On Jan. 9, Episcopalian leaders of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. announced that it will honor same-sex weddings. In fact, the Voice of America website reported that the “church recently approved a special marriage rite that specifically blesses same-sex marriage.”
With this new development and three new states legalizing same-sex marriage in the Nov. 2012 elections, an impartial observer cannot deny the gay-rights agenda has the momentum. But with this momentum, an additional threat to religious liberty mounts. We have seen the dim beginnings of it when mayor, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, and mayor, Thomas Menino of Boston recently opposed Chick-fil-a and its efforts to expand its business.
In order to get a sense of what lies ahead for those who support the sanctity of marriage in America, just take a look across the pond. In Spain, for instance, secular-liberalism is beginning to show its true colors. Catholic News Agency reported that Miguel Angel Vazquez, a member of the Socialist Party and spokesman for the Andalusian provincial government, said that Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba should be silenced for leveling attacks against “real and effective equality between men and women.”
Bishop Fernandez rightly pointed out that same-sex marriage “destroys the family and breaks every tie man has with God through his own nature.” After all, man and woman are the image of God through which the child learns about God, the world and himself. But unfortunately, the push for gay-rights has become so universal in public institutions that the gay ideology will undoubtedly be seen as the norm. The bishop goes on to say that a “series of educational, medical and academic programs exist at the service of this ideology in an attempt to force it upon everyone, causing tremendous harm to the consciences of children, teens and young people.”
The success of the gay-rights agenda is alarming enough but with hit comes a rigid intolerance of any opposition or disapproval. The socialist, Miguel Angel Vazquez of Spain, is not the exception but the rule of that movement. And he seems to be committed to his cause when he said that he would rather burn in hell than renounce “equality.”
It should be mentioned, however, that Bishop Fernandez is no less committed to the cause of the Gospel. In fact, he warned, “Herod is still alive and is not only killing the innocent in the womb but also trying to instill this ideology in the minds of our children, teens and young people.” To be sure, this ideology not only directly impacts people’s salvation, but the institution of the family in which morality and spirituality prospers.
During the summer of 2012, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, Scotland was feeling the heat too. He was taking this growing threat to religious liberty very seriously. A day before the Scottish government announced it would approve of same-sex marriage, the archbishop envisioned tough days ahead. He said, “I could see myself going to jail possibly at some point over the next 15 years, if God spares me, if I speak out.”
And as for Pope Benedict XVI, he warned us of the following: “Very soon it will no longer be possible to affirm that homosexuality (as the Catholic Church teaches) constitutes an objective disorder in the structure of human existence…”
His reference to the "Dictatorship of Relativism" is best exemplified by the gay-rights movement. Supporters of this movement began with moral relativism by appealing to people’s open-mindedness; an open-mindedness to accept alternative lifestyles. But in due time, it grew to be dictatorial or rigidly intolerant of those who did not accept their ideology. Hence the invention of hate-crimes and the charge of bigotry gained widespread currency among same-sex marriage advocates. With this, the sanctity of marriage and religious liberty becomes more vulnerable by the day.
In short, how did we get here? Can it be said that the successful campaign for same-sex marriage is due to the genius and skills of its leaders? Partially, perhaps. But if this wave of secular-liberalism is to be rolled back, then it is imperative that Catholics take a serious look at what we have failed to do in the last five or six decades.
The problem, in part, comes down to what Bishop Fulton Sheen said several years ago: “A religion that doesn't interfere with the secular order will soon discover that the secular order will not refrain from interfering with it.” We have left secular-liberalism alone with the hopes that it would leave us alone. Unfortunately, we are finding out that this is not the case.
We can learn a great deal from our own history. The early Christians took it for granted that the ushering in of God’s kingdom is a kind of exorcism. It does not simply involve the preaching of the Gospel. As God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”
We have forgotten to “root up and tear down.” In fact, Christian love has been defined in such a way as to forbid it! You may be surprised to know that the man who coined the phrase, “God is dead,” saw this coming. Sometimes the enemies of Christianity are more astute than Christians. Friedrich Nietzsche, in his book, “Daybreak,” published in 1881, indicated that Christians in his day were beginning to leave beliefs like his alone. He said, “(O)ne should notice that Christianity has thus crossed over into a gentle moralism: it is not so much 'God, freedom and immortality' that have remained, as benevolence and decency of disposition…”
“And when the belief,” he continued, “that in the whole universe benevolence and decency of disposition (should) prevail: it is the euthanasia of Christianity.”
Nietzsche is right. We have been far too “benevolent” and “decent.” We have left false beliefs about sex and marriage alone. Now they will not leave us alone.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.