"Some Reflections on the Current Discussion of Marriage"

Archbishop Thomas Collins (Edmonton)

I: A Contemporary Challenge to Marriage

II: The Reality of Marriage

  1. The perspective of reason
  2. The perspective of faith

III: Some Arguments that need to be Addressed

  1. The rhetorical argument from injustice
  2. The argument from development
  3. The live and let live argument
  4. The priorities argument
  5. The Jesus argument

IV: Reflections for our Catholic Community

  1. We need to set an example in our own lives and in our own faith community
  2. We all need to grow in appreciation for the virtue of Chastity
  3. We need to pray
  4. We need to reach out in compassion to all
  5. We need to become engaged actively in the current debate
  6. We need to engage the culture of death, so that it might become a culture of life
  7. We need to assess the events and values of this world with the freedom and boldness that come from the vision of the kingdom of God

 

I: A Contemporary Challenge to Marriage

It is rare for citizens to confront issues as significant as those raised in the current proposal to change the very definition of marriage. The proposal has been put on the public agenda by a group within society whose members feel that their rights are being denied if they cannot bring about the change. It is being advanced by judges and legislators who share the widely held misconception that what is at issue is a question of human rights. I am sure that many Catholics believe this as well for they, like the judges and legislators, are daily immersed in a cultural environment which both subtly and overtly advances the cause of the proponents of the profound change which is represented by the attempt to redefine marriage.

Yet the proposed change in the definition of marriage would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, so radical is it, and so opposed to humanity's common understanding of marriage down through the ages. Although, sadly, particular marriages too often fall short in many ways (and that is a vitally important issue which needs to be addressed), marriage itself is the foundational natural human society, through which we are brought into this world by our mothers and fathers and nurtured in a setting of committed parental love so that we can be prepared for our life journey as adults. To attempt to alter radically the meaning of marriage itself is to undermine that natural society, far more basic than the state, which is the family, and which is already under great pressure.

The current challenge of the proposed redefinition of marriage must be addressed. In such an issue in which emotions run strongly, and in which rhetoric can get out of hand, we as Christians must take special care to respond clearly and charitably in the light of both reason and faith. Only in that way, in this issue as in other controversial issues we face, can we be faithful to Our Lord, and convince our fellow citizens of good will (including many Catholics) whose opinions have been shaped by the prevailing distorted cultural environment. Truth is persuasive, if the barriers of fuzzy thinking and rhetorical heat can be removed.

We must also remember that the foundation of our efforts must be prayer: prayer for those who so forcefully are seeking to advance these views, that they may come to see the true meaning of marriage; prayer and compassion for those who find the false views attractive as a remedy for their own personal suffering; and prayer for all who are reflecting on the current debate, that they may see why the proposal to redefine marriage is misguided.

Before examining the false reasoning being advanced to support the redefinition of marriage, we need to begin with the positive reality of marriage. In the light of that the falsity of the current proposal will more easily be revealed, and the way ahead will be made clear.

 

II: Reason and Faith and the Reality of Marriage

1. The perspective of reason

First of all, faith is not necessary to see that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. Often people who want to change marriage dismiss objections by saying that those who disagree with them are trying to force their religious beliefs on society. It is assumed by the Government in outlining its proposed law, and by the Supreme Court in responding to the questions of the Government, that objection to changing the legal definition of marriage simply arises from the religious beliefs of various churches, and that if the rights of religious officials not to participate are protected, then the reason for concern has been removed. That is a false assumption.

Even setting aside the perspective of religious faith, marriage and the family are the stable context within which new human persons come into this world, and are helped to grow to adulthood. There are many kinds of relationship in life, and each has its own characteristics. The specific characteristic of the marriage relationship is that it is the one in which a man and a woman not only are joined in mutual love, but through that love bring forth new life. Marriage provides the setting in society in which those children are nurtured within the family, protected by the covenant of marital fidelity. Marriage and the family are the foundation of civil society, forming a natural community that is more fundamental than the artificial community that is the state. The state has no authority to change a society more fundamental than itself. None of this depends on faith, or is a religious belief.

