Why does the church have so many rules?

“Our dialogue and interaction with the Church is designed to help us become the-best-version-of-ourselves. It is for this reason that in every age the Church proclaims the unchanging truths of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ — the Gospel. In doing so, she invites us to a life of discipline…There are disciplines and practices that must be adhered to and abided by if we are to walk faithfully along the path of salvation, fulfill our destiny, and enjoy the happiness with which God wants to fill us. Discipline is an integral part of the adventure of salvation.” (Matthew Kelly)


We are being called to be the best that we can be. This requires us to have discipline. The Catholic Church is not an organization with rules and regulations designed to force us into Her way of thinking or to restrict us and our freedoms. The Catholic Church, in Her infinite wisdom, understands our need for discipline. The teachings, guidelines, and rules set forth by the Church are not to restrict us but to give us guidelines with which to live a life of discipline.


For example, the Church teaches that artificial contraception is not an appropriate form of family planning. Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae predicted three consequences of artificial contraception. The first consequence he sites is that it could “open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” Marital infidelity has indeed grown and moral standards have been lowered since the use of artificial contraceptives have become widespread. He also says that “a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument of his own desires.” The proliferation of sex in movies, television shows, and even commercials indicate that our society treats women as objects. The pornography industry also indicates the degradation of women. The third consequence Paul VI stated was a fear of “this power passing into the hands of public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law.” Look at what countries like China have done. China has enacted a one child rule, enforcing it through artificial contraception and abortion. The use of artificial contraception removes from a marriage (and all relationships) discipline. You don’t need to have discipline if you remove the consequences of your actions, which is precisely what artificial contraception does. The lack of sexual discipline in our lives due to the use of artificial contraceptives has led us down a path of increased marital infidelity, reduced women to objects, and given governments the power to make moral decisions for us.


As you can see, the Church does not set forth rules and guidelines to restrict us. I believe that these rules are there to guide us and to help us have more personal discipline. The above example is probably the most well known and controversial of the Church’s recent teachings. Many people disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception. Only about 4% of Catholics actually adhere to this teaching. The Church does not want to restrict us and our freedoms. The Church is there to guide us and to help us have some self-discipline. “Christ proposes a life of discipline not for its own sake, and certainly not to stifle or control us; rather, he proposes discipline as the key to freedom.” (Matthew Kelly) There is a freedom we receive from living a disciplined life. We need to be aware of our human weakness. Our inherent weakness limits us, restricts us. Living a life of discipline will strengthen us to break free from the temptations and sins we face every day. Living our lives in a disciplined manner will not only enhance the our own lives, but it will also strengthen our society as a whole.

Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment