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Homosexuality, Marriage, Family, and the Truth: What Would Love Really Do?

at Catholic Online

It seems my choices these days are either: 1. Celebrate homosexuality or be a homophobe. 2. Support the “right” of two men/two women to marry, or be a hateful bigot. 3. “Do unto others…” or be a hypocrite.

Loving my neighbor seems to have gotten a whole lot trickier.

Just how the heck am I supposed to love someone who demands something I cannot give? How do you love the person who requires you to celebrate their sin or be punished? How do you love the neighbor you must engage in the battle for our culture? How do you love the person whose lifestyle you must actively oppose for the sake of protecting what’s right?

It’s a good question. WWLD? (What would love do?) And what is love, anyway? What does love have to do with all of this? Everything. Just not what you might think.

Mr. Obama now says his opinions about marriage have “evolved” as dictated by his Christian faith and the Golden Rule, and no longer can he deny same-sex couples the “right” to marry. See that? In one fell swoop the President, in his infinite wisdom, decreed that all of human history, the Natural law, and the revealed moral law are suddenly contrary to Christian love. He has determined what “love” really means, and no one can honorably disagree any longer.

I disagree anyway.

St. Thomas Aquinas said: “Love is wanting the good of the other, as other.” Love can never want what is bad for the other. What is good for the other? The truth. “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.” Not the popular truth, or the current truth; not the truth that makes everyone feel good, or the sentimental truth; not the truth that makes people happy and gives them what they want, but the real truth.

There’s such a thing as objective truth and it comes from a perfect and unchanging God. Love tells the objective truth. It does so as patiently and gently as possible, but it does so without flinching. Love does not apologize for the truth. Love will not amend the truth in order to spare someone’s feelings.

The sentiment in America today says that love is all about “equality”. If I love this or that person, I will make sure they have all the same rights I have. I will not deny them what they desire, because that would be discriminatory and mean. (The exception to this, of course, is the child in the womb. That person must never be granted equality or any rights whatsoever!)

So now if I really love my neighbor, I will support same-sex “marriage” and stop denying homosexuals the “equality” they are supposedly entitled to. If I continue to oppose same-sex “marriage” then I must not love my neighbor; I’m a hateful bigot, and I’m ignoring the only thing Jesus ever said — “Don’t judge.”

Love has been reduced to tolerance, and tolerance has been warped to mean embracing everything and opposing nothing. But love that has discarded the truth is not love at all. It is sinking, mindless, sentimental mush.

WDJS? (What did Jesus say?)

At times I’ve thought it would have been nice if Jesus, at some point in His three years of teaching, had stood on a hillside and proclaimed, “Amen, I say to you, homosexual sex is a sin. Two men cannot marry each other; two women cannot marry each other. Marriage shall be a covenant only between a man and a woman. Anything else, I tell you, is wrong and you shall not do it.” Or something like that.

At least then we could move past the “Jesus never said homosexual sex is sinful” argument. But He didn’t explicitly say those words. Does that mean Jesus is okay with homosexual sex and same-sex “marriage”? Hardly.

The same challenge is issued regarding abortion. “When did Jesus ever say abortion was wrong?” Well, in so many words, He didn’t. Are we to conclude that He had no opinion, or that He would say women have a “right” to abortion? Not so fast.

It’s a grave mistake, and usually a self-serving manipulation, to say that Jesus’ spoken words are the sum total of His teaching and the sole barometer for determining right and wrong. Jesus is The Word. His coming into this world speaks volumes about the will of God and the blessing of God and what God considers holy and right.

He did not descend from heaven a grown man (though He certainly could have), but God the Father sent His Son to be born of a woman. He began His earthly life unseen in Mary’s womb. He grew in exactly the same manner that each of us grew. He took on our humanity from its very single-celled beginning and declared it holy by virtue of His holiness. Though Jesus had not uttered a word, yet He taught us that the life in the womb is sacred and human from the moment of conception.

