The Cultural Revolutionaries Prepare a New Offensive
By Deacon Keith Fournier
(c) Third Millennium, LLC
On Monday, March 14, 2005, Judge Richard Kramer of the San Francisco Superior Court decided that California's "ban on Gay Marriage" has no "rational purpose." The Judge likened what he called this "ban" to the old segregation laws. Immediately, the cultural engineers seeking to redefine marriage hailed this ruling as "historic" and likened it to a 1948 State Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage Of course that ruling, which correctly overturned discrimination that prevented a man and woman from different races from marrying, said nothing at all about homosexuals trying to make their relationships the equivalent of marriage. This kind of Orwellian doublespeak is simply one more salvo in the propaganda effort of this new Cultural Revolution. A new offensive is underway.
On July 31, 2003 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released "Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal recognition To Unions between Homosexual persons." Along with millions of Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and good will, I welcomed this clear articulation of truth and the manner with which the document was written. The document presented nothing new. It simply restated the unbroken tradition of the Catholic Christian Church for two thousand years:
"The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element. The present Considerations are also intended to give direction to Catholic politicians by indicating the approaches to proposed legislation in this area which would be consistent with Christian conscience"
However, it came at a critical time. Let's face it; there is a social revolutionary movement underway. It is being led by those on the fringes of the homosexual activist community who want to force legal recognition of homosexual unions, and make those unions equivalent to marriage. Such a movement not only undermines marriage and family, it threatens the civil order and the common good.
We also have serious confusion within our own Catholic and broader Christian community concerning all of this. Purporting to speak for the Church, or to promote some "new way", some Christian voices, (some deeply confused or misinformed, others deluded or disingenuous, and some overtly rebellious) undermine the Church, do violence to the truth, cause scandal, injure the common good and put their own souls in jeopardy. Numbered among these folks are some unfaithful Catholic public officials who have already hidden behind a "public/private" duplicity concerning of their absolute duty to defend life. Now they are doing the same thing by failing to defend marriage and family and thus undermining the common good. The document could not be clearer in speaking to these folks:
"10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favor of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications. When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral."
The Judge who rendered this horrid decision is a Catholic. The Mayor of San Francisco, whose illegal actions in allegedly performing "marriage" ceremonies two years ago gave rise to it, is also a Catholic. The Mayor held a news conference, flanked by homosexual supporters, to welcome the ruling.
The Church is not simply speaking to Catholics in this powerfully written, clear, undeniable ringing defense of marriage and opposition to all efforts to equalize or legitimize homosexual practice or unions. It is not only speaking to other Christians or people of faith. It is speaking to all people because the truth about marriage is meant for all men and women: "Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society."
The document presents a lucid, solid, powerful defense of the truth about marriage and family. Yes, it presents that truth from biblical revelation, but it also presents it from the order of right reason, the natural law, the biological and anthropological order, the social order and the legal order. That is because truth is truth. Things are not true because they are Catholic; they are Catholic because they are true. Contrary to Judge Richard Kramer's claim there is a rational basis for protecting marriage from those who seek to redefine it.
It is vitally important that every person concerned about being able to defend true marriage study, read, re-read and imitate the manner of presentation in this extraordinary document. It lays a framework for our "apologetic" work in a culture that is under the assault of a new Cultural Revolution. I have heard well intended Christians and religious people try to make their arguments by simply quoting the Christian scriptures. They are often marginalized ("Oh that is your "religious" position) or effectively decimated by the sophistry of activist opponents who argue from another source and then back their opponents into a corner.
The greatness of this document is that it presents the truth about marriage as just that, truth, and not simply a "religious" position. Catholic thinking presents a wonderful asymmetry between faith and reason, not an opposition. It presents a consistent unity of the truth in the natural law as well as in revelation. It provides a coherent, philosophically rich framework for the work ahead for Christians in this age, where we are a revitalized pagan world view is disguised as enlightened.
