I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but I now believe that the “morality” I was taught, as exclusively Catholic, is clearly evident across Christianity, if not other Faiths as well.
The Catholic Church is going through its own traumas these years, with priests and other religious(brothers and nuns) either being the perpetrators of, or the victims of, sexual abuse. But I actually don’t blame the priests or other perpetrators; I blame Catholics who were taught to put priests, and other religious, “up on a pedestal” many simply, in reality, could not live up to. From what I understand about celibacy, it is a special discipline that should not be taken for granted.
So we Catholics idolized our Church; we were told to see it as a “bastion of morality”, the “epitome of all things holy”. Sin, on the other hand – well, you don’t go there! Ever!
But that, in my own experience, produces a whole slew of at least potentially neurotic problems; I have known people who lead miserable lives because they don’t like themselves because of some “mistake” they made; they “sinned”. This seems especially true if someone is raised in rigidity. And often, to escape their pain, they turn to drugs which ultimately only ruin them further.
We were told that God is loving and merciful, and forgiving – but why? The simple answer is, its because we screw-up all the time. We make mistakes – what’s the saying, “learn from your mistakes”, because even the “best of us” make them! And to deal with them honestly. I now believe that’s what makes the “best of us”.
Excessive guilt is a too easy way to drag us down, and get us involved in substance abuse, etc., etc.
A “good mistake” can in fact teach us more about ourselves than an accomplishment does. I believe it is a serious mistake that we become so focused on seeing ourselves as a “good person” that when we do “screw up”, especially seriously, the guilt can mess us up even more.
I grew up in this “neurotic morality”, which I now consider does far more harm than good. It creates “reputation”, where people live in constant anxiety about how they appear to others; always living in fear of judgement.
We all have our “Yin” and our “Yang”. Its what makes us human. We have to deal with ourselves as a whole person, and not create a really destructive “self-caricature”, so addicted to reputation that anyone who might criticize us we get outraged.
This not “black/white” because life is not “black/white”; that’s a comfortable perspective some people have, but its not real life. Yes, its said God is merciful; we should treat ourselves this way too.
Deal with our “pros” and “cons”; and always treat ourselves fairly. Its really not so hard to do.
But, in our society, it seems an accomplishment.