As I watched the St. Louis County prosecutor discuss the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown and the subsequent rioting that occurred, one movie quote stuck in my head, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Media talking heads, many on social media and protesters all broke out in what sounded like a well-rehearsed anthem – “The justice system has failed.” Really? The grand jury took three months to view all the evidence, listen to all the testimony and deliberate. The prosecutor said words that should resonate with every human being, “Physical evidence is constant… Physical evidence cannot be changed by social pressure.” I bring this up because this current situation resonates with the masses, yet the prosecutor’s message is timeless – Truth is constant and cannot be changed by social pressure.
All of us should live our lives as if we are the grand jury. We should always seek out the truth. Even if doing so takes us away from our predetermined destination. Our world today has been plagued by what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called a Dictatorship of Relativism¹. In this dictatorship, we see the truth only as we want it to be, and not by its objective reality. The Church has been charged by Jesus Christ Himself to be that light of truth in an ever-darkening world. Unfortunately, as this dictatorship continues and people are born into it, more and more people are believing the lies.
Some of the biggest truths that our society denies today are those that deal with morality – abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, pre-marital sex and same-sex marriage, just to name a few. No one wants to be told how they should live or what they can and cannot do, yet they have absolutely no problem telling someone else how they should live. People claim that we cannot legislate morality, yet our government does it every day. There was a time when slavery was legal, but through the legislative process, our nation determined that it was not right to own other people and force them into unpaid labor – they got that one right. Abortion used to be illegal, but through the feminist movement and sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s, our society came to believe that women have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies, even if it means killing another human being. It was that same sexual revolution that led to the proliferation of contraception. So, yes… we do legislate morality every day in this country. However, for the most part, our society has this sort of “live and let live” philosophy when it comes to morality and truth. Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae in 1968, at the height of the sexual revolution. His warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears then, but as we look at what our society has become, he could not have been more right. Some of his concerns were an increase in marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards².
Truth is constant. It cannot be changed by social pressure. Although one or many may decide to live by their own set of rules, that does not change the truth. Like Jesus said, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light”3. The Church has been given the light of Truth and we as members of that Church are called to shine that light brightly for all to see. We are called to stand up in the face of adversity and defend the truth, even if that means making ourselves socially uncomfortable. Jesus told His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”4. We must be willing to defend the truth at all costs.
As Catholics, we must be willing to stand up to the world and proclaim God's truth. Too many Catholics today have been sucked in to the worldly way of thinking. I often hear people I know say, "I'm Catholic, but..." As the conversation goes on, I ask if they believe that Jesus founded the Church. They say "yes". I ask if they believe Jesus is God. They say "yes". Then I ask the $64,000 question. "How can you believe Jesus founded the Church, yet believe the Church teaches in error?" Answers vary from "That way of thinking isn't reasonable in a modern society" to "I just don't think that is the right way for me". What they are really saying, without saying it is, "I'm going to do whatever I want regardless of what you or anyone else thinks".
As far as abortion goes, we know, from science, that it is the killing of an innocent human life and is therefore murder. This has nothing to do with attempting to legislate one's sexual freedom.
Our faith teaches us that sexual intercourse is to be BOTH unitive AND procreative5. Therefore, any action that renders the sexual act sterile is itself an act against the Natural Law. Because of that, any use of contraception is sinful.
Jesus said in Matthew 19:6, "What God has brought together, let no man put asunder". Jesus says this in regard to marriage. Divorce may legally separate a husband and wife (and divide their belongings and assign custody with regard to children), but it does not sacramentally separate them. A sacrament, once conferred, cannot be undone. This is why the Church does not allow civilly divorced people to marry without seeking an annulment. It is also why civilly divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive communion.
The next two items are the most difficult for people to accept today. The first is the Church's teaching on pre-marital sex. First of all, we can look back at God's design for sexual intercourse - sex is to be BOTH unitive AND procreative. Let's also look at God's design for marriage. Marriage is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring6. If procreation is designed to occur within marriage, why would sexual relations outside of marriage be tolerated? Unless of course one is going to use contraception to try to avoid procreation... and if that fails, there is always abortion, right? As they say in the social media world, "smh" (shaking my head).
The final item is same-sex marriage. "People should be able to love whomever they want without prejudice," the same-sex marriage supporters say. There is a HUGE difference between love and marriage. We are told to love our neighbors7, in fact, we are also told to love our enemies8. C.S. Lewis wrote a book called The Four Loves. In this book, he details four different kinds of love, Eros (romantic love), Philia (familial love), Storge (friendship) and Agape (charity or Christian love). I have absolutely no doubt that those engaged in same-sex relationships experience Eros, Storge and Agape, however marriage goes beyond any of these. Marriage, as stated above, is ordered toward the procreation of offspring. Since same-sex relations cannot naturally result in procreation, same-sex marriage cannot exist.
Truth is constant. It cannot be changed by social pressure. No matter how many people, how many media outlets or how many government agencies adopt philosophies contrary to the Truth, the Truth will never change. We as Christians have a duty to our society and to God to proclaim the Truth every day, as loud as we can. Remember the concluding words of the Mass, “Ite missa est”. This means, “she is sent”. We are sent into the world to preach the Good News to others. If all we do is go to Mass on Sunday to meet our obligation, but we are not taking our faith out into the public square, into our workplaces and into our homes, we are not practicing our faith. We must be evangelizing those around us, not necessarily by “preaching”, but by our example. If we approve or appear to approve ideas that are contrary to our Catholic faith, we are not living a very good example. As I mentioned above, we must be the light of truth in an ever-darkening world. Jesus tells us, and we have an obligation to follow His command – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”?. The best way we can shine our light is to embrace the truth and to share that truth with others. I earned my B.A. from Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio. The motto of Ohio Dominican is “Contemplare et contemplata aliis trader” which means, “To contemplate truth and to share with others the fruits of this contemplation”. We must seek the Truth and not just accept what popular opinion wants the truth to be.
• Luke 11:33. Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition
• Matthew 5:10. Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition
• Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2351
• Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601
• Matthew 22:39. Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition
• Matthew 5:44. Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition
• Matthew 5:16. Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition