Called to Hold Up The Sky
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
(c) Third Millennium, LLC
The United States Supreme Court rendered its majority decision in Lawrence v Texas on June 26, 2003, reversing its long held precedent outlawing sodomy. Then, in the Goodrich opinion, issued on November 18, 2003, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts found that not allowing homosexuals to "marry" was suddenly "unconstitutional" under their State Constitution.
One day Chicken Little was walking in the woods when -- KERPLUNK -- an acorn fell on her head. "Oh my goodness!" said Chicken Little. "The sky is falling! I must go and tell the king."
The United States Supreme Court rendered its majority decision in Lawrence v Texas on June 26, 2003, reversing its long held precedent outlawing sodomy. Then, in the Goodrich opinion, issued on November 18, 2003, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts found that not allowing homosexuals to "marry" was suddenly "unconstitutional" under their State Constitution. After all the years that that Massachusetts Constitution seemed to support marriage as between a man and a woman, these new Oracles in Black Robes suddenly discovered the new "truth".
The front line troops of the Cultural Revolution are forcing the crack in the door to a wide-open status and using the judicial branch of the government to refashion the culture. Make no mistake; the winds of the new Cultural Revolution are blowing at gale force and the portals of this brave new world now open before us.
Days after the Lawrence opinion was released, I read a "news" story in my local Sunday Paper entitled "Gay pride Events Strive for Family Friendly Environment." It spoke of the new "families" of Dad and Dad, Mom and Mom and adopted, surrogate or manufactured baby. The main character in the "news" story was quoted in its conclusion:" My hope is that gay and straight will evaporate, to be replaced by the terms 'with children' and 'without children', where I just get treated like any other family guy."
We are in the beginning of a social and Cultural Revolution in America. What has happened?
In the interest of understanding how these developments have occurred and developing a fitting response, let's examine some relatively recent events in Christian history. We may have laid the seeds that allowed this new order to take root in our own back yard.
The Christian Church had unilaterally taught that sexual expression, as a language of the body, was meant to be communicated only in the marriage bed. Conjugal love was a gift of the self to the beloved. Within marriage, it participated in both the unitive (bringing the spouses into a deeper unity) and the procreative (always open to the fruit of new life) dimensions of love and, in that way, revealed the very mystery and wonder of God's plan for the entire human race.
In other words, contrary to pagan world views, sexual acts in the Christian world view were intended to have deep and lasting meaning and were not simply an inevitable response to a kind of hydraulic impulse that had to be satiated. This teaching revolutionized entire cultures and freed them from a debauched view of sexual activity that had led to multiple forms of a form of slavery to unrestrained urges.
Oh, I know that several streams within Christianity lost track of this deeper meaning and got caught up in various forms of error regarding the beauty and dignity of human sexuality. But fortunately, marriage was preserved as an institution in every society that the Christian world view influenced.
Marriage and family became the basis upon which civil society was founded and they preserved the framework for fidelity and environment for love that encouraged both the birthing and rearing of healthy children.
The 1930 Lambreth Conference of the Anglican Church cast aside this unbroken Christian teaching. It rejected the clear Christian teaching that every expression of conjugal love should always be open to the fruit of such love, new life. This Christian vision of the beauty and deeper purpose of sexual activity that had raised the dignity of sexual expression in every culture in which it was proclaimed was actually undermined by a segment of the Christian Church.
The teaching that had helped to form the foundations of Western Civilization and was reflected in our institutions and our laws was undermined first in our own household. The leaders of this denomination in western Protestantism unilaterally declared that contracepted sexual acts were now acceptable.
Why, because they said so.
Afterwards, sexual expression, once held in the highest esteem in the Christian tradition, was slowly denigrated to a form of use of the body of another for self satisfaction. It was only a matter of time before the connections to the unitive and procreative purpose of conjugal love and the Divine design for the human race were once again replaced by the old pagan approach, only now written in pious terms and calling itself "new".
The seeds of the revolution started in our own back yard.
Man (and Woman) as the "Image of God" once again became man (and woman) the animal, or in an even less dignified development, man (and woman) the machines. Forms of mutual masturbation multiplied. Sexual expression now carried with it no responsibility and became increasingly devoid of a deeper spiritual purpose or attendant social and cultural obligations.
With the errant teaching of this one small Christian community, sexual activity was redefined, perhaps inadvertently but none the less detrimentally, within the motif of "consumption" rather than the understanding of gift and mystery.
