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My Family's Faith Journey


I grew up very firm in my faith, and I never fell away from it, but I did go through a mildly “rebellious” phase in college where I did not prioritize it the way I should have.


This was when I met my husband.


Making sure that we were on the same page regarding theology was not at the top of my mind - not even close. I knew he grew up Catholic, but he was not going to church at all – mass or otherwise – at the moment and was happy enough to accompany me weekly to the church I was currently attending.


We quickly fell in love and were married less than a year after we met, and we are still going strong – with the normal ups and downs of any relationship between two sinners – almost 12 years later. (I have thoughts on the stigma of getting married too soon that I’ll share someday.)


For the first several years of our marriage, it was a non-issue. We attended a non-Catholic church sporadically and both had a shallow yet present faith.


Eventually, though, both our faiths deepened but in slightly different directions. He would like to raise our family in the Catholic church while I would prefer not to.


We now find ourselves in a strangely difficult place. I see so much value in certain aspects of the Catholic church. I love the reverence they have for our Savior at Mass. I appreciate the way they think through difficult cultural issues and take strong, unified stances. I value the way they have maintained beautiful traditions.


But…


I also understand why the Protestant reformation took place and prefer the heavy emphasis on faith through grace alone of the Protestant church.


My husband appreciates that Protestants take great pride in personally knowing Jesus and enjoys the beautiful worship music of the services.


But…


He is more drawn to the formal tradition of the Catholic church and says that is where he feels God’s presence most.


Thankfully, we both realize that we follow Christ, and that is what is most important. While we have definitely had heated discussions, it has not created a rift in the unity of our marriage.


God graciously – and in my opinion, providentially – revealed to me the wisdom of 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 early in this journey. No matter which church the pew – or chair – you are sitting on is, the important thing is that you have your eyes pointed on Christ, and both of us do.


Over the past few years, I have had a couple interesting introspections that I thought I’d share.



1. I find it incredibly interesting that the Catholic church traces the lineage of the papacy back to Peter.


Can you imagine what it would have been like to be a newly converted Jew right after Christ’s death and resurrection?


The veil had been torn. They no longer had to follow all the ceremonial laws to gain access to God, but they had been taught their ENTIRE lives the absolute importance of following those laws to the letter. That would not have been an easy transition, and we see evidence of that difficulty in Acts 10.


Peter has a vision where God reveals to him that all animals are now clean to eat, but he resists because he cannot imagine eating something that he had been hardwired his whole life to avoid at all costs.


Peter, who is said to be the first Pope, primarily ministered to newly converted Jews while Paul was called to minister to the Gentiles.


Is it possible that the rituals of the Catholic church were a gift to newly converted Jews? A way to ease the transition from a rigid adherence to the law to the radical ideology of grace?


No one should ever put their faith in the rituals, but is it possible that they are a gift that can draw some – not all – people to God?


2. I find the timing of the Protestant Reformation to be interesting as well.


Whenever I hear Protestants explain why Catholics are wrong about something, I very often hear something like, “Where does it say that in the Bible?”


Sometimes we forget that the gospel was mostly spread via word of mouth preaching in its earliest days. Families did not have a Bible in their homes to learn from. They had to rely on those who shared with them the gospel to teach them what it looks like to follow Jesus.


The hierarchy of the Catholic Church would have been useful to preserve the accuracy of the message of the gospel before the printing press was invented. We’ve all played a game of telephone and have seen how easily a message can be completely different once it has been passed through a few people.


The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1436 and was widely used by 1500.


Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on October 31, 1517 which sparked the Protestant Reformation.


Is it possible that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was necessary – for a time? And that those reasons no longer exist with the technological advances that allow for a Bible to be present in any home that wants one?


I highly recommend the book Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. He makes the case that Jesus’s birth came at the exact right moment in history. Perhaps the Protestant Reformation took place at the exact right moment as well? Maybe the Catholic Church served its purpose and is now simply available for those who take comfort in worshiping that way?


3. Protestants and Catholics could learn from one another.


I once saw a man named Nathan Finochio answer a question about Catholics idolizing Mary. He responded by saying that it might also be true to Protestants don’t give her the reverence she deserves.


God chose her to be the mother of our Savior!!!


That is incredible, and it is amazing to me that I don’t recall learning very much about her in my 8 years of private, Christian school.


I will readily admit that the Mary factor is one of my biggest hurdles in overcoming Catholic resistance, but I do agree that perhaps she should be given a bit more honor in Protestant churches.


The same is true of Communion.


I do not personally believe in transubstantiation. (Although, I don’t really see why it is a big deal if someone believes the bread and wine miraculously convert to the actual body and blood of Christ as long as they don’t put their faith in the consumption of the elements of Communion to save them.)


I also concede that perhaps some Protestants are a bit too flippant with Communion. I am not a hug fan of the pre-packaged Communion elements and feel like sometimes it is treated as a box to be checked when the passages of Scripture that speak on it make clear that it is a sacrament that is to be taken very seriously.


Is it possible that congregants are missing out on an enormous, mysterious gift by not lending the sacrament of Communion the respect that it warrants?



If you want to get a feel for where I currently am when it comes to faith, take a look at what Francis Chan has been saying in recent years. Pretty much, I am questioning where we are. With all the division within the Christian community, it doesn’t feel like we are doing church the way God intended, but I am not sure what the solution is.


I recently saw that Francis Chan has been labeled by some to be a false teacher. I have never seen anything from him other than a passionate love for Jesus and am worried that some Christians might be partaking in their own version of cancel culture. It seems too often that we are directing our energy toward fighting against each other rather than fighting to bring more lost souls into the church.


There are absolute differences between Catholics and Protestants, but you will never be able to convince me that all Catholics are unsaved. Some are, and some aren’t. Just like every Protestant church has both “saints” and “ain’ts” as Vernon McGee likes to say.


So what is the current situation with my family?


We have been exclusively attending mass for a few months, but starting this week, we are going to try attending a Lutheran church before the Catholic mass.


It’s funny because the “Luther”an church represents the original break from the Roman Catholic church, but to me it seems like it might be a sweet compromise in that it maintains the formality and reverence that my husband needs without the rigid rules of Catholicism. My husband is not convinced it will work which is why we will continue to attend mass as well.


I am continuing to trust that if we both have our hearts aligned to God’s will, He will eventually get us to where we are supposed to be, and there have been and will continue to be many lessons learned along the way.





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