The Chaste, Pro-Life Stilyagi of 21st-c. America


“Thirty rouble for your sportshoes Nike!  Forty rouble!”

The fartsovschiks whispered to us, a class of eighth-grade American boys, on streetcorners, during the cold, windy Moscow March of 1983.  One evening we encountered some of the last Soviet-era stilyogi themselves, our teenage Muscovite peers.  They wanted to hear Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on a Sony Walkman which one of us had.

Through the communist era in Russia, the stilyagi rebelled–by wearing Western clothes and singing Western pop songs. Even in the 1980’s, fartsovschiks risked prison to traffic in this kind of contraband. Under Stalin, in the forties and fifties, the stilyagi themselves could go to prison camp for wearing zoot suits or listening to jazz.

Now, political campaigns in the U.S. often include charges that the incumbent party has led with un-American tyranny or authoritarianism.  Paranoia about election rigging doesn’t seem to me to serve any purpose, especially when there’s no evidence.

But:  can we identify a reigning ideology which our powers-that-be maintain, even at the expense of the truth?  A state-sponsored mythology that provokes free-thinking people to rebel?

hipster_or_civil_war_2Yes, and it has to do with birthing babies.

The Soviet Union never had a post-WWII baby boom.  The Bolsheviks made abortion legal in 1918.  Through the twentieth century, demographers came to identify “the communist system” as a scientific factor–a fertility suppressor in and of itself.

But, since the 1970’s, we Americans have danced around replacement-rate fertility.  And since the onset of the recession of 2008, we appear to have cratered well below it.  Pope Francis called Europe a “haggard grandmother, no longer fertile.”  That applies to the USA now as well.

Doesn’t a below-replacement-level birthrate indicate an unhealthy society–pretty much, by definition?  Young people living under Soviet rule had to contend with Marxist uniformity poisoning social life.  The stilyagi of 21st-century America have to deal with the mythology of the sexual revolution.

No zoot suits.  But what about this:

We do not accept that pornography has a place in a civilized community.  We reject the idea that such abusive and disgusting trash can be “mainstreamed.”

We believe in marriage.  We believe young people have the courage to make commitments.  We believe that God provides for couples that trust Him.

Stilyagi literally means “stylish people.”  What could be more stylish in 21st-century America than a church wedding involving a lot of kneeling and praying–with no pets, no prenups, and no preening?

Also, how about these three principles:

  1. A child has a right to be conceived in his/her mother’s womb, by his/her father.
  2. A child, once conceived, cannot intentionally be killed.
  3. No one has a right to engage in sex that is inherently unfruitful.

Doesn’t seem like a reasonable person could quibble with any of these.  Of course, these basic principles of marital decency and societal fertility leave procured abortion, artificial contraception, IVF, masturbation, and sodomy on the cutting-room floor.  Where they all belong.

The Soviet regime eventually succumbed.  The unholy Playboy/Planned Parenthood regime will fall one day, too.  In the meantime, we can cultivate our zoot-suit rebellion by seeking the holy joy of real Christian chastity.



Little Maria-Goretti-Day Compendium

maria goretti tomb

One hundred thirteen years ago today, she chose death over unchastity. Pray for us!

Twentieth-Century Famine

2. “Wholeness,” according to St. Augustine

3. Heroine of Chastity

PS. Congratulations to the mujercitas estadounidenses who brought home the Copa Mundial!

USA World Cup champions

Encouraging Paragraphs

nvbookSorry. I have fallen a few months behind in my Nova et Vetera reading.

The concluding paragraphs from last fall’s “Theological Assessment” of Cardinal Kasper’s divorce-remarriage-communion plan:

Many of our contemporaries find themselves in the midst of great suffering. The sexual revolution has caused millions of casualties. They have deep wounds, hard to heal. Challenging as this situation is, it also represents an important apostolic opportunity for the Church. Human beings frequently have an awareness of their failings and even their guilt, but not of the remedy offered by the grace and mercy of Christ. Only the Gospel can truly fulfill the desires of the human heart and heal the deepest wounds present in our culture today.

The Church’s teaching on marriage, divorce, human sexuality, and chastity can be hard to receive. Christ himself saw this when he proclaimed it. However, this truth brings with it an authentic message of freedom and hope: there is a way out of vice and sin. There is a way forward that leads to happiness and love. Recalling these truths, the Church has reason to accept the task of evangelization in our own age with joy and hope.

