Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Be not afraid!

I was up very late last night, watching the election returns, and then watching the candidates' speeches. One lasting effect of having a deep interest in politics is that I can't go to bed on election night while races I care about are still at issue; and then I'm keyed up.

This morning I hit the road early, to drive up to Centerville for the priests' annual convocation. A lot of the event is my responsibility, and today was my first time being responsible. Guys said things went well--although I did notice a few things I want to do differently next year and a few miscues. I know there were some who didn't care for the topic--I hope they will convey that, not only to me, but to those who plan these things each year.

But the big topic on so many minds is the election. I know many of my readers will be deeply disappointed, if not downright gloomy. Certainly several of my brother priests were gloomy. So I'll offer some thoughts.

First, I would suggest that in politics, it is rare that things are really as bad as you think, and as good as you think. The day after an election, one side is exultant and the other often looks for scapegoats. Hang tight.

Second, the real challenges we face aren't going to be solved by an election, nor made insoluble by an election. I know a lot of my friends placed great hopes on Mr. Romney; I did not. I sincerely believe that he would have proved a great disappointment. He was the focus of so many folks' hopes not so much because of his actual merits, but because of the terrible positions embraced by the President. Of course, I can never really prove I'm right about that, so there's no point in arguing over it. But I mention it to explain why I'm not so depressed as many may be.

Third, our ability to fight back has not changed. When President Obama handed down his forced-contraception-participation mandate, I saw the hand of Providence. I still do. It sure seems as though a spotlight is shining down on the Church, at this moment, with the opportunity to bear witness.

That moment hasn't passed. It may be coming to its full.

It's obvious we face a confrontation over the redefinition of marriage. The solution to that did not lie in the election of any one candidate. (And even with the President's re-election, I think we have plenty of political resources available.)

Look, I don't mean to sound breezy about such confrontations; but they are coming, and there comes a time when you just say, let's get to the battle. Do we believe that what we're fighting for is true and right? We know it is! We know that marriage is a man and a woman. Trying to pretend 2+2=5 will eventually crash and burn. We already have evidence accumulating that attempts at same-sex "families" result in real problems for the children raised in them. This will not end well. You and I must be ready to help pick up the pieces.

Contraception is, in every regard, a disaster. It is not merely a thing we Catholics have an irrational opposition to; it's a poison, it's an ecological hazard, it's destructive to marriages, and now we know it's a social disaster. Daily--right now!--the truth of what Pope Paul VI warned in 1968 is being confirmed. Before very long, the reality will come crashing upon us. As the Prophet Habakkuk said, 

Then the LORD answered me and said: 
Write down the vision; 
Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. 
For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. 
If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. 

The fourth thing I will say, simply about the political arena: a lot of folks, I think, continually make the mistake of looking merely at the commentary and the surface stuff, and focus only on what's highly visible. A lot of good things are happening in House races and in state races. And, unlike 2009, the President does not have the ability to do whatever  he likes. We live to fight another day. Finally, the thing that happens all too often is the twist and turn that nobody (or very few) anticipated. History is full of surprises. Providence works like that.


Phil said...

It is likely that Obama will have the opportunity to appoint one or more Supreme Court justices, which will skew the balance of the Court. That's my biggest fear.

Sevesteen said...

Government should protect us from force, not impose whatever morality is currently fashionable. Catholics should not be forced to provide birth control or to recognize unacceptable forms of marriage--but I should not be forced to go without birth control or to be unable to remain married to my spouse because it violates Catholic morality.

The more Government imposes some version of morality on us, the more likely it will actually force immorality.

Fr Martin Fox said...


The issue of marriage isn't about Catholic morality. Christianity did not invent the notion of marriage being a man and a woman. Do you suppose we did?

It's not a question of morality but reality, which is and must be the true ground of morality. Marriage is a man and a woman, because that's how children are begotten and what family is.

It's not clear to me why you have a natural right to have access to birth control, but as a civil right, who is contesting it? Please identify which candidate or party is advocating a limit on your being able to obtain birth control?

truthfinder2 said...

I, too, believe that there are likely to be some surprises down the political road in the next four years. I am praying fervently for conversions for the hardest of hearts, and especially for those belonging to politicians! --- Rosemary

Sevesteen said...

I'm sure you have some loophole to cover straight couples who can't conceive--otherwise that's another reason my marriage is invalid.

Legality of birth control is settled. Proposing to change that is certain to derail the campaign of a candidate who proposes it. My point was that it is a moral issue that the government shouldn't enforce. Alcohol is responsible for much misery--should we go back to prohibition? If gambling is such a problem, should it be mostly limited to the government and churches like it was a few years ago?

Fr Martin Fox said...


Who told you that a marriage where a couple is sterile is invalid? That's not what Catholics believe. The fact that not every couple is actually capable of conceiving doesn't change the fact that marriage by it's nature is oriented toward procreation.

The eye is for seeing. Does the fact that some people can't see disprove that?

And, about contraception, I'm asking again: what candidate has proposed to outlaw birth control? You seem to be suggesting someone did. Who? We might as well talk about someone banning mascara. (Not that I think those are morally equivalent.)

Sevesteen said...

I'm aware that sterile heterosexual couples can marry--that double standard is the point I was making.

I don't recall claiming that any American candidate has advocated banning birth control. If you must have a name to get past this, Rick Santorum.

That point was that neither birth control (at least those that prevent conception rather than acting after conception) nor gay relationships harm others--if you don't approve, you are (and should be) free to decline to participate. We allow alcohol (and we should) despite it being indirectly much more harmful to non-users than gay relationships.