 

2. The perspective of faith

Christians (and many others) believe that marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman, faithful in love and open to the gift of life. In the Gospel, Our Lord looks back to creation, specifically of man and woman, for the foundations of marriage (Mark 10:6-9). In the Old Testament, the image of conjugal love was used by the prophets as a sign of the relationship between God and his people (Hosea 2:16 -20; Isaiah 54: 5-10), and similar themes are present in the New Testament as well (Ephesians 5; Apocalypse 19:6-8). For Christians, the nature of marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman is written in the words of divine revelation. For all people, even those without faith, it is also written in the law of nature and in the very language of the human body.

Not everyone need be married, and everyone (whether married or not) can become more fully human through friendship. When seen within the perspective of faith, marriage is a covenant and a special kind of friendship, in which a man and a woman not only share a deep love for one another, but are invited to become partners with God in creating a new human life, a new person of precious dignity destined for eternal life. The two aspects, the sharing of love between husband and wife (the unitive aspect) and the creation and nurturing of new persons (the procreative aspect) are inseparable. Together, they make marriage what it is.

The unitive dimension of the marriage relationship is reflected in the requirement that marriage be for life, and that it be marked by fidelity between husband and wife (so that their love for one another be true, and so that they provide the secure setting for the procreation and raising of their children).

The procreative dimension gives husband and wife the privilege of co-operating with God in creating eternal human life. As Pope John Paul states in his letter, ­The Church in America­ , “God the Creator, by forming the first man and woman and commanding them to ‘be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28 ) definitively established the family. In this sanctuary life is born and is welcomed as God's gift. The word of God, faithfully read in the family, gradually builds it up as a domestic church, and makes it fruitful in human and Christian virtues.” (Ecclesia in America #46)

It should be noted that just as surely as Christian faith speaks of the nature of marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, it also speaks of the need to treat all people with respect and love, even (and perhaps especially) when we disagree with their beliefs or actions. Each person is a child of God, and should never be disdained, or mocked, or mistreated. There is, however, an objective order in human life which can be discovered by human reason, and which is further illuminated by faith. Within the context of that order, marriage is a conjugal union of a man and a woman united in a covenant of faithful love. There is no intolerance or injustice in insisting on that.

There are certainly some people who want to enter into a conjugal relationship with partners of the same sex. This is clearly not what a Christian can recognize as acceptable, for such a sacred relationship is meant for a husband and wife united in marriage, and no one else (whether experiencing homosexual inclinations, or heterosexual, for that matter) should attempt to simulate that relationship. To do so is illusory, and ultimately is not truly life-giving, because it is out of harmony with the nature of marriage and the great gift of sexuality.

Marriage is not the only kind of friendship. But what creates the particular and privileged friendship that is marriage is the fact that a husband and wife are made for one another spiritually, psychologically, and physically, and their relationship brings forth life in each of these aspects.

 

III: Some Arguments that need to be Addressed

It is clear that many people in our country, including many Catholics, see no problem in changing the legal definition of marriage. This is astonishing, when one considers what is being proposed, but not really surprising, when one considers how over the past few decades public opinion has been prepared for this proposal.

People do not really think about what the proposal means, but go along because it feels like the fair and tolerant thing to do. The development of support for redefining marriage was not brought about by the presentation of solid reasons for doing so, but rather by the shaping of public opinion through rhetorical techniques which (like much advertising) cloud the powers of reason with a fog of emotion. Rhetoric, the art of persuasion, can be used for good or ill, but it is essential that all citizens think critically, and not allow themselves to be taken in by superficially attractive but essentially hollow advertising techniques, whether it be a matter of selling cars or of engineering profound social change.

A rhetorical argument is a persuasive train of thought which may or may not be grounded in reality. It is vital that the misleading rhetorical arguments which are being used most effectively to sell the idea of redefining marriage be exposed to the light of reason and common sense.

 

1) The Argument from Injustice: “How can we be fair and tolerant, if we don't agree to changing the definition of marriage? No-one should be made into a second class citizen, by being denied their desire to be married.”

 The most powerful rhetorical argument in favour of changing the definition of marriage is an emotional appeal that can lead people of good will to lose sight of the reason why marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman.

