Truth in Love is not Bigotry
Hyperbole as a rhetorical device has its place. But is it true? We all know that Superman is said to be “faster than a speeding bullet” and “more powerful than a locomotive.” But is he? Much of the world of literature and good fiction depends on rhetorical devices. But in our world of political argument today, rhetorical hyperbole has, I believe, long since crossed the line between reasoned discourse and irresponsible demagoguery.
Earlier this year, we observed calls to have the Catholic Church be officially designated as a “hate group,” and for years we have heard it said that to believe what the Church teaches about human sexuality is to be “anti-woman,” “anti-homosexual” or “anti-somebody.” Now, more recently, in its opinion regarding the federal Defense of Marriage Act, while the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledges that marriage as the union of one man and one woman has historically been deemed both necessary and fundamental, the Court does not credit that reality as a good faith reason for supporting the Act. Rather, we see a majority of the Court asserting that the avowed “principal purpose” of the Act was to impose a “stigma,” “degrade,” and “demean” same-sex couples and to humiliate their adopted children.
Quite to the contrary – it is not irrational animus to promote the truth in love, as the Church does in promoting and defending the reality that, by its very nature, authentic marriage exists only as the union of a man and woman, with the inherent potential for having children. Moreover, it does great harm to the cause of seeking truth in the marketplace of ideas for people to have their good name slandered and wrongly denounced simply because they disagree. After all, should we accuse the Court of anti-Catholic bigotry merely for past rulings concerning Catholic schools?
Effectively bearing false witness against others by imputing bad motives to them, as has been done to those who affirm the time-honored and reasoned understanding of marriage, does not promote dialogue, but rather shuts it down.
At the very core of all human relations is the confidence that members speak in good faith to each other. Without this trust, no community can peaceably exist. To the extent that rhetoric is improperly used to sever the bonds of trust that bind us together as a people, it is irresponsible.
Indeed, for 2,000 years, Catholic teaching has promoted the good for all. As seen with our programs and organizations, no one is turned away because of his or her sexuality, gender, race, religion, ethnic background or social condition. However, there are some things that Catholics simply do not do – not because of questions of race, creed, ethnic background or social circumstances, not because the Church is “anti-gay” or “anti-woman,” but because it violates revealed truth. It is not an act of discrimination to say, “We do not do that.” It is recognition of the sanctity of one’s own conscience.
We are living in a culture where casual sex replaces genuine marital relationships, where many admit that intimacy has been lost to emptiness and connection often seems distant. The Church offers a better way in proclaiming that people have been created to love and be loved – not in the casual and meaningless way that society today often suggests, but in a more intimate, authentic and pure way. Just open the first book of the Bible and you find this story of human love and life beautifully told. It is in the complete gift of self, open to new life, that we as human persons, made as man and woman, come to know ourselves and another and thereby reflect the love of the Trinity.
However this revealed truth has not always been easy to hear or to accept. The follower of Jesus today will always be countercultural. From the very beginning Christ offered, and continues to offer, a vision of life that contrasts strongly with what is presented as the modern secular norm for living. What we proclaim is that vision – it is a message of truth, the truth which sets us free, and of love, which saves us and offers us eternal life.