Is it any surprise that we are now bombarded with spam E-Mails promising that a pill can make us "happier" by helping to grow the human penis? This is insanity. Is it any wonder that persons are now routinely paraded before us on television as though they are sexual objects? All of this is being done within the counterfeit promise of some kind of new found freedom? Sadly, but not surprisingly, the denomination that opened the door to this error recently "consecrated" its first openly homosexual "Bishop". I suggest that there is a connection.
We are now witnessing a revolution that is rooted in a clash of worldviews. Two different views of the human person and the relationship between man and woman; two different views of "liberation"; two different views of the purpose of life and our relationship to God and His creation; and two different views of freedom lie at the root of this cultural revolution.
One of the leaders of the revolution was quoted in one of the "news" articles (which are really advocacy pieces dressed up as news) of the last few months. He had the audacity to parrot one of the most powerful acclamations from one of the Giants of American history, Dr. Martin Luther King, and try to make it his own:"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" he proclaimed after hearing of the U.S. Supreme Courts holding in the Lawrence case.
He proclaimed that the freedom to sodomize was equivalent to the freedom for which Dr. King gave his very life! Those hallowed words, proclaimed with extraordinary prophetic power and eloquence on August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln memorial, were stolen and used to equate homosexual sex with a civil "right".
Is this the freedom Dr. King envisioned? Of course not!Yet it in this Cultural Revolution, how one engages in sexual activities can define one's identity and place in history. In this new world order one can now join a "people" by engaging in homosexual sexual practices. It is now argued that those who practice the kinds of sexual practices prevalent among homosexuals are somehow joined together in the same profound and deeply important way as are black people, Latinos, Asians...? They are all now a part of some new "freedom march", a new "civil rights" movement?
Disordered appetites have given rise to new "civil rights" in this new world order. How profane and demeaning this is becoming.Does ones' sexual conduct, chosen to satisfy an urge, to respond to a disordered appetite, really make one a member of an oppressed "people"? Is this really what the Civil Rights pioneers fought so hard to gain? Does the practice of sodomy, or other conduct "satisfying" these kinds of disordered sexual appetites, really constitute a "liberty interest" protected by the Due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution?
It appears that is the case now, in our post Lawrence and Goodrich world where things are what the Court's say. That is what currently defines the "law" in our land.
And, at least in Massachusetts, it will soon also bring with it a "right" to be treated in a manner equivalent to true marriage and God help anyone who disagrees and dares to say so. Oh, there will be "religious exceptions", at least for a while. But they will be chipped away with the strategic use of the courts.
The Decisions in Lawrence and Goodrich, if left uncorrected, will do to true marriage and family what the decision in Roe v Wade did to the right to life; turn them on their head, make them fight for legal recognition and then fight the coercive influence of a new order that will only tolerate their existence.
It is no surprise to me that the majority opinion in Lawrence used the "logic" of the Roe opinion (and its progeny) to support their horrendous piece of judicial sophistry and social engineering. This decision is cut from the same absurd reasoning as Roe. So too, is the horrid decision in Goodrich.Under these opinions, I see no "legal" difference in the arguments to allow polygamous "families" to do what they choose.
The 'reasoning" and "analysis" of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Massachusetts Courts recreation of history, make the continuing expansion of this new revolutionary use of the notion of "Equal Protection" as long and wide as the imaginations of creative legal engineers and their Judges who are complicit in their folly.
There is little legal precedent left after such decisions with which to defend true marriage and the family. The very definition will soon be changed unless there is a Constitutional amendment at the federal level. Marriage and the family will no longer mean what they once meant. They will become what the Cultural Revolutionaries say they are. On the legal front, we absolutely need the Federal Marriage Amendment. It is the only way to borrow some time. The Revolution is here.
Those who stand in its way are already being recast as opponents of "liberty", "bigots", "homophobes"....you choose the disparaging term. Just as those who have dared to question the "super right" of an unencumbered "right to choose" (read "right" to abort) have been pilloried by the advocates of unencumbered abortion, the defenders of authentic marriage are now being pilloried. We are cast as intolerant enemies of this new profane counterfeit of "freedom."
What is needed is a new evangelization.
The New Evangelization
If the Christian influence on America was really as deep as many once thought we would not now be facing this Cultural Revolution. Does this mean that there is no hope and that, in the words of the Fable quoted at the beginning of this article, the sky is falling?
