Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Liberty?

The past few weeks have brought up an interesting question in my mind. Which is more important in the eyes of most Americans, religious liberty or sexual liberty?

Unfortunately, with the inclusion of "birth control" into our society, sexual liberty seems to have taken over in the minds of many people. We may have to ask ourselves why this is the case. I want to say some of the blame falls upon us Catholics. After Paul VI released his encyclical Humanae Vitae, a group of Catholic theologians came out denouncing this prophetic message. Many Catholics came down on the side of the theologians, instead of the teachings of the Church. Priests hesitated to proclaim the official teachings of the Church boldly. Some even encouraged dissenting from the practice of NFP in favor of the pill. Sex in our society became more important than religion. We are all tempted at times to fall into this trap.

I commented on this topic the other day on the Billings Gazette webpage say that the purpose of sex is procreation, not fun. Someone replied back, but it is fun. I acknowledged that he was probably right, but that is not the purpose of sex. He want to argue that the purpose was for fun. This is the mindset we are fighting against.

What serious Catholics need to do is recognize the trap for what it is and rise above it. Catholics who are actively practicing the Church's teachings in matters of sexuality need to boldly proclaim the positive effects that it has in their lives. The testimony coming from a married couple means so much more than dogma preached by a celibate priest. We need both the preaching and the reinforcement of testimony to start changing minds and hearts.

On the other end, bishops need to take seriously their task of shepherding. They need to hold dissenting politicians accountable for their public dissent. When Catholics see that their leadership is serious about upholding the teachings of the Church, they are more inclined to follow them. Private talks that seem to do little to stop, as the describe themselves, "faithful Catholics" from publicly going against the bishops are becoming meaningless. People need to see public accountability.

If we want religious liberty, we need to get away from the idea that all we need is sexual liberty. We need to pray for our priests and bishops that they will uphold the truth with courage. We need to pray for all Catholics that they recognize the need for right priorities in life directed towards God and not self pleasure. (This is not to imply that sex within marriage is a bad thing.) We all need to pray for our young people that they will make wise decisions as they mature. We need to pray for our Catholic politicians that they will let good morals guide their decisions and not personal pleasure or the desire for power.

In addition to the prayer, we need to let our voices be heard -- that we will stand with the official Church in these matters. People need to know that we will hold our politicians responsible by our voting. Our courageous bishops and priests need to know that we support them because we tell them that in person, or by means of a letter or e-mail message.

Let us all fight for our religious liberty.

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