In the circles of these Cultural Revolutionaries, Christians (at least orthodox, faithful ones) are presented as unenlightened and forcing "our view" on others. When, in fact, our positions on marriage, family, authentic freedom, the dignity of every human person, and the nature of truth as objective....are what actually frees people from the bondage of disordered appetites of all sorts. These truths are objectively true and meant for all men and women. We were made for relationship. We were structured for authentic love and human flourishing within a committed heterosexual marriage, a family founded upon it and a society founded upon that family, which is its first vital cell.
The current Cultural Revolution is not an unfamiliar one - if we look at it in terms of Christian history. I do not care how "scientifically advanced" we think we have become, or how "modern" the issues purport to be, we humans do not really change all that much, at least without grace. The struggle we are engaged in this culture concerns a clash of world views, personal and corporate, and competing definitions of freedom.
The early Church was sent into cultures filled with people who thought they were extremely "advanced" in light of the arts and sciences of their day. Yet, they practiced primitive forms of abortion and even "exposure", a practice of leaving unwanted children on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders. To them, freedom was rooted in a notion of having power over others and the right to do as they chose.
One has only to read ancient Christian manuscripts such as the Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve) or the accounts of Justin Martyr or other early sources to read of cultures not unlike the one in which we live today, cultures of "use" where people were treated as property - cultures of excess where "freedom" was perceived as a power over others and unrestrained license masqueraded as liberty, where homosexual sexual practices were prevalent and there was an effort to force others to accept them or face the brunt of the power of the State.
The word "pagan" was not a disparaging term back then, but actually represented a pseudo-"religious" world view. I use it the same way in calling our contemporary age pagan. Many of the "gods" and goddesses" of this old world view promoted these lives of selfish excess, homosexual practices, and hedonism masquerading as freedom. The myths concerning them had them acting in much the same way in order to justify and advance these practices. They have been reintroduced today, only the myths and statues are different. They are even more difficult to recognize because some of their followers profess to be Christians, even occupying elected and judicial offices.
The early Christians did not point the finger and rail against the "pagans" of their age. They did not present a "negative" message. They proclaimed the true freedom found in Jesus Christ to all who would listen and they demonstrated it in their compelling witness of life. They lived in monogamous marriages, raised their children to be faithful Christians and good citizens, and went into the world of their age, offering a new way to live. This "way" (which is what they first called the early Church) presented a very different world view than the one that the pagans embraced. That is our task today.
These early Christians, with joy and integrity, spoke and lived a different way in the midst of that old pagan culture. As a result, they stirred up hostility. Some of them were martyred in the red martyrdom of shed blood. Countless more joined the train of what use to be called "white martyrdom", by living lives of sacrificial witness and service in the culture, working hard and staying faithful to the end of along life spent in missionary toil.
Slowly, not only were small numbers of "pagans" converted and baptized, but eventually their leaders and entire Nations followed suit. Resultantly, the Christian worldview began to influence the social order. It was the Christian faith and the practices of these Christians that began to win the hearts of men and women. The cultures once enshrined to pagan practices, such as plural marriage, homosexuality, exposure and abortion began to change dramatically and this dynamic continued for centuries.
It was Christianity that taught such novel concepts as the dignity of every person and their equality before the One God. The Christians proclaimed the dignity of women, the dignity of chaste marriage between one man and one woman and the sanctity of the family. It was Christianity that introduced the understanding of freedom not simply as a freedom from unjust restraints, but as a freedom for living responsibly, with integrity and justice, in conformity with the truth revealed in the Natural Law which is able to be known by all men and women.
The early Christians insisted that freedom must be exercised with reference to a moral code, a law higher than the emperor, the sifting sands of public opinion or the libertines bent on Cultural Revolution. It was the Christians who understood that choice, rightly exercised, meant always choosing what was right and that the freedom to exercise that choice brought with it an obligation and concern for the other.
The Christian faith and worldview presented a coherent and compelling answer to the existential questions that plagued the ancients, such as why we existed and how we got here. What was the purpose of life? Questions like how evil came into the world and why we could not always make right choices? What force seemed to move us toward evil and how we could be set free from its power? Christian philosophy began to flourish and the arts also flourished under the Christian worldview. Philosophies of government and economic theory began to be influenced by these principles derived from a Christian worldview
What we need is a new missionary age and new missionaries - men, women, children, families, lay faithful, clergy, in every walk of life and profession, living the full Christian life as we begin this Third Christian Millennium. We also need to develop what I call a new "freedomism", a coherent, intelligent defense of the truth about what truly sets men and women free and the responsibilities of that freedom.
