Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A War With Words

The political and media elites are going out of their way to portray Christian moral teaching as bigotry. The defense of the teaching on contraception was infamously labeled as “a war on women.” The teaching on homosexual acts is labeled as “homophobia. And of course, if you oppose abortion, you only care about life from “conception to birth.”

Meanwhile, these elites say that, to avoid biased language, they will not use terms that could sway people towards opposing abortion… but use terms calculated to sway people towards favoring it. Abortion is a “woman’s right.” When the media discusses it, you can be sure that the picture will feature pro-abortion signs. Meanwhile, homosexual acts are an alternative but equally acceptable lifestyle.

The result is a “heads they win, tails we lose” situation where the proponents of behavior incompatible with Christianity is portrayed as normal while Christian teaching is portrayed as bigotry. Then, after decades of propaganda, the elites profess to be pleasantly surprised to “learn” that an increasing number of Christians are becoming “enlightened” and rejecting “outdated norms.” There’s nothing surprising about it. If a Catholic doesn’t seek to understand why the Church teaches as she does, he or she will probably fall for the straw man arguments used by the elites to attack our teachings. And if elites can lead the masses to think that the teaching is based on bigotry while combining it with distorted negative stories [§] about Christianity (see HERE for a 2013 article I wrote about this), hostility is a natural result. It’s a standard tactic of totalitarian dictatorships.

Unfortunately, there’s very little we can do from a worldly perspective. Those who hate our teachings have a much wider reach and a much larger budget for spreading their attacks than we do for responding with truth. So, from a worldly perspective, the lies will travel further and faster than the truth. This should not surprise us. As Our Lord warned us in John 15:18–21,

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.

But our powerlessness by the standards of the world does not mean giving up in despair. By worldly standards, it’s hopeless. But we are not limited to worldly power. In our own limited ways, we can spread a little bit of truth, telling people, “No, that is not what we believe, we believe this.” Whether in conversation, or on social media, on blogs, podcasts, YouTube, etc., we can reach out to a few people and possibly change their minds through the grace of God.

But, if we want to do this, we must do four things:
  1. Pray always for those in error.
  2. Make sure what we say and write follows the teachings of the Church and shows respect for those tasked to lead her.
  3. Speak with charity towards those who spread error.
  4. We have to act too, not just “let Father do it.”
I think we’re all tempted to drop one or more of these things. We forget about praying and that God is ultimately in charge. We behave as if the Church has problems and forget obedience, leading others to question why they should obey. We speak rudely, and alienate not only those we are disputing but also those watching our exchange. We expect the priests, bishops, and Popes to do everything, and forget about the individual witness we can bring in small communities.

It won’t be swift, but remember: it took close to 300 years for Christians to convert the Roman Empire. Our efforts won’t be once for all. The Church still has to continuously speak out against recidivism and new errors. But if we do these four things, we might find that God allows our actions to bear fruit, a little bit at a time, bringing people away from error and too truth. Our small effort might turn out to be like the loaves and fishes a child offered to Our Lord… and were turned into something far greater.


[§] That’s not to deny that some Christians have done evil. But it is interesting that those condemning the Church for her teachings always bring them up (tu quoque) as if the sins of some disqualified her from teaching.

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