Oh the Humanity! On the Borders of Inhumanity

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

An English woman, Caroline Farrow (who is with Catholic Voices there), was spat at leaving at TV studio over the weekend. As David Cameron declared “love is love” in welcoming same-sex marriage to the country, Farrow responded to a moderator’s invitation to merely say a few words in defense of a traditional view of marriage, for which she has been mocked, ridiculed, and threatened since. 

Obviously, laws have and are changing and in no small part on account of decades of misuse and abuse and neglect of love and marriage and family. Our words are in tangles, as are so many lives, with so many looking in the chaos for love and some semblance of security and identity and purpose.

But surely one can wish a brother well and still propose something else for what works, what has worked, what makes sense.

Surely we can disagree? If you’re shouting down a wife and mother who dares to voice an opinion that is not in season and calling her an intolerant bigot, consider that you might not be a victim but a bully.

On Friday I read something in an e-mail from Salvo magazine, which includes an excerpt from a longer interview with Princeton professor Robert P. George. I think it’s helpful:

To refuse to affirm a lifestyle, or to say that it is morally wrong, is not a crime. Rather it an exercise of moral conscience. To attempt to force someone to subvert their moral conscience is not activism. It is evil. That’s a moral judgment on my part, made not from hatred but from, I pray, a godly fear of evil–and a love of the good. We must never surrender, but rather overcome evil with good.

Marriage is vital to society. It’s vital to children, linking them, whenever possible, to their mother and father. That can’t always be. But it makes sense. In a marriage between a man and woman there is a unity other couplings cannot replicate. These are facts. You may not think them important or compelling, but we can still discuss them. Can’t we? Love involves wanting the best for another. Can we still pursue and propose without hate disguised as love?

One activist supporting the new day for “marriage” writes:

We must use our skills and energy to make sure homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are eradicated from our schools, our streets, ours sports fields, our workplaces, our churches and our homes. 

Eradicating hate, yes. But this is something else. This is eradicating a point of view about men and women and children and family – that the progressive president of the United States claimed to subscribe to — from discussion. That’s not good for anyone. You may disagree that the uniqueness of marriage — as between one man and one woman, open to life, till death to us part — is essential for society to uphold and nurture. But if it’s possible it’s true, wouldn’t it be prudent to slow down and at the very least let those people who believe it do better at living it and showing their children how?

Today Cardinal O’Malley and some other Catholic bishops will celebrate Mass along the Arizona-Mexico border where 6,000 people have died since 1998. They do so in the spirit of Pope Francis’ visit to Lampedusa last summer. The fundamental issue the pope has been trying to drive home to people is one of love. Once you’re okay with casting aside anyone, you’re contributing to a throwaway culture, to a culture of death. There will be disagreements (many here!), but at the point where a political issue is just a political issue and we’re indifferent to the pain of another human being, we’ve lost a moral pillar that upholds civil society. A little indifference can go a long way toward disregard for a fellow man’s life and make it a whole lot easier to shout down — and spit at — a mother voicing her opinion. It leads to a posture where you believe your opinion can trump another man’s freedom because your position happens to be favored by those in political and cultural power. That’s slouching toward tyranny and we can help ourselves.

As with a meeting last week between the pope and the president, we co-opt or dismiss today’s Mass at our souls’ risk. It’s not about party politics but the blood of men. And for the Christians among us, that’s no illegal, he’s my brother. If we know that, we’re less likely to look away, and more likely to have policymakers and civil servants and ministers and neighbors who are trying to help lift people up and flourish.

That’s what your sister at Question Time is trying to do, too. Disagree, but a little debate about human life and love can’t be bad, as long as we all have the same goal: the good.  

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