Dear Mary Beth,
Just a thought. Any way you could do a write up post on Catholic Match regarding the huge numbers of non 7 of 7’s? I just saw a few “I work in the parish and love the Church” people who reject 2-4 teachings of the Church.
Mr. Seven of Seven
Dear Mr. Seven,
Ah yes, the eternal 7/7 debate. For those of you not familiar with this aspect of CatholicMatch, this is a reference to the seven questions of Catholic doctrine that are posted on every member’s profile, along with the member’s answers. If a member agrees with all seven, he or she is referred to as a 7/7. Someone who agrees with only five of them is called a 5/7, someone who agrees with four of them would be a 4/7, etc. There are a lot of 5/7’s here. And I’ll give you a hint: the two matters on which they dissent rarely include Transubstantiation, Holy Orders or the Immaculate Conception. No, the disagreement usually revolves around much more immediate concerns for dating Catholics, namely the Church’s teaching on pre-marital sex and contraception.
I have a profile on CatholicMatch, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about me that I am a 7/7. Heck, I’ve spent my entire adult life speaking and writing on the beauty of those two points of doctrine that so many people have dismissed.
So, I’m always kind of surprised when I hear from a 5/7 man who is interested in getting to know me, given how important 6 and 7 are to me—particularly in the context of a dating relationship. I guess they would have no way of knowing that. After all, if they knew who I am and what I’ve been doing for the past 20 something years, that would mean they would have heard me speak or read one of my books and they would be fully convinced and converted 7/7’s, right? Right?
There are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of debates on the various CatholicMatch forums between the 7/7’s and the 5/7’s. Basically the 7/7’s are telling the 5/7’s they aren’t really Catholic, and the 5/7’s are telling the 7/7’s that they’re judgmental for dismissing them just because they reject these antiquated teachings that no one could possibly take seriously anymore. Or something like that.
I’ve never felt the need to write about them in the past because I figured all of those forum discussions pretty much had the issue covered. But then you, Mr. Seven, wrote your note and got me thinking. I haven’t participated in any of those debates. What would I have to say to those 5/7’s?
Quite simply, 5/7’s, I think you’re missing out on something very beautiful. I’m not surprised that you’re missing it. I’m frankly surprised there aren’t even more of you. There aren’t a lot of places where you’ll hear about it. The larger world has done a really good job of conveying the message that those teachings are antiquated and irrelevant, and the Church has for the most part done a very poor job of explaining them. Looking at the Church’s teaching from the perspective of modern American culture, they do seem ridiculously outdated and prudish.
My turnaround on these issues happened after I started studying what the Church really teaches about sex and marriage. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what I learned—I could write a whole book about that. (As a matter of fact, I did. It’s called Real Love, and you can read it if you want to learn more.) I just want to tell you that what I discovered is that the Church’s teaching aren’t random rules, they aren’t antiquated and they aren’t about oppressing or repressing anybody. They are about helping us to live love—and life—to the fullest. I found the teachings to be beautiful and deep and profound in a way that I never expected.
Before you dismiss those teachings out of hand, I’d like to challenge you to learn more about them—about why we believe what we do, and why we so stubbornly cling to it even in the face of such enormous cultural opposition. Read the Catechism. Read my book Real Love. Go back and read previous CatholicMatch blog entries, by myself and others, on the topic. Read other books by Catholic authors—there are a lot out there. Heck, read the Church’s documents for yourself. Blessed John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio would be a good place to start.
Look, if you’re here on CatholicMatch, I assume that means you are at least somewhat serious about your faith. So give your Church the benefit of the doubt. Learn the “why” behind the “thou shalt nots.”
Who knows—it might just change your life.
Do you have questions for Mary Beth? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org