After choir, people were chatting up in the loft. Suddenly, the lights went out. No one panicked. Some of us yelled downstairs for those near the light switches to "turn on the lights, again". Nothing. We called down again. They called back, "No one's standing near the light switches!" It was at this point that we realized...how dark it was.
"The lights are out at school!" (next door) The power was out.
Then we had to find cell phones and flashlights (but mostly phones) so that we could see the narrow stairs as we left. It's the kind of darkness where I couldn't see my friend K, only two feet away. If I waved my hand in front of my face, I couldn't see it either. A fellow chorister who has difficulty walking inched her way down the stair by the cell phone light. We all made it without anybody falling. Our pastor's wife ran home next door and grabbed a flashlight so by the time we made it down the front steps (dark there, too - the outside lights weren't working either) we had that light too. The only other light was the traffic on the highway, and the light of the stars.
The building where I attend church sits out in the country, along a major highway. The night sky usually cannot be much appreciated. It was not so tonight. The stars shone brighter, and nearer.
"Praise the One who breaks the darkness, with a liberating light;
Praise the One who frees the pris'ners, turning blindness into sight.
Praise the One who preached the Gospel, hearing ev'ry dread disease,
Calming storms, and feeding thousands with the very Bread of peace."
"Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness", LSB #849, verse 1.
By now, I'm sure all of you have heard the news that, barring a reversal of policy, many religious organizations have until August 2013 to decide whether to comply with the new federal mandate. The mandate requires health insurance plans provided by these organizations to carry various forms of contraception. Contraception and all that it entails has long been a controversial topic in this country. The Catholic Church, among many organizations, is literally religiously opposed to contraception.
This news came right on the heels of another public furor - that one non-profit organization (Susan G. Komen for the Cure) had decided to pull their funding from another non-profit (Planned Parenthood). Apparently, SK's decision was akin to the NFL deciding to cancel the Super Bowl forevermore. The reaction was instant. Media figures, celebrities and United States Senators fell over themselves to condemn the terrible, horrible, no-good-very-bad people who, by this singular act, proved they "hated" women. The leadership of Susan Komen, after a few days of being accused of making a decision based on "political" purposes, reversed themselves. They were thus deemed to love women again, I assume.
Reminder: The vitriol was directed to an organization that, as its purpose, wishes to find a cure for BREAST cancer. A disease that overwhelmingly affects...women.
Something else that had crossed my reading radar over the past few weeks was this article. The Canadian academic Douglas Farrow makes a powerful point as to the ends of the same-sex marriage argument:
"Here we have what is perhaps the most pressing reason why same-sex marriage should be fought, and fought vigorously. It is a reason that neither the proponents nor the opponents of same-sex marriage have properly debated or thought through. In attacking “heterosexual monogamy,” same-sex marriage does away with the very institution—the only institution we have—that exists precisely in order to support the natural family and to affirm its independence from the state. In doing so, it effectively makes every citizen a ward of the state, by turning his or her most fundamental human connections into legal constructs at the state’s gift and disposal. In Nation of Bastards I have tried to provide a larger account of this, and to show how it leaves the parent-child relation open to increasing intervention by the state. The current cover for that intervention is the notion of children’s rights—meaning, far too often, the right of the child to whatever it is that the state, acting on behalf of adults other than its parents, wants it to have: a good education in state ideology, for example, which these days includes “diversity training” in “alternative family structures.”"
This is all heavy stuff, and if you're still reading this, I thank you. I've tried to stay away from politics, especially in the last couple of years. There were benefits - I'm almost positive my blood pressure improved.
But it seems that politics won't stay away from me. Or from you, for that matter.
And in regards to each of these topics - the question of religious freedom, what is the relationhip between two separate non-profits, and what is the endgame of those who argue in favor of same-sex marriage- they aren't going to leave us alone. They can't leave us alone. If simply choosing (no pun intended) to stop donating money to Planned Parenthood brings such animosity, it's no wonder Susan G. Komen changed their minds. If the consequence of not following the federal mandate means the Catholic church is forced to end their health insurance coverage, their employees will suffer. And if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land (as I think it will), then the definition of marriage, husband, wife, and man and woman for that matter, will have no meaning at all. If a favored non-profit can bully another into continually providing funds (whether it needs them or not), it sends the message that once you give us your money, you'll always give us your money. If a government can dictate what a religious entity must provide, it can dictate anything. If it can declare that words have no meaning, they can dictate the meaning of words. Just ask Winston Smith.
Where does the road end?
Some of you may think I'm overreacting. I hope I am. Some of you may think I'm completely wrong. I hope I am. Some of you may think that what I've said is so far-fetched, there's no way it could ever happen in reality. I hope it never does, but if it does - this is where the great divide shows itself. On one side is fear. On the other side is not courage, but love.
What is Planned Parenthood afraid of, that they must wage a public relations war against Susan G. Komen, an entity dedicated to a wholly unpolitical cause?
What is the current Administration afraid of, that it insists that large groups of religious Americans must either conform to its rules, or abandon their long-held beliefs? Why is it doing this, when the goal of widespread contraception was reached decades ago?
What are the proponents of same-sex marriage afraid of, to the extent that definitions must be rewritten, that in certain countries "Mother" and "Father" no longer appear on a child's birth certificate, but "Spouse A" and "Spouse B"?
They are afraid of the truth - that once gifts are coerced, they are no longer gifts, but stolen goods; that there is a greater power than any secular authority; that our sexuality is not what we will it to be, but a gift to us from our Creator who made us to live in harmony with each other and within His creation.
More from Farrow:
"Though our society now applauds almost any kind of “loving” union, it admits no sacramentum but sexual self-expression. Though it professes the highest respect for women, it no longer requires or expects fides from either men or women. Though it preaches progress, it is uncommitted even to proles—that is, to its own secular future. It prattles about children’s rights, but denies them even the right to life. It is a society that no longer knows what love is, and that no longer believes that humans may hope for very much."
But haven't we been told, time and time again, not to be afraid? No matter what happens, this is our hope and our faith.
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us...For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 4:18-19, 5:3-5
Pray for our society. For everyone who struggles with truth.