“Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.” — Fulton J. Sheen, 1953
If you do not believe Archbishop Sheen, then think about lemmings for a moment – and hold that thought…
Now right up front, I have my beliefs and they cannot be swayed by science or reason. I have faith and surety – and science and reason have all too often been wrong because they were based on incorrect assumptions or conclusions. Science does not hold all the answers to the mysteries of existence. Neither can it answer any of the really important questions like “Why am I here?”, “What is my purpose?”, or “Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?”. Just because you cannot understand or measure something it does not follow that thing does not exist. There is so much we simply do not understand, and I have come to understand that we cannot understand everything as limited human beings, as wonderful a creation as we are. I also know that others have their beliefs which they have faith in that do not agree with mine. This defines the human struggle for a truth we will only know at the termination of this existence, and only God can judge our worthiness. To quote St. Bernadette, “It is not my job to convince, only to inform”. For me this lifestyle of being obedient to the tenants of the Church and the accompanying beliefs must be freely chosen. Coercion does not produce a true change of heart or mind; it only strengthens the resolve of those whom it oppresses. Debating is pointless as neither side has an open mind and will rationalize or refuse to rationalize in order to preserve their position. We must lead and convert by a loving example.
Coercion takes many forms. Banning religious symbols in the workplace lest they offend someone is no less than a gag order. Funny how we can do that to our own people while giving religious extremists arms and support to slaughter Christians wholesale for opposing a government that would make the possession of a Bible or just being a Christian a capital offense. Here though we do no less. The fight for rights has been hard fought by many subgroups (including various Christian ones), and that fight was protected by the very constitution those now deemed politically correct seek to shred via legislation, in the hopes that the inevitable swing of the pendulum will not erase their gains. Hoping that by making it a hate crime, forbidden speech, or heavily punished speech that they will be able to subvert not only God’s plan, but the pendulum that allows some form of balance. Any historian can see the repeating pattern from the roaring 20’s to the tent revivals of the early 50’s – but this time we have allowed the game to change by criminalizing thoughts and words, not actions. Their idea seems to be to push the pendulum so far in one direction that it sticks.
Marriage is the purview of those churches who manage covenants between God and Man, civil unions are the purview of the state. I have no issue with civil unions regulated by the state, but the current ruling as I read it, is a small step onto a slippery slope which aims to turn churches into “hate groups” when they fail to marry some due to the sex of their chosen partner or partners. Never-mind that the Catholic Church already refuses marriage to divorcees, couples not intending offspring, and non-Catholics unless marrying a Catholic and agreeing to raise the children in the Catholic faith. Redefining marriage has opened a Pandora’s box of consequences. If it can be redefined to include two women then why can it not be redefined to include two women and a man? Or two men and a woman? Why not three? Four? Five? More?
You see there is a difference between a marriage and a civil union, one is a sacrament of God and one is a legal construct of man. One is indissoluble by man and one is not. One is a sacred vow before and to God with specific promises between the man and woman exchanged just as he ordained, and one is not. The sacrament of marriage is unique in that husband and wife enter into a covenant with each other with God as their witness and in doing so are making a sacred promise to honor that covenant not just to each other but to God. For Catholics, matrimony or marriage is one of the seven sacraments on which our faith is grounded. Any erosion of those sacraments constitutes an erosion of the faith, and thereby a direct attack on the Church.
A wife is by definition female and a husband male. The titles are accompanied by responsibilities – where once there was a religious contract defining those roles and responsibilities and now there is also a civil contract and that contract is controlled by the state not the churches. The purpose of the state is to recognize those contracts, not to interfere or control them. The idea that a person married in the Catholic Church would be unable to obtain a divorce, and though they could put their spouse aside would be forbidden remarriage and ostracized from the sacraments if they acted immorally – it is a consequence of entering the sacrament of marriage as defined by the Catholic Church. While the sacrament may seem harsh, it is not because it is easy that it holds great rewards. It is because they are not easily broken; It is because they are immutable that people take those vows, and choose wisely when they make them.
Marriage does not exist for your happiness, but rather happiness is something you make within a marriage. At the root of marriage is a sacramental vow you both made (one many think they can change, to make it more politically correct). The vow you took was based on feeling in love, but it obligated you beyond those feelings. It was not dependent on those feelings, nor is it dissolved because one or both of you have allowed those feelings to wither away. In the end, it’s more about character than anything. Can you keep a promise made to both God and another human? What sacrament of the Church does not ask great things of people, stressing love, self-sacrifice, duty, chastity, and honor? A calling to married life is not, contrary to popular belief, one of the easiest but rather one of the harder paths God calls us to. Even in the best of marriages there are physical and emotional hardships to overcome. They are harder because they are designed for two people to overcome with God’s assistance, and not one man standing alone against the universe. It is a responsibility, a joyful one if approached as God intended, but selfishness and a dogged sense of entitlement, carefully fostered by popular culture, have turned it from a refuge and sanctum into a prison and torture chamber for many. The worst of this is that the wounds are self inflicted, and our growing sense of popularism and political correctness twists the knife and dooms many to a perpetual search for something which cannot be found where they are located.
