Friday, June 27, 2003

The Triumph Of Individual License

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision overturning a Texas sodomy law was not a carefully reasoned narrow ruling on the merits of an individual law, it was a sweeping repudiation of anything approaching a classical or Christian understanding of the Public Order. As Justice Scalia wrote, the Supreme Court has definitively "taken sides in the culture war", and it has taken the side of Constitutionally enshrining a conception of "liberty" that is precisely what Christians would define as "license": an absolute personal autonomy that owes nothing to anyone: family, community, society, much less God.

By locating it's argument in the ever-expanding "penumbra" of the so-called "right" to privacy, the Supreme Court has decreed that henceforth, no community has any right to define for itself any standards of what it considers moral conduct. It has decreed that no community has a right to express moral censure on any behavior in any meaningful way.

The logic of this decision, if its trajectory is unchecked, will lead inevitably to state recognition of homosexual marriage. After all, it is strictly a matter between "consenting adults" and the state cannot discourage the arrangements made between people. The logic of this decision opens the way to the decriminalization of child sex-abuse: all you have to do is redefine "consent" (there are people working on that already) and then the way is open. Any legislative attempt to criminalize or discourage any behavior because it is simply wrong cannot stand under this new judicial reasoning: unless the moral judgment so enshrined in law is one our Robed Masters happen to agree with.

This will also open the way for gay activists to force Churches or other religious organizations to recognize homosexual unions and/or be compelled to hire homosexuals. I foresee in the not-too-distant future a challenge to the "moral turpitude" clauses contained in many teacher's contracts: Your parish's school could be forced to hire an openly gay teacher because, under the logic of Lawrence (yesterday's SCOTUS decision) together with other anti-discrimination laws, the "right to privacy" will preclude any organization from making "discriminatory" judgments on the basis of individuals private "lifestyle choices."

The gay activists are giddy with delight, and openly predicting the imminent advent of gay "marriage". Don't think that they will stop there. Those who have embraced sin cannot rest until all others embrace their sin, and all those who persist in calling it sin are silenced.

I hope Catholic lawyers are going over this decision with a fine-toothed comb to anticipate the next move and to prepare to defend against it.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Several People Have Asked

That I post a follow-up to my post on Cohabitation and preparation for marriage. I'll try to do so in the next day or so.

More on Being Pro-Life and Politically Active

A friend of mine, who is also an occasional commentor on my blog, holds that Catholic Pro-life efforts, whenever they are conducted in the name of the Church, whether by priests or lay people, should always be scrupulously non-partisan. He believes that nothing is to be gained by identifying a politician's party affiliation when criticizing him/her for being pro-abort or supporting him/her for being pro-life.

He has reminded me, more than once, that there are plenty of pro-abortion Republicans, and they dishonestly benefit when all the opprobrium is heaped on Democrats for being the Abortion Party [TM]. And what he says is true: There are high-profile Republicans such as Christine Todd-Whitman, Sen. Arlen Specter (PA), and Sen. Susan Collins (ME) who are commited pro-aborts. And we Catholics should be just as critical of them, and work just as hard to oppose them, as we should against someone like Sen. John Kerry.

And so I am brought to remind you of a point I made before: That by saying that the Democrats have become the Party of Abortion [TM] or the Party of Sin[TM] I am not saying that Catholics can never vote for a Democrat or that the Republican Party is somehow anointed by God. There are Democrats out there who are pro-life, though their party seems to be working very hard to drive those people out or force them to knuckle under. And we should do everything we can to encourage and support Democrat pro-lifers, as that will be the only way to break the stranglehold that the pro-aborts currently have there.

But it seems to me that to point out the fact that the entire national Democratic party leadership is ardently pro-abortion, and that every single Democratic presidential candidate has vowed his/her support for abortion-on-demand, is not partisan. It seems to me to simply be an acknowledgment of reality. My friend thinks that politicians can and should be criticized and even "shamed" for their pro-abortion positions individually, but that all mention of party affiliation should be avoided when speaking and acting as Catholics, especially the clergy. But it seems to me almost absurd to observe such a distinction, when, in the current environment, that distinction is meaningless in any practical sense. It seems to me that to point out that the Democratic party is vehemently pro-abortion, and demands lockstep conformity on that issue from any politician who aspires to any high office, is not partisan. It is simply telling the truth.

I am aware of the temptation that my friend wishes to avoid: we cannot allow the Church to identify itself or it's mission with the agenda of any political party. The Republican Party is NOT the "Catholic" party. It so happens at present that Republicans tend to hold positions compatible with Catholic teaching on certain core issues, such as abortion, whereas Democrats do not. That was not always the case, and no doubt someday the situation will again be different. The Republicans were much more pro-abortion 25 years ago than they are today, and they may again become so. The Republicans have certainly not "delivered" for Catholics and other pro-lifers in anything like the way they should have, considering they have controlled the Oval Office for 20 of the last 30 years since Roe vs. Wade was decided. So I am not counseling that Catholics sell their souls to the Republicans. No political party will bring about the New Jerusalem.

But if, as the Holy Father has said, abortion is the pre-eminent moral issue of our time, then to ignore that an entire political party has been captured by the Culture of Death seems to me to be blind to the elephant before our eyes.