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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie: Rejecting Marriage and Gender are Connected

When it's all been said and done . . .

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In His response to the Pharisees who tested Him on the indissolubility of marriage (Matt. 19:3-12), the Lord Jesus defended both marriage and the plan of God in differentiating men and women by gender. Fr. Randy Sly, the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, shared a homily with our readers on this important passage today.
I draw my readers attention to these particular words of Jesus: "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.' Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate."

It is no coincidence that, along with the wholesale assault on authentic marriage, we are facing a wholesale rejection of gender as a given, and as a gift. They are connected as a part of a bigger error, the rejection of God and his loving plan. There is nothing new about any of this. It is simply one more sign of a culture which has rejected the truth and embraced a lie. And as a result, is sliding away from freedom into bondage.
One of the greatest delusions of our age is to think that any of this is actually new. It is just old school paganism rearing its ugly head once again and deceiving the moderns. We are recycling the past while shouting the word "progress". The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome addressed the state of the culture into which they were sent. That culture was given over to debauchery, much like our own, and also suffered the consequences. We need to talk to God again.
Primitive forms of abortion were practiced in ancient Rome. In addition, infant exposure was lawful. That evil practice entailed leaving born children who were unwanted out on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders to be sold. Finally, sexual debasement was rampant as the natural Moral Law was being rejected while sexual aberrations were being celebrated as some kind of liberation.
The Apostle wrote some strong words to the early Christians in Rome in the first chapter of his letter to them. He addressed the debased practices in the culture in which they lived. Even some Christians succumbed to the lies of that age. Sound familiar?
The Romans rejected the Natural Moral Law and reaped the rotted fruit which always follows such a choice. Paul wrote: "I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live."
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.
"So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles."
"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.  They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them." (Romans 1:16-32)
I can already anticipate some of the responses to my "daring" to include this passage in this article. Such words will be rejected by some as insensitive, or even "politically incorrect". Others will see them as "harsh" or "judgmental". However, these are not my words. They are the words of the Apostle Paul. And, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they are now a part of the canon of the Sacred Scripture, the Bible.
When men, women, and cultures reject the Natural Moral Law, they lose their freedom and their humanity. God's plan for the human race is the path to true freedom, happiness and flourishing. That is because He loves us. We are created in his Image. He reveals His plan to everyone, "even in the things that are made" as the Apostle wrote, because he wants all men and women to find true liberation and fulfillment.The Gospel is not an impediment to freedom, it is the very path.
We live in an age which has suffered under counterfeit versions of what called itself humanism but rejected the human. Even some Christians have now rejected the term humanism, believing that the secularist and atheist co-opting of the word are valid. They are not. The truth is that prior to these counterfeit uses of a noble word, it was Christianity that spoke of the true humanism, found in Jesus Christ.
C.S. Lewis, in his book entitled Studies in Words, coined the word verbicide - the murder of a word. Modern aberrations of the word humanism are an example of such a crime. They evolved in the latter half of the twentieth century. Western culture has been sucked into a moral vacuum. It has rejected God and His Truth and embraced the autonomous self as the measure of all things.
License masquerading as liberty has seduced our age, offering a new morality that is no morality at all; in fact, it is a thinly disguised new paganism. It has no capacity to inform a just social order and is leading to cultural collapse. This collapse will not be averted by political conservatism, or any political movement, or party, for that matter. They are all inadequate for the task.
Western culture needs conversion, from the inside out. We need a Christian revolution of the heart. Christians need to once again take the eternal and timeless values of the classical and orthodox Christian worldview and knead them again into the loaf of western culture. They are the yeast which alone can revivify a western civilization which has lost it's soul.
Christianity gave western culture the truth that we are all created in the Image of God. From that foundational understanding of the nature of the human person was derived the liberating political notion that we possess fundamental human rights, endowed upon us by the God who created us.Those rights are not given to us by any Civil Government. Rather, they must be recognized by Civil Government or it becomes an unjust government. That is the state we are in. The declining western culture grows increasingly hostile to the Christian Church.
There is a clash of worldviews currently underway in the West. It involves competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing. Both cannot be true. Classical, orthodox Christians are now contending with the hostility of a secularist relativism which claims there are no truths. That is what makes Christians so increasingly countercultural.
We insist that there is Truth, which can be known - and that it must govern our lives. In fact, we maintain that it is the path to freedom. This is why we are facing a growing persecution. Even though it's impact is still soft, the anti-Christian cycle is now underway and it will intensify. Our path is paved with the insults, accusations and calumny of our fellow citizens.
