Today is this feast of the Holy Family,
And I want to talk about a particular question regarding the family.
I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to be a “feel good” homily;
I’ll just tell you that right out of the gate.
What is “family”?
This is not actually a religious question at all.
You don’t have to believe in God to know what family is,
because everyone, no matter who you are,
you were born of mother and a father.
Now, we know that families are not always intact.
Death, money troubles, divorce, war, and many other things
disrupt and re-shape our families.
Some parents heroically raise children alone.
Or they marry again, creating blended families.
Some parents seek out children to welcome into their homes.
That they don’t all match the traditional template
does not keep us from knowing what a family IS,
and what works best for human flourishing.
Now, family life has always faced trials and disruption.
But a very different storm is brewing now,
It’s coming fast and strong, across our whole country.
It’s not just Hollywood or a few big cities; it’s everywhere.
I am talking about the denial – the cancelling out – of the family itself.
Do you know what “transgender” refers to?
This is a real situation some people face.
Sometimes a man or a boy is not at peace with himself, and wonders,
maybe I am not a man, but a woman; and the same in reverse.
This is not a joke. The suffering is real.
Why it happens isn’t altogether clear,
but often it has to do with broken relationships, violence or trauma.
Pornography makes it worse.
Along with this comes depression, destructive behavior, even suicide.
All this merits our compassion and concern.
Now, I’m going to say some tough things,
but they aren’t directed to the suffering people I mentioned.
Rather, I’m talking about powerful forces
who are manipulating this moment. They have an agenda.
In government, the media, and outside pressure-groups
see this as the moment to call into question, and entirely reshape,
what it means to be human and be a family.
Here’s what these folks are saying:
That there is nothing special about a father, or a mother.
Two dads; three moms? It makes no difference.
To be a boy or to be a girl is no more than a matter of choice –
it has nothing to do with the body you have.
With a straight face, they say: men can have babies.
You can laugh, but this agenda is showing up everywhere.
Well-funded lawyers are seeking out sympathetic judges
and rewriting our laws daily.
You know who’s all in? Not only the entertainment industry.
How about the largest publishers of books…for children.
The medical profession is being targeted.
Doctors and other health-care professionals
are under intense pressure to give it their seal of approval,
and worst of all, to participate in so-called “therapy.”
None of this has anything to do with science, it’s garbage.
Again: I’m not talking about people’s suffering. That’s real.
But all this about bodies don’t matter?
That you and I can simply reinvent ourselves with hormones or surgery?
It is all a lie.
That’s not just me saying that.
There was a doctor who pioneered this sort of surgery 70 years ago.
He did it for decades, till I finally quit and said, it was a lie.
Some will say, why should I care? Let people do what they want.
Across the country, children are being encouraged to say,
“I’m not a girl, I’m a boy.” And when they reach puberty,
these girls wrap tight bindings around their chest,
to hide their natural development.
The result is chronic pain and lasting physical damage.
Other children are being given drugs
to prevent puberty from beginning.
Or they are given powerful doses of hormones,
so that if they are a girl, their body will develop male characteristics,
and if they are boys, to develop in female ways.
And worst of all is surgery, that amputates healthy body parts
and creates fake body parts, to perpetuate the delusion.
To repeat: this isn’t just adults doing this, but also children.
And when parents refuse to go along, judges take their children away!
That happened here in Ohio, just last year.
And I might add that even after all this,
people who “transition” still have terrible problems – both physical,
because of the damage done to their bodies – and emotional.
Suicide is very common.
I’ve come a long way from the Holy Family, I know.
And the obvious question is, so what do we do?
I wish I had an easy, three-step plan, but I don’t.
You and I not only live in a post-Christian era, but increasingly,
we are discovering that this is a post-truth era.
“Post-truth”? What does that mean?
It means that for lots of people,
reason and facts and explanation do not matter.
All that matters is people getting what they want.
That’s the heart of this problem:
Instead if the truth governing desire; it’s the opposite:
my desire creates my “truth.”
So if you come to me and say, look, science, look, medicine,
look, human development; in other words, you lay out an argument…
The post-truth me is going to wave it all away, and say,
“I make my own truth! Give me what I want, or you are a bigot!”
And right now, people are being fired and ruined over this.
This is going to get a lot worse.
So, what do you and I do? Hold on to two things:
There is no authentic love without the truth;
And without love, truth becomes a merciless weapon.
There is never a need to humiliate or berate anyone.
We don’t have to be spoiling for a fight.
All the same, brace yourself with prayer and study and encouragement,
because the wind may blow more suddenly fiercer than you imagine.
At the outset I asked, “what is family?”
And the highest truth about the family is that,
as important as it is for our well-being,
it is also the sign God created to reveal himself.
The family – father, mother, child – is an icon of God the Trinity.
So now you know why this is happening.
Behind lots of people doing different things for different reasons,
there is a ruthless enemy striking at the family
in order to strike at God.
The devil hates us as much as he hates God;
And his aim is to disconnect us from our true selves,
along the way to separating us from the God who created us for communion with him.
In the coming storm, there may not be much more
you and I can do than to brace ourselves on the Rock of Truth,
and to say, “You can hate me, you can punish me, but I will not lie.
I will not deny the truth about who you are, who I am, and who God is.”