To the contrary, it simply means that those who are Christians (in the classical sense of what the word actually means), must carefully reassess our role in this culture. My analysis of the legal implications of the decisions in Lawrence and Goodrich are made as a constitutional lawyer. This assessment is not intended to imply that I do not have hope!
To the contrary, I am filled with hope.
It is simply offered as a realistic legal analysis. It is also offered as a missionary assessment. How can we be effective in our Christian mission to the culture if we do not understand the turf? Some would say we are living in a "post-Christian" age. I choose instead to say we are living in a "pre-Christian" age.The culture into which we are sent is one that resembles more the ancient Rome into which the great Apostles and missionaries of the first millennium were sent than we perhaps realized.
It is time to accept the fact that the last vestiges of Jewish and Christian influence in the West are now minimal in their impact. This is not necessarily the case in the lives of the "ordinary folk", but in some of our institutions, infected as they are with the "isms" of a new contemporary pagan philosophy and worldview; the Cultural Revolution is in full swing.
One has only to read the 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. Homosexual acts were a part of the daily experience of these cultures.
The early Christians spoke and lived a different way in the midst of those pagan cultures. Now, so must we. They sometimes stirred up hostility - so will we. 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.
Eventually, they came to be esteemed by those who had once hated them because they were threatened by their lifestyle. Unhappy pagan men began to desire to marry Christian women because they wanted the stability that only a monogamous marriage could bring to them. They wanted to have their own children and raise them in a real family.
The message of a living God that these Christians proclaimed became increasingly appealing to those around them because their lives of excess were increasingly empty and unsatisfying. Christianity promised these ancient pagans the elusive freedom that they had longed for. Their lives of excess and their counterfeit claims of freedom had not filled the hole in their soul. Neither will it satisfy our contemporaries who have fallen for its siren song.
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. The "clash of freedoms" continued, but the climate changed significantly. It was the Christian faith and the practices of these Christians that eventually won 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. 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 and the sanctity of the family.
It was Christianity that introduced the understanding of freedom not simply as a freedom from, but as a freedom for living responsibly.The Christians insisted that freedom must be exercised with reference to a universal moral code, a law higher than the emperor, or the sifting sands of public opinion.
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 to the other.Their faith 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 influence and worldview. Philosophies of government and economic theory began to be influenced by principles derived from such a Christian worldview.
All of this will occur again in the Third Millennium, if we make the choice to give ourselves to the Lord as missionaries for this age and develop a long term missionary model and mindset. We are simply living in occupied territory. On a certain basic level, what we are experiencing in our contemporary age is the re-emergence of paganism. Some call it a "new" paganism. I am not sure there is really anything new about it at all.
Partly, it has occurred because we Christians have not lived, nor fully demonstrated, the wonderfully "Good News" (which is what the word Gospel means) of the Christian faith. We have compromised the truth. Our influence has waned, in some instances; because of our own failure to be faithful to our missionary call. However, Christianity and the Christian world view are not outdated. Jesus Christ is the same, "yesterday, today and forever"
What we need most of all as a response to the current struggle is a new missionary age and new missionaries - men, women, children, families, lay faithful, clergy, in every walk of life and profession, living the fullness of the Christian life.
We need to develop what I call a "new freedomism", a Christian intellectual argument and philosophy that contends with challenges the contemporary counterfeit notion of freedom that permeates the age and re-presents the classical Christian worldview as the alternative solution to the contemporary questions.
Such an effort will not be easy. It never has been.The "clash of freedoms" will be won once again by truth and the witness of Love, revealed in the stretched out arms of the One who, in the words of the Apostle Paul "though He was in the form of God did not count equality with God something to be grasped but emptied Himself..." (See, Philippians 2).
Our neighbors who have embraced the siren song of this current Cultural Revolution will inevitably discover that its promised liberation is a lie. The same God who fashioned the heavens and the earth also created them. They were made for authentic love and true freedom.
So, though at times it feels like the sky is falling, it is not. In terms of our history as Christians, this is just an acorn. We must hold up the sky so that the light of truth may once again shine in the encroaching darkness of the age, pushing back the lies of this new Cultural Revolution and ushering in a new culture of life and civilization of love.
It is time to build a "New Freedomism."
Deacon Keith Fournier is a married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, who also serves the Melkite Greek Catholic Church with approval. He is a human rights lawyer and a graduate of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. He the founder and Thomas More Fellow of the Common Good Movement and was a co-founder of Your Catholic Voice..
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