The World vs. The Church
The West, being effectively apostate, preaches a counterfeit message of love and salvation which claims that because God loves, He does not judge. Therefore , they think, the Church goes against God when she insists that some behavior is morally wrong. Such a mindset looks at Catholic moral teachings and thinks there is no reason to continue to cling to them. So, when the Church says that a valid marriage exists until the death of one of the spouses, says that abortion is never justified, says that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman, people get offended at the Church’s “intransigence” (one wonders why nobody ever uses that term about those who challenge the Church) and call her unreasonable, bureaucratic, intolerant, and so on. These are ad hominem attacks and not rebuttals, but they are repeated so often that many people believe it.
But the Church, believing God exists and has set down commandments regarding our moral obligations, cannot accept such a view. She recognizes the fact that God created humanity with free will—something He will not violate—and individuals can and do use their free will to reject the moral obligation that goes along with God’s loving and salvific act. Essentially, to accept God’s salvation is to accept His commandments. As the Catechism says:
678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching. Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.583 Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude about our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.585 On the last day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (1470)
679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son.” Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.588 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love. (1021)
If Our Lord chose to die for us so that we could be saved, what will happen to those who refuse to accept this gift, or treat it cheaply?
The World vs. Reality
This rejection does not have to be an overt rejection of everything good and decent in the world. It can be as simple as refusing to accept the reality of what God has commanded and the Church teaches. For example, in the Robert Bolt play, A Man For All Seasons, St. Thomas More is beginning to experience the hostility of refusing to go along with accepting King Henry VIII in his attempts to divorce his wife and marry Anne Boleyn. More's wife, Alice, is angry and worried about the possible effects of his refusal to go along with the king’s divorce and remarriage:
Alice: (irritation) And you stand between them!
More: I? What stands between them is a sacrament of the Church. I’m less important than you think, Alice.
[Bolt, Robert. A Man For All Seasons (Modern Classics) (Kindle Locations 882-884). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.]
The hostility directed at St. Thomas More and the Catholic Church is not due to intransigence on the part of the Church or individuals. It is due to the fact that the reality of the situation does not allow them to do anything else, even if it it means facing hostility and suffering. as a result.
This forces the individual to make a choice. When the world says there is nothing wrong with X, and the Church says X is a sin, the question that must be asked is how we are so confident that the Church must be wrong—especially when we are individually so uninformed about Church teaching as to think that the words of the Pope or the Catechism or the Second Vatican Council are a change from previous teaching. Before one can condemn the Church teaching, a person has to ask whether they fully know and understand the teaching or not. If they do not, they must not presume to judge.
The World Fails to Consider the Truth of What It Does Not Want to Hear
Unfortunately, many people either judge something without learning about it or else only read about it after they have made up their minds on the subject. If one decides “The Church must be wrong,” and reads what the Church has to say on the subject with that mindset, such a person—and not the Church—is guilty of intransigence. Ultimately, what it comes down to this. A good person—one who wills to do good to the best of their ability—has to start by looking for the truth. Ideas must be examined to see if they are true or whether there are some valid objections against them. However, when there are objections, one has to see whether they have accurately represented the view they oppose or whether they have turned it into a caricature. Refuting a caricature is not a refutation of the argument.
Since the rejection of the Church can only be legitimately done by refuting what she truly believes—not a caricature of that belief—the person who opposes the Church teaching has to show how her actual teaching is wrong before his accuser can say that the Church has been refuted. But the fact is, the Church has never been truly refuted. There have only been misrepresentations of Church teaching which have been refuted. Whether that misrepresentation is by portraying the bad behavior of a member of the Church as a teaching of the whole or whether it is falsely alleging that the Church “worships statues,” or calling her moral teaching on sexuality “a war on women” or “homophobic,” all we have are straw men (misrepresentations of the truth) and ad hominem attacks. Either the teaching itself or the motive for the teaching has been misrepresented so as to lead one to believe we are a dangerous group who seek to oppose freedom and goodness out of malice—charges we deny and reject.
Ultimately, a person of good will who seeks to do what is right must begin with no longer believing what “everybody knows,” and instead checking to see if the things which were long assumed on the basis of being told by another person are actually true. If it turns out such things are not true, such a person must stop repeating them and believing them. We must seek to find and once we do find, we must change our ways to live according with the truth. If we do not, our blindness is willful and we will be judged for our hard hearts.