By Joseph E Rathjen
Published by: WomanScopeNewsMagazine
July 6th, 2013
A few days ago a young man in his twenties, who I have known for some time, asked me: “Mr. Rathjen, why do you go to a Catholic church? Don’t you know that the Catholic religion is against homosexuality, lesbianism, abortion and teaches that same-sex marriage is wrong?”
I thought the questions he raised were interesting; and certainly very direct. The way he interrogated me opened my eyes to the powerful effect that social progression is having on the younger generation, and the extent to which it is affecting society as a whole.
However, I also thought the young man’s questions were a bit inappropriate, especially since we were at a barbecue, and questionable, since they were referring to, and attempting to question, my life-long religious beliefs and current opinions on social issues. Perhaps most seriously of all, the questions seemed to suggest that my status as a Roman Catholic automatically implies that I cling to ancient and egocentric views on social issues.
As I pondered our exchange, I asked myself a couple of questions:
- Why should I even have to answer those questions?
- Is the fact that I still go to a Catholic Church and still believe, and follow, most of its traditional values and teachings, a reason to look upon me as an uncaring, selfish and egotistical bastard who is void of any feelings for my fellow man?
- Should I be obliged to defend my religious and moral convictions simply to satisfy another person’s views on various and current social issues?
…Or should I just let him throw me to the lions, like a Christian in bondage at a Roman coliseum?
Is the fact that someone disagrees with specific, popular and social changes (and now new social laws) justification enough for others to view them in such an unsavory fashion?
The young man, who asked me that question, had no idea of knowing beforehand that I personally hold no position either for or against same-sex marriage. Personally, I feel that everyone, whether gay or not, has an equal right to be happy or miserable in their marital relationships.
With specific new social laws, opportunities abound for some; however, in the eyes of others, these laws breed resentment, confusion and an unfair intimidation and radicalizing of cultural, religious and moral values.
Take, for instance, the Boy Scouts of America’s recent decision to permit gay youths under the age of eighteen to join the organization. Since they announced their policy change, three large religious organizations and long-time (financial) supporters of the Boy Scouts of America have announced plans to sever ties with them. The Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God and the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., all voiced disappointment in the organization’s decision to welcome homosexual adolescents. The Roman Catholic Church, which is the second-largest sponsor of the organization, says it will reserve judgment until the implementation of the change, which is planned for Jan 1st, 2014.
However, when it comes to matters of sexual preference, the Catholic Church has clearly stated its position on a number of occasions in the past.
Most of the churches opposed to the new ruling cite both religious freedom and the Supreme Court decision of 2000, which gave the Boy Scouts of America the right to ban gay members, as for their reasons for severing alliances with the organization. However, it is plainly obvious that conservative families are not happy with the decision to allow young gay scouts to intermingle with their heterosexual sons in Boy Scout camp.
So, should the reaction of these churches and their leaders put them on a chopping block from advocates of aggressive social progression? Should they be scorned and accused of being out of touch with reality, homophobic or lacking in social empathy?
Who gives an individual or a group with special interests, the right to force a social belief on others that could affect their lives and the lives of their children for generations to come? Who has the right to intimidate and persuade communities to surrender their social or religious convictions in the name of social advancement?
The ongoing debate pertaining to the new laws regarding same-sex marriage provokes similar questions. For conservatives, marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. For the liberal, marriage is defined as the union between two people who love each other.
Conservatives against gay marriage have been accused of suffering from “gay marriage derangement syndrome” and in the past such conservatives have even found themselves on anti-gay black lists had their names publicly posted on the internet. This is not to say that all same-sex marriage supporters are this aggressive and hostile in asserting their position (and probably most are not) but do such actions really constitute a civilized form of acknowledging another’s view?
Is it fair to ridicule those who wish to maintain their religious values and beliefs, even while some of those who advocate aggressive social change claim to be doing so in the name of equality and compassion?
Some social progression advocates claim that conservatives have no real understanding of what love between two people really is. So have people who hold conservative views been wrong about love all this time? Have they been raising families and teaching children traditional values under a false pretext of what love really is?
Tolerance seems to be the main problem here – lack of tolerance of those who do not intend to abdicate social change in specific areas of today’s social culture. Branding them in any negative way only leads to a revolving-door policy of hate, one that advocates of social progression themselves claim to have been victims of in the past.
Now that new social laws are being passed, those who disagree with them will be forced to recognize their existence; however, one can only hope that such individuals will still be recognized with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Religious and moral views, and the individuals and groups who observe them, should not be things that are discarded and thrown away like yesterday’s newspaper.
Joseph Rathjen is an Opinion Columnist at:
- Thoughts for Catholics impacted by the Boy Scouts of America membership policies (canonlawblog.wordpress.com)
- Church severs ties with Scouts after 68 years (wnd.com)
- Catholic leaders urge support for Boy Scouts after shift on gays (religionnews.com)
- Boy Scouts council votes to admit gay scouts; ban on leaders remains (wtvr.com)