Do Heretics Survive the Test of Fire?

A reader of the blog recently sent me the above video.

I felt relieved that the video fell short of endorsing any particular candidate. However, I chafe at the implication that the Church gets to decide which issues must be morally important to ME … especially when those issues contradict one another.

I also feel that protecting the dignity of human life is one of the most important tasks we must keep in mind, as we live our lives and as we vote. But because the Church has been vocal on but ONE life issue (abortion), voting against candidates who support abortion becomes the implied directive here. But the Pope quoted in the very video reminds us that abortion isn’t the only “life” issue Catholics should be concerned about — instead, we’re charged to be concerned with life from “conception” to “natural death.” Dying in war is not natural. Dying under the death penalty is not natural. And yet, there are many so-called “pro-life” candidates who support both the death penalty and heavy military involvement, which inevitably leads to loss of life. Thus, perhaps these candidates should more appropriately be referred to as “pro-fetus” and “pro-embryo” so that their lack of concern for life for men and women becomes a little more clear, and thus their candidacy becomes a little more honest. And yes, our work in choosing becomes more complicated. Because if life is a “non-negotiable” issue, whose lives are we meant to prioritize?

The “marriage” directive here makes me cringe the most. It’s interesting how the religious right loves to pretend culture AND religion haven’t been redifining marriage for the whole of its existence. What happened to polygamous marriages, such as those we see Jacob obtaining in the Old Testament? Oh, that’s not how we see marriage nowadays. Why? Because marriage has been redefined. What about Paul’s admonition in Corinthians 7 that it is better to “marry than to burn” — implying that marriage is not so much a sacred institution, but the lesser of two evils? (with the implied “best” solution being to remain single.) You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Church official now who sighs and says, “Well, if you can’t control yourself, yes, I suppose we’ll bless your marriage.” Instead, marriage has been elevated not to the lesser of two evils, but to a vocation and a sacrament. Why? Because marriage has been redefined. The Medeival Church encouraged married couples to abstain from sex as a reflection of their piety; now, a marriage can be annulled if it is not sexually consummated. Why the difference? Because marriage has been redefined.

If the Church wants to stand against same-sex marriage, that is its right; but at the very least, it can be honest about its reasons (prejudices) rather than pretend it’s because the definition of marriage has never and will never change.

The admonition to uphold “freedom” is almost comical in its irony. It’s important to support candidates who protect freedom … except the freedom for any two consenting adults to join in marriage. Separation of Church and State is a crucial cornerstone of freedom (I agree), and yet, we should vote to allow the CHURCH to define marriage even on a secular level. The line between Church and State is getting mighty blurry here, not to mention the definition of freedom. (As an interesting aside, if the Church cares so much about “freedom” one has to wonder why they tend to ally themselves with Republican candidates rather than Libertarian ones, who make freedom the foundation of their platforms. Could the fact that Libertarian candidates are less likely to win have anything to do with it? Nah, of course not.)

Finally, the very imagery used in the ad is troubling. I cannot forget that the word “faggot” (which originally means a bundle of burning sticks or iron meant to be wrought at high temperature) has come to be associated with homosexuals because they have been burned throughout history. I cannot forget that people the Church now regards as saints, such as Joan of Arc, along with many other innocent “heretics,” were burned at the stake. Somehow, I’m not totally on board with “fire’s” ability to distinguish truth or morality.

Do vote with your morals in mind, including your religious convictions. Just do it based on YOUR conscience, not “their” agenda and “their” definitions (or their flashy ads).

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