This powerful but false argument used both to justify the effort to redefine marriage and to silence criticism of that effort basically involves framing the issue not within the proper context of the common good and the nature of marriage itself, but within the context of justice and individual human rights. Once that illegitimate switch in perspective is accomplished many people, without considering the implications, will want to support a move that seems to redress an injustice.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When all you consider is the Charter of Rights, everything seems to be a question of individual rights, and that is why Canadian judges and politicians, but especially judges, automatically interpret the proposal to reinvent the institution of marriage as a question of individual rights. For the same reason political parties deny their members a free vote, and provincial governments ride roughshod over the consciences of their employees, all because they automatically assume that the question at hand is a matter of human rights.

This issue, however, concerns not individual human rights, but the social structure which protects the procreation and nurturing of children in our society. That is why it is self-evident to most people on the planet, and has been to most people in history, that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

In any case, there is no need to change this fundamental social structure in order to protect individual rights, and to assure all citizens of social benefits. The state certainly has the power to authorize social benefits for any of its citizens without redefining marriage. That option is open for any province, and for the federal government.

One point relating to fairness should, however, be noted. If in the name of protecting rights the government proposes to change the definition of marriage itself in order to authorize social benefits for individuals, it is not only going beyond its legitimate authority, but is also discriminating against persons such as, for example, adult siblings or a parent and adult child, who are living in relationships which do not purport to be “marriage” and who certainly may have a right to such benefits. If benefits are extended beyond the traditional context of marriage, that can and should be done on the basis of need and justice for individuals, not on the basis of redefining marriage for those who claim that their relationship is the equivalent of marriage.

More fundamentally, the legitimate context within which to assess the proposal to redefine marriage is that of the common good, not individual rights. Marriage is a social structure with certain essential elements, needed to safeguard the procreation and education of children, a goal with civil as well as religious significance.

It is not unjust, or a limitation of anyone's legitimate rights and freedoms, to insist that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. The procreative potential of marriage (whether or not, through circumstance, that is in fact actualized in every particular marriage) is a basic element of what marriage is, just as swimming is a basic element of being a lifeguard, and playing music is a basic element of being a musician in an orchestra. If one were refused such positions because of race, or religion, or ethnic background, or something not related to the nature of the reality at issue, then that would indeed be an injustice and a denial of individual rights. If, however, one were refused because one excludes a basic element of the role itself, that is not in any way an injustice. There are many kinds of friendship open to all; but that particular kind of friendship that is marriage has as one fundamental dimension (though not its only dimension) the life-creating potential that can be found only in the relationship between a man and a woman.

It is misleading to present the proposal to reinvent a fundamental social institution as a matter of protecting individual rights. What is at issue is not a question of individual rights, but rather a question of the common good served by the institution of marriage, in which husband and wife bring new life into the world, and in the resulting family form the fundamental community which is the foundation of society.

 

2) The Argument from Development: “Times change. Marriage used to mean one thing, and now it means another. We simply need to adjust the definition of marriage to keep pace with changing social views.”

The justices of the Supreme Court assert that they have the right to authorize the Government to change the definition of marriage since “our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life.” The idea is that perhaps in the past marriage was for a man and a woman, but now the tree has grown, and society has changed, and so for us now marriage can be between persons of the same sex. Now more people can have the right to marriage.

Of course the law changes, and perhaps our constitution grows like a tree. Many things develop. But the fact of development is not the issue. The question is: is this particular proposed development legitimate? There must be some standard for determining that, some inner principle for discerning whether or not a development builds organically upon what is good, in a way that is consistent with what has gone before and, more importantly, with the nature of the organism. An acorn becomes an oak. It does not become a rose. There needs to be some limit to the “progressive interpretation” by the judges, or they can authorize anything that any group in society asks for, as long as the group phrases the request in the language of rights.

The definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman is not unchangeable simply because it was that way in 1867, or has been that way for thousands of years. It is unchangeable because the stable reality of marriage and the family is the context for bringing into existence new human persons, and nurturing them as they grow to adulthood.

3) The live and let live argument: “We won't impose our definition of marriage on you, so don't impose yours on us.”

Some claim that by opposing the redefinition of marriage believers are trying to impose their particular religious doctrines upon the country. The assertion that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman is not, however, primarily a religious position. It is based upon reason before it is based upon faith (although the perspective of faith no doubt adds richness to the concept.) It is evident to Christians, to Muslims, to Jews, and to people of other faiths or of no faith. Unfortunately, both the Government and the Supreme Court assume that opposition to the redefinition of marriage is primarily a religious scruple. It is not.

