Yes, I love you. No you shouldn’t do that. Yes, you may choose that. No, I don’t agree. How can we argue these things with love and grace? Arguing from a Catholic perspective can be difficult for some and even stressful. Maybe this little role play will help.
Atheist: You don’t think I should love who I want to love.
Catholic: I think we should love everyone.
Atheist: But I can’t marry anyone.
Catholic: I don’t believe every civil union is a valid marriage in God’s eyes. That doesn’t devalue either person.
Atheist: You want to tell people they can’t get married.
Catholic: Everyone has free choice.
Atheist: But you disagree with same sex marriage.
Catholic: Because I care for your soul.
Atheist: I don’t believe in your religion. You shouldn’t push your beliefs on others.
Catholic: You’re free to believe as you wish, as am I.
Atheist: But you promote prejudice. You want people to believe what you believe.
Catholic: I care about people’s souls and want to share what’s best for them. They must choose for themselves though.
Atheist: So anyone who disagrees is going to Hell? That’s mean.
Catholic: I don’t have the authority to say who is and isn’t going to Hell. I’m at risk too.
Atheist: But you claim to know what’s ‘best’ for their souls?
Catholic: Our life on Earth is short. Eternity is forever. It’s like a journey from point A to point B. You can cliff jump, roller skate across the highway, ride without brakes, or ride with a seatbelt. I will always recommend riding safely with a seatbelt. It’s possible that roller skating across the highway will get you there in one piece but I certainly don’t recommend it. It’s ultimately God’s choice and He has given us guidelines. We should do better by listening to Him.
Atheist: I don’t believe in the Eye in the Sky.
Catholic: That’s your choice. That doesn’t change the Truth.
Atheist: So, you agree I have a choice and can choose?
Catholic: I’ve said that. We have free will.
Atheist: So, why can’t I do what I want?
Catholic: You can.
Atheist: But you disagree. What if your own child was gay? Would you let him live his life?
Catholic: I would never stop loving my child. If he chose to jump into fires, I wouldn’t support him because I love him. If he chose to, again, roller skate across the highway, I would urge him not to and to get into the safe car and buckle up.
Atheist: So, you would force him to change who he is for you?
Catholic: I didn’t say that. His attraction or temptations, whatever they are, don’t define him or anyone else. Dragging him by the hair into the car could be worse. That causes some people to jump out. I can only urge and pray.
Atheist: For someone who tries to stop people from having a choice, you certainly are talking a lot about choice now.
Catholic: We are each given a choice by God. Christians hope to advise people to choose well. When an innocent life is at risk, one with no voice, we are compelled to speak up. They don’t choose their own death.
Atheist: Women have fought for a voice for centuries and you want to stop that.
Catholic: I am a woman and I’m speaking up for unborn women.
Atheist: What about the born? The teen or abused or broken mother? The mother whose life may be in danger?
Catholic: I’ll speak up for her too. Our world doesn’t support her like it should. Fathers need to be responsible. Women need to be encouraged and supported. They can, and many do, reach their goals while having children. Abortion is never necessary. I support tons of resources which support mothers after the birth of their children. They help them get jobs, housing, food, supplies, and advocate for them. They stay in touch for any future needs.
Atheist: Women don’t have access to that. And it should be a personal choice.
Catholic: Killing isn't a choice for the victim. Neither the mother nor the child should suffer. We shouldn’t have to choose between one of them. Both can thrive and we need to build a world which supports that. Many Christian organizations do that and the media doesn’t share it. They exist and they work.
Atheist: You want to control women!
Catholic: I want them to be free to live well, and their children free to live well too.
Atheist: You don’t get to tell people what to do! Women will die in back alley abortions.
Catholic: Then shouldn’t we support their decision for life?
Atheist: You’re only pro-birth. You want to push your views on everyone!
Catholic: *sigh* You missed everything I said.
This dialog could go on, and does every day. It covers many different topics, not just those two. Try as we might, some don’t want to hear it. Still, we must try. I've had many a peaceful conversation with friends who disagree on many points with me. I've also had some not so nice experiences. Know when to walk away.
*Note: This could be an unchurched Catholic, a Protestant, or another faith group. It's not always atheists we argue with.