We need a new Christian intellectual argument and philosophy that confronts the counterfeit notion of freedom that permeates the contemporary culture; one that re-presents the classical Christian worldview to these contemporary challenges by addressing the entire spectrum of cultural issues with intelligence, clarity, conviction and compelling presentation of truth. The funny thing about the truth, it still sets men and women free. It is the superior way to respond to the fallacies of those who call good evil and evil good.
We can transform the current culture through our active engagement. We must be faithful citizens, run for office, and never give up our struggles in the courtroom, the classroom, or the marketplace of commerce, all for the common good. Our social and cultural mission is not an option. It lies at the heart of what it means to be "leaven", "light", "salt" and the "soul of the world" as the early Christians taught. It will not be easy. However, we need to realize that the task we face is first, at root, a spiritual struggle that will first be won in prayer, stepped into a new Catholic action by the compelling witness of a vibrant, orthodox, faithful Christianity that is culturally engaging, relevant and compelling to the new pagans of our age.
As was evidenced by the Mayor and the Judge this week, some of our most difficult adversaries are in our own household. They are deluded and seriously errant in their understanding of both the faith they profess, the truth about marriage and their commitment as public servants. They are already being used in a concerted effort to paint those of us who defend true marriage as the "unenlightened" at best or "subversives" at worst. We often forget that the early Christians were persecuted for being enemies of the State.
The document that the Church gave us for our work is a masterful model of cultural apologetics. It rightly reaffirms that there should be no unjust discrimination against any persons, including persons with homosexual "orientation". However, it absolutely rejects the convoluted notion that homosexual unions are in any way analogous to marriage and asserts that legislation attempting to give legal status to these unions would be unjust and evil:
"The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose.(3) No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives."
Marriage and family is written in the order of the universe. It is God's idea and not our own. It is the first vital cell of society and creates the first society wherein children are to be raised so that they can fully develop and flourish. Children have a right to a mother and a father. Yes, there are broken homes and single parent homes and we must always provide a compassionate social framework for those families. However, the notion of redefining marriage and family is a serious error and must be opposed. Marriage and family are the social foundation and glue of any truly just society. They are also under relentless assault.
This well written document concludes with this summary:
"11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."
We all need to study this document so that we can inform our social and political participation by our faith, defend marriage and protect the common good. We also need to expose and oppose every Catholic politician or public servant who fails to follow this absolutely clear direction from the Church.
However, we need to do much more.
We need to live like Christians in our families, at our workplaces and in our neighborhoods. We need to be a reflection of the truths that this document clearly defends. The truth about marriage and family is the future not the past. It is not some outdated notion of a past era but the framework for a future of true freedom and the foundation for building a more just society.
It was the late great C. S. Lewis who coined the phrase, "verbicide" in his Book entitled "Studies in Words". The term refers to the murder of a word or a phrase. In the past when writing concerning the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right to life, I have referred to the current assault against words as "verbal engineering" and maintained that it was the first step in social, legal, political, and cultural engineering. I have practiced law for 25 years and been involved in what is often called the "culture war" for over thirty. I learned long ago that the one who frames the issue first - and most effectively - often wins the cause or case.
Notice how the struggle is now being framed in the Press. It posits all who seek to defend true marriage as being against an oxymoron called "Gay Marriage." It presents the efforts of the new Cultural Revolutionaries as somehow trying to oppose the "unjust" who will not give them the "freedom to marry." Repeatedly I witness sincere defenders of marriage and family using the oxymoron, intentionally used by the fringe elements of this homosexualist movement, of "gay marriage". There simply is no such thing nor there ever be, no matter what a Court or legislature may try to impose.
True marriage must be defended and protected for the sake of the common good of civil society. Marriage is what it is and we all know it. There is a word used in Philosophical and theological discourse to speak about the nature of things. It is the word "ontology". It refers to the essence of something. There is an "ontology" of marriage. A cabbage is not a rock. A dog is not a human person. Co-habiting homosexual couples are not a marriage, no matter what a judicial fiat proclaims.