Make no mistake – in every marriage we will all be carried at points by our spouse, God, or both. Other times, we will do the carrying. And while love is important to any marriage, there will be times in most marriages, when in a period of hardship, that duty, honor, courage, chastity, and commitment will be your limited sustenance and purpose. Keeping your vows will demand that you love and do without the expectation that it will be returned to you for some indeterminate period of time. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, but it is necessary to show such strength of character in order to remind your spouse of her vow and to rekindle her respect, and only then will she remember why she loves you. It does not take many such reminders for her to know that she can count on you to keep your commitment, and that knowledge builds both confidence and trust – both critical to true love and the success of any marriage. You made this choice when you freely entered into the sacrament of marriage and accepted a life of service to others, not a life of being served by others.
We must change the idea of marriage and children being an ending, or a fallen state, and raise it to the beginning and higher state that it is. We must restore the dignity of fatherhood – restoring it a responsibility for not just the child but the mother of that child or children. A man’s responsibility cannot be abrogated by a check, nor can a woman’s responsibility allow her to separate the child from its father. Choices have consequences, and when any of us consents to the marital embrace we also accept those consequences. One of those consequences is a responsibility to the child – therefore both parents have an obligation to provide a home together and raise the child – any personal goals either party might have need to be pursued secondarily to providing for the needs of the child or children. True love takes years of time, and youthful love can be transformed into one of the strongest bonds when properly nurtured over time.
For all of the “Neville Chamberlin” mentalities who think appeasement is the answer, I would ask you to pay attention to the reaction after the ruling by SCOTUS – when CNN ran a report about “Still a long way to go on LBGT issues.” They were right. The Supreme Court ruling just struck down DOMA, it did not abrogate the states ability to regulate and define marriage, it only required the Federal Government to recognize gay marriage in states where it is legal. Proposition 8 was sent back to the state supreme court in California, and their governor and attorney general dropped their appeal, forcing its immediate death. For now the fight will continue through a process of indoctrination and political correctness using public schools and mass media until such time as the few faithful remaining are shunned as backwards outcasts and become an oppressed minority. In essence will will become strangers in a strange land, without ever leaving home. The alternative is to redefine politically correct, and while we cannot and should not try to “roll back the clock”, we should remember that there is a difference between tolerating individuals right to choose for themselves, and tolerating their choices being taught as moral truth or morally acceptable. We have a sacred duty to uphold the first and reject the second in the example of Jesus himself. Allowing the legislation against moral truth instead of actions only, is a two-edged sword upon which we have now impaled ourselves. It allowed for the espousing of Christian ideals held for over 2000 years to be reclassified as hate speech. Let us never make that mistake again, nor allow it to be made – no matter how noble or good the cause may seem.
To remove the sword and heal the wound requires true conversion, we must win hearts and minds – not bend society to our will. Nor can we allow society to bend us to theirs. It is time to stop being sheep afraid of their shadow – and declaring the loudest voice, not the morally correct one, the winner. It is long past time for us to speak up, all of us – in the grocery, on TV, in the workplace, both about and in support of traditional marriage before it is a hollow memory of times past. Speak positively of your marriage, share your joy so that others can see, and take pride and honor in your covenant. Keeping such a covenant is a greater victory than any other worldly achievement, your recognition of their confusion will let them know where the path is and that you have no interest in wandering aimlessly in sin with them. Walk with you head high, and nothing more need be said to a rationalist or progressive than that you are very happy and that you will pray for God to touch their hearts as well. You will not win hearts and minds with derisive rhetoric, nor can you win by force – you must win by setting an example for others to follow, making sure they see you joy and happiness, your support for each other, and your faithful devotion to the covenant. In doing this you will win hearts and minds. Ours is to inform and live by example, not to judge and convict – judgement is reserved for God. Ours is to speak the moral truth with tolerance for individual actions, and not for forced ideals and political correctness. We must make them realize that peer pressure works both ways – but gently and with great love.
Keep in mind that every person is what they are. God both created them and loves them. They each play a part in Gods plan. We are each sustained in existence only by the Love of God and should God cease to love any of us we would not die, but literally be erased from creation instantly. Understanding that fact makes loving and accepting the person, but not the immoral behavior, possible. It is a weakness of faith, cowardice, and fear, that requires the use of force to address an ideal. We must never display such a weakness, much less concede it.
And about those Lemmings, a few always stay behind to rebuild – convinced that the majority are wrong and the cycle begins again. Cling to your spouse in these troubled times, teach your children their faith well (read the catechism), do your best to be a light unto each other and not just the outside world. Most importantly trust in God, and be not afraid. The pendulum swings back and the faithful persevere.
**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.