Pledge of the Christian Gentleman

Roanoke Catholic School

The young men of the sixth grade at Roanoke Catholic School and I chatted about some things (which you can read below, if you like) and then took this pledge:

Pledge of the Christian Gentleman

Calling all the saints in heaven as my witnesses, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, I pledge to respect myself as a young man made in the image and likeness of the Creator.

I will honor all my classmates, especially the young women, who someday will be wives and mothers, like my mother. I will respect the young ladies I know in the same way that I would want my own mother to be respected.

I will strive daily to grow in genuine manliness, which means self-restraint, honesty, and, above all, kindness.

May God help me to grow up to be a man that a good woman would want to marry.

And may God guide and direct me, a Christian gentleman, to help build up His Kingdom of true love.

[…some prefatory remarks:]

Gentlemen, you have reached an age when we need to talk together about your growing up into manhood.

On tv, on the radio, on the computer: we are constantly besieged by suggestions that are beneath our dignity, beneath the dignity of Christian gentlemen.

One message we hear is: A real man is a ‘player,’ someone who can seduce a lot of women, who everyone admires for his ‘conquests.’

But, in fact, that is just a pathetic boy. He imagines he has a lot, but in fact he has nothing, because a good woman would never give him the time of day. His inner weakness shows itself by his outward rudeness and desperation.

Jesus_ChildOn the other hand, a real man has the inner strength to be gentle—a gentle man. This is the truly strong and powerful man. He has within himself the strength to keep his conversation, his friendships, and his actions pure. He does not injure others, does not drag them down to a dirty level. Instead, he lifts other people up. He inspires other people to believe in themselves, like he believes in himself.

How to be a gentleman? Simple. Share in the mind, and in the actions, of the original gentleman, Jesus Christ.

How many times did Jesus make sexual suggestions to a woman? Never. Let’s analyze this fact briefly.

Sex is not evil. To the contrary, sex is one of the most marvelous goods. It is where we all came from. [If Kirk and Ann White had not spent some serious time together in late September, 1969, the chapel would have been quieter when I was speaking, and this url would result in error 404.]

So Jesus did not avoid the subject because it is evil. He avoided it for one simple reason: Because His mission in life did not involve…marriage.

There is one way for a gentleman to bring up the subject of having sex with a woman. One. One simple question. A very dramatic, very beautiful, very courageous question. “Will you marry me?”

A gentleman introduces the subject of having sex with a woman by uttering this question, and in no other way.

You guys are…12? 11? 13? Now, you have to be at least 18 years old to propose marriage. And it’s probably better to wait until you are between 20 and 25. So you have at least six years before you have to bring up the subject of having sex with a woman. Six years until you can bring it up. In the meantime, don’t let such matters spoil your friendships. And let the good Lord unfold for you the beautiful future He has planned.

Let’s take the pledge of the Christian gentleman…

Chastity & Scarification

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

The beautiful holiness of Christ. He lived the redemptive life. On the cross, He took upon Himself the ugliness of sinful Man, so that Man could shine beautifully again. Christ walked as an innocent lamb into the human darkness, so that He could fill the world with His unconquerable light.

A few of us were together for Mass nine days ago, and some of us spoke together about marriage and chastity later that same day, in Roanoke. We touched together on this theme: We owe the world the redemptive witness of Christian chastity.

The Heart of Christ, and the heart of our Lady, and the hearts of the saints: chaste hearts. Human hearts without desperation. Hearts resting in the peace that the Father’s love gives. The omnipotent Father looks at us, His children. He gazes at us, and He loves. He longs for us to find eternal life in Him. He made us for that very reason, to know the bliss of life with God.

Ritual scarificationThe dark, pagan world labors in self-destructive agony without this interior light. Without the light that makes the Heart of Christ so luminous. The pagan world grasps vainly in the darkness, without divine love, without the serenity of resting in the gaze of the eternal Father.

What, after all, is a ‘pagan?’ Isn’t it precisely someone who does not know how beautiful he is in the eyes of God? Isn’t a pagan precisely the person who counts herself cheap, sells herself short? The pagan looks at Man–looks at the paragon of animals, the beauty of the world—the pagan looks at Man and sees only ugliness, sees a desperate creature that has crawled out of the slime. The pagan is precisely the person who does not know, is not aware, does not rest in the fact that: Almighty God made me. Almighty God loves me. Almighty God wills my eternal happiness so much that He suffered and died on the cross for it.

