Among the writing of Church Fathers, Saint Augustine writes with great eloquence of the benefits the Church bestows upon society. Contrary to those in our days who see Christians as threats and intruders in the public square, Saint Augustine claims that those who live up to the standards of Christ’s teachings are society’s greatest benefactors and defenders.
He asks us to imagine “governors, husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, kings, judges, taxpayers and tax collectors” who take Christian teachings to heart and live by the Ten Commandments. An institution that encourages its members to behave in such a manner performs a great service to society.
And it only makes sense. A Church that compels everyone from government to the lowest member of society not to lie, steal or kill greatly fosters the common good. A teaching that encourages people to control those disordered passions that consume and ruin lives will necessarily be a guardian of order, well-being and true freedom.
Such an observation might be applied in reverse today. Such is the cultural pressure to cave in to the passions of the day that people are encouraged to act contrary to Christian teachings. Key sectors of the Church have jumped on the bandwagon of a cultural revolution where everything goes. They have renounced any moral order to avoid being unpopular, and thus abandoned their high mission of guardians and defenders. They have become agents of disorder.
One cannot help but think about this great surrender when observing the present state of the Church in our days. Problems in the Church are nothing new for there have always been those in the Church in America with radical liberal views who have maintained a loud presence on the fringe.
But what we are now seeing in the present cultural climate is a surrender of much greater proportions. Many Church institutions and members no longer seem to care about what people think or do. They seem to go out of their way to assault aggressively Church teachings. There is not even an attempt to hide or explain the discord. We see this exemplified in incidents like:
- The selection of pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden for the University of Notre Dame’s prestigious Laetare Medal.
- The Jesuit Georgetown University’s extending a speaking invitation to Cecile Richards of scandal-ridden Planned Parenthood who received a standing ovation at the talk.
- Major Catholic universities, key figures and publications openly embrace the full agenda of the present sexual revolution, including abortion, without fear of reprisal.
Such egregious acts have not elicited proportional reaction from Church authority.
The temptation to go with the times always fails to gain the acceptance of the world and only leads one down the slope of further concessions. Far from protecting the faithful from the rage of those who oppose a moral law, such a policy only fuels intolerant cries for yet more surrender. No one, not even the Little Sisters of the Poor, can escape from those who feel threatened by any manifestation of fidelity to the natural moral law.
What those who cave in to the Cultural Revolution fail to grasp is what Saint Augustine realized in the twilight of the decadent Roman Empire. The teachings of the Church are the greatest safeguard of society when faithfully observed. The Church has an ordering and hallowing influence upon everyone and every thing, including the economy. She protects the weak and prevents the State from abusing its authority.
That is why the future belongs to those who remain faithful to a higher moral law. Those who pander to the fickle trends of the times are always swept away in history. When key elements inside religion cave in to the cultural revolution, the only response is a renewed fidelity and resolve by those who trust in God and His everlasting promise that the Church will prevail.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Soceity--Where We've Been, How We Go Here, and Where We Need to Go. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.