Resistance to the Dictatorship of Relativism

Pope Benedict famously warned about the impending dangers of a “dictatorship of relativism” — a state where truth is denied, morality is defined by subjective desires, authentic tolerance is extinguished, and political power is used to force compliance with the whims of the day.

Well, we certainly have enough relativism in our culture, and the slide to dictatorship seems to be accelerating.

Just in the past few weeks we’ve seen more and more Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Courts, er, I mean federal judges, overruling the democratic decisions of legislatures and the people, and redefining marriage.  We’ve seen elected officials foreswearing their oaths of office to uphold the laws, and refusing to defend the authentic definition of marriage.  We’ve seen hysterical and mendacious accounts of proposed religious liberty legislation, even to the point where defenders of the free exercise of religion are compared to Jim Crow racists.  Intolerance from the forces of “tolerance” is becoming the language of the day.

We need to be clear about what is at the heart of this situation, and what our response must be.  There are several fundamental truths that are being denied by our current culture:

  • Being male and female is an inherent aspect of the human person, they are not arbitrary and irrational concepts.
  • Marriage is ordained by God and by nature to unite a man and woman in a life-long bond that benefits them as persons, and that is the proper context for sexual relations and the procreation and raising of children.
  • A homosexual inclination is contrary to the true meaning and purpose of human sexuality as created by God and enshrined in human nature.
  • Homosexual conduct is always contrary to the will of God and the nature of the human person.
  • Persons with a  homosexual inclination must be treated with full human dignity and cannot be treated with unjust discrimination;  however, their unions cannot be recognized as equivalent to marriage, and their sexual activity cannot be approved.
  • Every human person has the right and obligation to follow their conscience, even when it disagrees with human laws.
  • The budding “dictatorship of relativism” is becoming more and more intolerant of these truths, and will gradually subject those who hold them to criticism, ostracism, and legal penalties.

    In the face of this, we must be ready to resist.

    The starting place for resistance is to recall several key points, most eloquently explained in Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, and Vaclav Havel’s The Power of the Powerless:

  • Resistance is a duty of all citizens when faced by injustice.  It is not an “extra-credit” activity.
  • It must be always be grounded in the truth.  It makes no compromise with lies, and always seeks to expose them.
  • It must always be pursued with love and respect.  It is not an excuse for violence and lawlessness.
  • The goal is conversion of heart on the part of those who support injustice, not overbearing their will with power.  It’s message always is “come, join us”, and never “we will force you to agree”.
  • The most important tactic is our willingness to testify to the truth by our words and our actions, and our refusal to cooperate with injustice and lies.
  • Underlying this duty of resistance is an important understanding of the freedom of conscience, and my duty of obedience to the truth rather than to mere human laws.  The government may attempt to coerce my external cooperation with injustice by imposing penalties, fines, and so on.  But no government, and no law, can force me to accept a lie as the truth.

    We cannot have any illusions.  Many, if not most of our family and friends will conform, and will consider us to be strange.  We may be estranged from loved ones.  It will be painful.

    Yes, we will be persecuted — indeed, it has already begun.  It will be a soft persecution, nothing like the hardship  suffered by our brethren in countries like Syria.  Nonetheless,  we will feel the steel fist under the velvet glove.

    Resist.  The power of truth and love cannot be extinguished.

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    10 Responses to “Resistance to the Dictatorship of Relativism”

    1. Joey says:

      “Persons with a homosexual inclination must be treated with full human dignity and cannot be treated with unjust discrimination”

      So how exactly is this point shown in the Church? At least in the Archdiocese of New York, there haven’t been many attempts to show love to the community.

    2. DottieDay says:

      The dictatorship of feelings rules doesn’t it? — over reason, natural law, common sense. Normalizing homosexuality is perfect for the culture of feelings. And most Catholics don’t have any idea of how homosexuality threatens society. Hey most of us don’t realize how birth control has destroyed the culture of life. And the pulpit is silent. I consider homosexuality what we used to call a “cross” — a terrible hardship that some are called to carry. Christ told us that some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. I think homosexuality is one of them.

    3. Joey says:

      DottieDay, the dictatorship of religious feelings (through legislating morality) is a real movement. Homosexuality is not a “cross” or hardship, nor does it threaten society. That concept is self-pitying and disgusting.

    4. Ed Mechmann says:

      Hey, guys, I have to throw a flag on this exchange. You both know that I have a super liberal comment policy here. But we have to keep it civil when we’re speaking to each other. Thanks.

    5. Joey says:

      Ed, where exactly has there been an “uncivil” exchange in the comments? There’s just a difference in opinion. It really seems like you are trying to avoid my comments…

    6. James De Silva says:

      The Church shows reverence for every human person but there are right and wrong actions. God bless the Courage apostolate and its earnest desire to show fidelity to Christ and the Church.

    7. Ed Mechmann says:

      Not trying to avoid comments — I actually am grateful that you keep coming back, even though we are obviously on different sides of these issues. But I’m just a bit sensitive to tone right now. The public debate is getting unpleasant out there, so I would prefer if people just dialed down the intensity a bit and concentrated on charity and civility.

    8. Stephen says:

      Ed, you write a piece that is extraordinarily offensive and complain when others comment on it. I find it impossible to believe you actually think any of this is happening. You complain about the tone of the public debate that YOU are creating. You do of course understand that Roman Catholics used to be written about in exactly the same manned: stikk are by some of our evangelical friends.

      “Homosexual conduct is always contrary to the will of God and the nature of the human person.”

      And you have no idea why such a statement would be found to be vile and slanderous? I refuse to believe you can be so ignorant. It’s not possible. Go and live by your faith. May it bring you joy. But don’t try to legislate CIVIL law based on YOUR beliefs.

      You must know that marriage is a CIVIL institution that has been co-opted by the church. But that’s the least of it. You would not dare publish such filth under your own name if you were writing about jewish Americans, black Americans, Irish or Italian Americans. You would not dare any longer to write in similar terms. But you think you can still get away with it when you vilify LGBT Americans. And when we point out to you the harm done by your ignorance suddenly you’re being persecuted. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      And do not have the presumption to criticize or condemn me.

    9. Xav says:

      I suggest taking a look at the March 10 edition of America Magazine, cover story article by John Langan for a different view on homosexuality, which acknowledges that the Catholic Church may have its teachings about the subject, but it is far from having definitive answers as to the cause, nature, influences leading to one being gay.
      I personally believe that each of us is fully entitled to justice in our own life times. I know that I am not alone in questioning the so-called “magisterium” or teaching authority of the church. When I look around and see a mid-West bishop convicted of knowingly not reporting a priest suspected of molesting children and as a bishop is now reporting to a probation officer, when I see the news about another archbishop building a palace for himself for retirement, when I see the “bling” archbishop in Germany spending many tens of millions of dollars on his personal residence, with the multi-million dollar bathroom, and when I seen the national bishops’ conferences never criticizing or denouncing such colleagues (there are many more examples), then I must question how such people as the bishops with the pope can truly be determining “truths” for all the rest of us. Also refer to the PBS TV special “Secrets of the Vatican” broadcast two weeks ago. It is available free on-line on the PBS.org web-site . The TRUTH shall set all of us free, whether individuals or as an institution.
      I urge all to stop attacking different people (the divorced, the gays, the “public-schoolers”, the nuns. The claimants of magisterium, that is the bishops, have much to clean up among themselves and in the church , before they can invoke such sacred and far-reaching powers.

    10. Ed Mechmann says:

      Quod erat demonstrandum.