He was born into a family. If God the Father had chosen, Jesus could have been born to an unmarried woman, or He could have been left as a baby to be found and raised by two men or two women. God is purposeful and precise in all His ways. It is not an accident that God gave His Son into a family: husband and wife, father and mother. This again is a deafening statement on the significance and primacy of the family. God does not violate His own standards or His own laws. Children are the fruit of marriage. By His coming and His birth and His life, Jesus proclaims the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman which forms the only proper foundation of the human family.

Without saying a word, He testifies to the Natural law, the plan for the human person, the holiness of human sexuality, the sanctity of life in the womb, and the nature of marriage.

It’s also significant that when Jesus wanted to shake things up, He didn’t abolish the moral law and say that this thing that used to be sinful isn’t sinful anymore — no, He actually tightened the moral law by upping the ante. So, you say adultery is a sin? Well guess what — I’m saying that if you even look at a woman lustfully you’ve committed adultery in your heart! You’ve heard, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’, but I tell you to love your enemy! You say you can give a certificate of divorce and all is well? Well, I say anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery!

No ambiguity there! He plainly reminded the people, God “created 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.’ So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together let no man put asunder.” (Matt 19: 4-6)

You know, come to think of it, that sounds an awful lot like a declaration from Jesus that marriage only exists between a man and a woman. Huh.

The truth is that God does not and cannot join together two men or two women in marriage because He created woman for man and man for woman. That’s how He designed it, and we have neither the power nor the authority to alter His design. That is so plainly obvious, it’s absurd that suddenly saying so out loud qualifies me for the label of Hateful Bigot.

So… WWLD?

I love the truth. I also desire to love my neighbor. If loving my neighbor is determined by my willingness to discard what I believe is true, then I will surely come up short. And I’m okay with that. I reject the new prevailing definition of charity.

Love is not capitulation to someone else’s wants in order not to offend them. Love bears all things, but it does not include all things. Love does not take bitter for sweet and it certainly does not call evil good. Contrary to current thinking, love does not treat all things equally.

Love cannot contradict God. Since God does not change His mind about sin, I cannot love my neighbor by telling him a particular sin is now magically okay. Sin never evolves into something righteous. And here’s the thing — homosexual sex isn’t really a “special” sin. It doesn’t require more of Christ’s blood than the sins of murder, adultery, stealing, or lying, for instance. It is noteworthy because it involves a peculiar distortion of human sexuality, and a disordered expression of the sexual love that is the prerogative of marriage. That’s what makes it so harmful to the human person.

Loving the truth does not mean I hate you. I do hate the rising conflict and cultural upheaval being forced on us right now. I do hate that human society as it’s always been is under threat of dismantling in order to create a new order based not on objective truth or right reason or the common good, but only upon individual wants and “evolving” rights.

I hate the damage being wrought on the family by homosexual activists who want to redefine marriage and sexuality for generations to come; by bullying activists and politicians who want to silence the Church and silence me, and set themselves up as the new moral authority.

I hate the perverse, insidious thinking that says human sexuality is a spectrum reality for people; that gender is some kind of fluid condition or continuum we travel, morphing as we go.

Come what may, I have no choice but to oppose with all my might the redefinition of marriage and the normalization of homosexual sex. I won’t go quietly into this strange new world where marriage and human sexuality look like the twisted images of a carnival house of mirrors. Love won’t let me do that.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Witness That Cannot Be Ignored: Loving the Least of These

at Catholic Online

When Judy first met Doreen, she had no way of knowing that God was basically going to drop Doreen in her lap like a knotted and tangled gold chain and ask her to help get things untied and straightened out. Had Judy known up front what was being asked of her she might have said “No thanks, no way!”

But God knew that He’d asked the right person. He knew that Judy had the compassion and the fortitude to go the distance. So before she really knew what she was doing, she’d offered a ride to a woman with cancer, and thus began a year-long arduous journey.

Doreen was in her mid-forties and fighting stage 4 breast cancer. She was in the thick of chemotherapy treatments and relied on public transportation to get around. The chemo was taking its toll on her, and she needed someone to take her home after the treatment. Judy volunteered to be that person for each treatment, for as long as Doreen needed.

