Freedom vs. ‘Rights’?

Last December, the D.C. City Council legalized same-sex “marriage.” It insisted that all city contractors honor this redefinition of marriage. The Council refused to make exceptions for faith-based ministries like Catholic Charities, which provides many services to the poor.

The Archdiocese of Washington, to its everlasting credit, announced that it would walk away from its foster care program rather that place children with same-sex couples. It also announced that, rather than offer spousal health benefits to same-sex couples, it would no longer provide spousal benefits at all to future employees.

Spokeswoman Mary Ann Walsh said that providing health benefits to same-sex couples would be tantamount to “recognizing same-sex ‘marriage’ as legitimate”—something the church can’t do.

The Catholic Church has been down this road before. A few years ago in Boston, Catholic Charities was forced out of the adoption business because it refused to place children with same-sex couples. And it’s a road faithful Protestants are traveling as well—as a Methodist camp found out in New Jersey, when it lost its tax exemption for refusing to allow a same-sex couple to be married there.

Why is this going on? Because the sexual revolution of the 1960s has transformed not only our culture, but the political landscape and our laws as well.

My colleague, historian Glenn Sunshine, explains why in a great article you can find at The sexual revolution, he writes, was an outgrowth of the teachings of Sigmund Freud, who believed that mankind’s problems were the result of repressing sexual desires. So our redemption, Freud said, could be found in sexual liberation.

Sunshine writes, “The implication of his theory was clear…to enable people to live happy, fulfilled lives, society needed to drop restraints on sexual activity.”

And that is exactly what our culture has been doing for five decades. Sunshine notes that since happiness is “fundamentally about sexual expression, the freedom to express whatever you think of as your sexual identity [has become] our most essential human right.”

This is why the Supreme Court has in recent decades struck down laws against sodomy and contraception, and upheld abortion laws. The Court follows the culture. That is why it has not only been upholding the right to sexual expression; it has done its best to eliminate any kind of challenges to that expression.

We recently had an ominous sign of where this kind of thinking leads. Chai Feldblum, commissioner on the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said that, when homosexual rights crash up against religious beliefs, she has “a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” This despite the fact that the First Amendment explicitly guarantees religious liberty!

Clearly, the great danger to the church is that the right to sexual expression is now considered foremost. All other freedoms are trampled beneath it.

As I say in my Two Minute Warning video this week, which you can also find at, we Christians are not free to retreat from the culture—to stick to our church potlucks and ignore everything going on outside the church doors. No, we can’t.

If we do not engage the culture and make a stand for our first freedom—freedom of religion—we may one day find those church doors being nailed shut.

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  • slashorn

    “the great danger to the church is that the right to sexual expression is now considered foremost”?

    Really? That is not only the danger, but the “great” danger? I do think the Church will be able to successfully protect itself from this “danger” and God, in his omniscience and omnipotence, will be able to tolerate the horror of two people, who are loving and spread love, living together in peace.

    Completely unlike some of the priests and bishops who are recently in the news.

    It is the utter bullshit like this article that I, as a good Catholic, must try to explain with little or no success. Because this prejudice, which flies in the face of the great commandment (which is unqualified – i.e only if you are two people of the opposite sex) will continuously force good Catholic away from the church and ultimately render it a collection of facist bullies who sole purpose is for self-protection rather than serving the people.

  • Claire

    Slashorn, it’s all in how you define love. Love is wanting the ultimate good for the other person. As far as being fascist self-serving bullies who don’t serve the people, the Catholic Church is the biggest charitable provider in the world. The 1% of abusive priests doesn’t negate that. Your anger and hostility says a lot about you as a person, and I find it hard to believe that you are the good Catholic that you claim to be.

