Monday, August 10, 2015

It's a political issue

For those of us who are Christians in the orthodox sense, we know full well that the culture around us is fast becoming post-Christian and even anti-Christian.  To be honest, I don't know what the end result will be.  The late Cardinal George had a famous remark (which I paraphrase) that he would die in his sleep, his predecessor will die in jail and his predecessor will be martyred.  I don't know if such things will come about or even that quickly, but we Christians must recognize that the culture around us is becoming more and more hostile to those of us who hold on to a traditional morality, often, but not exclusively, girded in the Church.  So, what are we to do? Ignore it and just keep on going as if nothing is happening?  A Benedict Option? 

I say absolutely not.  At the same time, I am hesitant and unconvinced that Christians should use the mechanism of the state to enforce our mores, just as our cultural opponents are doing right now.  I believe in liberty first and foremost and believe that freedom exists for the purpose of choosing the good, not having the good rammed down your throat or used as a means of coercion like what you have with "morality" police in Saudi Arabia or Iran or even the "vice" squads of numerous police departments here in the USA. 

Liberty does not mean surrender.  The Church should and does (even though it can do more) to speak out about the evils we see around us.  And I'm not  just talking about things like abortion, gay marriage or anything like that, but about promiscuity, gambling, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, broken families, etc.  The problem is that the Church, again from within and without, is told to stay out of those issues, because they are "political" issues.  And since they have been politicized, the Church must watch from the sidelines and wait for the government OK before they speak.

I remember once my priest (the only time I remember him talking about a "social" issue) talked about abortion in his homily and one person got up and left (and let everyone know he was getting up and leaving, too) because the Church shouldn't be involved in political issues.  Now my priest only restated Church teaching that abortion was a grave sin and that a life was sacred, but at the same time reaffirming that the Church is a place for healing.  He wasn't telling people to go out and support a candidate or vote a certain way on a referendum.  But, for the person who got up and left, I suspect he did so not because he thought that the priest was out of line for bringing up a "political" issue, but because he does not support church teaching.  And these people are the really dangerous ones.

A brother of a friend of mine remarked the same thing once about how the Church should not  talk about these issues.  I then asked why?  He said that the Church was wrong.  I asked him if he would stay during a homily if the priest were to talk about the damaging effects of gambling or drinking. He said that would be fine.  But even gambling and drinking have been politicized, I replied.  Gambling is heavily regulated by the states as is drinking.  So, what's the difference?  I surmised he was completely honest when he said that because the Church was right about drinking and gambling but wrong about abortion.  In his mind, abortion was approved of by the government so the Church should, too.  I replied that gambling is also sanctioned by the government, so why doesn't the Church get on board and say it's no longer dangerous or immoral?  He didn't have an answer.  I suspect for issues like gay marriage and abortion, in particular, the ones who say the Church should refrain from preaching on "political" issues are the same who demand the Church's teachings should change.  However, they will never admit that up front.

There are some who say that a persecution of the Church would actually be a good thing because it will strengthen its core members and weed out those who were only lukewarm.  Maybe.  The Church is not going to win popularity contests with its stance on the "issues" of the day, but it's not supposed to.  Churches becoming "relevant" or bending with the times are the same ones that are dying.  Right now, I would settle for the Church actually doing what it was founded to do--bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone, without conditions, emendations or changes.

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