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“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.'”
Those words were spoken 1,700 years ago by St. Anthony the Great. And I was reminded of them while reading this article at Crisis by Regis Nicoll:
Christian moral teaching, once believed essential for human flourishing and the common good, is increasingly viewed as naïve at best, and harmful at worst, with anything less than unqualified approval for everything pelvic grounds for questioning a person’s intelligence, rationality, and decency. In less time than it took for the transition from flip phones to smart phones, what had been unthinkable has become unquestionable:
- Marriage, the exclusively heterosexual union since time immemorial, has been redefined to include persons of any and all sexual persuasions;
- Children who are not allowed to choose their bedtime are permitted to choose their gender;
- Teens who can’t receive an aspirin from the school nurse are able to procure abortions without parental notification;
- Gender-confused adults are leading “Drag Queen Story Hour” for children in public schools and libraries;
- Biological males who are middling athletes among men are competing (and winning!) against women – a biological category that some people, it seems, don’t know (or have forgotten) how to define.
It is madness.
And we see it play out again and again. Just this week, we had the Provorov Affair – outrage over a man refusing to wear an alphabet soup pride jersey during a warmup for a hockey game. And we also had this abomination — two homosexuals who mistakenly think they are married, sexually abusing their adopted children and pimping them out through child pornography.
The madness extends to secular issues as well: climate change, green energy, open borders, etc., etc.
Nothing seems to be what it once was. The slow trickle of insanity during my 65 years of life on earth has seemed to turn into a deluge.
This madness reinforces the fact that we have a grave misunderstanding of tolerance. Two quotes on tolerance come to mind.
The first is from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”
“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.
Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”
The second comes from Archbishop Charles Chaput:
Tolerance is a working principle that enables us to live in peace with other people and their ideas. Most of the time, it’s a very good thing. But it is not an end in itself, and tolerating or excusing grave evil in a society is itself a grave evil. The roots of this word are revealing. Tolerance comes from the Latin tolerare, “to bear or sustain,” and tollere, which means, “to lift up.” It implies bearing other persons and their beliefs the way we carry a burden or endure a headache. It’s actually a negative idea. And it is not a Christian virtue.
Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square — peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.
Catholics have the duty not to “tolerate” other people but to love them, which is a much more demanding task. Justice, charity, mercy, courage, wisdom – these are Christian virtues; but not tolerance. Real Christian virtues flow from an understanding of truth, unchanging and rooted in God, that exists and obligates us whether we like it or not. The pragmatic social truce we call “tolerance” has no such grounding.
We are broken as a society because we get this exactly backward: we are tolerant of a wrongful understanding of truth and principles and intolerant of people (tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error).
I agree with Mr. Nicoll that politicians are not the ones to pull us out of this madness — as he points out and as we see every day, they keep taking us deeper into the sewer.
We need a major revival in the Church to set things back into balance. Yet the Church — at least during my lifetime — seems to have been more influenced by the culture than having influenced the culture. This is nowhere more evident than when we see prominent Catholic politicians (Biden, Pelosi, Kerry, Durbin, etc.) manifestly promote and support abortion, the LGBTQ agenda, and so-called SSM. These politicians are rarely called out for this by their bishops, and they are almost never disciplined for the heresy and apostasy they proclaim and live. One wonders if the bishops have any faith at all and whether they believe they are successors of the Apostles. How can one believe these bishops have any moral authority when they sit back and do nothing?
Go back to that opening quote:
Christian moral teaching, once believed essential for human flourishing and the common good, is increasingly viewed as naïve at best, and harmful at worst, with anything less than unqualified approval for everything pelvic grounds for questioning a person’s intelligence, rationality, and decency.
How do we reverse this? Who will rouse us from the sentimental pragmatic social truce society calls “tolerance”?Published in