I claim no special insight into, or expertise in, the pagan practice of ritual scarification. The practice of cutting and slashing the skin so as to scar oneself permanently. This practice, and practices like it, have marked the earth since time immemorial, and still do. Certainly it’s not much of a subject for a Sunday morning. But it struck me as a pretty fitting illustration of what I am trying to explain.

The darkened human mind, the mind that has never beheld the Lamb of God shining with the radiance of divine love–such a mind sees itself as ugly enough to merit self-inflicted violence. I am the tatterdemalion refuse of a dark and merciless cosmos! Let me cut, let me gash, let me bleed myself, and make my flesh ugly–as it ought to be. Because I am an ugly being made by ugly forces that tend only towards an ugly oblivion.

Ritual scarification certainly sounds primitive and crazy to us. But are these customs of self-wounding, practiced even now in some remote places of the world—are these customs really any more self-destructive than the kind of ritual scarification that our culture of unchastity practices on our own hearts? It seems to me that the culture that our own dear land has produced over the course of the past generation–we have produced a culture of ritual scarification of the heart.

Shakespeare Piece of Work ManWhat do I mean? The desperate, unchaste pagan heart that does not know the peace of the loving Father’s gaze—the hearts of many of our neighbors; even our own hearts, in dark moments, when we let the light of faith fade. The darkened pagan heart of our culture: cutting, gashing, wounding itself with repeated unchaste acts.

Pornography, fornication, the mutual-masturbation of using artificial contraception, serial monogamy with callous disregard for marital commitment, children left by the wayside. All of it self-centered dissipation. Isn’t the culture of unchastity that our nation has produced—isn’t it more perverse and self-destructive than any form of ritual scarification practiced by even the most outlandish tribe?

The Father sees male and female, the awesome power to give life, the power to love by the light of God in the great mystery of communion that is Christian marriage. The Father looks down at Man, at us, made for these wonders of fruitfulness. He smiles; He loves; He blesses and pours out grace and patience and peace. He pours out chastity, which is true happiness, true self-possession. Chastity, which is hope in the eternal consummation. Chastity, which is self-esteem and spirituality and health and a good night’s sleep with a clear conscience.

He pours all this out on us like a lovely rain. Chaste fruitfulness and a future filled with promise: this is what He wants for us. Not the pagan self-destruction of unchaste acts which cut our hearts like scalpels, bleed them out, and leave them empty and lifeless.

Can we doubt that God beckons us to teach the world the happiness of a chaste heart? Can we doubt that the light which shines though a chaste Christian heart—can we doubt that this light will give the world her only hope?

This pagan culture needs us to stand like shining brass doors that open to the mystery of God. The shininess of the brass is chastity. The light of Christian chastity is our culture’s only hope. And we are the ones who can shine that light into the world, in every personal interaction we have, in every genuinely loving act we do and every selfish and un-loving act we avoid.

“Same Love” (2,000-Year-Old Version)

Been a while since I re-wrote a pop song. But Macklemore and Mary Lambert forced my hand. They have a catchy tune. But their message is all wrong.

So here’s the revised rap and hook:

Macklemore Mary LambertWhen I was in the third grade,
I thought: God made me.
Cause my mom taught me that,
and my dad, too (for all his faults).
I thought: Jesus saved me.
I wrote a poem for school—for my Savior,
tears running down my face.
I was afraid they’d all laugh,
but teacher cried, too, and a friend
said Amen. Cause it’s true.
True me, true you: God made
grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, me.
God made us to march, yes indeed
to the consummation.

His love don’t change.
We zig-zag.
We break the rules.
But His love don’t change,
no matter what
I used to do.
Behold! Behold! Behold!
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.

Battle lines being drawn
where they don’t need to be.
Bible, Pope, priest—
like religion’s The Enemy.
But, really: Who am I?
Who are we?
Who’s a man? Who’s a woman?
Mother, father, baby newborn.
Who’s got the rights, really?
Who deserves to know
both mother and father?
Where I came from. Who I am.
Who’s got it right?
God made me a man who can keep it in my pants
and live for something higher,
Someone higher…

His love don’t change.
We zig-zag.
We break the rules.
But His love don’t change,
no matter what
I used to do.
Behold! Behold! Behold!
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.

sacred-heart-crossThe Lord DON’T say,
“You are what your loins want.”
He spread out His arms
to show us what Love really is.
THIS Man—what does HE want from me?
To be a prop in some drama
to make him look like
Famous Mr. Yes-Be-Free?
No. He walked on, walked on
to the mountain. He said, Gird your loins.
Practice chastity. Keep you pants on.
Learn Love when you smile pure,
smile honest,
stand up, walk on,
Save the treasure!
and practice chastity.

