The annual celebrations of the Church are her way of bringing the temporal and the eternal into conversation, allowing us to, if you will, listen in to what Our Lord is telling the Church, again. Last Friday’s Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is another such occasion, an especially poignant one for those who answer the Church’s call to defend human life, marriage and family.
Mary’s complete openness to God and His holy will are reflected in her haste to the home of Elizabeth. This is not a mere visit between two mothers or relatives, but a profound joyful sharing in the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation carried in Mary’s womb. Indeed, upon hearing Mary’s greeting, the babe within Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy!
The meeting between the two saintly women was also the first meeting between Our Savior and the one whom Scripture foretold would pave His way. While we can’t reduce the entire depth and beauty of this encounter to our struggle today, I think it’s fair to say that on the question of the humanity of the preborn child and on the goodness of his life, God has spoken quite clearly.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to take the message of this great meeting a further step that may not necessarily be obvious at first. While absolutely affirming the humanity of the unborn child and the joy spontaneously expressed by those who love God, we also see as the Gospel unfolds that John the Baptist expressed his love for God by preaching a radical message of repentance. His love did not lead him to pat everyone on the back and say, “The Lord is coming and it’s all gonna be fine! Compromise with the culture and get along! Just chill!”
Yet many Christians are acting as if this is what Christ wants—just to find accommodations with a culture that is increasingly at odds not only with God’s law, but with God Himself. How else do we understand the baffling decision by the Boy Scouts to undermine their own principles and allow “openly homosexual” children, children mind you, to be Scouts?
Sustaining and nourishing a Culture of Life is not possible until we acknowledge there are realities and behaviors harmful to us—as individuals and a society—and embrace with a total yes the teachings of Jesus Christ. For a long time, the Scouts bucked the public pressure brought by a small minority of radicals—radicals who will never be long appeased by any compromise — to drop their Christian identity.
BSA’s principles teach Scouts to be obedient to God; however, these same Scouts now find themselves in an organization that is wavering on a key moral issue. While the resolution itself stopped short of an open endorsement of homosexual activity, it does represent the abandonment of any principle that the organization can later call upon to resist what will soon again be massive pressure to allow openly homosexual Scout leaders. And inevitability, Scouts will pose questions to their leaders about homosexuality. Will they be told it’s wrong to act on such feelings and attractions? Moreover, should not young boys struggling with sexual orientation/identity be guided from a potential danger and pointed towards the good?
Let’s remember that the Catholic Church counsels love for those struggling with a homosexual orientation, but is firm in her teaching that acting on those inclinations is morally illicit, just as any non-marital sexual activity is.
The dilemma for BSA will continue because the toxic culture cannot accept that there are limitations. There is never enough. To welcome young boys into the BSA and provide them with a healthy approach to life, including the proper role of human sexuality, is not acceptable to those who can’t say “No.” One can imagine that troop leaders will soon be required to attend “sensitivity seminars” and to defend homosexual actions and identity. Eventually the BSA that has identified the importance of being reverent to God and His laws will compromise even further.
It is a slippery slope to be sure, and it is in no way an act of courage that they have demonstrated to their young Scouts. Instead of being a remedy to the corrosive influences upon young boys and men, their decision only weakens their stance against an increasingly toxic culture.
Am I being unreasonable? Let me answer the question with another: can you name one major moral compromise that did not lead to further ones, and to major societal problems as a result? Consider: It was once believed that if restrictions on divorce were minimized that marriage would be better protected and the number of divorces would lessen. Yet nearly half of marriages end in divorce. What about contraception? It was said that if we legalize contraception it would limit the number of abortions, and marriage would be strengthened. Yet we have seen abortion rates skyrocket, promiscuity now being treated as a positive by the “experts” who teach sex “education” in our schools, STD rates are through the roof and there is further confusion about the nature of marriage and really any male/female relationship.
Instead of acknowledging the beauty of the sexual act expressed between husband and wife, society continues to relegate it to a recreational activity without limitation or consequence. Liberation from all restraints is the new “good.” This is what happens when we are unable to say “No” to our appetites. And when a person doesn’t have the freedom to say “No,” he doesn’t really have the freedom to say “Yes” either, since he is at the mercy of his appetites.
So we must be able to say “No” to certain things if we’re to say “Yes” to what is truly good for us. This “Yes” is grounded in humility, a humility that acknowledges a profound truth outside of man, which guides and sustains. This truth as revealed in Jesus Christ leads us to true freedom — liberation from the shackles of original sin. When we, like Mary, say “Yes” to God and His commands we open ourselves to an abundance of grace. This grace enables us to recognize the path of Life and joyfully avoid the empty potholes caused from selfishness and rebelliousness.
Reconstruction of the culture is possible. It cannot be built upon the slippery slopes fashioned by half-heartedness and indifference to truth. It requires a total “Yes” to courage, humility and desire for the truth.
We pray that the Boy Scouts will remember what has made them unique and effective among other institutions, and those who are active with the Scouts should let them know that they’re starting down a path from which it is very difficult to return.