Monday, April 7, 2014

Pontius Pilate Rides Again

Introduction

Depending on which movie version you see about Jesus, the character of Pontius Pilate who condemned Him to death has a wide range of personalities. They range from the man trying to free Jesus, but gets thwarted at every turn to the callous, indifferent man who only cares about keeping order.

These different movie portrayals tend to miss one major point... that Pontius Pilate knew he was being asked to allow a gross miscarriage of justice over a person who he knew was innocent to satisfy people he knew wanted Him silenced for selfish reasons.  Not only that, but Pilate had the power to prevent this gross miscarriage of justice, but refused to use it, because he feared repercussions might affect him personally.

In the news lately, we seem to see many things in the news that seems to show that the mindset of Pontius Pilate is alive and well.

The Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court, faced with the possibility of reversing an injustice created by the New Mexico where a person can be compelled to take part in a so-called "gay marriage" against his or her beliefs on the grounds that to do so was discrimination.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case,  setting a precedent other states can use to similarly force people to act against what they believe is right. They had the legal authority to make this right, and refused.

Mozilla

Last week, Mozilla, when faced with a digital mob trying to oust a man for supporting a Proposition protecting the traditional understanding of marriage, chose to encourage his resignation and offered an apology to the mob because this man believed that it was the right thing to do.

For all of Mozilla's weasel words claiming they tried to save Eich's job, the fact still remains that Mozilla had the power to call the bigotry what it was and tell the mob that Eich had just as much freedom as they did to support what he believed was right.

Instead they thought his behavior (done when even Obama claimed to support traditional marriage) was something reprehensible  and needed to be apologized for by the company.

Conclusion

There are many different ways to stand up for what is right. Some of them may involve personal inconvenience, maybe even persecution.  But when it comes down to choosing between comfort and right, a person needs to choose what is right.

To do otherwise is to follow the path of Pontius Pilate, refusing to do right and washing one's hands of the whole affair.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Taking a Stand on Mozilla

I have added my site to the list of those who are blocking the Firefox web browser on account of the forced resignation of Brendan Eich from Mozilla. That a person can be "encouraged" to resign over doing what is right shows that Mozilla has no respect whatsoever for those they disagree with despite the popular buzzword of tolerance.

While it is true that Google (makers of Chrome) and Microsoft (makers of Internet Explorer) are hardly champions of Christian moral values, they at least don't force people out (yet?) on account of their moral values.

Now I know that the Arnobius of Sicca blog is extremely small in terms of reach and influence. By itself, it can have no effect. But if enough people of good will stand for what is right, we can have an effect, saying, "we will not go quietly in having our rights taken away."

We do not take this stand out of any hatred or fear of persons with a same sex attraction. We take this stand because we believe that a marriage can only exist between one man and one woman in an exclusive,  life-long relationship open to the possibility of children.

The Catholic Church has this to say on the subject;

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2333)

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347)

We are forbidden to hate or to harm a person with a same sex attraction... not because "it's a rule" but because of our love of God who teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. But true love does not mean living a lie.

For more information on how we can oppose this intolerance, please see the following:

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/how-you-can-push-back-against-mozilla-firefoxs-gay-marriage-thuggery/

http://whyfirefoxisblocked.com

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Good Reminder for All Catholics

In reading St. Josemaria Escriva's The Forge, I came across this passage:

585  Don’t be scared by it. In so far as you can you should fight against the conspiracy of silence they want to muzzle the Church with. Some people stop her voice being heard; others will not let the good example of those who preach with their deeds be seen; others wipe out every trace of good doctrine…, and so very many cannot bear to hear her. Don’t be scared, I say again. But don’t get tired, either, of your task of being a loudspeaker for the teachings of the Magisterium.

I find this reflection to be very valuable. The Western media either takes things out of context (for example, the dishonest use of the Pope's words, "who am I to judge") or refuses to report on what was said (like the Pope's affirmation of the Church teaching on marriage).

Both tactics are used. The media uses misquotes to try to portray the Church to be in conflict with Christ, the Pope or "reality." The media uses suppression when it tries to portray a dissenter as being a "faithful Catholic."

We should not be blaming the Church or the Pope for causing this confusion.  They speak truly. The media changes the message.  We need to be informed,  recognizing that the secular media cannot be trusted to get it right. We need to follow trusted Catholic sources to see what is said in context. Then we need to present the truth to those who rely on the secular media for news about the Church.

