I was reading recently in our local paper about the attempt in our state capitol by our legislature to redefine civil marriage as the legal union of two persons. Current law restricts it to a union between a man and a woman. There is little that either side can do to convince the other side the "error" of their way. We are now engaged in a great cultural struggle in our society. It is the struggle over the minds and hearts of our children as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in our society. It has come to a battle over words. Words have meaning and there is power behind them. The battle is over the word "freedom." It seems that American's short memory of their own history has now come to haunt them. Instead of knowing the term freedom, they are allowing others to define it for them. We have been told over and over again that we as Americans are free to do what ever we want. But, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden that seduced Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, this is only half of the story. The other side of this truism is that with freedom comes responsibility. For too many, freedom has been reduced to meaning the freedom to do whatever I want. Unfortunately, our legislature and our culture have taken this narrow view of freedom to heart and are now rushing pell-mell to legalize every act and behavior. Under the guise of "civil rights" or the "safety of our children," our legislators have moved to enshrine abhorrent behaviors with the fig leaf of legal protection and legal normalization. While it may be said that morality cannot be legislated, laws against such behavior become cultural guidelines for society, especially our youth, as to acceptable and normal behavior. An adulterous person is going to commit adultery whether there is a law making it illegal or not. The sin is not in the act, but in the heart. Having a law making the act of adultery illegal does not prevent adultery from being committed in the heart. It does however, set a definite barrier for our society as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. But even here, barriers of acceptable cultural behavior that have existed for centuries are now being redefined by those very legislators that we have elected. As members of this culture we have a right to speak out and voice our opinions just as loudly as those who are actively opposed to us. "All things are lawful unto me, but not all things are expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any" (1 Corinthians 6:12). This quote from St. Paul is a reminder to us that freedom comes with responsibility. God has given us free will and what a tremendous gift it is. However, St. Paul in this passage from Corinthians reminds us that we, as human beings, should not allow ourselves to be defined by our human nature, by our wants and desires. Made in the image and likeness of God, we are defined by our relationship with God. The closer we draw to Christ the closer we reflect the image of God in us.As Christians we are called to be detached from things. This includes not only material and intangible things such as money and power, but also the various wants and desires of our bodies. We are not to be slaves to our bodies, our passion or our desires. Just as we cannot outlaw the alcoholic into sobriety, neither will the redefinition of marriage change the meaning of marriage that the Christians and Jews have had for millennia. The danger in the cultural war that we are presently engaged in is the simple question of where do we as mere human beings stop? The problem is that we as a society are losing any anchor of moral stability. Morality is more than just knowing the distinction between right and wrong. Going deeper, morality is ultimately based on society's belief in God. God, not man, is the standard by which we as Christians determine our set of absolute values, what is right and wrong behavior. The attack against God in our country and the false notion that there is separation of church and state has allowed the cultural warriors to redefine society's understanding of right and wrong. Someone who is immoral is someone who goes against those God given truths. We, however, have now fully entered into a state of amorality where God is no longer the standard of right and wrong. Having called into question God's existence, man has now placed himself in God's place. The standard is no longer God, but man. As Christians, our work is to maintain the Church's understanding of what is right and wrong. Our work is to be sure that that is what is taught to our children, not only in church but also in our homes. It must be talked about at home. Our children must be reminded over and over again what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. They need to understand that this might be contrary to what is being taught at school. But we must continue to remind them that we as Christians are called to an even higher standard than what the world asks of us. Not that we condemn or hate the person or persons who oppose us but that we do not accept or condone their behavior as normal. May God give us the strength to do and teach that which is right and true.
- Very Rev. Fr. Luke Mihaly