dog church
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God Doesn’t Want Me to Have a Dog

dog church

Jesus Christ would not approve of a childless marriage. God doesn’t want me to have a dog.

Which of these two statements do you believe Pope Francis said during a daily mass this week at his Santa Marta residence where he lives inside the Vatican?

If you guessed “Jesus Christ would not approve of a childless marriage,” you’d be right. If you guessed, “God doesn’t want me to have a dog,” you are half right.

Though raised Catholic, I am not representative of the character of person the Catholic religion condones. I know many religions preach acceptance but when one truly comes out to the reality of who one is, a dose of holy water is splashed in one’s face.  I choose not to associate with any particular religion and though I love the beauty of the religion, I choose to worship a God that loves me for me and I am much happier and at peace with myself for it. We all should have the right to our own spiritual and/or religious path, whether that involves worshiping a God or choosing to abstain from practicing any religious tenet.  I draw the line with acts of violence or disdain in the name of “God.”

So I was warming a bit to Pope Francis with his admittance that the church has the right to express its opinions but not to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians, the latter of which I am one. His Papal Highness is even famous for spewing out the now-iconic, “Who am I to judge?”

I normally do not speak of religion, because I know all too well that certain topics are taboo and can invoke animosity, strong feelings of disdain, and sever friendships if spoken aloud: Religion being one, politics the other. Bring pets into the realm of either and I just can’t stay silent. It’s a blogging generation and “dose of reality” is part of my domain.

And then he spoke the word of Dog.

According to ReligionNow.com, “Figures released by Italy’s official statistics agency last week showed the country’s birth rate hit a record low in 2013, with the birth of only 515,000 babies — a drop of 64,000 over the past five years — and a worrying trend as the population ages.”

So the Pope is worried and he speaks. And has to involve dogs and cats into his message of what is right and wrong. Ave maria. Insert eye roll here.

dog breeds

The official statements he made on June 2, 2014, include:

“There are things that Jesus doesn’t like — couples] who don’t want children, who want to be without fruitfulness”

“It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it?

“Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.“

So in a nutshell, the Pope says that couples who have pets instead of children are doomed to the “bitterness of loneliness” in old age.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, seriously? I mean no blasphemy nor offense, but cut me a serious break!

The Dog Chapel - St. Johnsbury, Vermont
Dog Mountain in Vermont, home to this pet-friendly chapel

There are millions who follow his word, and to each their own. Now millions are being instructed by their Holy Father that pets aren’t a substitute for kids.

Can someone tell me where it is guaranteed that kids will be there for their parents as the parents age? What if the child dies? What if the child is self interested? What if the parents don’t want anything to do with the child? What if the child is heartless and could care less about “being there” for his or her parents?

I sometimes wonder if the Pope is living in Mayberry and has an idyllic vision of what he hopes the world can be and not what it really is. Father, forgive us our sins, but sometimes parents just don’t give a damn about their kids. Trust me, I know.

If the parents abandon their kid, the parents shouldn’t be allowed to have a pet. How about that for a mantra? Can we make that scripture?

I am damn angry because His word is gospel to many. Aren’t the millions of dogs and cats abandoned by parents with kids and parents without kids and parents who shouldn’t be parents in enough dire straits as it is?

Maybe my word is gospel, too, Francis.  “Pets add life and happiness and joy and lower blood pressure and save lives” – if any one wants to quote me on that, go ahead. I believe in those words.

dog_two_mommies
So say the word of Dog.

And let’s open that can of worms up that marriage is for procreation again shall we, Francis? Marriage is for love of two consenting adults. Some of us choose not to have kids and feel oh so good about that. I never had the inner calling to produce nor adopt human beings. I really love kids but I don’t feel the need to have one or two or three of my own. That does not make me less of a person or less of a woman, but more of a human being to be true to self. Jesus would like that, being true to myself and living a good life of love, respect, kindness, compassion, and most of all empathy.

Giving out a stern warning on the ills of pet ownership over parenthood is a sad reflection on how you are trying to lead a new generation of Catholics, Francis. How about encouraging pet adoption and discouraging priests from raping children? When will you get on a pulpit and make such statements?

If you believe in the word of God and you worship a certain religion, that’s up to the individual. As a leader of a faith with a background shrouded in secrecy, a history grounded in violence via crusades, full of misogyny, and trying so hard to reform for a new generation of Catholics, why bring innocent lives into this?

