Sometimes, especially when we position ourselves properly, we receive news which indicates extraordinary events explainable only by the Grace of God. I know I’ve heard more stories than I can remember of events related to people which inextricably have no answer other than to associate a divine presence as the author. I don’t want to diminish or dilute the faith of anyone, but I’m not referring to events such as a near miss or someone was sick with a common cold and got better. These are happy events, but not miraculous. I’ve spoken on the topic of miracles in the past, just a little, and so I was thinking about our perception of the mode of arrival in which God lets us know his presence. In Kings 19, we read about God and his discourse with Elijah. We expect the presence of God to appear with great whirling winds and earthquakes as the chapter alludes to, but this isn’t the form with which God spoke. No, instead it was in a whisper, a faint representation of the Almighty’s power which to our human estimation presents us with either doubt or misinterpretation of strength. When we as men, especially today, think of strength, the cultural landscape we live in dictates a confusing juxtaposition of strength and weakness. We are presented with a need to be stoic and unmovable on points of rightness, and yet have the knowing capability to bend with a pliability needed for every situation. I’m not sure about anyone else, but we can’t have both. We can have one path to follow, and in this we will represent strength, compassion, courage, fear, and love. Above all, we will find our thirst quenched in our loving pursuit of this whisper, which in its perceived weakness, is the most profound strength anyone of us could hope to discover.
Never have I been more confused as when I watch any thirty minutes of television today and attempt to figure out what society is looking for from men or fathers. Morality seems to have taken a backseat to general wants, and those wants are paramount to material wealth or physical pleasure. The objective truth, which does exist, is pushed aside for a version of “my truth”, which is nothing more than the perspective of any individual based upon their experiences and intelligence at the time of the thought. It could change from moment to moment, and what’s worse, if someone is exposed to an experience less than acceptable, their moral line in what they are willing to accept or do, could be what’s needed to push them over the edge of a precipice where darkness consumes the soul. I know this seems very extreme in the context of our normal lives, but I would argue this, if an alcoholic knew by taking their first sip, they would become an alcoholic, would they take that first sip? We seem to be wandering the desert right now, and where there are beckons of light in the darkness, there are unseen hands grabbing at us to pull us down and away from those lights. So, what do we do?
I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can tell you my journey, my struggles, and where I see a path of righteousness in pursuit of Christ leads us. As I was detailing earlier, morality is a big button issue at the moment. There are causes and movements swirling around us, so much so, I’m not sure anyone of us comprehends the depth of any three causes, except for what is explained through our media outlets. Just recently we’ve been subject to sexual scandals, the ever-present abortion debate, and the stance on leadership as it pertains to our governments, and the need for a religion to strengthen our faith. There’s a lot going on! I want to address some of it, because by my estimation it is relative to the whisper of God’s voice in our lives, to the silence in our hearts where God resides patiently waiting on us.
I would like to begin by saying, if you ask yourself before you do anything, “Is there love in that?” You will find an ability to ask yourself the harder questions and have a distinct answer which is not only resolute in its solution but creates a paradigm to explain what love actually is. To begin, love is not an emotive decision process, no matter what the movies tell us. It isn’t the license to treat people poorly because we’re bored with our situation or we in other words have found something or someone else to gravitate towards. Love isn’t the process to find wrong in others, so much so, we risk true joy and happiness for pursuits of the physical. In other words, we miss true love poured upon us, because we insist our partners or those we love should fit in a precise paradigm of diminishing returns. We want people to look and act a certain way, and we delude ourselves into thinking, once we have what we want, we’ll be happy. Wrong! The question of love in our actions becomes imperative, it becomes something we must utilize as a presence of being, a tool of sorts, to delve deeper into actions, meanings, and where we want to be. When we apply the understanding of the objective truth we find calmness in the midst of a storm. The storm is our person, our society, our loved ones circling about us and yet we must find the calm, because only in the calm can we ever hope to hear the voice of God. In this calm, we find love.
Ok, so love is paramount to understanding everything, much like Jesus was referred as the cornerstone (Acts 4:11) “He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone’”. We must apply the love of Christ as the cornerstone to anything we look at, any argument we face, and any hot button issue which seems to plague us today. I will promise this to you, if you truly apply the objective truth as it pertains to love, you will have an answer to any issue you find, and the issue will become no longer up for argument, but rather a means of understanding to approach your life.
For the topics I mentioned earlier, I want to attack each one, and put to rest what should have been put to rest already. The current environment of sexual proclivities including sex of all types, pornography, multiple partners, artificial contraception, and a willful acceptance by a growing percentage of the population has presented us with an aberration of truth as we see it contextually. This is to say, we haven’t a problem with what’s going on, until we do, and hopefully you’re on the right side of the fence when the problem becomes apparent. Now, this isn’t to say poor behavior such as rape, harassment, or sexual perversion as it relates to unlawful behavior has ever been ok. Instead, it seems to be more an ideological perception of what right and wrong in the context of right, and then pushing and extremity to areas where it was never considered or was simply put back on the participants. Let me give you an example, a woman being raped is awful and should never happen, and based on the individual circumstances is how to determine the degree of severity with which any justice is to be applied. However, in our cultural climate today, we find, the presumption of guilt no matter the circumstance. The accusation is levied against an individual, and without any due process whatsoever, we hold this person in contempt and they have now become a pariah we wish to turn away from. We no longer find the promiscuous behaviors of the population as a matter of unacceptable path to personal destruction, but instead we honor the victim (poor decisions and worse consequences and all). We don’t ask why this event occurred and what the factors were leading up to it transpiring. We don’t ask if the event ever occurred at all, because it becomes too risky for fear of reprisal in either a private or public forum, usually both. We don’t want to be the one to pour salt on a wound which has already potentially caused someone pain, we haven’t the stomach for this.