We should also consider the words of Bishop Loverde in his recent work, Go Forth With Hearts of Fire:

Unlike prior generations, we cannot be lukewarm, uninformed , or casual about the gift of faith. Today is a time of decision and commitment, and we are at the forefront. If we examine history, this degree of urgency was shared by all of the great evangelists in their own times.

Spreading the truth is part of the evangelism all Christians are called to.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Do Christians Have a Double Standard?

It occurs to me that some people might believe that there is a double standard in play, where we object to the CEO of Mozilla and a member of the Duck Dynasty cast being bullied out of a job for privately supporting something in keeping with his or her beliefs while we think it is acceptable for a religious school to terminate an employee whose life is not in accord with the values of the religious school. Do we have a double standard when we think Hobby Lobby should be exempted from the Contraception Mandate but think Mozilla was in the wrong in encouraging the resignation of their CEO?

Such a person might ask, "Shouldn't you either accept the right of both to exclude, or the obligation of both to ignore personal behavior?"

It's a fair question, but if we explore the issue I think we will find the two scenarios are not equivalent and there is no case of special pleading or double standard in having two separate responses.

First of all, we must consider the purpose of the institution in question. For a secular company which operates under a code of ethics concerning how they behave towards customers or employees, what a person does in his or her own time that does not fall into these areas does not fall under the authority of the code of ethics.  It doesn't matter whether the employee personally holds views that others disagree with if he or she does not violate the code of ethics or the law.

In contrast, Hobby Lobby is a company which specifies it operates under Christian principles. A non-Christian is free to live his or her private life according to their personal values and Hobby Lobby does not interfere. What they insist on is the right to run their business according to their Christian values, which include no working on Sundays and no funding of abortifacient drugs. Hobby Lobby takes no action if an employee chooses to use these drugs. It's only when an employee's conduct is public and is in violation of the company code of ethics that it takes action.

So far, no double standard.

Now we come to the Catholic school who has to terminate an employee who is living in a way contrary to the Catholic moral beliefs. In this case, the purpose of the school is not just to teach, but to teach in a way which testifies to the Catholic vision of how to live. The teachers bear witness to this way of life. Now people who are not Catholic are educated by these schools and people who are not Catholic may be employed by these schools.

BUT, because these schools bear witness to the Catholic moral teaching, the employees are required to sign agreements that they will not live contrary to these teachings... a teacher who publicly lives against these moral values creates a scandal, forcing the Church to either:

■ Ignore the violation, giving the impression that Catholic moral teaching doesn't really matter.
■ Hold the teacher responsible for violating the code of conduct, showing that this is a very serious matter.

Thus the Catholic school may hire a teacher who has homosexual tendencies under the recognition that such a person must live a chaste lifestyle. However, if such a teacher publicly takes part in a "gay marriage" -- which the Church cannot accept as a true marriage -- this teacher is declaring to his or her students that he or she openly rejects the Catholic values. Because of this, the Church has no choice but to fire the teacher.

Again, there is no double standard. The employee agreed that he or she would live in a way compatible with Catholic teaching and then willfully broke that agreement. Because the Catholic Church believes that one may never choose to do evil, the employee who publicly testifies by his or her lifestyle that there is nothing wrong with the act, and that the Church is wrong is just as unfit to be a teacher in a Catholic school as a person who shows up for class drunk.

In short, there is no special pleading, no double standard between being appalled by the gay bullying against Mr. Eich and supporting Hobby Lobby or the Catholic Church.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Facing the Persecution

It's no secret that it's open season on Christians that dare to publicly affirm their beliefs in Christian moral values... particularly when it comes to moral values concerning sexuality. Dare to affirm your beliefs in public and you run the risk of being fired (or "encouraged" to resign), sued or prosecuted depending on the circumstances of your behavior. Never mind the fact that the Bill of Rights was designed to protect Americans from that threat. Our beliefs are classified as intolerance and therefore those who disagree don't have to tolerate us.  Which brings us to the question of what we are to do about it.

No, this isn't going to be a post about preparing bunkers and stocking up on firearms. I figure that if society collapses, I'm likely one of the weak who get eliminated quickly by the mobs. How could I advise you on this?