His love don’t change.
We zig-zag.
We break the rules.
But His love don’t change,
no matter what
I used to do.
Behold! Behold! Behold!
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.
The Bridegroom comes.

Love is patient (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love is kind (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love is faithful (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love is pure (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love is chaste and holy (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love is fruitful in marriage (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love is straight from Eden (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love rejoices in the truth (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love bears all things (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love believes in God (kneeling down on Sundays)
Love never fails (kneeling down on Sundays)

Feast of St. James, Sex, and My Life

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to give His life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

St. James and all the other Holy Apostles learned this lesson from the Lord Jesus. The apostles lived out true unity with Christ, offering their lives in sacrifice for the spread of the His Kingdom.

St James Greater El GrecoThey lived with their eyes on the crucifix. They had one decisive priority: Remain united with Christ crucified. Whatever comes my way; whatever opportunities open before me; whatever the choices I have to make—I will have one decisive criterion: Christ crucified.

Maybe we could even go so far as to put it like this: An apostle of Christ is someone with a crucifix tattooed on his mind. This is my Lord; this is my Savior; this is my guide and my life. The sweetest sweetness and the richest richness, the happiest happiness and the most-peaceful peace: to be united with Christ crucified.

I put it this way because we also cannot let today pass without marking the sapphire anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. The Church teaches that artificial contraception is wrong, that irrational sex is wrong, that sex is about a lot more than pleasure. July 25, 1968: a day of contradiction and decision for the Church and the world. Forty-five years later, the contradiction and the decision still face us.

PopePaulVIThe Pope reminded the world of something immensely powerful, which lives deep in the heart of every man and woman. Namely, that we have been made, male and female, to give life. You don’t need to be a Christian; you needn’t even have heard of Jesus Christ, to discover within yourself that what the Pope taught is true. A lot of people did not see it at the time; they had honest disagreements; people of good faith dissented; there’s no sense in judging anyone over that. The real question is, where do we stand now?

Speaking personally, as a man whose lifetime has basically paralleled the lifetime of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, I can testify that from my teenage years—when every well-meaning guidance counselor I encountered basically shoved condoms in my face—I can testify that the whole artificial contraception business always struck me as highly fishy, to say the least. I never bought it. I wasn’t even Catholic then, and I didn’t buy it.

But as the years have passed, and I have been given the privilege of giving my manhood entirely to God and His Church as a celibate priest, the whole thing strikes me more and more as a matter of maintaining unity with Christ crucified.

brunelleschi_crucifixIf Christ crucified is the criterion; if Christ crucified is the tattoo that emblazons my mind; if I want above all to be an apostle of His Kingdom, then how could I ever act in the way that the culture of sexual self-satisfaction proposes? How could I traffic in those implements that they peddle? Or wink at it when others do?

No. The way of Christ crucified is a harder way–and the more genuinely vigorous way. It embraces the sexual power of man and woman for what it can rationally be recognized to be: a sacred communion in giving life.

Christ on His cross shows us the truth: there is more to life than fleeting pleasure. Forty-five years ago today, the Pope lit a beacon to help us see the way to true interior union with Christ crucified. The beacon burns brighter now for me than it ever has, as the years in which I could become a father by the flesh pass away, and I let them go–for love of the Christ crucified. To have had sex, to have had children—could have been beautiful. But there is no happier life for me than this, the one I have. And I can testify to anyone who cares to listen that chastity—making decisions about sex based on reason, and with Christ crucified in your mind—that is the way to true happiness.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, St. James. Thank you, Pope Paul.

New Winner of Best Imprecation Ever: Shakespeare’s Misanthrope (with some reflections re: chastity)

The_Miser study for Timon of Athens
Study for Timon of Athens by Thomas Couture

We do not recommend cursing people.

But: When an imprecation, justly uttered, rises to the level of sublime art, we take notice; we admire. (Especially when the curse backhandedly identifies profoundly important things.)

You may recall our survey of King Lear’s ingenious curses. Perhaps you remember our citation of Queen Margaret’s greeting for the evil man (Richard III) who killed her son. Maybe you have been meditating on Psalm 55.

Whatever the case, you have not encountered anything, when it comes to wishing people ill, until you have heard the imprecatory prayer which Shakespeare’s Timon utters against his native Athens.

