Are the Apostles Asleep?

During the last week the battle cry of the proponents of same sex marriage has gone up with a whoop. A chief executive of a major company was forced out of office for a donation to a pro trad marriage campaign. The baying crowd hounded a Catholic nun who dared to uphold Catholic teaching in a Catholic high school. A vice principal fired from a Catholic high school for marrying his male partner has sued the school and the diocese stating clearly that they want to depose the bishop. Others, scenting blood in the affair of Brendan Eich have said they have the list of all prop 8 donors and are “going for them.” Today’s Washington Post–in a balanced article–explains how the Catholic Church is being caught up in the crossfire.

It is tempting in the face of this onslaught to opt out. I want to get on with my job of being a Catholic priest, trying to climb the mountain of personal holiness, minister to my people, evangelize and spread the word with joy. I see my fellow apostles wanting to do the same. We are Catholics. Our position about same sex matters is simple: Don’t condone and don’t condemn. Hold to the Catholic faith. Teach it with simplicity and faithfulness and allow people the freedom to do what they choose.

However, I do not think we will be allowed to slumber in such a way. Jesus battled with the darkness on his own in the Garden of Gethsemane. The apostles slept. In the meantime his enemies were plotting actively against him and they sought him out. They came looking for him. They were itching for a fight. They wanted to root him out.

I suspect it will be the same with the issue of same sex marriage. Catholics will not be left alone. The enemies of Christ and his church will come looking for a fight. It will be impossible to be passive. It will be impossible to doze quietly and be left alone. Our toleration will not be tolerated. Approval will be demanded.

I don’t think I’m being alarmist or paranoid. Just reading the signs of the times. What will be most disappointing is that a huge number of Catholics will be in favor of same sex marriage. They are already, and when faithful Catholics are brought into the conflict they should not be surprised to find that they will be ostracized by their own. History shows that this is precisely what happens.

In the meantime, while Jesus is watching and praying and sweating blood, too many of the disciples are sleeping. Happily satiated by our materialistic lifestyle, we’re dozing after our big dinner and are totally unaware of the storm clouds gathering.

The underlying problem is the complete unawareness on the part of many Catholics that there is any conflict at all between the way of the world and the way of the cross. In comfortable Christian America they haven’t dreamed that to be a Christian involves any sort of clash with the surrounding culture. Indeed, they have seen Christianity as integrated with and supporting American culture. They have assumed that to be a good Catholic is all part of being a cheerful consumerist, hedonistic American. Comfortable Catholicism is the order of the day. Going to the big carpeted church on Sunday is just another all American weekend activity like going to the football game on Friday night and the Mall on Saturday morning. The idea that being a Catholic might involve any sort of conflict with the surrounding culture or clash with the prevailing culture is something that has never once entered their heads.

They can’t imagine that America and Americans can do any wrong. The majority is always right–right? If the majority is going a particular way, then you don’t want to be un-American and fight the tide. That would not be democratic. So they will sleepwalk into a minefield.

How the church will handle this approaching challenge is going to be fascinating and heartbreaking to behold.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker

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