Let the dog and cat people alone. They are substitutes for kids for some people, but for many others they are not. And so what either way? Bitterness in old age comes not because you chose to have kids or not, but perhaps because you lived an unfulfilled life that never took you where you truly wanted it to go. Maybe having a dog, cat, lizard, fish, bird, ferret, bunny, capybara, or some other animal or two, three, or more will help thwart a generation into turning old and bitter. I say live for today and embrace all of God’s creatures great and small.

That’s my dogma. Amen.

 

 

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25 Comments

  1. I was raised Catholic but am fallen and am not affiliated with the church at all anymore. Mostly due to comments like these. I had high hopes for Pope Francis too but after dated comments like this, I feel he is as unenlightened as his predecessors.
    Children do not live in the same town as their parents like they used to. Having children does not gaurantee they won’t have lives and be too busy to keep their parents entertained when they are older.
    I’ve had two children and we are very close but I do have more faith that my dogs will keep me company in my golden years more than my very busy children. Dogs are never too busy for us.

  2. Having children is not for everyone! We have parents that keeping breeding and can’t take care of their children and abuse them. They can’t feed them, provide clothing, and treat them like dirt. They think the government need to provide for them and the schools but yet those parents are driving fancy cars, have money to buy their liquor, cigarettes, food stamps, having their nails manicured and hair done, free babysitting so they can go out and have all kinds of fun….when they should be out trying to find a job.
    Everyone out there with dogs and cats are getting unconditional love from their pets. They bring do much joy and happiness. Dogs are helping autistic children to talk and love. They help the elderly by giving them so much joy, love, and companionship to a lonely person. Dogs help people that have problems and can alert them if they are going in a diabetic coma, cancer, and many other sickness.
    I have choose both children and dogs. I am Jewish. God loves everyone no matter what you choose in life. Your choices in life is your business. Gods loves all children and animals after all he created all of us.
    Carol, Darlene and Dexter you are a great family. I know because I have met you. Go on with your wonderful life. I guess maybe we should feel sorry for the pope and priest because they don’t have children or dogs and they don’t know what we know by having either children, animals or both.

  3. This like this are a disappointment to me, because of the pressure I’ve had to endure because of my choice not to have children (or get married). One of my favorite quotes is something like the measure of society is judged by how they treat their animals – this is something that should have been considered when those (in my opinion) irresponsible statements were made.

    Also, we live in a world of unwanted and abandoned children too. I don’t understand how the Catholic church can push for procreation when so many are doing so irresponsibly.

    The choice NOT to have children is a responsible one. Some call it selfish, but I think we would be worthless to society if we didn’t practice being selfish. If I don’t do what’s right for me first, how can I possible do what’s right for the world around me?

    1. Yes Kimberly I totally agree with you. So many people shouldn’t be parents, that’s apparent by what we see in the news. I too went through the cruel comments about not getting married until age 40 and not having children until I was older, people just stared at me in disbelief. These are both important decisions. I love my fur babies above all and all the time.

  4. Wow, first off, great post Carol!!!!! I totally agree with you. Having kids is a mixed bag of emotions, believe me. I love my dogs with all my heart and when my twins were born, my dogs, DID NOT take a back seat and you know, I never had any issues with the integration of babies and dogs, not one incident, the love was shared equally. I am appalled at what he is saying, there is so much wisdom in an animal’s eyes and so much love to give. I will always be a pet parent first. This just brings to to tears. I think the Pope needs to focus on other issues, as there are plenty of them.

  5. Thanks to Kimberly for sending me this way. I’m with you all. This is serious bullshit. And that is just one of many reasons why I will never affiliate myself with any religious institution again. When my cousin (hard core Catholic) told me that animals do not have souls and they are here solely for the pleasure of man, I just about lost it. I went home and looked it up and sure enough, that’s what the doctrine said. I don’t care of Jesus himself came down from on high and told me that, I would not believe it. That’s not my experience nor my truth.

    GRRR.

    To your point, while I wanted children when I was younger, my body closed up shop when the timing was better for me to have one. Gosh, what would the pope say about that? Surely that I missed my open window and Jesus would beat me with a stick for it. LOL Like you, Carol, I choose to honor and co-create with a God who loves all, accepts all and supports us in our soulful desires. Ain’t no head of no Church gonna make me believe otherwise.