Timon of Athens–one of Herman Melville’s favorites–offers us the Bard’s portrait of the victim of cruel fortune turned misanthrope. Timon begins the play with countless friends, including all the city’s senators. His banquets never end. Until the bills finally all come due at once.

Then Timon’s friends, upon whom he had lavished gifts and aid (while they flattered him), all turn away. None of them answer his pleas for help. His creditors crowd around his door, and he cannot even step into the street.

[WARNING: What follows is a PG-13 Shakespeare soliloquy. Maybe even R.]

Quitting his native place forever, standing outside the city wall, Timon says:

Let me look back upon thee. O thou wall,
That girdlest in those wolves, dive in the earth,
And fence not Athens! Matrons, turn incontinent!
Obedience fail in children! slaves and fools,
Pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench,
And minister in their steads! to general filths
Convert o’ the instant, green virginity,
Do ‘t in your parents’ eyes! bankrupts, hold fast;
Rather than render back, out with your knives,
And cut your trusters’ throats! bound servants, steal!
Large-handed robbers your grave masters are,
And pill by law. Maid, to thy master’s bed;
Thy mistress is o’ the brothel! Son of sixteen,
pluck the lined crutch from thy old limping sire,
With it beat out his brains! Piety, and fear,
Religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth,
Domestic awe, night-rest, and neighbourhood,
Instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades,
Degrees, observances, customs, and laws,
Decline to your confounding contraries,
And let confusion live!
Plagues, incident to men,

Your potent and infectious fevers heap
On Athens, ripe for stroke! Thou cold sciatica,
Cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt
As lamely as their manners. Lust and liberty
Creep in the minds and marrows of our youth,
That ‘gainst the stream of virtue they may strive,
And drown themselves in riot! Itches, blains,
Sow all the Athenian bosoms; and their crop
Be general leprosy! Breath infect breath,
at their society, as their friendship, may
merely poison! Nothing I’ll bear from thee,
But nakedness, thou detestable town!
Take thou that too, with multiplying bans!
Timon will to the woods; where he shall find
The unkindest beast more kinder than mankind.
The gods confound–hear me, you good gods all–
The Athenians both within and out that wall!
And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow
To the whole race of mankind, high and low! Amen.


I put by favorite part in bold. Regarding those few lines:

On the one hand: a heartwarming vision of stable social life. A community governed by the principle of reverence, which produces order and concord. Here people thrive, because they learn from the wise, and respect each other, and have the foundation of trusting friendship.

On the other hand: confusion reigns when the principle of reverence is overthrown. The young do not learn; they do not develop themselves with discipline and training. Instead, they dissipate their powers and make trouble. People do not trust each other, and no one can get a good night’s sleep.

I find it particularly interesting that Timon’s curse involves multiple allusions to utter sexual self-abandonment. His chilling speech, which spells out what social life should be, by casting it in clear relief, shows us the relationship between reverence, chastity, and peace. The Church also has spoken of this relationship:

The chaste person has learned how to accept other people, to relate with them, while respecting their dignity in diversity. The chaste person is not self-centered, not involved in selfish relationships with other people. Chastity makes the personality harmonious. It matures it and fills it with inner peace. This purity of mind and body helps develop true self-respect and at the same time makes one capable of respecting others, because it makes one see in them persons to reverence, insofar as they are created in the image of God and through grace are children of God. (Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, no. 17)

May the good God keep us reverent. May He spare us the fate of Athens under Timon’s curse.

P.S. I had occasion to re-read this passage from the Vatican, because it is quoted in the U.S. Bishops’ 2006 Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Persons with Homosexual Inclinations.

I decided to re-read that, because I wondered if we need to address with more sensitivity, or more nuance, or more practicality, the claim that we are wrong to evaluate homosexual acts as immoral in every case.

But I think that the 2006 Guidelines actually do offer everything needed. We all need training in chastity in order to conform our concupiscent tendencies with the objective truth of how God made us. Our Bishops have explained all this with great love.

In other words, we do not need to argue that: everyone has always thought that homosexual acts are immoral; therefore, they must be immoral. That argument does not convince.

Rather, we can argue: If this were the first generation after Adam and Eve; if all of us alive today were the first human beings living with the great chasm between who we were made to be, and who we are inclined to be–

If this were Generation Alpha, and we had no moral tradition of any kind, we could and we would learn to find sodomy, masturbation, artificial contraception, fornication, and all unchaste acts to be repellent, as soon as we managed to train ourselves to be chaste.

