In the minds of many people, the SCOTUS decision in Obergefell v. Hodges was inevitable. What comes next in many Christians’ minds is the four horseman of the apocalypse as God pours His chastisement upon our country. But what if the decision itself is the chastisement? While this may sound strange initially, anyone who reads the first chapter of St. Paul’s letter to Romans will find that God often chastises mankind for their sins by turning them over to them.
Here is what St. Paul says specifically,
“The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:18-32)
If we follow what St. Paul is saying, we can trace four steps in the degradation of man.
Step One: Idolatry
He says that it all begins with idolatry—“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator.” The turn is away from God to material reality in some way.
Pope Francis has spoken often about the danger of idolatry in today’s world and has challenged all of us to examine ourselves regularly to see the idols in our lives. Anything that we put in the place of God is an idol. However, I think there is an idolatry that is unique to Americans of which we are now reaping the fruit—equality.
When Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America he found that for Americans, “equality is their idol.” While this drive for equality “excites men to wish all to be powerful and honored” and “tends to elevate the humble to the rank of the great” there is always a danger lurking, namely that “there exists also in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level, and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom” (Democracy in America, Book 1, Chapter 3).
But isn’t equality a good thing? How can Tocqueville call it an idol? Aren’t we all equal in the eyes of God? Certainly we are all equal in dignity, but the fact of the matter is that equality is a man-made legal fiction. God, for His part, has made everything with varying degrees of perfection. We are not all equal in God’s eyes. He has made each of us to be perfect in one particular way, but not in all ways, much less for us to be equally perfect in all things. We bring glory to God by achieving this perfection. Whether we achieve this perfection or not does not change our value in God’s eyes—we are all still individually worth dying for. But to try and change this important aspect of reality is to set ourselves up as God. In other words, the fixation to create equality where there isn’t one is an attempt on man’s part to usurp God. The gross manner in which it has been enforced from above in our country in particular has forged it into an idol. Tocqueville identified it almost 200 years ago and it is no less true today.
CS Lewis encapsulates the idolatrous nature of equality in his book That Hideous Strength in a dialogue between Jane and the Director.
Jane: “I thought love meant equality.”
Director: “Ah, equality! Yes; we must all be guarded by equal rights from one another’s greed, because we are fallen. Just as we wear clothes for the same reason. But the naked body should be there underneath the clothes. Equality is not the deepest thing, you know.”
Jane: “I always thought that was just what it was. I thought it was in their souls that people were equal.”
Director: “You were mistaken; that is the last place where they are equal. Equality before the law, equality of incomes- that is very well. Equality guards life; it doesn’t make it. It is medicine, not food.”
Think of all the ways in which we attempt to create equality where there isn’t. We try to make men and women identical. We award trophies to everyone. We attempt to make the rich poorer and the poor richer by governmental fiat. Now we have said all loves are equal—“love is love”—and has been recognized as such by the highest court in the Land.
Step Two: Sexual Immorality
What follows from idolatry according to St. Paul? It is sexual immorality, namely “God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.”
The move from God to material reality as its god leads a God-sized void in man’s heart. He turns to the closest thing that offers what he longs for with God (interpersonal communion), namely sex. It starts as the “old fashioned” kind, namely fornication. But for Americans it is pays homage to the idol of equality. Based on the false notion of equality of men and women, we have attempted to make women into men through the wholesale promotion of contraception.
Men could always, for the most part, have sex without consequences. If men and women are equal then women should be able to do that as well. To make this possible, chemical contraception came on the scene. Now men and women could engage freely in all the sexual activity they wanted. To make this even more possible, we should have our government provide the means to securing these pills. But there is a hidden assumption in the promotion of chemical contraception. The assumption is this. Women are inferior to men and so in order to be seen as equal they must either have a surgery or take a pill. Now I personally don’t believe this for one minute, but I grieve for the millions of women who have never questioned this assumption that they are making.
Step Three: Sexual Perversion
In step three in the descent of man, God hands them over to even “more degraded passions.” Not satisfied with unlimited sex, we must turn up the volume and get more disordered and depraved. Thus homosexuality becomes more widespread. In the name of equality, society must “give approval to those who practice them” through its laws. After all if a heterosexual couple can engage in an act they have deliberately rendered unfruitful, why can’t two people engage in an act that is by nature unfruitful? They are equal, especially when they love each other.
Step Four: Societal Chaos
Once it has been given the governmental seal of approval, God’s final punishment is to “hand them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.” What follows is societal chaos, “[T]hey are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” God may not have forced Americans to drink this chalice to the dregs, but we can see signs of it all around.
The purpose of writing all this however is not to be a prophet of gloom, but to suggest a path out of this. If one listens to the arguments surrounding Gay marriage you find that they are irrational. This is only more obvious when one reads the Obergefell v. Hodges majority opinion. This is because one of the punishments is that “their minds are darkened”, as in not able to reason clearly. Sin makes us all stupid. To continue to engage in argument as the main point of attack is fruitless, especially if we view all of this as God handing us over to the idol of equality.
If we want to be free from the punishments of the sin of idolatry we must repent of that sin. What I am proposing is for Christians across the United States to fast on July 4th as an act of Penance for the sin of idolatry. Only by repenting of that sin can we break the cycle of chastisement. Just as Our Master did, we as the Body of Christ, have the role to perform acts of Reparation to God for the sins of mankind. We can voluntarily fast now, or we can offer reparation later when the effects of the legalization of Gay marriage are felt keenly by all Christians. It might require both
Will you join me? If so, I would like you each to invite five other people to offer a fast of some sort this Saturday. Imagine the effect on our culture we could have by offering our “bodies as a spiritual sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), especially on Independence Day and First Saturday. Our Lady, Queen of the Americas, pray for us.