Some argue that religious leaders can hardly complain as long as they are not forced to perform these proposed "marriages." By adding a clause to protect religious officials, the Government seems to be recognizing the rights of those who oppose in conscience a change in the definition of marriage, while allowing for that change to satisfy those who want it, thus pleasing all sides. It can then be said to those who oppose a redefinition of marriage: we are not interfering with you, but simply accommodating the wishes of others. How can you object to that, as long as we do not force you to go against your conscience? In the recent response of the Supreme Court to the Government's questions, the court does basically agree that religious officials are protected against being forced to perform marriages which they cannot in conscience accept. There are, however, serious questions of conscience raised by the actions of both the Court and the Government.

First of all, the Court states that “absent unique circumstances with respect to which the Court will not speculate, the guarantee of religious freedom in s. 2(a) of the Charter is broad enough to protect religious officials from being compelled by the state to perform civil or religious same-sex marriages that are contrary to their religious beliefs.” This suggests that it is possible that particular circumstances might lead to some future court legitimately trying to force religious officials to perform these ceremonies against their conscience, though the justices decline to speculate on what those circumstances might be. In fact, there are no circumstances in which the state has the right to do this, and it is disquieting that the Court would even raise the possibility.

A further serious problem is that many people other than “religious officials” are potentially forced into a crisis of conscience, as is clear from the statements of some provincial governments. What of persons, of whatever faith or no faith, who work in government offices and may be forced to participate in something which in conscience they oppose? These low profile people are the most vulnerable, and the most likely to face pressure, not priests or ministers or rabbis. Obviously, Catholic priests will never perform these ceremonies. But the livelihood of lay people may be at risk, if they are pressured to act against their conscience, especially by governments that assume wrongly that this issue is a question of rights.

It is disturbing that the Prime Minister does not intend to make this truly a free vote. It will be free for backbenchers, but all cabinet ministers are expected to vote yes, whether such an action is against their conscience or not. That puts unacceptable pressure upon the members of the cabinet in a matter of conscience, and it certainly will force some to consider how much they value their political career when weighed in the balance against their principles. When Henry VIII proposed what was actually a less fundamental attack upon marriage, politicians of his day had to make their decisions. Our legislators and judges should consider the example of Saint Thomas More, their patron saint. In those days politicians were called upon to sacrifice their life, not just their position in the cabinet. It is interesting that both very lowly and very exalted officials of the state are being subjected to unjustified pressure.

Why not just establish two kinds of marriage, and let those who object to the redefinition of marriage continue with their preferred form, while those who want the new version can have it? What harm does this cause to those who object to changing the legal definition of marriage, as long as they themselves are not disturbed?

Adding a category of “same sex marriage,” however, affects everyone in our country, not just those who directly enter into such arrangements. It changes the recognized and legitimized legal concept of marriage for the whole of the society in which we all live, and in which we all try to sustain the basic reality of the family. Marriage, as a covenant between a man and a woman, ceases to be the unique and irreplaceable foundation of society, civil and religious, and is relegated to the status of being simply one variety of marriage. That reduction is a grievous injustice to the institution of marriage and the family, the fundamental community of our wider society, and the setting in which new life is brought into this world and nurtured. All of us suffer if marriage is so diminished in our civil community. No one has a right to do that. Family life is under enough destructive pressures already without the addition of another. All citizens should be concerned about that.

 

4) The priorities argument: “Why is the Catholic Church fixated on this issue, when there is such poverty and suffering in the world? Those are the things that the Church should be dealing with.”

 In fact, the Catholic Church is committed to serving all people, and in Canada and elsewhere its agencies are in the forefront of the struggle for social justice. The Church is deeply involved in helping the suffering. Catholic Hospitals daily serve countless sick people, and agencies of Catholic social services attend to the needs of all kinds of people. They provide help for immigrants, for those suffering from AIDS, for those who are going through psychological suffering, for those who have special needs, and for many other people who are struggling in our society. Through Development and Peace Canadian Catholics are helping the victims of tsunamis. In the past few years the Alberta bishops have written detailed pastoral letters concerning gambling, the right to life, the environment, and Catholic education. It is not the Catholic Church or any church that has taken the initiative to place this issue on the public agenda. The issue has, however, been forced upon us, and we have a duty to respond, since the protection of marriage is a vitally important concern for us and for all citizens.