We are accused of being against progress and science for defending the dignity of every human life - including the Right to Life of our first neighbors in the womb. Yet, medical science confirms what our conscience long ago confirmed, those little girls and boys in the womb are our neighbors. It is always wrong to intentionally kill our innocent neighbors.
Like the early Christians, we insist that this Natural Moral Law can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. Further, we claim that it is the only stable foundation for the positive law. It gives us the moral norms needed to build societies and govern ourselves. This Natural Moral Law must inform our positive law or we become lawless and our society devolves into anarchy.
The evidence of the current cultural decline is all around us. We have once again "exchanged the truth of God for a lie" just as the Apostle warned. We are also reaping the rotten fruit. We cannot - we will not - back down. Why? Because we love and want all men and women to be truly free.
In the face of a manufactured of a right for homosexuals and lesbians to 'marry', we Christians will not participate in the lie. We insist that marriage is possible only between one man and one woman. It is a relationship defined by nature itself and revealed by the Natural Moral Law. To limit marriage to heterosexual couples is not discriminatory. Homosexual couples cannot bring into existence what marriage intends by its definition.
Heterosexual marriage, procreation, and the nurturing of children form the foundation for the family, and the family forms the foundation of civil society. Civil institutions do not create marriage. Nor can they create a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. The institutions of government should, when acting properly, defend marriage. To do so furthers the common good.
To confer the benefits that have been conferred in the past only to stable married couples and families to homosexual paramours is bad public policy and does not advance the true common good. Government has long regulated marriage for the common good. For example, the ban on polygamy and age requirements were enforced in order to ensure that there was a mature decision at the basis of the Marriage contract.
We insist that children have a right to a mother and a father. Of course, we care about the single parent family and the many broken homes. After all, we are Christians. We brought the very idea of embracing broken families into the public square. Marriage between one man and one woman is the first society into which children are meant to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish and take their role in families and communities.
However, the existence of single parent families and fractured families does not change the norm necessary to build a stable and healthy society within which they can find the compassion and support system they need as well. In tact marriages and families are the glue of a healthy and happy social order. To live in faithful, heterosexual marriages and rear children within a family is once again countercultural. This is not the first time in history this has occurred. Paul's words to the Romans reflect this reality. So too do many early Christian writings.
Libertine cultures are the mission field into which the Christian Church is always sent. The early Church was sent into cultures much like our own, filled with people who thought they were advanced in light of the arts and sciences of their day. Yet, those cultures practiced primitive forms of abortion and exposure, a practice of leaving unwanted children on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders.
Early Christian sources, like the Letter to Diognetus, remind us that the early Christians transformed cultures much like our own. They lived in cultures of use where people were treated as property, cultures of excess where freedom was perceived as a power over others and license masqueraded as liberty. They changed those cultures from within. If we persevere in prayer, living faith and understand that this is a new missionary age, we can do the same.
The Christian claims concerning the dignity of life and the truth about marriage are not outdated notions of the past but the path to a future of freedom for all men and women. They are the real antidote to the poison which is rotting western civilization from within. Faithful Christians are now a Counter Culture and consecrated married couples and their families, called from antiquity the domestic church, are the vanguard of this Christian counter culture movement.
In his beautiful book of reflections called The Furrow, St Josemaria Escriva used a phrase that keeps coming to my mind; Rebels of Love. He wrote: "Nowadays it is not enough for men and women to be good. Moreover, it is not good enough to be satisfied with being nearly good. It is necessary to be 'revolutionary'. Faced by hedonism, faced by the pagan and materialistic wares that we are being offered, Christ wants objectors! Rebels of Love!"
The call of consecrated married love is a call to become such rebels of love. Christian marriage is more than a covenant (though it is that), more than an ordinance (though it is that) - it is an invitation to sacrificial love - to holiness. Christian Marriage is a participation in the life of God through which and for which we are given His grace.
It is a sacrament, a means of grace and witness of Christ's love for His Church. Marriage in Christ is what the scripture calls a mystery (see, Eph. 5:32). It is beyond words. It is meant to be lived and become a model to be imitated and emulated. Consecrated Christian Marriage requires a radical - meaning back to the roots - way of life.
As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. The word once referred to systems of thought in which "human interests, values, and dignity predominated". That was before the word was co-opted by a myriad of atheistic systems of thought. I was searching for truth, sometimes on all the wrong places.
I eventually discovered the thought of the early fathers of the Christian Church and came home to the faith of my childhood. There I found the fullness of truth revealed in jesus Christ. I also came to understand that true humanism is found in Christianity. It is in and through Jesus Christ that the human person can be set free to overcome what drags us down and ensnares us and rediscover our real identity and vocation.
The contemporary culture has rejected the truth of God for a lie. The attack on marriage and the rejection of Gender as a given both stem from the same root; the rejection of God.  Only a return to His loving plan can turn the tide.

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