Thursday, July 20, 2006

You Just Don't Get It, Keep It Copacetic...

Our world culture is sick. That is a statement that reeks of intolerance, unwillingness to accept others, and downright closed're darn right it is.

Not a week goes by that I don't talk to someone who exhibits the symptoms of moral relativism. Our world has taken universal truths and made them mere hypotheses. We've demoted God and His Law and replaced it with negotiable morality. This piece will examine the culture at large and its definition of tolerance as well as the philosophical and common sense inconsistencies with statements like, 'Well, I'm against abortion but have no right to impose my view on anyone else.' and 'Jesus says not to judge others and so even though I wouldn't have an abortion, I can't judge the action of one who would.'

What Is Truth? Mr. Pilate, White Courtesy Phone...

Ask anyone today if Truth, with a capital 'T' exists and it's likely you'll hear something like this:
'Well, my truth is mine. It's different from your truth but it's what I believe to be true.' In effect, their answer is a non-answer because it just doesn't address whether an all-encompassing Truth can or does exist. Well, let's use some common sense. If I say '2+2=4', that is a Truth, with a capital 'T' no matter how badly you want 2+2 to equal 3 or whether your co-worker believes 2+2=3. What makes the statement '2+2=4' a Truth? It's absoluteness. In other words, 2+2=4 in America, Spain, Zimbabwe, or Uranus. 2+2=4 in the rain, in the sun, on a plane or on the run (pardon the Dr. Seuss-ism but this really is 4 year old stuff). In Norman Geisler's work 'I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist', he outlines certain Truths about Truth. It's about time that people make their peace with these things about Truth:

1. It exists. There are certain things that are True whether we want it to be or not. When I do not have access to oxygen, I cannot breathe--that is true always and everywhere.

2. Truth is discovered, not invented. For example, gravity existed before Newton observed it. Truth exists whether someone knows about it or not.

3. Truth is transcultural. It transcends us being American, Russian, or Martian.

4. Truth is unchanging. Our BELIEFS about Truth may change (Lord knows enough politicians have flip flopped on issues in their lives), however. But the world was round even when man thought it was flat and it's still round now that man has changed its views about it.

5. Changing beliefs cannot change a Truth. It doesn't matter if you genuinely think the red pen in your hand is blue, that sincere belief won't make the pen's redness turn to blue.

6. Truth is not determined by how it is presented. If an arrogant Catholic shows up at your doorstep and says that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the fact that he's ignorant does not make the Truth he has just proclaimed any less true.

7. Truth is absolute. Even truths that appear to be relative are actually absolute. For example, if I declare that on July 20, 2006, I feel warm, this is Truth. That statement may appear relative but it's really true for everyone, everywhere that I had the sensation of warmness on that day.

The obvious conclusion about Truth, therefore, is that a contrary truth is an impossible thing because Truth is one, whole, and unable to be contradicted. Contrary beliefs about Truth are possible-- we can believe that things are true but we cannot make them true if they aren't already true.

One Religion, Two Religion, Three Religion, Four...

Religion has become a taboo topic in the halls of Congress, on the campaign trails, the State Houses, production meetings of network television, and around the world. It's as if our fear of offending others has triggered a hyper-sensitive gene that has been dormant for generations in which we believe that religion is personal ONLY and should only be broached in the privacy of our own homes. We've convinced ourselves that all religions are the same, encompassing the same level of trueness and so they're interchangeable--spiritual Transformers. As a result, our society now sees Pope Benedict XVI, Benny Hinn, and David Koresh in the same light because their religions are perceived to be on equal footing with regard to truth. Is this assumption correct? Are all religions equal in Truth and, therefore, no more or less important than any other? Well, a society that would put Satanism on par with Christianity just isn't thinking, and here's why.

First, common sense should tell us that many religions have diametrically opposing beliefs. Both cannot be correct. If the Catholic faith teaches that no salvation exists outside the Church, while the Unitarian Faith teaches that there are many equal roads to salvation, both can't be true. The choices are:

A. The Unitarians teach the Truth
B. The Catholics teach the Truth
C. A 3rd option is true.

Saying they're all correct is to be out of touch with reality since they're mutually exclusive statements, like 2+2=4 and 2+2=3.

Second, while all religions may hold to certain moral codes that are similar, they are not the same. Especially if you take 'religions' like Satanism which would argue that murder is good in certain circumstances or South American Indian tribes who perform human sacrifice. The fact is that most religions disagree on fundamental things like the nature of God, sin, salvation, etc. Furthermore, these beliefs are mutually exclusive which means one is True and others are false. All religions are not created equal because they cannot be reconciled with each other. And if Truth exists, then not all can claim it equally.