 

5) The Jesus argument: “Jesus was open to everyone, so why is the Church so narrow-minded in opposing the redefinition of marriage, and so intolerant of those who want this?”

This argument is addressed specifically to believers, and deals with the religious dimension of the issue.

In the Gospels Jesus welcomes everyone with unconditional love, and so should we, His disciples. Everyone must be treated with reverence and love, and when individual Christians or Christian communities do not do that, they are surely rejecting Our Lord.

It is a caricature, however, to equate the love shown by Jesus with the idea that He teaches that any behaviour is fine as long as someone wants it. The only Jesus who teaches that is the one we create to validate our own wishes, the one who says “If you feel like it, do it, and that's fine with me”.

That is not what the actual Jesus of the Gospels says. All of the Gospels challenge us in our behaviour. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) consists of many admonitions that call for moral conversion. The first message of the real Jesus is: “Repent.” (Mark 1:14 ) Jesus grants forgiveness to the woman caught in adultery, but his message to her is: “go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” ( John 8:11) The father loves the prodigal son when the son is at home, and when far away, and when he returns. The point is, however, that the son does turn from the false path, and comes home to his father. (Luke 15:11-32) Obviously, Christians should never disdain anyone, or mock or hurt anyone. Each person is a child of God, of enormous worth, to be treated with reverence. It is a parody of love, however, to say: “it doesn't matter what you do.” Jesus never says that, and in fact the whole Gospel shows us how what we do matters very much. True love means to help our brothers and sisters to escape a path the leads nowhere, and to do so through prayer, and example, and occasionally through direct encouragement.

In any case, on the question of marriage the actual Jesus says: “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘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.” (Matthew 19:4-5) Jesus here clearly indicates what marriage means, just as a few verses later he indicates what celibacy means, and it is no lack of love for His disciples to be faithful to that. To ignore the Gospels, and say that Jesus gives people a licence to do whatever they want is not responsible. That is not what the love of Jesus means.

 

IV: Reflections for our Catholic Community

1. We need to set an example in our own lives and in our own faith community

Throughout our faith community we need to build the culture of life, in the light of the message of Jesus, who is with us now on our journey through this world, challenging each disciple to live with integrity in every aspect of life, and inviting us to the freedom which discipleship brings.

We can do that in many ways. As St. Paul describes in I Corinthians 7, and Our Lord in Matthew 19, some serve the Lord in the single state, and some follow the path of consecrated virginity, in the imitation of Christ, for the sake of the mission of evangelization.

Most people, however, are called to the vocation of marriage, which is the foundation of both Church and civil society, the sign of the love of God for his people, and the sacred context in which a man and a woman are called to grow together in love and holiness, and become co-creators with God of the wondrous gift of human life.

Several years ago, our archdiocese held a Synod on the Family, and the Family Enrichment Centre was established. It is the goal of the Centre, which is now the Family Life Office, to serve the families of our archdiocese by helping them to deepen their Christian commitment. It sponsors many programs that seek to strengthen marriage. Our individual parishes as well are actively involved in this most vital work. I urge you to become engaged in any effort that will strengthen the Sacrament of Marriage and our families.

The Family Life Office has recently helped establish a chapter of Courage, a movement within the Church that assists persons experiencing same-sex attraction to live a chaste life in harmony with the Gospel. It also participates in Project Rachel, to help women who have been involved with abortion. We need to encourage everyone to live rightly, and support those who have turned from a way that did not lead to life.

 

2. We all need to grow in appreciation for the virtue of Chastity

Although the current discussion of the redefinition of marriage needs to be seen primarily in terms of the effect on society, and so as a political and social issue affecting all citizens, it also should lead those who are Catholic Christians to consider more profoundly their own faith commitment. This is an opportune moment for us all to reflect thoughtfully and prayerfully on the meaning of marriage and the family in our lives of faith as disciples of Christ. It also calls us to reflect on the role of the virtue of chastity in our lives, whatever our state of life may be.

