The other day, my husband and I were having a deep discussion in the car on our way to somewhere. Actually, we seem to have some of our best discussions in the car...
I don't remember what the trigger was, but I remember thinking that God gave me the gift of faith so that I could learn obedience, and that God gave John the gift of obedience so that he could acquire and develop faith.
I have always had MAJOR problems with obedience. I was born rebellious, and my parents were more likely to encourage rebellion than to encourage obedience. They wanted me to grow of to be a critical thinker, to be a free spirit and independant-minded women. Did I mention that they were both in the Los Angeles Feminist Theatre Group in the early 1970s?
My parents were frustrated that I chose not to do homework, but they also were not terribly effective at enforcing any rules. The only real consequences I faced for my many stupid decisions were the natural consequences. If I ditched Chemistry class to hang out with my boyfriend, I flunked Chemistry - but if I managed to pass despite not attending, oh well. The natural consequences of a bad decision may be too little and too late to be protective of future bad decisions.
A cultural example - promiscuous sex is a bad decision. The natural consequence of this bad decision may be an incurable sexually transmitted disease such as Herpes, HIV/AIDs, Genital warts, many forms of cervical cancer, etc. However, these consequences are likely not to happen until long after the pattern is set for the bad decision to be sexually promiscuous.
A good parent intervenes in the natural process and provides painful consequences for bad decisions, and also helps a child to understand and mature in how and why these decisions are harmful to the child.
A child has faith (if his or her parents have fulfilled their other duties to love and care) that the parent is acting out of concern for the child's well-being. It is also possible for a child to learn, through obedience, to have faith in the parent's decisions.
We Catholics refer to the Church both as the body of Christ AND as our mother (Holy Mother Church). The pope is our spiritual father on Earth, just as God is our Father on earth and in heaven. If God gives the gift of faith in Him and in His Church, we have parents. If we are obedient to these parents, we will be protected from both certain bad decisions and from the natural consequences of these decisions. For example, the Church's unvarying teachings on the proper order of human sexuality.
This is why I think that dissent and rebellion is the biggest problem facing the church these days.