The other day, out of sheer boredom, I found myself delving back into the archives of this blog. In my 64-bit adventures, I came across the very first post I made here – a commentary on the ‘Western Christian persecution’ mindset. I re-examined it, and aside from the fact that everyone and their mother had already said something on this topic, I thought I had made a valid comment about it. But there were some things that I almost regret saying, just because I’ve come to understand them better in the 1.5 years since that post was made. For example, this part:
“I cringed when the Catholic church in Ireland described their country’s legalisation of same-sex marriage as “bereaving” and a “defeat for humanity”. Not just because they were overreacting – which they were – but also because I knew that remarks like that can lead to a pretty impressive backlash from just about anybody outside of the Church…”
Maybe that was a legitimate response. After all, what the Catholic church in Ireland said was quite dramatic and, some might say, exaggerated. But if there’s one thing I admire about it, it’s that it showed how firmly committed to their views they were. Their belief that same-sex marriage is wrong was clearly something they held to very tightly, hence why they reacted to it with such passion.
We quite frequently see people campaign strongly for something, then once they’re defeated, they’ll concede and start supporting the winning side instead. There is some nobility in being open-minded and willing to change your views if evidence that refutes them is found. But at the same time, we need to be ready to commit firmly to something and hold to it even when we’re in a minority. Ever wondered why the term ‘espouse’ is used in this context? Our views are something we’re expected to fight for, to make a part of us that we’re prepared to defend – not unlike what happens in a marriage.
The Church has traditionally always been a good example of this for me: Christians throughout history have tended to hold firmly to their beliefs rather than renounce them for anything. Whether it’s the early Church in Acts refusing to bow to the powers that were (check out Peter’s authority-defying speech in Acts 5:29-32), or today’s persecuted Church preferring to give up their lives than their faith, I’ve always found encouragement in this. Of course, the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is far more integral to Christianity than the belief that same-sex marriage is wrong, so you could argue it’s not entirely accurate to compare the two. But all the same, this is a good example of when a viewpoint becomes so real to you that you feel you just have to defend it – even above your own life if needs be.
That is why the Catholic Church in Ireland reacted so strongly to their country’s legalisation of same-sex marriage. Their views had become so important to them that when they were overruled, it felt like a part of them had died. Now yes, it’s good to be realistic and remind ourselves that we aren’t defined by the views we hold. But it’s also good to have things that we strongly hold to, because it shows others that there are things that matter to us. As the old saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.