How do you come from a place of love and acceptance and get it so wrong? That's what I've been asking myself these last three days.
Without getting into the specifics, I found myself in a troubling but fascinating conversation with a number of 17 and 18 year-olds, most of them either questioning religion or outright rejecting it. Ironically, these kids are students at a Catholic high school. Our conversation centered around same-sex marriage, but it quickly spread out into other issues, eventually landing on the question of whether an agnostic or atheist can life a good, moral life.
These were big questions, not easily answered in just a few quick minutes. These are inquiries that need a lot of time and study and maturity to address properly. What impresses me about these kids is that they really do want answers to these larger questions of life and identity. These were good kids, some of them top students who are extremely involved in school. They give their time to charity, they recycle, they are genuinely concerned about the health and fate of the planet. In short, they CARE. These are not kids who are hedonistic or irresponsible or who have bad intentions. Rather, they have a real love for those around them, and for themselves.
Yet they almost categorically reject religion and faith in God, or at least mostly. At the very least, they have their serious doubts about the whole notion of spirituality--perhaps that's an unfair statement, and I don't mean to put myself above anyone. God knows better than I how flawed I am, so please don't mistake this for a superiority complex. And in truth, real spirituality takes time. I can confidently say that when I was their age, my spirituality was shallow, based on a blend of emotion, fear, and blind obedience to what my parents had given me. Not too commendable, but it got me through. Therefore, I have no delusions about kids that age.
But times have changed, and in the last two or three years, the culture has taken a drastic turn for the worse, pulling these great kids directly into it without their notice. That's the pernicious thing about what's going on. The culture has been entirely co-opted, but over time, using media and educators as co-conspirators in this deadly game. And yes, this is deadly, mo matter how extreme that sounds. This is not to say that by embracing the concept of same-sex marriage, there will be no more traditional marriage, because that certainly is not true. People will continue to have children, both within marriage and without, yet the dynamic of the family will change even more radically than it already has.
This article isn't about debating the morality of same-sex marriage--this automatically adopts the Catholic Church's teaching about the issue. That being established, the question is, as Catholics, how does one put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak? These kids support same-sex marriage out of love and respect and a real sense of justice, not out of any hedonistic attitudes. Thus, helping them to see the reality of the issue is that much more challenging, because their attitude isn't a rebellious one, as far as I can see.
I don't know what the answer is to this issue at this point, but I'm open and eager for dialogue on the subject. And I'm sure I'll be writing more on this in future blogs. Stay tuned!
Witty; cunning; crafty
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