Tolerance: You're ALL Right!

So we've established that some religions have false claims. It's inevitable since their claims are directly in opposition to others' and only one can be right. And if you dare say something like this in America, particularly on the public stage, you'll be ridiculed. You'll hear people say 'Hey, you're not tolerant, you're a bully!'

Tolerance has gone from 'putting up with something you believe to be false' to 'accepting every belief as true'. The resulting culture has concluded that NO religion is the best policy since they're all equal and to nod or wink at one would be to insult another. This is called 'tolerance' today but the net effect has been to tolerate NONE rather than accept all. There are a few problems that arise--problems we see manifest in our modern day American culture.

First, when the State actively goes out of its way to NOT recognize God, the state becomes God. Look at Communist nations like China and the previous Soviet Union. They eliminated God from their societies and replaced Him with the God-State. Here in America, our 'tolerance model' has effectively attempted to eliminate God out of respect for all who believe in God--a truly schizophrenic idea. The result has been a culture in which 1.5 million abortions are performed legally every year in America. The result has been a culture in which marriage has been ridiculed and divorce has been equated to a cure for cancer. The result has been that human embryos--actual human persons--are actively killed so their tissue can be used to save lives we think are more important. In other words, our 'tolerance' has manifested itself in a culture of death. Pope Pius XI declared that this type of society is 'utterly foreign to Christian truth.'

Second, even the most 'tolerant' people have limits to their toleration, even Jesus! When ideologies and policies stomp all over things like God's commandments, fundamental human rights (life being the most important one), and the dignity of the human person, then tolerance has failed. If we are to use Jesus as our model, then a simple reading of the Gospels shows a God-Man that was steadfast in His teachings, unyielding in his integrity, and was far from tolerant when Truth was betrayed. That's because there are certain Truths about humans coexisting. When a person is moved by his conscience to become a terrorist, society has deemed that to be beyond the line of toleration. If a society decided that the minority should be enslaved, we do not tolerate it. Obviously, tolerance has its limits, just ask anyone who refuses to tolerate the Catholic view on abortion or bioethics.

Third, the obvious result of tolerance has been indifference. In other words, we have decided to live and let live, no matter what. We have not only tolerated untruth but have embraced it by taking tolerance to its extreme end. If someone believes that murder is right, it's our duty to let them believe this rather than try to change their delusion. But as Catholics, can we really look in the mirror and say this is what Jesus meant when he said to 'teach all nations that which I have so commanded'? Paul the apostle would say no. In fact, he wished that 'all those that hear me would become as I am.' (Acts 26) In other words, wanting salvation for others is what Catholics do. If we are to love like Jesus, we must want Heaven for every human and this belief manifests itself in speaking up. If we do not speak up, we toss our religious freedom into the trash.

In short, tolerance as it is entrenched in our culture, is dangerous. It blurs the lines of Truth and prefers appeasement to accountability. As Catholic Christians, tolerance is not a virtue. It is an excuse that we have used to allow unjust laws against the unborn, infirmed, and society.

You Keep Using That Word--I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Does Jesus prohibit us from saying 'Hey, what you are doing is wrong.'? This question seems silly but many Christians (including myself) have claimed that Jesus Himself told us not to judge others. So let's look at what we ARE supposed to do.

The proper place to start would be with Jesus Himself. Not one single instance exists in which Jesus says 'I see you are in adultery. I personally wouldn't do that but hey, it's a free empire.' In fact, He tells her to 'go and sin no more', clearly telling her that her lifestyle was unacceptable. He doesn't say 'Repent if you feel like it!' He demands that sins be admitted and that people change their lives. St. John tells us to test everything to see if it's really of God, not just the big stuff. Paul says that we must determine if what others tell us is consistent with the Gospel he preached. Even the Old Testament (Deuteronomy) commands us to take what a person says and discern if he's a false prophet or not. So questioning beliefs is a fundamental Christian principle.

Next, let's just look at the statement 'We're not supposed to judge anyone.' That statement is, itself, a judgment! See, when Jesus says we ought not judge in Matthew 7, He's talking about judging hypocritically (that's the context, folks, look it up) or proclaiming anyone objectively in Hell, for that is God's job. A judgment that we ought to make all religions equal is still a judgment. A judgment that life begins at birth, and not conception, is a judgment. So common sense demands that we rethink the use of that phrase. So the issue becomes not whether we can make judgments, but rather do we make the right judgments in accord with Truth. And just as soon as those who would not judge are willing to accept a Muslim terrorist's religious belief that all infidels should die, or those who believe in pedophilia or child sacrifice, we can take them seriously. In fact, check out John 7:

'Judge not on appearances but judge with right judgment.'