  • Stan Pastor

    Yes, unfortunately, there are a couple “bad apples” in the priesthood. But blaming the Catholic Church as a whole is like blaming all persons of a single race for something one person has done. But, that’s different right? Keep thinking that. There is a simple solution to this “problem”. We need to go to the root of the problem, and that is the seminaries. The future priests are being taught tolerance of people’s opinions. Opinions can be thrown out the window. There is truth and nothing can change it. So let’s talk about truth. The truth is that a priest doesn’t become a molester, a molester becomes a priest. Follow me? So the screening process has to be stricter. And not to mention that there are those who join the seminaries to spread their own agenda. Face it, are these priests pedophiles? No they’re not, a pedophile is an adult that is attracted to a prepubescent. Most, and I stress the word MOST, not ALL, are young adult males between 15-17. I know many homosexuals that have had their first homosexual encounter when they were in their mid to late teens, some by much older males. So what’s the solution? Stop ordaining homosexuals. And furthermore, same-sex couples do have the same rights as straight couples. It’s called a civil union. Marriage is a religious term not a secular term. So some of these same sex couples want a religious ceremony without having to follow the religious “rules”. And for those cafeteria Catholics out there, it’ll only get worse for you. Holy Mother Church is on her way back, and she’s not “compromising”. Now, besides being the biggest charity IN THE WORLD, the Catholic Church has stood up for human rights all over the world. I hate to say it, but if the Church should ever fall, and she won’t, it would be the end of civilization as we know it. The Catholic Church is the only “religious institution” that has not changed it’s stance on abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc. Once the Church goes, who will stand up for life?

  • chelsea

    You know, I really don’t understand why when Catholics have a problem with Church teaching (i.e. The Truth), they don’t do sufficient research to discover why the Church declares what it does. If people would only *read* what has been proclaimed by people much more brilliant than ourselves for the past few MILLENNIA, then these teaching would make more sense.

    First off, something isn’t true simply because the Church says it is; the Church is the purveyor of Truth, and states what is the truth as God has revealed. See the difference? In the Old Testament sodomy was considered a sin. This isn’t stuff that the Big Bad Catholic Church suddenly pulled out of thin air to oppress the innocent and dominate the weak, etc, etc. This teaching has its very roots in Genesis, from the beginning of humanity. Here is a link explaining very clearly the reasons for the Church’s teaching about homosexuality:
    And the passages from the Catechism:

    The complementarity between a man and a woman is the complete reflection of God, and a symbol of the mystical espousal between Christ and his Church. Again, this isn’t stuff the Church made up, this is the fundamental, indissoluble Truth of God. And for contemporary Catholics to think that their enlightened ideas stemming from the last 4 decades trump the beliefs of Catholics from the past 2 millennia because they’ve finally “got it right” unlike the simpletons of centuries past, is gross arrogance. If the Church’s members have believed in something for two thousand years since Christ’s Incarnation, it’s a good idea to figure out why.
    As G.K Chesterton said, “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.” – Orthodoxy, 1908

  • vfblovesnancy

    Speaking of Chesterton, he once noted that the only good Catholic is the one who would never call himself a good Catholic…

    Slashorn is engaging in a fairly common sleight-of-bible quote. The ‘greatest commandment’ is NOT, as is popularly believed, ‘loving others as you love yourself’. It’s to love God first and with your whole being. The ‘golden rule’ is “like it”, but it is second to and depends on loving God first. And if one really loves God, will one willfully and repeatedly engage in an act that is ‘an abomination’ before Him?

    Yes, God will tolerate those who chose to corrupt and misuse the sexual act. That is, He will not obliterate them. But to those who knowingly and willingly reject His created order He will grant them their wish. They will spend eternity estranged from that which they rejected during their mortal lives. In other words, God respects a person’s freedom of choice – even when that choice is Hell.

    The ‘great danger’ is rather self explanatory. Sexual license requires contraception (which is the intentional injuring or inhibiting the proper functioning of a healthy body) and abortion in order to be practical. Properly understood, the sexual act is an expression of man’s highest dignity – a direct cooperation in the creation of a person, which is the pinnacle of earthly creation. And much more. Suffice it to say, corrupting the sexual act is tantamount to corrupting the very meaning of our existence.

    Strange that a ‘good Catholic’ wouldn’t be bothered by that.

  • Claire

    Don’t expect a response from Slashorn. I know the type. They spread their poison, and then leave it in the dust.