Toni is Judy’s sister, and they live right next door to each other. Judy and Toni are cut from the same beautiful cloth, and Toni soon found herself inextricably involved as well, and they became a tag-team caring for Doreen, someone most reasonable folks would say neither of them had any obligation toward.

Offering a ride is a helpful gesture, but with Doreen, it was far, far more complicated than that. Doreen also suffered from bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. She was not always an easy person to be around. She would call them at home a dozen times a day. The instability of her mind and the highs and lows of her emotions soon began to eat up more and more of Judy and Toni’s lives and took a heavy toll on them. They were learning the bitter reality of dealing with someone who is mentally ill.

It was increasingly clear that Doreen needed more than a ride to the hospital. Her own family had abandoned her, or worse, took advantage of what they could get out of her. In every meaningful way, she was alone in the world. She lived in a hidden, sub-stratum of our society. Those struggling with mental illness seem to live among us while remaining unseen. Theirs is a culture and a community separate from ours, though right in our midst.

In Doreen’s world the blind lead the blind. The sick tend to the sick. They know each other, get familiar with each other’s lives and habits, sometimes try to look out for each other, but often mistreat each other because they are unable to do otherwise. In their psychopathy, they can destroy relationships, businesses, homes, and finances. They can leave a devastating ruin in their wake. Families break under the strain and dysfunction.

Judy and Toni understood none of this before encountering Doreen. They’d never been personally touched by the suffocating demands of mental illness and the pain it brings. Now they were caught up in it, like it or not, and it was either go forward with Doreen or walk away and never look back.

They actually chose another option. They chose Love. They chose self-sacrifice, generosity, and charity in action. Along the way, they began helping Doreen with many things like her laundry, balancing her checkbook and paying her bills, getting her prescriptions, and accompanying her to every doctor appointment.

In the process, they discovered that Doreen was Catholic, but hadn’t been to Mass in years. They began talking to her about her faith and the Church, and Doreen realized that she was hungry for spiritual food again. They arranged to take her to see their priest, and soon she’d received the sacrament of Penance again, and Judy and Toni were there with her when she received the Bread of Life again for the first time in years. She was restored to her faith and had found such contentment and joy. Every Sunday thereafter, Toni drove Doreen to and from Mass.

They poured themselves out for this woman who needed so much. There were many days it would have been easier to say, “She’s not my responsibility!” and walk away, yet they continually chose love and I’ve had a front row seat for the past year.

Judy is my mother, and Toni is my aunt. They would be the first ones to set me straight if I tried to canonize them here, yet I insist that they are saints because they heard the voice of Jesus when He said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto Me.”

Doreen was surely one of the least of these. Out of love for Christ, my mother and my aunt cared for her and opened their lives to her. They went out of their way to love her, which is what real love does. There was nothing convenient about taking care of Doreen. In fact, they often had to suspend or cancel their own plans and adjust their own schedules in order to accommodate her needs.

I remarked to my mother that I was concerned for her health because caring for Doreen was so taxing on her and my aunt, both of them in their seventies. I’m ashamed to admit that I once wished she could find a way out of dealing with this troublesome woman.

But they are made of truer stuff than me, and they kept on loving their neighbor and sister in Christ, Doreen. They each got beside her and helped her carry her heavy cross of suffering. They said over and over, “Yes, Lord.”

Their example burns like a roaring fire in the dead of winter, warming cold hearts and bringing timid souls crackling to life. Now they hold out the torch, daring me to pick it up and follow in their footsteps. It is a witness that cannot be ignored. For the rest of my life I will be challenged by them to look more closely for the face of Christ in those who cross my path. Perhaps the day will come for me, too, when a stranger will need a compassionate friend and I’ll be suddenly brought to the test. How much of myself am I willing to give to someone who will take everything I have and offer me nothing but a cross in return?

A few months ago tests revealed that Doreen’s cancer was back with a vengeance and had metastasized to her liver and brain. She calmly declined more chemo, telling my mother she was ready to go home. Moved into hospice care, she deteriorated faster than anyone expected. Mom and Aunt Toni visited her every day, even though she was often not aware of their company.

