By Jason Godin
Americans have an opportunity periodically to vote. It is a right that has justly evolved over time to include more citizens. To vote is also a responsibility, a civic duty secured in the face of shared sufferings at home and aboard throughout United States history.
Shared sufferings have long found a place in the history of Christianity, too. St. Peter likened the devil who stirs up such sorrows to a hungry lion on the prowl. Calling for sobriety and vigilance at all times, the rock of the Church rallies his readers to resistance, steadfastness in faith, and an understanding that others in faith experience the same sufferings in the face of such adversity (cf. 1 Peter 5:8-9). Lions, in fact, spilled martyrs’ blood on the floor of the Roman Coliseum.
As Election Day nears, what lions do all Christians face in the arena of the public square?
Religious Freedom Reduced
One lion mandates that bowing to the state stops only when kneeling prayerfully before God in a pew. It finds in every action toward fellow man a hidden religious agenda, one that must be marginalized to mere worship. If left unchallenged, it would replace the dogmas of any organized religion with a dictatorship of moral relativism.
Yet religious freedom, the first of all true freedoms, flows from the goodness of God. It is not, nor ever will be, a gift from the government.
Thomas Jefferson once observed that the “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Patriotic Americans and practicing Catholics – one and the same – know this truth, for the tree of Christian faith – the Holy Cross – was nourished with the blood of an innocent Man murdered by the tyranny of sin.
A second lion strikes at the basic building blocks of any society. Marching with lockstep logic, it finds expression among a numerical minority who imposes the charge of hateful ignorance against anyone who disagrees with their disordered lifestyle or opposes their radical agenda. It is a group that desires to redefine marriage as a partnership that any two people, of any gender, can enter or leave at any time when the relationship just fails to feel good.
Marriage reflects a man and a woman whom God has brought together for life, a union that will add new life to tomorrow’s Union. Some are now trying very hard to tear apart that institution and build up it their own image.
Human Life Reduced
The same lion also seeks to defeat those who defend life. It seeks to change the language of our time with a utilitarian science that equates life with statistics and not souls. It finds the dignity of human life, from conception to natural death, an inconvenient truth that abortion and assisted suicide can conveniently solve.
Loyal citizenship doesn’t always demand collaboration. In the most trying times, it calls for clarity, charity, and content of character. It asks what you can do for your country before it expects your country to do something for you. It entertains the possibility that government may prove to be as much the problem as the solution. And above all, it speaks with civility, and to the last full measure of devotion, to first principles, even in the face of lions.
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. You can find him on Facebook here.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.