I have mostly ignored the furor over the recent statements made by Phil Robertson, of the Duck Dynasty program, in a GQ interview concerning homosexuality, which, as far as I can tell, amounted to no more than paraphrasing a passage from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (6:9-10), as well as a crude and anatomically graphic take on the natural law. While it may shock many cultural elites, the views Robertson expressed are still shared by quite a few people, the vast majority of whom, like Robertson, would never countenance, let alone encourage or engage in, acts of violence or less-than-human treatment of people who identify as homosexual. Since I have never viewed even one episode of the reality show, I don't really care to comment extensively because I think that the whole fake genre of "reality" television contributes as much to our collective cultural demise as anything else to which I can point.
In two separate rulings (see here and here) judges declared Utah laws, including one amendment to our state constitution, enacted after it passed overwhelmingly on a ballot initiative, unconstitutional. The amendment defines marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the amendment violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Of course, even legally, let alone philosophically, this is laughable, but such is the soft, judicial tyranny we experience now in these United States. As a result of Shelby's ruling, which is culturally obtuse and socially irresponsible, and despite the State's explicitly expressed decision to seek an injunction and to appeal the ruling, just yesterday Salt Lake County started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Of course there are human rights that cannot be overruled by the will of the majority, but marriage is not among those rights. This brings us to truth and love. In the person of Christ Jesus we have Truth as Love.
Trying to live this tension is the only way of squaring Pope Francis' plea made in a letter, dated 9 July 2010, that he sent to four different Carmelite convents while he served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Argentina's Congress was about to enact a federal law granting legal recognition to same-sex relationships, according these unions equal status with marriage, in which he wrote, "The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy," with his highly-publicized response to a letter written him by Kairos, a group of Florence-based Catholics who are homosexual, after he became Pope.
I was somewhat gratified to read a piece by Brandon Ambrosino, a man who is homosexual, written recently for The Atlantic: "Being Against Gay Marriage Doesn't Make You a Homophobe." I appreciate that at least some people who disagree with me think that my views ought to at least be tolerated. Since I brought up the topic of tolerance, Brian Doherty, in his post "Of Ducks and Gays and Tolerance," on reason.com's Hit and Run blog, notes something we all need to bear in mind: "Too often people forget that the idea of tolerance presumes that there is something objectionable that must be tolerated. Toleration is not the same thing as acceptance, yet in the name of the former, many people demand the latter."
Regarding all of this, let's allow Father Paul Check, the Executive Director of Courage International, to keep us in check, lest we go over the edge. He does just that here. Lest I grow too dialectical, I also need to keep in mind something written recently about God's law, by a blogger from whose posts (this blog linked me to a great 80s YouTube play-list) I increasingly benefit: "Sweeter than honey."
Among other important reminders, Advent keeps me mindful that all of us, myself, as well as those who are human judges, will someday by judged by the Judge. As a human being you can't be alive and awake more than perhaps five minutes without having to make a judgment, unless you are a complete skeptic, committed to a form of moral pyrrhonism, which is utter nonsense. While I do not look to the State to rule on the precepts of divine law, it is important for it not to be blatantly violated. Such violations, which in some instances, as with the HHS mandate, are turning into attempted coercion, are always unjust. Besides, here in the United States, our constitutional order is highly dependent on the natural law, which order is imperiled every time such an untethered ruling is made, not to mention our union rendered more imperfect and increasingly perilous by the repeated overturning of the express will of the people.
In the end, all of this is nothing more than a provocation, in the literal sense of the word, meaning that it calls on Christians to live our callings in a more conscientious and faithful manner. It's easy to get hung up on the perceived decadence of any age, but as the Talking Heads sang, it's the "same as it ever was," at least since the fall. This is true whether our calling is to celibacy or to marriage, both of which fly in the face of the Orwellian-named "sexual liberation." On my view, the deleterious and enslaving effects of this so-called "liberation" can be empirically verified. "Sexual liberation" is perhaps the most enslaving force operative in the wealthy, increasingly decadent, West today, which virus is spread via the explosion in technology at the disposal of the mass media, turning this into a flash point between the West and more traditional cultures.
Jesus came into the world to offer us true liberation, which, not ironically, is realized through obedience. As Bob Dylan sang, "Gotta Serve Somebody."