Perhaps it’s Lent and the prayer, fasting and almsgiving that make me a bit more sensitive to the culture and its depiction of religion — especially Christianity. There is little doubt in my mind that a cultural war has been declared against those of faith.
Our recent popes have named the destructive force of “secularism” as the enemy of the church.
Unlike recent ideologies like Nazism or communism, secularism is subtly working its way through social media, education and the arts as the only acceptable point of reference for the masses.
It doesn’t declare itself an open enemy of faith like communism: “religion is the opiate of the people.” Instead, it attempts to isolate religion as meaningless, offering no valid voice in any public discourse.
The recent presentation before the Supreme Court by Hobby Lobby and others demonstrates the plight of those professing a faith, who cannot, in their own private corporations, practice their faith without violating the law and their personal conscience.
The government seems to have conveniently ignored the history of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from establishing a religion. The imposition of what one can believe or not represents an intrusion into a sacred area reserved to the believer, unless a compelling state interest can be demonstrated.
This burden should be on the State not the individual person or corporation. The freedom of religion is a right that the secularists cannot support. Religious freedom ensures the state cannot impose its will or a secularist mentality that it embraces.
The strategy behind the secular movement varies, but it can be seen readily in three areas: reconstruction of language, promiscuity of sexual activity and attack on the traditional family.
We have seen this reconstruction of language in the abortion and euthanasia movements. Change of language masks the reality. For instance, the opposite of pro-life is not pro-choice; it’s pro-death.
Political figures will use “God” as a convenient frame of reference in order to persuade. However, for the secularist, it is necessary to begin to remove “God” from our social discourse.
Those opposed to prayer in public schools support the argument of the secularist to remove “God” as necessary to exercise one’s freedom. Again, that is everyone’s freedom except the believer’s.
Recently we experienced an “evangelical” uproar over the film “Noah.” Great artistic liberties were taken over the biblical story and the depiction of Noah fits into a modern day social agenda.
However, many were surprised to view a biblical story where God is not mentioned. Certainly the term “Creator” is mentioned. But this seems to diminish God as less than personal. A personal God is involved. When words like “a creator” or “the universe” are mentioned and offered as a substitute for God, it depersonalizes God.
If God is not involved in the lives of his creatures, then the Passion of Jesus reflects a good man, a prophet, but not the Son, God.
In the area of human sexuality, we can see the secularists have been exceptionally successful. The church teaches that sexuality finds its fulfillment in the relations of a man and woman in marriage for the purposes of unity and procreation. I challenge you to watch almost any TV show involving men and women, or almost any MTV production, and you will see that sex is treated as a form of recreation.
Sexual relationships are sometimes shared even before a friendship is established. This acceptance of sex as a trivialized activity demeans the teachings of the church and diminishes personal dignity.
A “virgin” in our culture is a term of derision and is mocked. This alone should tell us of the dominance in our culture of sexual activity outside of marriage. This is important for the secularist. In this hyper sexual society, the church’s sexual morality is marginalized and viewed as archaic, therefore, all other opinions of the church would be equally out of touch.
When I was a child, we would gather around a 12-inch black and white TV and watch “Father Knows Best.” My own family life was far from the projected set of the Anderson Family. We did not own a posh suburban home. My pop did not wear a smoking jacket to dinner. My mother did not prepare supper wearing a designer dress and I did not have siblings named Betty, Bud and Kitten.
There was a similarity, however. We were also a family, which meant that the Andersons’ mundane problems were our mundane problems. It was a simple projection that allowed us to identify with the Andersons even though we were far from their social or economic status.
Later, in the ‘80s, another TV family captured the imagination of viewers. It was the Huckstables (“The Cosby Show”). However, once again, it was the sense of family that everyone acknowledged. They cared for and about one another.
Programs presented today rarely depict the traditional family with mom, dad and the kids. Instead, they present individuals who decide they will create their own sense of family, which may or not include marriage and children.
When we can no longer experience the traditional family as transcendent – no matter what social or economic status – we surrender the “family” to a fluidity of persons whose definition can be established arbitrarily, and the secularist family will not be limited by blood relationships formed by father, mother and children. This is our loss.
Perhaps Lent, with its prayer, fasting and almsgiving, has made me overly sensitive, but I do know it has also made me vigilant
As a person of faith, my confidence is in God whose Son gave us the church to lead us to salvation. So, I will continue to stand with the church against the forces of secularism, knowing that God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life (Jn 3:16). I believe.