Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Light in the Darkness

A Light in the Darkness

I recently saw a documentary about racial integration of schools in the early 1960s.  It was very interesting, but what really caught my attention were the clips of people who opposed integration at the time.  Some said very hateful things and advocated riots and the like.  Not too compelling.  But what was fascinating to me were the people who spoke in a very calm and reasonable manner, yet in favor of something (segregation) that was clearly wrong.
I don’t know if these people had a supposed religious justification for their position, but they were sincerely convinced that integration would mean the end of “Caucasian culture,” and be detrimental to both races.  Oftentimes during the interview a clear bigotry would emerge, but oftentimes not.  In either case, the fact is that segregation was a violation of the human rights and dignity of an entire class of people, rights and dignity that were only eventually won through a long, hard struggle.
What got me thinking is that accusations of this type of bigotry are consistently leveled at those of us who defend traditional marriage.  Many of us, most notably the Church, vocally defend the rights and dignity of homosexual persons, of course, yet the fact that we believe in marriage classifies us as bigots in the eyes of the broader culture.
We recognize the fact that this is not true, and many can articulate very clearly why it is not true.  But it got me to thinking that some of the people in the documentary were sure their position was just and quite reasonable as well.  How can we be so sure about the clarity of our thinking?  Is it based solely on our own authority, or our personal assumptions about right and holy society?
Before anyone worries that I am abandoning the defense of marriage, we do have an answer to those questions, which the segregationists of 50 years ago did not have.
We are so blessed to have the guidance of Jesus Christ through His Body, the Church.  As we remain faithful to the teaching of the Church, we never have to worry that we are following some whim, preference, or rationalization of our own.  The Church has staunchly defended traditional marriage; it did not do so for segregation.  And in that defense of marriage, she has also defended the equal dignity of every human being, and it is clear that the opposition to homosexual marriage is not based on bigotry, but rather compassion.
Of course our own motives must always be under examination.  We need to be educated on this issue, not only so we can present a well-reasoned defense, but so we can form our own positions on the foundation of truth and charity, and never on anger or bigotry.
As we tackle the difficult issues of our time, and fight in the cultural war raging around us, we should pause and give thanks to God for providing us a light in the prevailing darkness.  This light, the Church, can be our sure guide that we remain on the right side of these issues, and grow in holiness and charity in the process.