Fire, in itself, is neither good nor bad: when directed rightly, it can do great good, but when it burns out of control it can be enormously destructive. Chastity is the virtue by which we humans are called to direct the powerful force of our sexuality, so that it works to the good, as it is meant to, and does not destroy us. In chastity we find freedom. This seems strange to many in our society, and is radically contrary to the spirit of our age which expresses itself in all the media, and in our whole culture, through a glorification of indulging our drives (whatever they may be). But in that there is only the illusion of freedom. Shakespeare expressed this with wondrous wisdom in Sonnet 129: “The expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in action …”

Chastity for husbands and wives comes in living their marriage relationship fully and faithfully, open to the gift of life. Chastity for those preparing for marriage involves an honesty in not simulating the marital relationship, and an integrity in modesty and in real respect for the person one is dating.

Chastity for those living the single life means living freely, directing the energy of sexuality in wholesome activity. For those consecrated to virginity it means to live that way with real integrity in order to give oneself fully to the service of God and the people, in imitation of Christ, and in witness to the coming age, in which there is no marriage.

Everyone, whatever their state of life or psychosexual dispositions, or personal circumstances, is called to live chastely, and so to be freed of the tyranny of self-indulgence. It is in the context of chastity that we can experience a love that liberates the heart, and not a false love that enslaves, and that turns those around us into objects to be used for our satisfaction.

 

3. We need to pray

 For quite some time, I have regularly proposed to the people of the archdiocese as our primary prayer intention the strengthening of marriage and the family (with the second intention being the encouragement of vocations to the priesthood and the various forms of consecrated life.) In the coming months I will be proposing a way in which our whole archdiocese can become more profoundly engaged in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the contemplative prayer of Eucharistic adoration. The two intentions of marriage and vocations can be the focus of our prayer before our Eucharistic Lord.

 

4. We need to reach out in compassion to all

 We need to assist those families that are facing struggles, and we can all be grateful for the work of marriage counsellors, and for programs such as Retrouvaille, which helps couples facing problems in their marriage. For more information on that, call the Family Life Office.

Although the family in its fullness involves a mother and father and children, our community of faith needs to give real loving support as well to those who are living in single parent families, and those who are facing life after the death of a spouse, or separation and divorce, and couples who do not have children. A measure of the spiritual life of our parishes and our archdiocese is the way in which we support all of the people in our family of faith, and wider society.

We also need to welcome those who feel alienated from society and from the Church because they are personally dealing with the issue of same-sex attraction. Like everyone, they will find true inner peace by living according to the vision of chastity that comes from the Gospel and from our Catholic Christian faith. Each person, whatever his or her psychological dispositions might be, is supernaturally worthy, loved by God, and called to holiness. That holiness will be found when personal weaknesses and disordered inclinations are submitted to the guidance of reason and the grace of a loving God so that they no longer enslave. Only then will full freedom and dignity be attained.

 

5. We need to become engaged actively in the current debate

We need to become involved in the current debate. This means examining the question clearly, and cutting through the rhetoric that so often obscures the real issues. We need to exercise our rights as citizens, and communicate with our political leaders. Those who seek to change the definition of marriage have not been hesitant about impressing their views upon society as a whole, and so also upon the politicians and judges who do respond to what they perceive to be public opinion and popular values.

All citizens need to let their members of parliament know what they think on this issue, and on so many others (especially those related to the right to life, and to social justice) that affect the true quality of life in our society. It is important to vote, to write and speak with legislators, and personally to become involved in the life of politics, in the spirit of the patron saint of politicians and judges, St. Thomas More.

 

6. We need to engage the culture of death, so that it might become a culture of life

We also need to go beyond this particular issue and piece of legislation, and speak out about what is happening in the world of the media and of popular culture. Television, popular music, movies, radio, magazines and all print media – these are the sea in which we swim. When they are toxic, we and our society become gravely sick. Why is it that so many programs on television have to begin with the warning: “Viewer discretion is advised”? We do not passively allow contaminants to be poured into our water supply; we should not passively allow violence and pornography to pollute our culture. What is toxic must be replaced by what is wholesome.

 

7. We need to assess the events and values of this world with the freedom and boldness that come from the vision of the kingdom of God

We need to be actively and positively engaged in our culture and in the life of our community. Ultimately, however, the proper stance of the Christian is a necessary detachment. Our final home is not of this world, and we need to have the spiritual maturity to keep our eyes focused on the kingdom of God so that we will be able to live rightly during our brief passage through this world, and not only combat the darkness, but replace it with life-giving light.

! Thomas Collins , Archbishop of Edmonton

 

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