Continuing Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy

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In a comment below TSO quite rightly notes that for many Orthodoxy ends at the pocketbook or at the bedroom door. And often orthopraxy never begins. We might say yes with our lips, but our lives are a vivid diorama of the exact opposite.

I thought it apposite to take his example of adoption. And it might be that some people would readily take to the idea of the adoption of children saved from abortion, even the forced adoption. But let's do a little thought experiment. Let's say that the government proposed legislation that would allow a citizen to "buy" a disenfranchisement from abortion. That is, a citizen pays a fee, and the person coming into the clinic is sent home to have her baby, the supposed right revoked. This fee would be a monthly payment, enough to support the child until the age of 18 and then through college. However, the person buying the disenfranchisement would NOT be permitted to visit the child or speak with the child.

Now, assuming money wasn't an obstacle, would we be willing to put our money where the protest signs are? That is, would we be willing to support the children and the mothers for whom we pray? That's a really tough question for me. Sure, if money weren't an obstacle, I'd be willing to do so, but in the absence of any tangible reward?

Let's say that you could protest at a clinic for the cost of taking home one mother and child and supporting them through the child's educational years. Once again, how many would do it, assuming money were no object? Adopting a child, there's some return--supporting another person's child and that person?

Our desire to curtail abortion has consequences--sometimes severe social consequences if a mother has to drop out of school because her family no longer supports her. Are we willing to take on those consequences outside the fatherly welfare state? In other words, we cannot say, "Are there no prisons? Are the workhouse still in order?" Say we have to take personal responsibility for our stands. Where is our orthopraxy. We may still adhere to the orthodox line, but this orthodoxy has real, practical, tangible consequences--consequences that will impact us for a lifetime and beyond.

When we can make this choice without thinking about it, without pausing to say, "No more vacations to Virginia, the Everglades, Cancun, the Bahamas," then we will have begun to walk the road of orthopraxy. But I know I'm not there yet.

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What's interesting to me is since there are no "bad Catholics" anymore no one is guilty of heteropraxy. Hence that means orthodoxy must be changed to fit the heteropraxy. Thus cafeteria Catholicism was born.

But I think it's false to separate the two as you do. Orthodoxy makes one more orthoprax and orthopraxy makes one more orthodox. They are tied together.

If we begin loving all the people God brings into our lives, including those who don't appear to be on our level, then loving without obvious return may well become easier. Recently I had a lovely conversation with the fiance of the woman who comes to help clean my home. In the past I've had lovely conversations with her as well. It would be so easy for me to maintain a wall of polite distance between us mostly because it's embarrassing to become genuine friends with someone who will be cleaning my bathroom. Still, the next time I have people over for a meal. I will invite them because they too are seeking the same salvation, the same holiness that I am and including this lovely couple will expand all our lives.

The connection with giving even though there is no "return" may not seem apparent yet I think it truly exists. I will have this couple over because I want to love as extravagantly as God loves me. And that's the kind of love that pays a child's expenses without personally knowing the child, in hope that a far off day in a far different place will come when the two of you will meet and rejoice in Love. After all, to be given the gift of loving as God loves, of becoming like him and, of saving a life too - what greater return is there?

So maybe we need to take it in baby steps and just love whomever God puts in our life as if they are God himself, whether they can or will love us back. Then, when the day comes on which we are called to love without seeing, we will be so focused on simply loving, the payoff we won't receive will not matter because we will be immersed in the joy of being conformed to Christ.

(Posted for Drusilla by Steven because of his persnicketly commenting system--all errors of attribution and otherwise are his)



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 15, 2007 6:36 PM.

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