Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Secular Law and the Christian

I would like to preface this post with the following: the United States was a secular government from its conception and the whole "under God" thing in the pledge and on our money was the result of an attempt to separate the US from Communist Eastern Europe. Additionally, most of the Founding Fathers were deists and did not believe in God truly interacting with His Creation. Franklin and Jefferson are prime examples of this.

Logically speaking, this means that what the Church says about anything does not matter to the American government, right or wrong. Most of the governments of the Western world are of this slant.

Now, here is what grinds my gears: As Christians, we are called to be in the world but not off it. We are also told to live justly under the laws set before us by secular governments we live under. So, whatever the laws end up being, we are to abide by them.

Here is the next issue, the United States in a Democratic-Republic where everyone is supposed to get their voice out there through various government officials. Whenever we vote, it is with the hope that, if our person gets elected, they will help steer our government in a direction we find desirable. For many liberals, this means that the Democrats need to be in power while most conservatives think that the Republicans need to be in power.

Whomever you believe is best suited to run the country is a decision that must be made based on one's beliefs, convictions, and conscience. As a Catholic, if you are as faithful to the Church as we all hope to be, this will put you into several binds.

First of all, you cannot vote in favor of things you find dubious or against your conscience. That would be ludicrous. Many people will do this out of pressure from the outside and internal struggles, but that really is not what is best for the soul. We are at our best when I hearts, bodies, minds, souls, and spirits are in proper relation to each other. People may disagree on what this relation is, but the fact remains that human happiness and health are connected to this fact.

The next bind comes in the fact that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love God with all our heart. The question is, what is it to love one's neighbor? The Ten Commandments give us a good starting point, and we can relate back to them in an effort to choose rightly, but there is still going to be a tension. Part of loving is being merciful and helping the oppressed. Part of loving God is going to be deploring sin and doing one's best to (with God's grace) rid one's self of sin and to help others, whether or not they are striving to do the same, do the same.

So, when it comes to our political practices, like voting, we have a lot to consider. These decisions should and will weigh heavily on us.

Now, let's look at a few hot button issues: abortion and gay marriage.

With abortion, we are clearly defending the right of an innocent, at least in our minds and hearts this is how we feel. To our opposition we are depriving a woman of the right to choose having children. No matter what, I know I will always vote against it, but I now would like to address the charge that we keep women from choice.

Pro-Choice is a misnomer and, as Sartre would say, a sign of an inauthentic life. The fact is, we are free no matter what the government says or does, right or wrong. A law being put in place that prohibits something no more deprives you of choice than parents telling their child they cannot date. Whether it is done in secret or with the full blessing of the law or one's parents. The choice will always remain, a law certainly does not change that or free-will is not a real thing.

Legislation disallowing abortions would make the decision that much harder, but it does not eliminate the possibility. Surely, most of us have been human long enough to realize that, in the very least.

This argument can be brought up with birth control as well. We will vote against or struggle against things that force us against our Church, but it does not eliminate the ability to choose to use birth control.

By the by, insurance being provided by employers is not, in fact, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. It is a wonderful, helpful privilege. Not all employers even provide that. I worked a full-time job at a small car shop for a full year and we had no insurance. We were on our own.

Now, for gay marriage. Christians are going to tend towards voting against it because we believe that ENGAGING in homosexual behavior is a sin. The attraction itself is uncontrolled and attraction itself is so complex in how it is formed it is foolish to blame someone for those inclinations. You are not condemned for having the inclination (and please do not site Jesus using hyperbole to counteract this).
However, choosing to engage or add those sorts of sexual relationships to your life is an offense.

This is still a sin, whether or not you are a part of the Church. In our view, these laws stem from natural and divine law, and it applies to all. So, that means we cannot show support for certain lifestyles. Don't get me wrong, this does mean we show hatred and do not love those engaging in said lifestyles, we just cannot give our blessing to it. It is great that you are happy, but we have something that will actually give you the happiness you look for. It is found within God. It takes a long time to grow accustomed to the fruit and life of Heaven, but it will be far worth it. Everything is much larger on the inside of the Church than you think. But, we have to be prepared to give things up.

So, I cannot vote for gay marriage as gay marriage. For the Christian, there really is no such thing. It is affirmed in the New Testament and evident in natural law that the primary purpose of a marriage is to sire and raise the next generation. People with natural inhibitors to this aspect of marriage, like those who cannot conceive, can still live in a holy marriage and are likely excellent candidates for adoptive parents. They may not be able to have children that are of their own blood, but they can certainly benefit children who are not.

The fact is, gay relationships are, naturally speaking, a dead-end. If the wording troubles you, think of it this way: for humans to be born, both the male and female must be united (egg and sperm), so it follows that naturally homosexual relationships will not produce progeny. They cannot naturally do so. We do have technology that can change this, but it is technology that I worry objectifies people more than anything. It is nice that someone can donate sperm to couples who cannot conceive, but there seems to be an underlying danger there. There are people who donate sperm often and have a bunch of children they do not know about. There seems to be something wrong with that picture. Sure, we are use to women raising kids on their own, but that is not the ideal. Also, using someone else sperm or egg seems to be bringing a third person into what is supposed to be a union of two.

Anyway, it is not something we can advocate. However, I think, since our government is secular and the Church and State are supposed to be separate, that civil unions should have similar rights to marriage. I am not married, so I am unaware of what the rights are, but I am plenty aware that those unions do not, in the Christian view, constitute what marriage truly is. This fact is why many Christians vote against gay marriage and that is not a bigoted or hateful view. I tired of people approaching such discussions with a chip on their shoulder and deeming anything they don't agree as hateful. It makes no sense, and I feel as though we can at least be sensible and just in such discussions.

So, the Christian is stuck between a rock and a hard place. We are citizens of the City of God, but we still live in the secular, post-modern world. We have to stand for our beliefs and live them out, and this seems to require us to get spat at and called hateful because we do not wish to condone choices that are actually more harmful to a person than they realize. It is as the Gospel said, is it not?


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