At the family picnic on Saturday, Bill got cornered by 4 or 5 aunts and uncles talking theology, specifically women as priests.
Thank goodness they were his aunts and uncles and not mine.
Bill does not consider himself a strong defender of the faith. Like many Catholics, he believes it, but can't explain it. He found himself alone, and struggling, in trying to explain the Church's position. He tried to lasso me once for help, but I walked past him, oblivious to his plight.
Now the relatives with whom he argued are not bad people. They just have strong opinions, have reasoned through a few issues that relate to the Church, and have found the Church dreadfully outdated for the 21st century. If you are like me, and have struggled often with this one deadly sin as I have, you will recognize that the issue here is one of pride. After all, how could somebody so intelligent have faulty reasoning? If you get paid big bucks to make decisions that affect thousands of employees and stockholders, it is very difficult to imagine that you might be wrong.
Fortunately, these are not the sort of people who would actually leave the Church because they disagree with a few things. So the line of arguing was more one of "If I were Pope" rather than "The whole Catholic Church is wrong and that's why I joined the Episcopalians." Nevertheless, Bill felt that he didn't do enough to convince them of The Truth.
Finally, Bill managed to get my attention. His dad had joined the discussion, helping Bill, and all but one uncle had moved on to catch up with other relatives. This uncle asked me if I thought women should be priests and was somewhat surprised to hear me say no. He demanded me to defend my position in half sentences of no more than 5 words while being interrupted constantly by his counter arguments. And then he finally declared me "narrow-minded."
My feathers were not ruffled in the slightest.
In fact, I thought it rather amusing.
Bill, though, was not happy. On the way home we discussed it, and I told him that he can't expect to see an "Ah-ha!" moment - one where someone finally concedes defeat in an argument and is forever a changed person. In discussions like this, the best you could hope for is to plant a seed and provide enough fertilizer that gives the seed a fighting chance. Germination and growth will occur slowly, and it's highly unlikely you will ever see the fruit of your labor.
Heck, he was living with me and didn't see my ah-ha moment.
As for this uncle and this argument, we had a circular discussion. He brought up points which I countered with the same line of reasoning that he couldn't get around: Jesus ordained only men at the Last Supper; we can not guess His intent, so we can only imitate His actions and do the same; Jesus is God and is not constrained by protocol of His time (as demonstrated by His special treatment of women which drew criticism from others); Jesus taught the Apostles other things not specified in the Bible (that is specifically stated in the Gospels), and the Apostles did not ordain women either. If he's anything like me, this uncle may spend some time trying to find counterpoints to this line of reasoning. Perhaps he may find some twists in logic to satisfy his soul.
Or perhaps he will follow a path and one day have an "ah-ha" moment like me.