For nearly two millennia, the Church has played a critical role in helping to shape decisions that directly affect the global family.
In recent years, we need only to think of scientific knowledge linked to natural fertility which is now able to offer greater health and freedom to young women, as well as to men, in this delicate area of their lives.
Who would have guessed, less than 50 years after the publication of Humanae Vitae, that a younger generation would be expressing gratitude for the Church’s ridiculed decision in the late Sixties to choose the road less travelled by rejecting a pervasive contraceptive mentality?
Although painful, the contempt and criticism endured has permitted the Church as a mother ultimately to safeguard the divine blueprint of her children. As hard as some still find it to accept, the Church’s seeming stubbornness and disconnect from the world through its rejection of contraception five decades ago is now bearing fruit and being recognised for what it truly is – divine wisdom that enhances rather than steals life. Humanity is again, one person at a time, being drawn out of its own preoccupied self and into true dignity.
I am reminded as an adoptee of one of the first sentences my birth father spoke to me a decade ago when I met him for the first time. “Your mother’s pregnancy was the only time I did not use a condom,” he uttered almost with shame. “Too much information,” you may cry. Perhaps. But this information underlay my very existence.
Similar to the two processes involved in sharpening knives, Mother Church knows implicitly that her role is first to grind away, often alone and steadfastly, to rediscover what is true. She has learnt to move beyond subjective, worldly opinions while attempting to give due honour and consideration to the experiences and feelings of all those involved.
Secondly, she has not been frightened to hone, using a finer abrasive process to ensure that the temporal and the eternal are not wholly at odds with each other.
This two-pronged methodology of grinding and honing has been the Church’s ongoing gift to society, permitting it to remain firmly grounded and yet heavenward bound, while upholding autonomy. This partly explains why the Church remains the global leader in bringing hope to millions every day through education, nursing, housing, food and clothing programs.
And yet Mother Church finds herself back in the ring again. This time she is forced to go deep beyond a cacophony of opinions relating to marriage.
With society now comfortably questioning, rejecting or achieving the procreative aspect of marriage by numerous means, it wasn’t going to be long before the unitive aspect of marriage would be made to go under the knife for similar if not harsher surgery.
No sector of the global family is voicing an opinion as loudly as the Catholic community in its opposition to the paradox that a limited number of nations are now calling same-sex marriage.
Will there be a plebiscite? Should there be a plebiscite? Or should we embrace the new cri de guerre now demanding that parliamentarians alone be entrusted to decide whether Australia creates a new law permitting any two people to marry (and not just a same-sex attracted couple as many believe the law will be)?
Andrew Denton has recently used his National Press Club address to publicly challenge the Catholic “subterranean force” to “step aside” from debating euthanasia in the public square, when over half of our nation’s palliative care is provided by the Catholic Church.
Here we see public ridicule of Mother Church’s best efforts to roll up her sleeves and enter the grinding and honing processes to find the best way to uphold each person’s God-given dignity especially when in agonising pain and approaching death.
In an opinion piece last weekend, contributing editor at The Australian newspaper, Professor Peter van Onselen, ridiculed “religious people who stand by doctrinal teachings that claim homosexual unions are a sin” stating that “stubborn conservatism is often built on simple prejudice”.
Yet more public ridicule of the Church.
For years I believed wholeheartedly like van Onselen that two people of the same-sex could enjoy marriage equal to that of a man and a woman.
Unlike van Onselen, I have lived out this pathway and had directly sought out any legal union possible between my long-term boyfriend and me. Today, as a result of robustly ground and honed reasons, I and many who have walked a similar pathway to me have changed our minds and do not believe two people of the same-sex can or should be married.
We also believe that to entice same-sex couples into this illusion as other nations are doing will create greater long-term harm for the very people we love and believe in.
There are many alarming risks to same-sex couples that are not only unknown to general society but are also hidden away and unspoken of within the LGBTI community.
Failure to face these can often lead to a greater injustice for those originally seeking justice.
The tide has turned. A couple of decades ago I recall it still being hard yakka for those of us in the gay community to win over the heterosexual community into accepting even the most basic aspects of gay ideology. Today, the opposite is true.
Gay ideology has infiltrated so many strands of Western society that those of us who now speak out from a place of genuine experience, concern and compassion about the future quality of life for our same-sex attracted friends and for society in general are judged as being bigoted, intolerant and, bizarrely, even homophobic. But speak we must, before new laws try to silence us completely.
Our society is changing. We have moved from millennia of theonomy, where human nature was for the most part understood in accordance with God’s nature, through centuries of autonomy where individual rights have been accepted. We now find ourselves teetering on the brink of heteronomy where a solely human authority intolerant of the divine seeks to dominate and demand what we will think and say – and not think and say. The redefinition of marriage has not just landed out of thin air. Few people, even in the Western world, are asking the deeper questions: why now? And how did we arrive at this place? Is there a slippery slope, and what might this look like?
Of course, the most pastoral question remains: is this honestly the best route to bring about long-term holistic happiness for those in our society who identify as same-sex attracted or gender questioning? Legalising same-sex marriage will indefinitely change Australia contrary to the comments espoused by proponents who state that nothing will change. We are most likely to see changes made to surrogacy and parenting laws and an increase in prosecutions against religious individuals and bodies.
The historical understanding of marriage being between a man and a woman will have to change as it has done in Canada. Freedom of speech will disappear, and both gay ideology and gay sex education from kindy to Year 12 will become obligatory, irrespective of the outcome of the Safe Schools Coalition. Mother Church has stood firm in the past and dug deeper to find answers to the difficult questions so that everyone might enjoy life to the full.
Now, more than ever before, as the bedrock of our society is challenged to undergo irreparable reconstruction, we owe it to all those we love to ensure that we are fully informed, and not merely by subjective, worldly opinions that place emphasis solely on people’s experiences and feelings.
It is only by digging deeper that the entire truth which sets us free can be discovered. Mother Church again owes it to everyone, whatever their sexual ideology, to roll up her sleeves. to grind and hone until this freedom is brought about for everyone.