And bingo! that leads us to another interesting conclusion: Maybe this is why the prohibition of sodomy became immemorial moral tradition in the first place. Namely because the people who train themselves to be chaste wind up having families and stable, well-governed, and peaceful communities, and they pass along the fruits of their discipline to generations yet to come. And the people who don’t train themselves to be chaste wind up dead and altogether forgotten.

President Brad Pitt?

Your faith has saved you. (Mark 10:52)

Last Sunday we began to discuss the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church.

Actually, it’s not true.

I mean, that we started discussing Vatican II’s portrait of the Church last week. In fact, we began to discuss it two weeks ago, when we reflected on the conversation the Lord Jesus had with the rich young man.

We wondered how we camels will get ourselves through the eye of the needle and into the kingdom of heaven. Chapter V of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church teaches the means by which every Christian person can seek holiness. Intentionally to choose poverty, chastity, and obedience ranks high among those means. And the Council taught that yet a higher means of attaining holiness beckons the chosen few, namely martyrdom.

In the spring, we talked about the federal Affordable Care Act, and how we would love it, were it not for the parts of it that we hate. I hope all of us grasp the responsibility we have as Christians to consider the politics of our country from the point-of-view of the weakest and most defenseless people, the people who have no voice, no money, no power, especially the thousands of innocent unborn children who die by violence every day.

So we covered our pro-life principles back in the spring. Now let’s consider something else…

The history of our nation has seen admirable civil-rights movements. Inspiring leaders have helped us to perceive the fundamental dignity of every individual human being. Thanks to these movements, we wonder now: How could any of our ancestors have held our other ancestors as slaves? And how could our forefathers have regarded our excellent foremothers as anything but perfectly capable and intelligent?

Crusades for justice fought by earlier generations have given us liberating clarity and insight. But we also have to acknowledge that such crusades tend to oversimplify things. Social movements paint the world with a very broad brush, dividing it into two forces: the noble, aggrieved class and their advocates on one side, and the villainous enemies of change on the other.

Now, let’s consider: Do you or I sin against justice by saying to a homosexual person: Dear homosexual brother, dear homosexual sister, God wills something better for you than to do unnatural and unfruitful things with your body?

Is this statement oppressive and unjust? We disciples of the chaste and pure Christ freely acknowledge that the “something better” God has in mind for homosexual people is also something harder. God wills something harder for the homosexual person, just like He wills something harder for anyone who has cancer, or for a young widow or widower, or for a handicapped person.

Getting sick is hard, losing a spouse before their time is hard, being celibate is hard. All involve carrying a cross heavier than what anyone wants to have to carry. But when we carry our crosses in faith, we become the people God made us to be.

We Catholics say to any person with homosexual desires: God wills something better for you than to give in. Stand right here beside us. We will carry our crosses together, with the help of Christ’s grace. We do not consider you to be “gay.” We call you a brother or a sister Christian. Let’s fight the good fight for chastity together.

Does saying this make us the enemies of a human right? We call it love to try to inspire people to have noble aspirations and seek God’s help in rising above the concupiscence of the flesh. But we have to face the sobering facts: A strong and self-assured social movement, with tons of money and prestige, calls what we say not love, but hate.

Let’s ask ourselves: If things continue to move in the direction in which they are headed, will there be room left for the Catholic Church as a mainstream institution in los Estados Unidos in twenty years? Or will the administration of President Brad Pitt have gotten our official teaching on homosexuality declared illegal by Chief Justice Ted Olson’s Supreme Court?

If we do not have the guts to think clearly now about the meaning of marriage, and find a way to stand our ground—if we do not offer our contemporaries a strong and loving answer to the Same-Sex Marriage Movement, an answer that springs from what we know about the sacredness of the human body, made male and female, and the beauty of lifetime marital fidelity—if we do not paint a picture of something better and truer than what the captains of our culture peddle these days, and then give ourselves over completely to the truth we believe in—if we fail to shine the light, in other words, then if we find ourselves outlawed and operating clandestinely and ineffectively out of someone’s basement in twenty years, we will have only ourselves to blame.

Being against “gay marriage” means defending the interests of children. But even more important is that we know, understand, and love what we are for. We are for Christian chastity, faithfulness, and fruitfulness.

If it becomes illegal to be for what Jesus Christ is for, then bring on the handcuffs! We will sing in our jail cells. For the sake of all the confused and misguided souls who have never heard of Christian chastity, we cannot afford to be wimps about this. We are living through a decisive time, and we have to be ready and willing to be fed to the lions—if that’s what it takes to stand with the chaste, loving Christ.