Is the Uproar Against General Pace the Beginning of a Religious Persecution?

Beginning of a Religious Persecution? In a March 12 interview with the Chicago Tribune, General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made this statement: “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”1

Liberal Media Turn the Statement into a National Debate

A media upoar ensued against the general, the first Marine to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One would think the distinguished and highly decorated military commander had said something absurd, or worse yet, something immoral! Nevertheless, his statement was perfectly consistent with Christian morals, common sense and current military policy.

Taking a Principled not a Personal Stand

Practicing Catholics, we are filled with compassion and pray for those who struggle against violent temptation to sin, be it toward homosexual sin or otherwise.

We are conscious of the enormous difference between these individuals who struggle with their weaknesses and strive to overcome them and others who transform their sin into a reason for pride, and try to impose their lifestyle on society as a whole, in flagrant opposition to traditional Christian morality and natural law. However, we pray for them too.

According to the expression attributed to Saint Augustine, we “hate the sin but love the sinner.” And to love the sinner, as the same Doctor of the Church explains, is to wish for him the best we can possibly desire for ourselves, namely, “that he may love God with a perfect affection.” (St. Augustine, Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, no. 49, www.newadvent.org/fathers/
1401.htm
)

Quickly whipping the waters of “public opinion” into a maelstrom, liberal media pressured several presidential candidates and other officials to define themselves on the issue: Are homosexual acts immoral? Some sided with General Pace, others hid behind a neutral position, while yet others publicly chastised him and affirmed homosexuality is not immoral.2

Is Some Speech Freer than Others?

The liberal media’s “moral lynching” of General Pace raises serious concerns. Is some speech freer than others? If not, why was the general pilloried for his statement? Even more disturbing was the media’s disregard for General Pace’s right to profess publicly the moral teachings of his Catholic faith. Is the right to express religious and moral beliefs to be consigned to the realm of abstract theory and denied any practical application? If so, is this not a banning of religion and morality from the public square?

The Homosexual Movement Benefits from the Media Uproar

We are not surprised at the homosexual movement’s satisfaction over the uproar, but we are concerned about its attempt to forge an unholy alliance with the liberal media. Ideological alienation jeopardizes the media’s ability to report the news and inform the public in an unbiased and fair manner. Yet the media are becoming powerful promoters of the homosexual agenda as evidenced by this quote from GLAAD’s website:

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Neil G. Giuliano today praised the media’s coverage to date of anti-gay comments by Gen. Peter Pace and called on reporters to turn a spotlight on the reactions and stories of the service members defamed by Pace’s remarks.3

Natural Law Principles

Despite all the media hype about it, there is nothing wrong with the stand taken by the distinguished Marine general. In fact, it is in perfect harmony with natural law, whose first principle is: “Good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided.”4

The affirmation that homosexual practice is evil and must be avoided stems from the principle according to which human acts should conform to human nature. The homosexual act violates this principle. Why? Right reason shows us that every act should tend to its proper end, and the proper end of the sexual act is procreation. A sexual act that is physiologically unable to fulfill that end is contrary to our rational nature. As Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches:

A sin, in human acts, is that which is against the order of reason. Now the order of reason consists in its ordering everything to its end in a fitting manner…. And just as the use of food is directed to the preservation of life in the individual, so is the use of venereal acts directed to the preservation of the whole human race.5

All Can Know and Are Subject to Natural Law

Our soldiers have fought, so that others may live in freedom, in many and faraway lands where moral law was suppressed. Is that freedom threatened in our own country? Photos courtesy of Department of Defense

Our soldiers have fought, so that others may live in freedom, in many and faraway lands where moral law was suppressed. Is that freedom threatened in our own country?
Photos courtesy of Department of Defense

As its name indicates, natural law flows from human nature. Even those who profess no religion can know it. For it is a law we can know through the light of reason without the aid of Divine Revelation. Inscribed in the depths of all hearts as Saint Paul teaches,6 it is the same for everyone, everywhere and always.7

For example, Sophocles depicts natural law in his tragedy Antigone (442 BC) as the “unwritten and unchanging laws.… They are not just for today or yesterday, but exist forever.”8 And as the Roman jurist Cicero (106–43 BC) said, “True law is right reason in agreement with Nature.… It is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting.… We need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it.”9 Consequently, Cicero condemns Sextus Tarquinius for his rape of Lucretia, explaining that although there was no positive law at the time condemning adultery, his action was nevertheless criminal, “For, even then he had the light of reason from the nature of things, that incites to good actions and dissuades from evil ones.”10

A New “Morality” That Defends Immorality

Denying the existence of natural law and defending homosexual behavior, the liberal media are effectively promoting a new “morality” opposed to the one that proceeds from human nature and is confirmed by Divine Revelation.

This new “morality” opens the gates to all kinds of anti-natural practices. For, once the concept of natural law and the limits that human nature imposes on our acts are abandoned, the way is open for the triumph of every disordered passion.

Law that is not based in human nature is not true law. It ceases to be a moral force and becomes a mere arbitrary imposition. And, when the moral force of law ceases, the law of force takes over, be it brute, physical force or the media’s “moral lynching.” Pilloring like that suffered by General Pace can break men of lesser mettle, leading them to abandon their principles. It can silence whole sectors of public opinion from freely expressing and affirming their deep moral convictions.

The Need for Courageous Expression

Two thousand years ago, the Divine Savior told those who would follow his teachings to expect adversity, even hatred. However, He also said that public opprobium does not dispense them from the duty to profess their faith:

And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake…. And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell…. Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.”11

Far from being intimidated by media uproars like that surrounding General Pace, millions of Americans should emulate this courageous officer and give public expression to their moral convictions based on natural law and faith. It is time to resist the imposition of a new “morality” that defends immorality. Doing so, we can call God’s blessing upon ourselves and our posterity.
March 21, 2007
The American TFP

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Footnotes

  1. Aamer Madhani, “Don’t drop ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ Pace says” Chicago Tribune, Mar. 13, 2007, www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0703130169mar13,1,5722276.story.
  2. The indiscriminate use of the word homosexual and its synonyms has generated much confusion in the public. Many times, it is unclear if it refers to someone with same-sex attraction only or if it refers to someone who practices homosexual acts. This confusion favors the homosexual agenda. We cannot equate people with same-sex attraction who resist it and are chaste with those who engage in homosexual behavior. These are two distinct and essentially different moral realities. Thus, we use homosexual to refer only to those who practice homosexual acts and thereby deserve moral reprobation.
  3. www.glaad.org/media/release_detail.php?id=3990&.
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 94, a. 2.
  5. Ibid., II-II, q. 153, a. 2.
  6. “For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them” (Rom. 2:14-15).
  7. Cf. Msgr. Guiseppe Graneris, s.v. “Natural Law,” in Dictionary of Moral Theology (Westminster, Md.: The Newman Press, 1962), p. 697.
  8. www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/sophocles/antigone.htm. (Our emphasis.)
  9. Cicero, De Re Publica, trans. Clinton Walker Keyes (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1928), III, xxii.33, in www.natreformassn.org/statesman/04/cicero.html. (Our emphasis.)
  10. Cicero, De Legibus, II, 4, available at www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/cicero-laws1.html. (Our emphasis.)
  11. Matt. 10:22, 28, 32-33.

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