A reader vents:
I believe I fit your definition of a moderate Christian, but not by choice. You see, proving God’s existence via the glory of a sunset is not enough for me. I want to know his will. Like you, I am intellectually and spiritually attracted to Catholicism (age, apostolic succession, 'Into Great Silence,' etc...). What's holding me back is a few pet issues like contraception.
My wife has type one diabetes with complications. According to her doctor, becoming pregnant could be life threatening (BTW: She is pro-life and would not abort). Therefore, I am faced with a choice: Either accept that God makes his will known through the Magisterium of the Catholic Church (i.e contraception is always bad.), or trust what feels right (i.e. God permits contraception in our case). I can’t be intellectually honest and do both.
I respect your decision to stay in the Catholic church despite your objections. However, the reason for believing that only a Catholic priest can create the Eucharist is the same reason for believing that contraception and homosexual acts are "intrinsically evil." It’s all about church authority/tradition. If I reject the authority of the church on contraception, then I must reject its authority everywhere else. Thus, moderation actually reduces my faith. A fundamentalist has faith that God’s promises will be kept. A moderate desperately hopes that the promises exist in the first place.
Currently, I have no church in which to practice, or justify, my faith. Essentially, I’m a wannabe fundamentalist forced into moderation. This leaves me intellectually stripped of any argument about why my “faith” is more attuned to God’s will than a your average Mormon/Muslim/Amish. Sometimes, when the wind blows just right, I smell the distinct odor of oblivion. There was a time when it blew by unnoticed.
I miss fundamentalism.
I do at times as well. Fundamentalism is much easier in many ways. But rejecting the teachings of the church hierarchy on a minor matter like contraception does not, it seems to me, merit abandoning all confidence in that authority on everything. It's possible to separate out the core and peripheral teachings of the Church. My test is the Nicene Creed. If I can say that and believe it, the small matter of a few celibates' view of my sexual orientation is a petty one.