Mom and I talked a few times about Doreen’s approaching death, and we both expressed the same feeling: excitement for her! I found myself feeling truly happy for this woman who would soon be greeted by the embrace of Jesus and be free from lifelong suffering. We both said, “Wouldn’t it be something if Doreen died on Easter?” Honestly, I can’t think of a better day to die.

Doreen was born to eternal life on Holy Saturday, April 7th at exactly 3:00 PM. Mom was there with her for that last breath, the very last step on this side of the veil.

Mom and Aunt Toni can see now what their real purpose was — it was to help Doreen prepare for eternity. They feel nothing but gratitude and awe at having been asked by God. Can there be a greater privilege for any of us than to walk the last mile of life with a brother or sister or neighbor and make sure they get Home safely?

I can hear the Father saying to them, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” I am left with the power and force of their living witness of love, and I want it to change me. I want it to make me braver and more generous. They’ve given me a spiritual heritage of sacrifice, compassion, fidelity and love that I can never repay.

While sorting through some of Doreen’s personal things, my mother came across a small notebook with only one entry. The tears flowed as Mom read Doreen’s private pain, written in her scrawling hand:


I want to step right out of

this skin
I am in.
Shed this person
I no longer want to be.
Just drop her on the side
of the street along with the
day’s trash.
But, she is so much a
part of me
our fibers blended,
her soul intertwined
with mine.
This seething
angry mess of a girl
who wears my skin
and speaks with my voice.
She moves my limbs
and controls my thoughts.
If only,
if only I could get her to leave.

Doreen is finally free of “this skin”, and that seething angry mess of a girl has been transformed into grace and beauty forever. Rest in peace now, Doreen. You’ll not be forgotten.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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They Say Marriage is a Dying Institution: What’s Really Dying is Love

at Catholic Online

The pronouncement came from actress Cameron Diaz and psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow last week:  marriage is a dying institution.  It is an old tradition that has now overstayed its welcome and should be thrown out the back door.  It doesn’t suit us or our world any longer.  So they say.

Dr. Ablow gave a detailed analysis of the reality of marriage and the reasons why it should and will soon disappear from society.  His eulogy for the cornerstone of civilization as we know it was depressing to say the least.  (I could envision him walking up to the casket in order to smack the dead body upside the head and say, “Good riddance, ya lousy thief.  You shoulda died a long time ago.”)  He suspects the reason marriage doesn’t suit us now is because it never has.

Marriage, he says, takes so much from us.  It is “a source of real suffering for the vast majority of married people.”  “As a healer, I can’t help looking askance at anything that depletes energy, optimism, mood and passion to the extent that marriage does.  It is, without a doubt, one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation.”

Yikes.  When and how did marriage become such a terrible thing?

First he calls the government’s involvement in marriage a “colossal mistake.”  He insists government “should have no role in marriage, whatsoever.” “Laws should exist, instead, that simply commit parents to financially support their biological children.”  Forget about parents making a home for their kids; forget about forging a family for them; forget about showing them what it means to keep promises and put someone else first.  Forget about commitment, fidelity, honor, security, and all those other foundational virtues.  All that’s necessary is financial support, and I guess you’re off the hook entirely if your kids are adopted.

Surprisingly, Dr. Ablow agrees (unintentionally, I think) with the Catholic Church regarding his second reason marriage is dying:  oral contraception.  Whether he meant to or not, he illustrated that the Church has been right all along:  contraception corrodes marriage.  Sex is meant to be both procreative and unitive and when you separate the two, disaster ensues.  Of course, Dr. Ablow put it differently: “Once human beings understood that they could express themselves emotionally, romantically and sexually without necessarily creating multiple families and perilously diving their assets, the psychological pain of living without sexual passion (even by choice) was significantly intensified.”

I’ll rephrase:  Once people realized they could have sex with a different person every night with much less “risk” of making a baby, therefore less “risk” of disrupting their life and losing their assets, they soon found no reason at all to remain faithful to anyone, including their child.  All that mattered was lessening their “psychological pain” and increasing their sexual passion.  Pleasure trumps everything.