What do we make of this? If we are not to judge, then John has some 'splaining to do. And so does the Apostle Paul, who in speaking of a fornicator among the Corinthians, 'had already judged' him. See, the key to understanding Matthew 7 is that we'll be judged IN THE VERY SAME MANNER we judge others. If we judge irresponsibly, the same standard will be applied to us. If we judge prudently and fairly/fully informed, then we get the same treatment from God. So judge when you must, do it with compassion but also with power and integrity. When someone says we should be able to terminate the life of a child an ANY unborn age, judge that statement and act accordingly or you too will be judged by God according to your inaction.

The scariest thing is the person who smugly declares 'I am tolerant and so is God' and then proceeds to give you a laundry list of the things they do not tolerate. I've had non-Christians tell me that they do not tolerate bigotry and then proceed to tell an anti-Catholic joke. I've had people tell me they believe ALL roads to religion are right and then tell me that the Catholic way of thinking is deplorable. Judging is what humans do. When Christ died and rose for our sins, he made us partaker of his divine nature. One aspect of that divine nature is Judge. We, sharing in his judgeship, are OBLIGATED to make judgments if we are to imitate Him. Don't let anyone tell you that judging is wrong because that's just a cop out. As for God being tolerant, I would ask this. Are you sure that's God being tolerant or just your preconceived (and hopeful) belief about God? One of humanity's worst traits is that we make God into ourselves, rather than vice versa. God is Love and so must love what is good and true. Do you really think God would tolerate insults against his Son? His Son laid out clear, precise, and ABSOLUTE truths--can God tolerate that which is against what His Son laid out? Does God tolerate sin? Look at a crucifix and answer honestly--no.

Legislating Morality

Perhaps the most impotent argument I've seen from the John Kerrys and other weak minded and heartless purveyors of this 'Tolerance Doctrine' is that enacting any law that is in line with conservative Christian moral doctrine is imposing morality on non-Christians. What a load of manure! Kerry and his ilk would have us believe that Christian morals are akin to some backward and oppressive set of rules that originated in the mind of some sadistic, inhuman, mind on a planet filled with unhappy, brain washed, drones. Funny, the killing of innocents seems like it'd be morally repugnant on ANY planet.

Still, the reality--one that should be perfectly honest to such an informed conscience as Mr. Kerry--is that EVERY law enacted by a government is a legislation of morality. Call me crazy but a law outlawing murder seems to be making the moral statement: murder is immoral and dangerous to one's health. Laws against rape seem to make the moral statement: violation of a human person sexually is immoral. Laws against burglary seem to make the moral statement: stealing is immoral. People were saying 'you can't legislate morality' when Martin Luther King was fighting for racial equality. King himself said, 'True, the law cannot make the white man love me, but it sure can discourage him from lynching me!'

Another statement I've seen and find hard to believe is, 'When opinions are divided. The laws of a society should respect and reflect this." There's just one problem--that little thing called Truth should, by all accounts, govern a society's laws. The Founding Fathers made it clear that the laws of a nation must be in accord with God's laws and this is one reason why they established a Republic and not a Democracy. A Democracy says that if 50.1% of a society says that murder is fundamentally good, then its laws reflect this until the other side obtains 50.1%of the vote. A Republic, however, says that the laws of a society reflect the majority rule but must also protect the minority. Truth must dictate a society's laws. If they do not, then the Catholic faith says they are not merely unjust laws, it says they are NOT LAWS AT ALL. Any law that is not just simply is not valid and need not be followed. Abortion laws and euthanasia laws may be backed by a majority of our society (though that remains to be proven in any respects) but these laws cannot meet the fundamental standard of law--that the minority be protected, and so are not laws at all from the Catholic perspective.

The bottom line is that if you call yourself Christian--an imitator of Christ--then 'I can't impose my beliefs on others' or 'I don't want to legislate morality' are empty, insufficient, and far short of Jesus' plan for us. Pick what is right, but do more than that--ACT. We Christians are here to divide, not unite under a flag of false tolerance and lip service. If you want laws that are just, then search for Truth, not for consensus or appeasement because in Truth, we find Justice. God Bless.


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