Recovering our reason

Robert Reilly has written an important new book on same-sex attraction, called “Making Gay Okay” (Ignatius Press) which has had a curious reaction: crickets. This isn’t because the liberal media doesn’t want to draw attention to it, but because conservatives are deeply uncomfortable with its conclusion. After profiling the rapid expansion of legal and judicial support for the homosexual lifestyle as a healthy alternative to the previously heterosexual norm, Reilly makes the solid claim that those who are steeped in sin have lost the aptitude to distinguish right from wrong. This includes not only those encumbered with same-sex attraction, but all persons who have carved out ways of living that accommodate vice. Having turned away from the channels of grace, which would at least remind them of what God has revealed as good, they are no longer free to choose it.

It seems to be this charge of “deadening the conscience” that has caused even the most conservative publications to ignore the book, because in order to grapple with his thesis, one would have to step away from the usual political discourse — which speaks of rights and diversity — and to reintroduce the “archaic” language of sin and evil. Very few are comfortable with this sort of discussion, because the wider culture has accepted the premise that all religions are equal (or at least that the sincerity of the believer is an important component) and to single out sin as a factor would mean that there is an underlying truth that would have to be promoted and defended as well. 

Truth be told, this is not a strategy that is politically viable — not after decades of values clarification in the classroom, secular humanism in the public square, and the utter rejection of natural law as a force in human events. The subtle lies of the 1960s have grown into an avalanche of subjectivism, making rational discussion almost futile. Almost futile — for Christianity knows all about mustard seeds.

We must revisit Aquinas and his explanation of how original sin darkens the intellect, weakens the will, and disorders the passions. The four cardinal virtues — prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance — are each impacted by our fall from grace — undermined by ignorance, malice, weakness, and concupiscence — but it doesn’t end there. “Accordingly these are the four wounds inflicted on the whole of human nature as a result of our first parent’s sin. But since the inclination to the good of virtue is diminished in each individual on account of actual sin, as was explained above, these four wounds are also the result of other sins, in so far as, through sin, the reason is obscured, especially in practical matters, the will hardened to evil, good actions become more difficult and concupiscence more impetuous.”

Most of us assume we are free, but have we really taken stock of whether we are living in accord with God’s design? Have we stopped to consider whether the opinions we hold are founded in Truth or colored by our fallen inclinations? Have we looked at the Church’s reason for teaching as she does, especially as it relates to our particular struggles, and could we defend those teachings from those who attack them? 

Whether or not we can influence legislation at this point is debatable, but we are each called to holiness regardless. The wisdom we have to offer those in our small circles is contingent on our willingness to tame our concupiscence and submit our lives to the timeless truths offered by Holy Mother Church. That submission may just create the essential spark, or plant the mustard seed of reason.

Anchor columnist Mrs. Kineke is the author of “The Authentic Catholic Woman.” She blogs at feminine-genius.typepad.com.

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