    True, consciousness IS shifting but sometimes slower than I would like. We’ll get there.

    Great post! Thanks for writing it.

  6. Mom is not Catholic, but attended a Catholic college. She says she almost fell out of her chair the day the Priest in her religion class said it was a sin to marry if you weren’t going to procreate. What a load of … Mom couldn’t have kids, so does that mean she shouldn’t have married? In our opinion, God loves all creatures and a happy home with 5 pets and a Mom that cares for us can’t be a sin! We don’t talk much about religion either, but sorry, Catholics especially can be way crazy about certain issues! You may be correct about the Pope living in Mayberry.

  7. I tend to agree for the most part. Too bad the popes have so much influence, being mere mortals the same as the rest of us. I choose to get my info on what God wants from the source, the Holy Bible, not a second hand opinion that has been amended to suit the purposes of a human institution hungry for power and control.

  8. Too many people who shouldn’t have children have them anyway. Not everyone is meant to be a parent, and our society is a sad reflection of this. My father was raised Catholic but left the church when his local parish collected $$ to send to Mussolini for his war efforts. I don’t believe a lot of what organized religion preaches these days. There are too many “Christians” who are anything but. I’ll do what I can to help people and animals and hope that this is what being a truly religious person is all about.

  9. Very well said, and I could not agree more. It’s this kind of thing that makes me grateful I was not raised Catholic nor have ever been (probably best not to get going on that subject). I’d hate to think I’d be expected to listen to and abide with that garbage. I had enough bad experiences with organized religion when I was younger….I believe in God and am spiritual but will never go to any church again. I’m sure there are good churches out there, and there are good and well meaning people involved but there are also a lot of hypocrites. Being the best person you can is what’s important, and that would include not judging others’ and their choices in life.

  10. Carol, Your post is a glaring reflection of what turns so many people away from organized religion. I know that writing about religion and/or politics is a very tricky thing, but you did it very eloquently. One of the people that I love most in the world happens to be a gay, wonderful, loving, and caring person. I believe God is more concerned about starting wars, killing, and hatred spewed in His name than who a person loves. Great post, thanks for bravely going where many fear to tread.

  11. I hesitate to join in… okay, here’s the scoop… you’re a great parent, Carol. You and Dar give Dexter the best life! If that’s not parenting, wow… what is? I love kids. Have three. Wanted to have four. But, I love pets, too. I cannot abide people who act as if pets are ‘accessories’… sometimes, sad to say, kids are accessories. Or, their ‘parents’ treat them that way. I guess that’s okay… if you’re Catholic. I mean, as long as you have them, it doesn’t matter how well you take care of them. Whew, better be quiet now. This is one topic I get pretty angry about… and in the end, I wish people would accept each other unconditionally. Be who you are, and be proud. Be strong. Be passionate and loving. Just be… a person who shares love with all God’s creatures.

  12. My husband and I were both raised and schooled in the Catholic church… we came to our senses years ago! The people that are going to be happy in old age are exactly the people that have pets! Does anyone take a human to visit the elderly or to hospice for comfort? I think the church should look at how many people are on this planet now. This is exactly the type of thinking that has driven us away from religion. I have human children and fur children I love them all could not live without them. Any organization that has the nerve to tell anyone how to live or who they should love or not love has some control issues. Doesn’t the Pope have more to do? Like tend the greed and lust in the church to begin with.

  13. Great article, Carol! I completely agree with you. I was raised in the United Methodist Church (Catholic-Light as I’ve heard from more than one Southern Baptist) in the south, and I just can’t stand hearing “the word” being spouted by so many pious, judgmental people that talk about others behind their backs. So when I was younger, I decided to “take the John Walton,” believing that God is all around me (and expecting more from me than what I saw) and stay out of churches. They can hate their own way, and I’ll love everyone and everything my own way. That might not be everyone’s experience, but it’s mine. Like Yvonne, I don’t think the Pope has looked around enough these days to see how so many children are neglected due to their parents not being willing to take time out out of their oh so important lives for their kids. It’s sad, but they’d be better off keeping a lower-maintenance pet than children. I’ve had two sons, I see one of them about twice a year, if he’s not deployed, and the other one has a job with limited off-time that he spends most of with his two girls. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. Those girls need their Daddy. I’ve got my replacement children, and they make me happy and don’t talk back. Their names are Barkly and Vlad.