What a pile of sand.  No wonder the foundation of the family – marriage – is crumbling.

Conspicuously absent from Dr. Ablow’s bruising verdict that marriage is passé was even the slightest mention of love.  He speaks passionately about passion, sex, good feelings, physical attraction, freedom, the hassle and expense of divorce, but has nothing whatever to say about love.  So it’s no surprise he comes to the same self-serving conclusions as Ms. Diaz and every other prognosticator spreading doom and gloom about marriage.  Marriage surely is doomed to failure without love.

I’m not talking about being “in love.”  I’m talking about Love.  And guess what?  Love is hard work.  And that’s good!  We self-absorbed humans need daily, plentiful opportunities to look beyond ourselves and stretch our sacrifice muscles so that, with time, we learn how to love.  We have to learn how to love when the good feelings have vanished.  We have to learn how to love when the passion has chilled.  We have to learn how to love when there doesn’t seem to be anything in it for us.

We have to be reminded what love actually is:  Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

Did you see where it said love is passion, or love is easy, or love is physical attraction?  Me neither.  Did it say love is a good feeling?  Nope.

That doesn’t mean that the love of a husband and wife should be devoid of good feelings, or that the spousal relationship should be tepid and boring.  Emotional barrenness is not inevitable and certainly not God’s plan for spouses.  But like all of life there are changing seasons; there are highs and lows; there are easy times and trying times; there is happiness and sadness – you get the idea.  Those who head for the door when they aren’t feeling it anymore will never reap the rewards of love.

Dr. Ablow says, “The third reason marriage is a dying institution is because it inherently deprives men and women of the joy of being ‘chosen’ on a daily basis.”  (Here again, marriage is a thief stealing something precious from us.  Sheesh.)  Well, boo hoo.  So none of us should have to feel obligated to stay if we don’t want to anymore?  If we don’t feel especially “chosen” this week, we should be able to leave in search of someone who will stroke our ego?

I don’t want the guy who won’t hang around through the tough times.  I don’t want the guy who’s going to split when someone prettier and more tingly with excitement over his greatness comes along.  I want the guy who has the steel to stand by me, keep his vows, and honor his commitment particularly when it doesn’t feel good.  I want the guy I chose when I promised to forsake all others.

And by the same token, I want to be the woman who does the same for her man.  That means I’m gonna have to learn how to love, and it’ll be painful at times, because Love will entreat me down off my throne and smash my selfishness to bits.  But only little by little, day by day.

I also want the guy who will choose to love me when I’m not very lovable.  I want the guy who will keep walking with me through the hard times, being faithful through the empty times because he believes that Love will breathe on us again and the delights of passion will warm us again, even if more mellow than when we first began.  (Like a good wine, Love ages sweetly.)

I want the guy who wants to learn to love, because he values Love and knows that Love is the reason for living.  If that sounds like a greeting card cliché to you, too bad.  Love is the end-all and be-all.

The sad state of marriage today has nothing to do with it being outdated or confining or passion-killing.  It has everything to do with people who are no longer willing to love each other because they no longer understand what Love is, nor do they know Who Love is.  It has everything to do with people being slaves to sexual desire and desecrating the beautiful gift of sexual love that brings forth new life.

No, Dr. Ablow, marriage is not a dying institution.  What’s dying is our respect for each other and our reverence for human life.  What’s dying is our willingness to sacrifice, to serve, to remain steadfast, to keep our vows.  We are weak with self-gratification and a toddler’s attention span.  We have no faith that deserts can bloom, ice can melt, storms will pass, and wounds can heal.  What’s dying is our love.

Dr. Ablow concludes, “It’s only a matter of time now.  Marriage will fade away.  We should be thinking about what might replace it.”  Marriage is in serious jeopardy, no doubt.  If it dies, it will not be due to any inherent defect of its own but because we have ceased to try to conquer our defects.  It will be because we gave up the struggle of love.

With what, exactly, shall we replace Love?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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