, must die by loving himself; and he cannot love himself, who loves himself to his own destruction. > Saint Augustine, Catina Aurea on John 21:18-19

#truth #LGBTQ #lovenothate