California Catholic Daily‘s reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and ask students about God, good, and evil in “Inquiring Minds.”
- Kyle, pre-nursing major from Manila, The Philippines
- Outside the Los Angeles City College Student Union
- December 4
Do you consider yourself religious?
How does that affect your life?
Kyle: Maybe I consider myself religious because I was raised as a Catholic. There are some variables in our lives that we can control, but there are some things that we cannot, so those are the things that I think I would rely on God and I would ask Him for help.
So you see God as someone who can help you –
Kyle: Yeah. Not just someone that could help me, but I look at Him as a parent that I need to make proud. That’s the Catholic in me.
Do you still practice Catholicism by doing things like going to Mass on Sunday?
Kyle: Not every Sunday, but I go to church at least once or twice a month to pray the rosary because there’s so much in our lives that I couldn’t do anything with, I pray the rosary just to feel emotional ease.
There’s a lot of anger against the Church right now. Have you ever had to defend Catholicism?
Kyle: Yeah, my boyfriend was actually an atheist when we met and now he’s super religious. He would always argue that he hates the Church.
But see, the Church is a different entity than God for me.
What I believe is that the teachings of the Church are different than the teachings of the Bible, because you could interpret the Bible in million ways. There are a lot of fallacies in the teachings of the Church, maybe mainly because of the human factor to it. Although the scriptures were also written by a human, there was something inside me that was telling that it was inspired by God.
So maybe we could use the scriptures as a basis of morality [first], and then the teachings of the Church, and not rely on the teachings of the Church as a baseline of measuring if this is morally right. We need to rely on our own judgment to look at the scriptures, read them for ourselves, and have our own understanding. Because that is exactly what the teachers of the Church do: they read it and then they give interpretation to it and then they speak it to you.
If, like you said, scripture has a million different possible interpretations, wouldn’t –
Kyle: I mean a million interpretations in a way that – we have a lot of opinions, right? For example, in the story of Ruth and …I forget the name of the other guy… where he got in a relationship with the same person- In the Bible, it doesn’t actually say whether they had sex. But God didn’t say that it was immoral or it was a sin for him to have a relationship with a guy, although it says that they’re actually kissing. So those are the things that you can interpret in a million ways. Like, ok, maybe gay relationships aren’t actually a sin as long as you don’t have sex or maybe, like blah, blah, blah. There’s a lot of opinions to it. We put our own color to what the black and white scriptures would say.
Do you think there is only one correct interpretation or any that any of these is fine?
Kyle: I think God gives us the freedom, the liberty of putting our own interpretation to it. I might have a different religious view than what the pope would think, right? That is one of the basic things that God gave to us: our freedom of giving color to whatever it is, like our life. And that’s pretty much the same thing what He wanted to do with the scriptures. He wants us to rely on our own understanding, our own comprehension.
If anyone can interpret the Bible to mean anything, why do you think God gave us the Bible at all?
Kyle: Maybe because He suddenly figured out, “ok, these humans are not going to be figuring this one out, so maybe I’ll just give them this.” The Bible is the basis of morality.
How can it be the basis of morality if it can be interpreted a million different ways?
Kyle: But there are some things that are clear, right? Like I said, some of the grey area was the story of the gay relationship. But the Ten Commandments, for example, the “You shall not kill,” that is a black and white law that couldn’t be interpreted in a million other ways, but is a concise and precise law. “Killing is a sin, this is a sin,” things like that.
With all these possible interpretations, what makes something a sin?
Kyle: We couldn’t actually say that there is sin. If you look at it from a logical perspective, there isn’t actually a sin. It depends on the person… or maybe sin doesn’t actually exist in reality. But if you put the Bible and morality into the equation, then when you kill somebody, that is a sin. Because you took somebody’s life that you do not own. And probably the nature of sin is… like, this is your space, and I’m taking something out of it. Imposing something on you or doing something horrible to ruin your space or to ruin something that isn’t yours.
But there’s also another situation where, for example, an illegal alien, he was here in the USA, trying to have his American dream, but it’s illegal for him to stay here. That is a sin, or it’s a crime for him to stay here because of our laws. He didn’t respect the laws of the federal government, so that is a sin. You get what I’m saying, right? For me, if you include law in morality, then sin happens when you break [the law]. You broke a certain promise or a certain law or a certain moral basis.
What do you think about Pope Francis?
Kyle: I don’t know anything about Pope Francis. I really don’t.
Have you heard about the current sex-abuse scandals in the Church?
Kyle: I’ve actually heard about not [just] the current one, but that even way back then in the Middle Ages, ever since the start of the Catholic Church, there’s always been a pope that would rape a kid or whatever.
That’s what I was saying earlier: the human factor is what puts sin or disgust to the Catholic Church. That’s a [different] case from God Himself, right? So the teachings of the Bible are different than the teachings of the Church. God’s teaching is different to the pope. That’s what the humans did. People. Us. We f****d up. It’s our nature. We couldn’t blame God or the scriptures for the sin of those people.
“Inquiring Minds” is a California Catholic Daily exclusive by Mary Rose.