Editor’s Note: This is the follow-up of W.L. Grayson’s previous post, Homosexuality and the Modern Problem.
To sum up the main obstacle: there is no apparent positive emotion to fuel opposition to “gay marriage.” This is especially important for the young, but it is something that we all must address.
It is not enough to fight against something. We must have something to fight for.
Now we can say we are fighting for family values or societal stability. But the rationale behind that is far too distant for something as heated as the current debate. Those in favor of “gay marriage” are fighting for “love” and “equality,” which stir the passions of men and women. Who could be against love and equality?
Part of our task is to find something to grasp at the heart and pull towards the truth. After much reflection, I believe I have found the solution.
The answer is so simple that it has been too easily overlooked.
The answer is: Jesus.
Now before you say to yourself, “Well, duh!” hear me out.
When I was in high school I was very much in favor of all kinds of “liberating” social/sexual ethics. I favored birth control, an end to celibacy, women priests, and of course, “gay marriage.” (Thankfully, I have always been pro-life. This is a lasting legacy not only from my parents but from the pastor of my parish).
Now, as an adult, I am firmly in the camp of orthodoxy. How did I get here? While the rational arguments were important, the biggest step was my metanoia. “Metanoia” is a Greek word that means “a complete change of heart.” I had a heart transplant, albeit a spiritual not physical one.
When I was 17 I came to know Jesus Christ. I experienced Him as the Person who saved me from my sin. Once I was confronted with that reality, all of the other Church’s teachings fell into place.
In apologetics, I think that we sometimes go with a “bottom-up” approach. We try to answer all of the different objections people have to the faith in hope of building a case for Christ.
But I think that the most effective is the “top-down” approach, where we start with faith in Jesus and then move to the individual doctrines.
That is the approach Jesus took. In the Gospel of John, he first healed the man born blind and then only later asked him to believe. First came the experience of His grace, and then the assent of the will.
What does this have to do with the issue at hand? Everything.
The way we will win the culture war is by converting the culture to Jesus.
The positive emotion we attach to our opposition to “gay marriage” is the joy of salvation. Again, this may sound like a “no-brainer,” but we forget that the ultimate goal is the metanoia of every soul.
We’ve had over 2,000 years of Christian history without “gay marriage” being a real issue. But those 2 millennia were not all lollipops and lilacs. The constant struggle has not been only to have civil laws that reflect natural laws.
We must conquer the hearts of men.
And we have our work cut out for us. The moral issue of homosexuality has been around for centuries. But in modern times it is now wrapped in the mantle of tolerance.
The modern problem is also compounded because we are not new to Gospel. The ancient pagans understood that they were sinful, but they had no way of doing anything about it. That is, until they heard of this Jesus person who could take away their sins.
But the modern world does not start from that position. We start with the idea that we are not drowning men in need of a life raft. Instead we are merely travelers in this world who find our happiness in “our own way.”
I was once speaking with a group of theology teachers. One young man said that he was obligated to teach the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, but then he had trouble looking at himself in the mirror because he did not believe (or at least had strong reservations about) them. He had a hard time denying homosexuals their happiness.
I responded by saying that this was not how it should be.
“We have to remember,” I said, “That this teaching comes from God. That means that this is part of the Good News. Man cannot live in true happiness apart from God’s plan. Do I want homosexuals to be happy? Of course. We are all God’s children and God has called me to love, not judge, my fellow man. But the only way I KNOW that we can really be happy is if we follow God’s plan.”
I was then asked, “Do you really believe that?”
I said, “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be a Catholic.”
Do we really believe that fidelity to Christ’s teaching will bring us happiness?
This is difficult because every time we sin, every time we live in a way contrary to His teaching, we belie our conviction.
And yet we know this to be true. We’ve felt Him alive in our hearts. We’ve experienced the joy and peace that is beyond all understanding. I want that for everyone else.
Sometimes when arguing against “gay marriage” it feels like we hit an impassable wall, where our words cannot penetrate. But Christ can.
Changing hearts comes before changing minds. We have to give Him in His entirety to this world that is hungry for Him.
I have seen that hunger already. I have worked with gay Catholics, mostly teens. I have nothing but endless compassion for them.
I wish I could convey to you, dear reader, the overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness that many of them experience. They feel alienated from their families, their friends, and most especially God.
They hunger so much for complete and total love, which they often find wanting in many who call themselves Christians. But this means that they are pushed further away from the only One who will ever love us infinitely We need to give them that love.
This means no more timidity. Many of us are so afraid to bring religion up in “polite” conversation. Why? Because we don’t want to offend people or become pushy. Of course we should want to avoid those things, but that doesn’t mean putting our light under a bushel basket.
I talk about movies all the time. And TV. And books. And comics. And school. And work. And all other aspects of my life. If Christ is as important to my life as I believe He is, then I need to not be afraid to share Him.
We don’t have to brow-beat people, but they need to see Christ intimately woven into the fabric of our everyday life.
And we need to share the Christ-ness of our lives with others.
The country is moving closer and closer to accepting “gay marriage” everywhere. That tells me that this country needs more and more Jesus.
Ask yourself this question: “Do I believe that Christ is the only One who will make any of us truly and eternally happy?”
If the answer is no, then I do not think we can ever win the culture war on “gay marriage.”
If the answer is yes, then in joy share Him with those who need Him.
And that is something worth fighting for.
Copyright © 2013, W.L. Grayson