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Faithful Christian Marriages at the Forefront of a New Counterculture
By Deacon Keith Fournier
July 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The Christian claims concerning life and marriage are not outdated notions of the past but the path to a future of freedom for all men and women. They are the antidote to the malady rotting western civilization from within. Faithful Christians are a Counter Culture and consecrated married couples and their families, called from antiquity the domestic church, are the vanguard of this new Christian counter culture movement.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. The word once referred to systems of thought in which "human interests, values, and dignity predominated". That was before the word was co-opted by a myriad of atheistic systems of thought.
I was searching for truth, in many different places. I eventually discovered the thought of the early fathers of the Christian Church and came home to the faith of my childhood. I also came to understand that true humanism is found in Christianity. It is in and through Jesus Christ that the human person can overcome what drags us down and ensnares us, truly be set free, and rediscover our true identity and vocation.
We live in an age that has suffered under many counterfeit versions of what calls itself humanism. As a result, some Christians have completely rejected the term, believing that the secularist and atheist co-opting of the word are valid. They are not. The truth is that prior to these counterfeit uses of a noble word, it was Christianity that spoke of the true humanism, found in Jesus Christ.
C.S. Lewis, in his Studies in Words, coined a phrase - verbicide - the murder of a word. Modern aberrations of the word humanism are an example of such a crime. They evolved in the latter half of the twentieth century. Western culture has been sucked into a moral vacuum. it has rejected God and His Truth and embraced the autonomous self as the measure of all things.
A plague of license masquerading as liberty has led to a new "morality" that is no morality; in fact, it is a thinly disguised paganism. It has no capacity to inform a a just social order and is leading to cultural collapse. This collapse will not be averted by political conservatism, or any political movement, or party, for that matter. They are all inadequate for the task.
Western culture needs conversion, from the inside out. We need a Christian revolution of the heart.
Peter Maurin is a controversial figure in some segments of the Christian community. He shouldn't be. He faced the societal problems of his own age and offered a Christian humanism to counter the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial age. Whether some of his thought was later co-opted by some with a leftist political agenda is a different matter. His book of prose entitled Easy Essays is a gem.
We need to again take the values of the classical and orthodox Christian worldview and knead them into the loaf of western culture. They are the yeast which alone can revivify western civilization. We need to be about the task of, in Maurin's words, of "creating a new society within the shell of the old with the philosophy of the new, which is not a new philosophy but a very old philosophy, a philosophy so old that it looks new".
Christianity gave western culture the truth that we are created in the Image of God. From that foundational understanding of the nature of the human person was derived the liberating political notion that we possess fundamental human rights, endowed upon us by the God who created us. Those rights are not given to us by any Civil Government. Rather, they must be recognized by Civil Government or it becomes an unjust government. That is the state we are in. The declining western culture grows increasingly hostile to the Christian Church.
There is a clash of worldviews with competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing currently underway. Classical, orthodox Christians contend with the hostility of a secularist relativism which claims there are no truths. That is what makes Christians so countercultural. We insist that there is Truth, it can be known - and it must govern our lives together. This is also why we face growing persecution. Even though it is still relatively soft in its application.
Our path is paved with the insults, accusations and calumny of our fellow citizens. We are accused of being against progress and science for defending the dignity of every human life - including the Right to Life of our first neighbors in the womb. Yet, medical science confirms what our conscience long ago confirmed, those little girls and boys in the womb are our neighbors. It is always wrong to intentionally kill our innocent neighbors.
In the face of a manufactured of a right for homosexuals and lesbians to 'marry', we insist that marriage is between one man and one woman. It is a relationship defined by nature itself and revealed by the Natural Moral Law. This Natural Moral Law can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. It is the stable foundation for the positive law, giving us the moral norms needed to build societies and govern ourselves. This Natural Law must also inform our positive law or we become lawless and our society devolves into anarchy. The evidence is all around us.
Marriage between one man and one woman is the first society into which children are meant to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish and take their role in families and communities. Heterosexual marriage, procreation, and the nurturing of children form the foundation for the family, and the family forms the foundation of civil society. Civil institutions do not create marriage. Nor can they create a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. The institutions of government should, when acting properly, defend marriage.To do so furthers the common good.
To limit marriage to heterosexual couples is not discriminatory. Homosexual couples cannot bring into existence what marriage intends by its definition. To confer the benefits that have been conferred in the past only to stable married couples and families to homosexual paramours is bad public policy. Government has long regulated marriage for the common good. For example, the ban on polygamy and age requirements were enforced in order to ensure that there was a mature decision at the basis of the Marriage contract.
We insist that children have a right to a mother and a father. Of course, we care about the single parent family and the many broken homes. After all, we are Christians. We brought the very idea of embracing broken families into the public square. However, the existence of single parent families and fractured families does not change the norm necessary to build a stable and healthy society within which they can find the compassion and support system they need as well. In tact marriages and families are the glue of a healthy and happy social order.
To live in faithful, heterosexual marriages and rear children within a family is again countercultural. This is not the first time in history this has occurred. Libertine cultures are the mission field into which the Christian Church is always sent. The early Church was sent into cultures filled with people who thought they were advanced in light of the arts and sciences of their day. Yet, those cultures practiced primitive forms of abortion and exposure, a practice of leaving unwanted children on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders.
Early Christian manuscripts like the Letter to Diognetus remind us that the early Christians transformed cultures much like our own. They lived in cultures of use where people were treated as property, cultures of excess where freedom was perceived as a power over others and license masqueraded as liberty. They changed those cultures from within. If we persevere in prayer, living faith and understand that this is a new missionary age, we can do the same.
The Christian claims concerning life and marriage are not outdated notions of the past but the path to a future of freedom for all men and women. They are the antidote to the malady rotting western civilization from within. Faithful Christians are a Counter Culture and consecrated married couples and their families, called from antiquity the domestic church, are the vanguard of this Christian counter culture movement.
In his beautiful book of reflections called The Furrow, St Josemaria Escriva used a phrase that keeps coming to my mind; Rebels of Love. He wrote: "Nowadays it is not enough for men and women to be good. Moreover, it is not good enough to be satisfied with being nearly good. It is necessary to be 'revolutionary'. Faced by hedonism, faced by the pagan and materialistic wares that we are being offered, Christ wants objectors! Rebels of Love!"
The call of consecrated married love is a call to become such rebels of love. Christian marriage is more than a covenant (though it is that), more than an ordinance (though it is that) - it is an invitation to sacrificial love - to holiness. Christian Marriage is a participation in the life of God through which and for which we are given His grace. It is meant to be a sacrament. Marriage in Christ is what the scripture calls a mystery (see, Eph. 5:32). It is beyond words. It is meant to be lived and become a model to be imitated and emulated. Consecrated Christian Marriage requires a radical - meaning back to the roots - way of life.
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