  14. Geez Louise – just when I was warming up to Francis… That is so frustrating and disheartening. Like the first comment above, I was also raised Catholic but also am no longer part of the church for many reasons – and statements like this don’t help. There are other reasons to be married than JUST to have children. I can’t agree with you more about the reasons someone might end up bitter in old age. Having kids JUST so you won’t be lonely in your old age is (a) ridiculously selfish and (b) no guarantee. It’s too bad that Jesus doesn’t like me and my husband. But oh well. We’re not going to have a kid just so he’ll approve of us! I used to still go to church sometimes with my mom at Christmas – but if Jesus doesn’t like me – well, then screw that. I’ll never go to mass again.

  15. Good lord.

    (And by good lord, I’m referring to the same one that Francis believes would frown on your fruitless, childless marriage.)

    I believe God put every single one of us on this planet for a purpose. I also believe that He’s more concerned with whether or not you’re living your purpose than he is with whether or not you’ve popped out a sufficient number of babies. It might very well be that in order to accomplish what He expects of you in this life, having human children just isn’t right for you.

    How many – if any – children you and your partner have is YOUR decision, not the church’s. And I have a feeling God is still going to love you either way. It saddens me that Francis hasn’t figured that out yet.

  16. I feel very blessed to have had two children and to have remained close to them in my old age, but my children do not have the desire for children of their own and that’s okay with me. I know I personally, never would have been happy without the experience of giving birth and watching my children develop, but not everyone feels this way, and I believe that having a beloved pet can be just as fulfilling and humanizing for some people, whether in relationships or not. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

  17. per Carol’s request, I am posting here the exact comments I put on my Facebook page 2 days ago when this story came out:
    “Dear Mr. Pope, I have 4 things to say: 1. this is why I am not Catholic 2. I will never be lonely because I will always have a pet 3. the only thing in my life I am currently bitter about and am likely to remain bitter about is the CHURCH (not God, but the church) 4. I have had a happy marriage for 36 years and we have always felt the love of Jesus, whether of not we had children. oh, I guess I have 5 things to say. 5. Shame on you. “

  18. There is only one thing in the Bible I know of that speaks about owning things, whether it’s dogs or anything else. It says that it’s ok to have things but it’s not ok to be owned by them. When you think about it, that is very true. Other than that, I’m no aware of any restrictions of what one should or should not have.

  19. This is one of the most fantastic posts I’ve read in a long time. While my husband and I plan to have children one day, right now, our dogs are our kids. I love them as much as I will love any other child. I was raised in the Christian community, but things like this make organized religion difficult for me. I believe in many of the “alternative lifestyles” that most people deep in faith would disagree with. I’ve always said, if dogs don’t go to heaven, I don’t want to go either 😉

  20. The best thing I ever did, unintentionally, was to not have children. No regrets, not one, nothing, God did not provide me with one ounce of a maternal gene. I had to invent one just to be a pet parent. With all the child abuse I see on the news here there are a lot of children who would have been a lot better off too. I can’t tolerate the Catholic church for those views even though I have warmed up to Pope Francis some, mainly because he practices what he preaches. If you can’t raise a dog, your certainly cannot raise a child.

  21. So the Pope thinks Jesus doesn’t like me and my husband because we’ve chosen not to have kids, other than the 4 legged variety? Seriously?! Was this a quote from the 21st century or the 17th century? I’m pretty certain all the love we give to each other and to people and animals in our little corner of the world makes Jesus happy. It’s a shame a man of his position didn’t get the memo that love and families come in ALL shapes and sizes now! I’m glad you went out on that limb and addressed his comments, Carol. Paws up to you for a great post!
    Cathy Armato
    http://www.dogsluvusandweluvthem.blogspot.com

  22. Amen. I was *outraged* at the Pope’s comment…seething, actually. I’ve chosen not to have kids not only because I don’t particularly care for children of the 2-legged variety, but also because I don’t think I would be a good parent. My cats will always be my children and I am damn proud to say it, too!

  23. That comment by the Pope had me *outraged*…seething, actually. I have chosen to not have children not only because I don’t particularly care for kids of the 2-legged kind, but also because I don’t think that I would be a good parent. My cats will always be my kids and I damn proud of it, too!

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