Christians Do Not Need a Gamaliel Moment
Editorial Note: This essay is part of a symposium hosted by Patheos' Catholic Portal and Evangelical Portal, entitled, "For Life and Family: Faith and the Future of Social Conservatism."
For the most part I appreciated Tim Muldoon's article at Patheos' For Life and Family: Faith and the Future of Social Conservatism entitled "Fighting Gay Marriage Is a Lost Cause" because he reminds us of the importance of living our faith as the true foundation of evangelization. That is as true as true gets. However, the argument feels somewhat like another one of those pleas to separate citizenship from faith. I respectfully submit that Christians reject pleas to ever separate faith from anything at all because if Truth is not everything, then it is nothing.
I realize Mr. Muldoon is not arguing that we actually do separate faith and citizenship, but to even suggest that legality and morality are separate seems like a sop to secular culture. I'm frankly tired of the upbraiding rhetoric in secular media that tells people it is inappropriate to acknowledge faith-based viewpoints in the public square. Are perspectives only appropriate if they are secular? This isn't what our founders meant by "separation of church and state."
To be fair, I admit that I have myself tried to make convincing arguments against contraception, abortion, embryonic destruction, homosexual marriage and adoption and other issues by bringing a scholar's mien to the table, and trying to de-emphasize God from the dialogue. What I ultimately discovered is that all such arguments are hollow. Unanchored and lacking depth, faith-excluding public discourse becomes unreasonable discourse, subject to spin and trends. For public policy to be reasonable and sound, it must be rooted in Truth.
The secularization of the public square has been trending in our society, perhaps beginning with John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. Kennedy's attempt to dispel the charge that he was a "tool of the Pope," created the myth that in America "the separation of church and state is absolute," and our public discourse has since become incoherent, with politicians attempting to convince that they can legislate against their own consciences, being "against abortion personally," but not politically. And something similar is happening now, with regard to marriage. Law-making should be instructive to society—an opportunity to teach of the beauty and social health of the intact family. Broken people, broken families and broken communities are tragedies.
Having considered this as a citizen and a parent, I cannot agree with Professor Muldoon that it is time leave the political battle behind. Rather, I believe it is time to bring what we really know about Truth back into the public square, solidly and without flinching, and to even more fully evangelize.
Parents know that freedom demands virtue. We teach our children that and it is true in society as well. If everyone is a slave to their basest instincts then no one is free. We have to remind the nation that the faith that unites Christians is not tyrannical, but wide in love, even as it instructs.
Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D., a former research chemist for DuPont, is now a full-time homemaker and grateful wife and mother to a family of nine. Stacy is in the process of attaining an MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She and her husband are raising their family in Shrewsbury, MA. She blogs at Accepting Abundance.