Moral standards should be based on persuasion and not force. Use of force should be limited to preventing one person from harming another.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Read back in this very thread: you yourself raised the possibility of you being "forced to go without birth control." I simply pressed you on backing up your assertion that someone was actually seeking to do that.

And it's not a double-standard to make a distinction between two people who have the natural capacity for marriage, and those who attempt to simulate it.

A male-female couple has the inherent capacity to enter into marital acts; two males and two females simply cannot, any more than a person, all by him- or herself, cannot enter into marital acts.

I might point out that the logic of your position is that there should be no bar on incestuous or group marriages. How do they "harm" anyone moreso than so-called "same-sex marriage"?

And there is a harm. Because at issue is not, I repeat not, two persons living together, simulating marriage, and presenting themselves as being married.

In Ohio, where I live, the constitution clarifies that marriage is a man and a woman. So what do you suppose happens when a gay couple comes into Ohio, buys a house, and tells everyone, "we're married"?

Do they get arrested? Fined? Imprisoned? Deported?

No. Nothing happens to them.

The issue is not whether they can live as man-and-man; nor whether they can have a marriage ritual; the only issue is, they cannot compel the rest of society to recognize their attempt at marriage, as a marriage.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I might add...the couple in my scenario can, through various legal mechanisms, create for themselves most--not all--the benefits conferred on those recognized as married.

The issue is often brought up: that without society being forced to recognize a same-sex "marriage," the couple can't have inheritance and visitation rights, shared property, etc.

In most cases, this is not true. And if were simply about inheritance and taxes, such things could be easily dealt with, apart from redefining marriage.

These claims are a smokescreen.

Puff the Magic Dragon said...

Well at least you know this will be his last term.

Greta said...

I love this comment from those on the left..

"Government should protect us from force, not impose whatever morality is currently fashionable."

How about the force to remove God from schools? How about the force of Obamacare and endless debt thrust upon every man woman and child in this country? How about millions of regulations on every aspect of our lives? How about using the courts to find words not in the actual text rather than go through the amendment process as outlined in the founding documents?

Sevesteen said...

Greta: I'm a libertarian, so I don't fall neatly on a left-right scale. Obamacare is nearly the worst possible way to do something the government has no business doing in the first place.

Yes we have far too many regulations--because too many people want to control others, enforce their own particular version of morality. This is a problem whether it is Catholic morality, Environmentalist morality, collectivist morality or any other 'for your own good' regulations.

Fr. Fox:

How about we separate the institutions of marriage and civil union--for everyone? Leave marriage to the church, you can define it however you want. Meanwhile, the government's collection of rights and obligations is separate and under separate rules, with a separate name.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Why do you persist in treating marriage as an essentially religious thing? I'm going to be graphic, to make the point: do you think male and female genitals, and the biological functions of them, are merely a religious thing? Do marital acts only happen for Christian couples? You do realize that only a man and a woman can perform marital acts--by definition--regardless of their religion, or lack thereof?

Do you even know what "marital acts" are? Hint: two men and two women cannot do them, no matter how much they might wish to, any more than I can flap my arms and fly, which would be wonderful, but I cannot.

No no, you and others want to play "Let's pretend"; because that makes people feel so much better, being spared the frustration and disappointment of finding reality is in fact real, and sometimes unbending. A perfect parable for our egoistic, narcissistic age in which we command reality to be just what we like it to be, no more and no less.

It is an iron law: reality always asserts itself, sooner or later. Sometimes that re-assertion is painful or even deeply traumatic, but it comes eventually.

Marriage is a man and woman because that's of the essence of human nature. The Church did not invent marriage! Now, stop and read that last sentence over, slowly, and over again. Let those six words sink in.

The state--or anyone else--can no more redefine marriage than it can redefine Pi or redefine essential human nature.

Oh yes, I am well aware of attempts to redefine, reinvent and reengineer human nature. Yes, that project is well underway. We'll see.

But may I invite you, as a self-described libertarian, to consider soberly, what it means to be the subject--not the observer, but the subject, mind you--of "re-engineering"?

THAT is what we are talking about here, nothing less.

This excursion into the world of wishes over marriage will be very bit as catastrophic as the prior trip over so-called "reproductive freedom" (it used to be called "population control,"until, I suspect, it dawned on the advocates that that term gave away the game) is just now beginning to bear what will be catastrophic effects on a global level. I do not exaggerate. Read the financial news: they are talking about the long term, and now all but irreversible and civilization darkening effects of contraception and sterilization.

Likewise, several decades hence, someone will say, of us, why did they foolishly think it would be a good idea to deconstruct the family? They understood, circa AD 2000, the need to respect the natural ecosystem, yet they cheerfully wrecked the ecosystem of human nature?

Sevesteen said...

Trying to make my point without being even more graphic-if we were designed to be only heteroxexual, then only potentially procreative body parts would be capable of sexual pleasure.

Your definition of marriage being defined by marital acts is circular. Sexual orientation isn't a choice for most people--I could not choose to have a romantic relationship with another man, period--but it is obvious that some men can.

There is also accumulating evidence that orientation is detectable very early--A study showed old home movies of young children to strangers. Based on no other evidence, the strangers could fairly reliably identify which children had grown up to be gay.

It is obvious that some people are distinctly different than me in the objects of their desires and romantic attractions. I've no reason to believe that their desires are any weaker or less focused than mine, and it seems unnecessarily cruel to deny them a loving, romantic relationship, or the same legal framework as my marriage.

We have re-engineered society in the past. Racial minorities get rights, slavery is outlawed, women get to own property and vote. We no longer imprison people for being gay. Any one of those is a much bigger change than allowing gay marriage.