This article started a tangent that is not entirely topical, but I am going to use this reply to formulate those thoughts anyway.
I am one of those sick of the culture wars. I do not expect them to accomplish anything more than a drug which targets the symptoms and not the sickness. It is true we have a fight to fight, but the war waged in the political arena is not it. We are called to train minds and change hearts: politics does not do that. Politics encourages narrow-mindedness and hard hearts. I am strongly opinionated on a lot of political issues, and the days in which I debated these points with others didn’t do anyone any good. Arguments do not change anyone’s mind and politics is just one great big argument.
Now, understandably some issues like abortion need to be legislated. If abortion is murder, as Catholics and most other Christians contend, then it ought to be illegal. But gay marriage is not an issue that should be contended with politically.
There are a lot of reasons. The first is the whole problem with the political process, even when you win, you loose. Catholics are not a political party. Even if we win and we pass the laws that we know are morally right, we have lost. Because our job is not to legislate morality, but to teach it. As soon as our faith becomes tinged with political zeal, it does not matter how right we are because when we prove that we are correct, we alienate and push further away the very people we need to reach. A political victory can only hurt evangelization. If I am gay, and I can associate what I view as hateful behavior with the Catholic Church, why would I consider it? In the same way that our personal experience teach us the reality of Christ, the personal experiences of those we are fighting in the political arena is going to teach them to distrust Christianity. There is no victory in alienating a whole swathe of the population from considering Christianity just to stop a political process.
I think everyone can see the alienation, but even so most insist that the sanctity of marriage be preserved. And they are right; marriage is a sacred convenant between God, man, and woman. No other way, no substitutions. So we need to ask ourselves then, what on Earth is the government doing in the marriage business anyway? Why are we allowing those little rubber stamped papers they issue to be associated with marriage. Marriage is a sacrament administered by the Church. The government has nothing to do with it. Even if gay rights proponents win, they are really only winning the right to redefine a word: they are not changing or desecrating the sacrament of matrimony.
The fact that marriage is a sacrament administered by the church really ought to give us pause too. If there is a political fight here for Catholics and Christians, it is not a fight to keep the gays from marrying. It is a fight to keep the state from having anything to do with marriage. If we truly believe marriage a sacred thing, we ought to get the most unholy of institutions out of it.
And the final thought on these whole culture wars is, look. They are going to win. As long as we make this a political battle we are fighting on their terms, on their ground. And when we loose, not only will they have more fuel to make us look archaic and backwards and evil, but we will undoubtedly have failed to live up to what the Catechism when it says:
“They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.
I don’t think a Catholic priest informing them he will not marry them is discrimination. But denying them civil rights is discrimination, and that is what the state is doing when it grants a marriage license: it is granting certain civil rights and privileges. I don’t think gays should marry nor condone homosexual behavior, but I do think that there are homosexual couples that love each other greatly and denying one of them the right to see the other on his or her deathbed is immoral. And as it stands, those rights are given in what the state calls a marriage certificate. As much as we may be opposed to homosexuality, we cannot deny the possibility of genuine feeling in such relationships nor that something such as visitation rights should not be denied them.
The way it stands, our Culture War is a loosing war because our opponents set the battlefield and we march in. We are playing by their rules and fulfilling their expectation of the Church to be the big bad, hypocritical hater. We aren’t that. But when you are fighting in the mud, you will get dirty. Why should we stoop down to this sort of fight? We know the way we our to fight our enemies, as Christ exemplified and St. Paul said: ut if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.
by Luke Moon
From the Institute on Religion and Democracy
It might surprise some of you that I don’t wake up every morning thinking about new ways I can hate on gay people. Nor do I spend all day making signs of aborted babies. I also don’t check the immigration status of the person sitting next to me on the bus. (Yes, I ride the bus and sometimes I even commute by bike, how’s that for Creation Care?) I suspect I am like many of you.
I also hate the culture war!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just live in peace. If we just understood that every idea and action was perfectly acceptable. We wouldn’t have to draw lines, give labels, make moral judgments, there would not be any for or against, right or wrong, instead we could all just “be.”
I am told that all…
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