Before we get too excited about jumping on the “Ross Douthat Speaks My Mind!” bandwagon, let’s consider the flip side of the essay he published yesterday.
First of all: Yes. Who could disagree with his points…
1. A thesis in favor of sexual libertinism underlies current goverment attempts to compel religions to abandon their religion.
(We have to abandon our religion by paying for other people’s contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations; German Jews have to abandon their religion by waiting till their boys grow up before circumcizing them; certain chicken joints have to abandon their religion by giving the all-the-cool-people-are-doing-it thumbs-up to ‘gay marriage’…)
2. Why don’t the government agents in question just admit what they really want to accomplish–and quit pretending that they believe in religious freedom, when in fact they obviously don’t? They have their agenda; it makes sense to them; let them just say it, including the (currently unspoken) part: “Your religion is evil because it deprives people of the sexual freedom to which they have a right. Your evilness has no rights. You must be compelled to abandon it. You must concede that everyone has the right to sodomy/fruitless sex at will.”
Okay. Good point, Mr. Douthat. I agree. Truth would be served better if those trying to compel us just admitted all this.
BUT, amigos: I think this knife cuts with both edges. Let advocates of artificial contraception and sodomy speak honestly regarding what they favor.
But let us do likewise. The Lord did not consecrate us as apostles of ‘religious freedom.’ He consecrated us as apostles of His Gospel.
We do not propose “religious freedom.” We propose chastity; we propose that Catholics and non-Catholics alike should abide by our teachings regarding human sexuality. We propose that the one true God has revealed Himself in one Christ, Who founded one Church.
Douthat has it altogether right: The strife we face arises from particular disputed points of morality. Let the other side engage the disputed points forthrightly. But let us engage them forthrightly, too, and not play the lame religious-freedom “victim card.”
If we don’t believe that we are right on the issues themselves, then what are we doing? Why would anyone want to join a church that only asks for space to have a subculture where we ourselves follow our teachings in the privacy of our own ghetto?
The teachings of the Catholic Church are the way to freedom, life, and salvation for every human being. That’s our position. And if we suffer for holding it, it is also our position that such suffering helps our cause more than anything else ever could.
BUT: What about using whatever arguments are politically expedient, in order to save our institutions, which serve so many people?
Okay. If a court case making religious-freedom arguments keeps a hospital from having to close or sell itself to the highest non-Catholic bidder, I am all for it.
But can we sacrifice our mission to propose the imitation of Christ as the true way of life for man–can we sacrifice this, for the sake of political expediency? We happen to have perfectly good and convincing arguments to support all our positions, and none of these arguments require an appeal to the great nebula called “religious freedom.”
Why don’t we just make those arguments? That way, we would actually play to win, rather than just playing defense, hoping for a scoreless tie. (And it would also take us off the hook for defending the practice of cutting the penises of screaming little boys. Let the mohels defend that.)