By Paul Murano, August 2012
Although the title of this column admittedly seems a bit alarmist, this nation is coming closer to this end. Two poignant events illustrate this, both occurring on the same day: August 1, 2012.
Chick-Fil-A’s owner was asked a question and he answered it. He said he supports traditional marriage. On August 1st countless people across the country lined up at Chick-Fil-A and stood for hours showing their support. Mayors from across the nation came out warning Chick-Fil-A they’re not welcome in their cities – even though there are many churches, mosques, and synagogues in their cities that also support what is known as traditional marriage. Apparently people who attend these places of worship also are not welcome in these cities. On the same day, August 1, the HHS mandate went into effect. It forces religious institutions to provide contraception in their health care coverage to all employees – even those like the Catholic Church that hold contraception to be a mortal sin, never justified under natural and divine law under any circumstance.
Not one, but two sacred values have been violated here – freedom and truth – which are intrinsically linked together, for freedom de-linked from truth is license. The human right to believe and live life according to the dictates of one’s conscience, also a constitutional right, is being violated in the mandate and the uproar over Chick-Fil-A’s comment. But something more fundamental has been violated: the duty to live life according to the truth of our being, our human nature. Countless people lined up at Chick-Fil-A for both reasons, to support freedom of speech and traditional marriage. Yet, on this latter point, ironically, the owner of Chick-Fil-a may not go far enough.
Although marriage has been in existence since the dawn of man, abuse of marriage has coexisted almost as long. Since the time of Augustine western civilization for the past two millenia has defined, or rather clarified, marriage as objectively having three essential goods according to natural law: faithfulness, permanence (until death), and openness to children. Since consent makes a marriage, without these three goods consented to by potential spouses in their “I do’s” there is no marriage. The essential good of permanence has been violated by divorce and remarriage, and that of openness to children has been commonly violated since the 1960’s with the popularization of contraception. Both are violations of human nature and God’s law.
What most people believe to be marriage today is truly a counterfeit. While the government has not yet forced Catholic institutions to perform remarriage after divorce to people who have not received annulments, it has now forced them to provide contraception to their employees, violating conscience, marriage, and human nature. When freedom is divorced from truth it is abuse, with no anchor to pull it back. While the notion of “same-sex marriage” is literally absurd, its acceptance was inevitable since marriage has slowly and methodically become stripped of its meaning. To have a historical perspective on this, consider the fact that ALL Christian denominations condemned contraception as a serious violation of divine law until 1930 when the Anglican Lambeth Conference in England first opened the door a crack for married couples for so-called serious reasons. From that point on every protestant denomination has fallen like bricks to the pressures of the modern world instead of remaining faithful to the Truth.
While many support Chick-Fil-A for supporting traditional marriage it would be more consistent for these people to support the one institution left in the world that upholds true traditional and biblical marriage in her teaching – the Catholic Church. Will we see lines out the door at Churches across the country next Sunday in support, as we did at Chick-Fil-A on August 1st? No. This is because even those who support traditional marriage today have lost sight of what traditional marriage really is. And that is because in our post-modern era of confusion we have lost sight of what it means to be human.
In our day the culture war is not primarily a war about freedom (as libertarians insist), but a war about truth. Freedom is defined by its relationship to truth, but as Pontius Pilate the first recorded moral relativist stated as symbolic of secular humanism today: “What is truth”? It is high time this crucially important question be re-examined in the public square, without politically correct forces of the cultural left stifling all possibility of it.
Paul Murano teaches philosophy at North Shore Community College and theology at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen. He is host of Beneath the Surface television show at Burlington Cable Access TV and is co-host of the Paying Attention Radio program. Paul is also chairman of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help center in Burlington and is a singer/songwriter/musician.