I do want to set the record straight, I love having a physical relationship with my wife, it is a gift from God, at its most basic understanding it’s a physical representation of love to express our oneness with each other in the covenant of marriage. A marriage which is brought together by the Graces of God to perpetuate life, love, and the objective truth as set forth by the Divine Christ. To extend this even further, it’s the natural progression of life as was ordered by God. Anything outside of this, from a physical intimate portrayal is a disorder of its intended purpose. In Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI, intuits a destruction of familial truths in society (Section 17) as a result in the creation of artificial contraception. He indicates the failure of will, to be replaced by want. No longer do people need to worry about the societal implications of their actions, as long as they got what they wanted. Before anyone thinks, they know what’s best for their lives, I would caution this method of thinking, we don’t know from day-to-day what our lives have in store, and to explicitly challenge objective truth and replace it with our own, should be analogized as trying to play chicken with time. It just doesn’t work, and when we try, we inevitably fail.
Now, I know what some people think when they hear this, and at first it appears Puritanical. However, if we approach the entire paradigm with a lens of love, we see this is the furthest aspect of the truth. It’s not that rules are for us to follow, but when we apply love to our decisions, we find we follow a pathway with the truths and these truths become objectively speaking a rule or guideline to stay on the path to God’s love. Which presents our next cultural challenge, abortion, the destruction of life, to preserve our own way of life. No matter, the decisions it takes to get to this point, killing life is unacceptable. Christian Faith, and specifically Catholicism, is a religion of putting to death a sinful life and a rebirth of spiritual purity. To put it bluntly, you must allow your old self to die, before you can be raised up to the light of Christ. This is not, and has never been achieved by the destruction of life. This is to say, we can’t move forward as a culture if we create a culture of promiscuity and sexual disorder, then allow the circumspect behaviors towards those involved as they continue to make poor decisions. I’m sure at one point or another, we’ve know someone who has had an abortion (if there are women reading these words, it’s possible you may have had an abortion), and it’s not a matter of condemnation. Instead it’s a matter of compassion for those who have sinned, but if we don’t change the behaviors then the sin continues unfettered and this becomes the culture we are being forced to embrace today. I’ve heard arguments for a very long time in the position of “pro-choice” and “Pro-Life”, and yes I capitalize my life stance for the inflection of importance. Life is always more important than any one of our choices. To give our lives for another is a choice which still places life above anything else.
The way I’ve always seen the arguments crafted for abortion is a matter of the utilization of outlier (i.e. extraordinary events to make us think about what might happen) and prevent any movement whatsoever on the topic, which has so divided everyone. The vast majority of abortions are performed as a matter of contraceptive method, a decision to regret sexual behavior, and instead embrace a pathway which leads away from accountability. At the end of the day, there are two stances one can take for the argument against abortion, a scientific one (very valid when speaking with secular groups or atheistic religions), and the second it the faith comprehension of truth and applicability of love in all situations. If we apply love to this debate, then we see, no loving person could end the life of another soon to be fully functional human. Just isn’t possible, and if anyone thinks I’m accusing those who’ve had abortions as unloving, you’d be correct. We all have the ability to love, but we must learn how to love, and we can’t learn to love if we are pursuing our own selfish ends.
The final topic of discourse is our need for leaders in this world. Do we really have anyone we can look up to? Maybe, but at this moment, we are so unwilling to hold ourselves accountable on the most objective level, how can we expect to hold our leaders. They are a symptom of a much greater problem. We must start with the family, we must start as fathers and husbands and hold ourselves accountable to each and every person we come into contact with. We can’t deny our failures, we must embrace and learn from them. “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick” (Matt 9:12). We have to acknowledge to ourselves, we are sick and in need of healing. A healing which can only be provided by God. Our leaders begin with us, they begin with a family which is both made up of a father and a mother to teach our children the proper objective truth in life. To accept pain as par for the course, and yet continue to move forward as a matter of life and the pursuit of life and the light. Though the most important gift we can teach our children is to be charitable. Our charity, or love, towards others will help us to be leaders and to pick leaders who meet our ideals and share a common pursuit of objective truth in a time of hegemony of subjective morality. Our leaders are an extension of our pursuits in life, these leaders have the courage to stand up and show us the way. Don’t be afraid to stand up for a leader who embodies these principles in life. There are too many good people in the world to give an excuse for the selection we have now, but because of the ever changing moral climate, it’s impossible to tell unless you calm yourself in the midst of the storm and listen to the whisper of God.
I only briefly touched on topics which in themselves have been the inspiration of volumes of books, dissertations, and essays which explained my topics much better. Though at the end of it all, we don’t need a full explanation, sometimes, to know deep down what is wrong. Be only with a spouse, it is more ordered and special in this context. Don’t kill innocent life (this really goes without being said, one would think), when left untouched, life blooms, we can’t hide behind choice, life always takes precedent. Our leaders are an extension of us, if we don’t like who our leaders are, perhaps we need to take a longer look at us and fix what is apparently broken. God gives us the strength to fix what is broken, but like anything learned, a level of pain is needed to correct a wrong. Even if the pain is the intrinsic understanding which alludes to ridicule of one’s self for failing for so long. Pursue God, pursue love, and the answers you seek will become all too clear. May God bless you, and your family!!!
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!