12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 But my Lord laughs at them,
because he sees that their day is coming.
14 The wicked unsheath their swords;
they string their bows
To fell the poor and oppressed,
to slaughter those whose way is upright.
15 Their swords will pierce their own hearts;
their bows will be broken. [Psalm 37:12-15]
Reading the news, it seems that the foes of the Church have largely abandoned the pretense of trying to separate Pope Francis from the teaching of the Church. Because they believe that victory is imminent, they now write as if the Church is defeated and needs to change and get with the program if she would survive. However, we refuse to roll over and submit, and this angers those who hate us. The thing is, people who oppose the teaching of the Church are not satisfied with having usurped the legal power to implement what they desire. Rather, they want everyone to accept their desires as morally good. But as long as we’re here to remind them that God exists and their behavior separates them from Him, we are a stumbling block to their plans. So, they hope that they can drive us into irrelevancy by silencing us and persuading people to come over to their side.
They do this through both overt attacks to drive us out of the public square and through persuading individuals that it is better to follow them than to follow the Church. But they can’t do this by giving their position and letting each person decide what is true. They have to misrepresent our beliefs to make them seem dangerous and malicious. They have to make it appear as if it is the Church who is trying to force changes, when the Church is simply insisting that the truth remains true, regardless of culture or era.
Dr. Peter Kreeft shows the problem in one of his Socratic Dialogue books:
Libby: It sounds like sour grapes to me. You’re complaining because we’re winning.
‘Isa: No, I’m complaining because you’re lying. For a whole generation now you small minority of relativistic elitists who somehow gained control of the media have been relentlessly imposing your elitist relativism on popular opinion by accusing popular opinion—I mean traditional morality—of elitism, and of imposing their morality! It’s like the Nazi propaganda saying Germany was victimized by Poland.
[Peter Kreeft, A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), 141.]
The political and cultural elites of our nation have portrayed the situation as if a group of antisocial misfits suddenly appeared in society with the intention to persecute people who think differently than they do. They portray it as if “enlightened” people are finally throwing off the shackles of these misfits and benefitting society in doing so. So they tell the world that Christians “condemn” because we hate—that we hate and fear anyone who will not submit to what we say. They dredge up the behavior of the worst history has to offer and portray it as if this was the norm for what we would do if they let us get away from it. Basically, the lie they use is to say that the world was as enlightened as the 21st century until religion—especially Judaeo-Christian religion—came into being, and sought to control human thought through fear and superstition.
This is, of course, false. But it is quite effective. Look at modern programs on TV. Look at how they portray religion. Practitioners of religion fall into two groups. Either they are cold, hostile people who are bigoted and hostile to anyone who thinks differently, or they are willing to compromise their beliefs to get along with the world. The former are villains and the latter are heroes.
They tried to fit Pope Francis into this mindset. They took his words out of context and tried to make it seem as if he was “heroically struggling” to bring the Church into an “enlightened” view. But he had too much to say in defense of the family and Catholic teaching to spin. Now they either ignore him or lump him in with those who they once contrasted him against. Now the media has to look to individual Catholics who rebel against the authority which Christ gave His Church and portray them as the enlightened ones. The ultimate result of this distortion of the Pope was not the changing of Church teaching, but deceiving many hitherto faithful Catholics into questioning or rejecting his authority as the successor to St. Peter, wrongly thinking that the Pope is in the camp of the compromisers.
At this time, the elites of our nation seem to think they have won. The Church is on the defensive while the courts seem willing to give them everything they ask for, ignoring the fact that these rulings violate the beliefs that our nation was founded on—that the government does not have the right to compel a person to do what their religious belief forbids them to do.
So, it is indeed a dark time. But we need to remember we cannot give up in despair or simply hunkering down in a bunker, deciding to survive while the whole world goes to hell. There have been dark times before, where the state wrongfully sought to usurp authority by making laws it had no authority to make. Yes, things can indeed get worse. We can indeed be personally targeted by unjust laws or even physical persecution. But we have to remember that this is not the first time such dark times have happened. In every other time, the Church continued to stand up and perform the mission Christ gave us.
People may hate us for telling them the truth, showing them that their chosen actions are not compatible with the love of God. But they are not our enemies, but our patients. God doesn’t want them damned, but wants them to turn back to Him. Our task is to cooperate with that great commission, regardless of whether the world wants to hear it or not.