My local newspaper has run several editorial pieces lately contributed the writers at OtherWords, a liberal think-tank. In fact, these extremely left-leaning opinion pieces have appeared so frequently of late that I have begun wondering what has happened to the conservative voices around our town. There just seems to be no balance at all when it comes to opinion pieces, especially with regard to the topics we Catholics hold near and dear.
Is the conservative viewpoint lacking because too many of us are committed to "going with the flow?" That is, if we speak out, will we lose our friends or our jobs? Will we get lambasted, so to speak, by opinions from our opposers if we write? Like the eleven apostles huddled behind locked doors on Easter morning, we are like scared sheep, afraid that we will be the next to be crucified.
I am reminded of the late sixties when it was supposedly cool to "tune in, turn on, and drop out." "Sex, drugs, and rock and roll" was the mantra of the let-it-all-hang-out generation. The Viet Nam war was "wrong" and liberals vilified the men and women who served in our armed forces in Southeast Asia. Abortion became legal in 1973 and was a cornerstone of the explosive women's movement. If you were not on board with the liberal agenda you were just a "square," or a nerd, or at the very least the butt of a thousand jokes. America was driven by a wave of moral relativism.
And while I joined my pot-smoking, coke-snorting friends in my search for enlightenment, others were quietly pursuing careers in medicine, law, and engineering. When all was said and done, the business of living continued thanks to the people who knew what the world really needed and delivered it. Unless you were going to really make it as a rock-star, joining the "love" generation would prove to be a path to nowhere. Like it or not, living on love could not put food on one's table or a roof over one's head. As my generation matured, most found that the pursuit of materialism was more fun than dropping out, and making a living selling artwork or organically-grown vegetables became less and less appealing as time went by.
Fast forward a generation or two. No longer are our veterans vilified whether they served in Viet Nam or anywhere. War is still hell, but we stopped blaming those who answered their nation's call. Nationalism is at a high point and political dissent is rarely linked to the Molotov-cocktail, flag-burning behaviors of our youth. The rate of abortions is also slowing its pace as Americans gradually awaken to the sensibilities of a "kinder, gentler nation."
My point in all of this is that moral absolutes have endured and will endure no matter which way the cultural winds may blow. The phrases "Love is love," and "Love wins!" continue to irk me because they ignore God's plan for us as sexual beings. Supporters of the gay/transgender movement know this but don't care. The reason Catholics consider homosexual behavior a sin is because our faith instructs us to honor the natural law as reflected in our unique biological formations as male and female. Love can have many forms and they need not all lead to sexual encounters, no matter how deep our esteem for another person. Moreover, what many fail to realize is that by engaging in sexual behavior that precludes the creation of new life, we are turning our backs on our roles as people of God. "Be fruitful and multiply," is the command given to us. Catholics hold the utmost respect for the sexual act as it relates to procreation and any abomination of the sex act is considered sinful.
Now that we've all had a primer in how Catholics regard sex, two issues need to be addressed. First, over and over we have heard people say, "If you don't believe in gay marriage, don't have one!" This is nearly always followed by the worn-out comment that same-sex unions do not affect me and that I don't have the right to impose my religious beliefs on others. Well, there is a grave affect on my life and those around me now that gay marriage is the law of the land in all fifty states. By legitimizing same-sex "marriage" we will face a new set of issues as a society. We must face the eventual psychological disturbances among the children of same-sex couples who ache to know their missing biological parents. We must face the conflicts that arise in our own children's minds when what they are taught in school is in direct opposition with what we teach at home. We must shutter our businesses when we cling to our firmly-held beliefs regardless of any ostensible protections contained in Religious Freedom Restoration Acts where they exist in various states.
In our democratic republic, all free people have the right to have their opinions heard, regardless of what drives these opinions. Certainly Catholics should and do let their religion inform their opinions. To do otherwise would make us hypocrites. Given our right to free speech and even freedom of religious expression, we have a right to present our predictions on where the culture is headed with regard to this hot-button issue. We have a right and a duty to attempt to shape our world according to God's natural plan for us. And it would be nice if we had the right not to be the subject of continuous hate speech from the liberal left.
My second issue with this debate is that the religious right, no matter how small, still deserves to heard and respected. Depending on whose statistics you trust, fifty to sixty percent of Americans favor same-sex unions. The unsubstantiated statistic published today by OtherWords managing editor Emily Schwartz Greco claims that "two-thirds of us support this decision." Apparently the OtherWords staff would have the remaining (dissenting) portion of Americans just throw in the towel since we just don't seem to matter anymore anyway. It is utterly ludicrous for conservatives to consider how the LGBT community has been marginalized when they describe conservatives as "stomping their feet and howling." Mike Huckabee is regarded as a "tantrum-prone toddler;" Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent was "bizarre" and the GOP are a bunch of "sore losers." Who is bullying whom here?
So please don't tell me that we don't get to say who gets what rights in this country. Prisoners can't vote, a person can't have two spouses, and bigots, while they have the right to free speech, should consider whom they hurt when they foist their hateful opinions upon peaceful people who only want to answer to a higher authority.