Nor is this going to be a post about the need to overthrow the government. Yes, our government is terribly unjust and corrupt at this time, favoring those they like and harassing those who disagree with them. But so long as we have some freedoms left, let us use them to reach out to those people of good will. Remember, St. Justin Martyr didn't call for the overthrow of the Roman Empire.  He wrote to the Emperor (Antonius Pius) appealing to his reputation for justice.  It took almost 300 years before Christians could practice their faith without legal harassment or persecution... and Christians still spread the faith without seeking to overthrow the government.

What this is about is encouraging every Christian to begin preparing for the fact that we may be challenged to deny aspects of our faith and do evil to protect our lives or our freedom. We may not have time to hide or to evade a question forcing us to choose between our freedom and our faith.

Because we believe God is almighty and creator of everything visible and invisible, we cannot accept the State as having the right to change the natural law on what is moral. We believe God is all powerful and all good. What He decrees is not arbitrary.  It then follows He decrees what is good because it reflects His own goodness.

Now, for the Catholic, we believe that because Jesus is God and that He gave the Church His authority to bind and to loose and to teach in His name (see Matt 16:18-19, Matt 18:18 and Matt 28:20). Because we believe this, we cannot accept any encroachment from the State onto the authority of what the Church can or cannot say.

Thus, we need to prepare ourselves by remembering what we believe. Those who hate us and try to both force our beliefs out of public life and force us to contradict our beliefs when we are in public may have power, but we must remain faithful to our Savior and witness to the truth about Him as God's way of reaching out to those who hate us.

Religious Freedom and Mozilla

News has been brought to my attention about the latest attack on the freedom to do as we ought. The current CEO of Mozilla (Eich) was found to have made a donation to the defense of marriage in California (Proposition 8).  Because of his acting on what he believed to be right, the Firefox browser was blocked from accessing a certain site, and people who used Firefox were told they should use a different browser. The Mozilla company apologized for this action, and affirmed its support for "gay marriage."

Apparently this is irrelevant to the activists. They want him fired for his personal beliefs, and I have just been informed he resigned today.

Now, let's consider this. A man who believes marriage is between a man and a woman and personally donated $1000 for Prop 8 lost his job for doing what he believed right.

Consider the ramifications of this. Any one of us might also lose our jobs simply because we stand by the belief that marriage is created by God as a union between one man and one woman. That is what Christ Himself has said in Matthew 19:4-7...

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

So, regardless of whether you're a TV celebrity (remember Duck Dynasty?) an owner of a Bed and Breakfast, a photography studio owner or a baker, taking actions in keeping with your faith can get you sued, fired or prosecuted.  A friend of mine wrote:

In serious honesty, I think that this [affects] me directly. If I want to move up in my own organization, is my progress now capped by past donation to organizations which support traditional marriage or oppose abortion? How far will this eventually extend? This is no longer about what a company itself supports - though the persecution [of] businesses fortheir beliefs has been bad enough - but now about what you believe andsupport as a private person with your personal money.

My friend's concern is quite valid. With the Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy saying, "The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.", it does not bode well for the person expecting justice from the courts.

Now some people may feel indifferent about this issue. Perhaps you disagree with Catholic teaching. Perhaps you just don't think it important. Either way, consider this. If we can get fired, sued or prosecuted because someone dislikes our beliefs, you too can get fired, sued or prosecuted for your beliefs if the wind shifts and goes against you.

It is only in standing with us that you can oppose people targeting you.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Reflections on a Scene from "Son of God"

So, I saw Son of God the other day. It was fairly well done (though like all movies about our Lord, there were scenes I would rather were treated differently). There was one scene that sticks in my mind that was about the two thieves who were crucified with Him.

In this scene, we see Jesus battered and bloody, dying on the cross. The good thief, after rebuking the other, asks Jesus to remember him when He enters His kingdom.

From the perspective of the world, Jesus is a dying criminal. He appears to be a failure. Yet, the good thief has the faith to ask Jesus to remember him when He enters His kingdom all the same. He believes that despite the appearances, Jesus will do what He promised.

Perhaps we should keep this in mind when we face the trials and tribulations of life as Christians. When we face suffering, hostility, mediocre/bad clergy or religious, possibly even persecution, we should look to Jesus with the faith of the good thief, trusting Jesus' promise no matter how hard things may be.