Homosexual relationships and the sexual acts accompanying such relationships cannot ever constitute a marriage. They are not capable of being open to the fullness of the love that is at the foundation of the unitive nature of marriage and for which even our bodies are constituted; that is, the total gift of self to the other in faithful, lifelong love. Nor can such sexual acts, or the relationships formed around them, ever be procreative, open to new life in children. Social groupings built on such relationships are also not families.
There is an intense effort underway to categorize those who still support true marriage as uncaring, bigoted or antiquated. We are not. Marriage and the family founded upon it insure the future of freedom. Redefining marriage and family will not help anyone, including those who are self defined homosexuals. It is also destructive of the social order. Marriage - and the family built upon it - is the solid foundation and first vital cell of civil society. The future of family is the future of freedom.
Of course all persons must be treated with human dignity and not be discriminated against and that includes people who struggle with the disorder of homosexuality. However, one cannot have a freedom to do what is impossible or a right to what is wrong. There are other ways to protect against discrimination than the current efforts to redefine the fundamental social institution of marriage, the defining cornerstone of our social order. To destroy marriage under the guise of "tolerance" is dangerous and corrosive to the common good and horribly intolerant. Proponents of this effort have a clear social, legal, cultural, political and yes...verbal strategy.
The last example of the effective use of such Orwellian doublespeak was the phrase "pro-choice". It was designed strategically as a description of those who advocate abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy. The origins of the phrase "pro-choice", a phrase now unfortunately used even by those who seek to defend the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death, are instructive for us. I know one of the masterminds of this last propaganda campaign. He helped think up that phrase with other abortionists. Decades later, having discovered the truth about life, and through that having come into the fullness of Christian faith, the Catholic Church, he still does penance for the impact that this simple turn of a phrase had on catapulting the current culture of death into predominance.
After all, who wants to be perceived as against "choice"? To oppose "choice" sounds so intolerant, it strikes at the heart of our freedom loving character as Americans. That is why it was such effective verbicide. The aftermath of this verbal strategy is the current horror of our culture of death. Some choices, like the taking of innocent human life, at any age or stage, are always and everywhere wrong. Words pave the way for actions.
What if the law were to change next month and allow one the "choice" to kill a disabled infant after delivery, or a disabled adult, calling it "mercy"? Most sane people of good will would still insist that such a "choice" would never be right, insisting rightly that it is anything but "mercy" and should be prosecuted! Yet, some of the proponents of the expanding concept called the "right to choose", enamored with the notion of an autonomous self and infected with a view of "freedom" as a raw power over others, are actually seeking to expand this newly discovered "right to choose". Calling it "a choice", rather than barbarism, they march ahead in their crusade of death on demand. One has only to watch the efforts to take the life of dear Terri Schiavo in Florida.
Well, the verbal engineers are at it again. Now it is the word "Marriage". By persuading people to use the oxymoron, "gay marriage", they softened the debate, framed the issue in a manner that enabled them to use their sophistry and devious appeals to "tolerance" (ever notice how terribly intolerant the new "tolerant" activists have become?) and paved the way for their new mottos such as "freedom to marry." They are committed to the strategic building of their brave new world through legal, social, political and cultural engineering.
Words have consequences!
The Cultural Revolutionaries have prepared a new offensive. In our sincere desire to respect the dignity of every human person, including "homosexual" persons, we all too often want to sound, well, "sensitive". Be careful, marriage is what it is! It is written in the order of the universe and it is confirmed by both faith and reason. Unions between persons of the same sex can never be a "marriage", even if a legislature or a court should seek to enforce this contemporary counterfeit on all of society.
Hopefully, that will never happen. With this latest news out of San Francisco, it is clear; we have a lot of prayer and work ahead.
Deacon Keith Fournier is a Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia who also serves the Melkite Greek Catholic Church with approval. He is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. A human rights lawyer and public policy advocate, he has been active at the intersection of faith and culture for three decades. Deacon Fournier is the Senior Editor of Catholic Online and a Contributing Editor of Traditional Catholic Reflections and Reports.
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