Lessons from President Obama and a young fourth-century Roman girl.

Ironic that the second inaugural of President Barack Obama falls on the memorial of St. Agnes of Rome.

St. Agnes in Prison

Legend has it that when she was sent naked to the brothel, her hair miraculously grew long enough to cover her virginal body.

Agnes was 12 years old when she was chosen to wed Procop, the son of the powerful prefect Sempronius. She refused, having pledged her life and her virginity to Christ. The law as passed by the political authority allowed the prefect to have her put to death for being a Christian.

You see, living as a Christian was not allowed by Roman law. Rome at the time was in the throes of the Diocletian persecution. One could, of course, hold to Christian beliefs in one’s own head, but one’s public actions were subject to regulation by laws of the state, and the state outlawed Christianity.

The law also did not allow the execution of virgins so the prefect took the natural next step: he had Agnes dragged, naked, to a brothel to be ravaged against her will.

The legend has it that no man was able actually rape the young girl for whatever reason, miraculous or otherwise, and she was eventually dispatched by an executioner.

Agnes understood what marriage meant and refused to make a mockery of marriage.

Agnes understood the importance of her sexual purity and the dignity of the sexual act and would not make a mockery of her body or of the sexual act.

Agnes did not fear the power of the state, controlled at the time by men who would rather see her executed than allow her to live according to Christian principles. She allowed herself to be destroyed rather than submit to unjust and immoral laws.

Today during his inaugural address President Obama, already the most pro-abortion president we have ever know, already responsible for the greatest assault on religious freedom our country has seen in more the two centuries, well-nigh pledged action on same-sex “marriage”—a “right” he didn’t think was a right four years ago but now seems to hold to be as sacred as the ending of slavery.

Now, like gun control, what he may want to do and what he will actually be able to accomplish are very different things, given the makeup of Congress and laws presently on the books like the Defense of Marriage Act.

But he’ll try, through pressure and executive orders. It will start with nice-sounding calls for equality and respect and some focus group-tested phrase like “balanced approach” that sounds nice but really means, “do it my way or I’ll get testy.” He’ll give assurances that no one will be forced to violate their consciences, but we know he doesn’t give a fig about conscience protections if they think differently from his own.

There likely will not be much major action on the matter since marriage is generally regulated by the states, where executive orders don’t have much sway. That is until a same-sex couple demands that they be permitted to have their ceremony in name-your-significant-Catholic-church. St. Patrick’s in New York City? St. Louis? San Francisco? The Basilica in DC? At that point the argument would shift: if these public houses of worship accommodate anyone at all, like one-man-one-woman couples, they have to accommodate everyone. Then you get an equality argument akin to the segregation argument. They may be private entities, but they provide a service to the public, so discrimination is not allowed.

After all, as President Obama said today during his inaugural address, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

That is not just a policy position; that is a moral and theological position. At least, it is in Catholic parlance, and when Catholic parlance affects political activity Catholics must uphold the implications of Catholic teaching. For his part, when President Obama moves to act on his (new-found? Long-standing but previously masked?) belief that any and all “love” anyone commits to another, no matter how distorted or inchoate a sense of love it is, ought to be treated like every other version of love, he will be unable to broach any disagreement. A failure by anyone in society to respect anyone else’s professed love as the lovers demand to be respected must be treated as bigotry and therefore must be quashed in the name of our brave new inclusive, tolerant society.

This may be all well and good if we keep our “hateful” dissent on this new concept of “love” to ourselves, but if we have the temerity to write about it or, perish the thought, bar use of private facilities like churches or church halls over it, well, that opens us up to vitriolic comments and spurious charges of “hate speech,” and perhaps even legal action.

The Catholic Church is the chief obstacle standing between Obama and progressives like those who will blast me in the comments and their goal. They know that. We know that. It will undoubtedly be an eventful and contentious four more years.

But the witness of our saints like Agnes who stood and resisted the power of the state gives us hope. Perhaps not hope for a peaceful and simple political conclusion to the struggles ahead, but at least hope in remembering that God is sovereign, His will reigns supreme, this world with its pomp and puffed-up political power and prestige is fleeting.

I don’t expect the government under Barack Obama will actually move to shut down St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the next four years, but not for lack of desire. Chaining the door is not the only danger, however. Civil unrest, vandalism, egged on subtly by our Alinskyite, Community Organizer-in-Chief President, can make life very difficult.

“Agnes,” the lamb, and all who suffered persecution for their unwavering faith in He who is LORD, pray for us, that we may meet well those opposed to us, stand firm and with charity in our convictions, convert hearts to change minds, and bring about an ever greater measure justice in this world. Amen.



  • disqus_hG0LnCVWib

    Thank you for a great article !
    “The first direct, human limitation of infant life in the history of Christianity took place in the village of Bethlehem through an infant-controller whose name was Harod. The prevention of infant life was simultaneously an attack upon Divinity in the person of God made man, Jesus Christ our Lord. No one strikes at birth who does not simultaneously strike at God, for birth is earth’s reflection of the Son’s eternal generation.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Three to Get Married)

    a Croat

  • Pingback: Lessons from President Obama and a young fourth-century Roman girl. | CATHOLIC FEAST

  • Paulspr

    My second favorite part: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”

    I really can’t understand how anyone thinks that BANNING gay people from getting a marriage license from a public employee at their local city hall could possibly promote religious freedom. It seems to me that it does the exact opposite, it stifles the religious freedom of people that believe that gay couples should marry.

    In reality, denying gay people the freedom to marry harms both them and us.

    E pluribus unum. Look it up sometime.

    • http://twitter.com/PhloontManphred Phloont Manphredsing

      Still waiting for the name of that crisis pregnancy center, Paulspr. Unless you were lying.

      • Paulspr

        Why? Are you going to stop by and say hello?

        • http://twitter.com/PhloontManphred Phloont Manphredsing

          No. Just calling you on your BS, Paulspr. There are not any crisis pregnancy centers or pregnancy resource centers that are run by pro-choicers. They are staffed entirely by pro-lifers, as you would know if you were being honest.

          • Paulspr

            Sure there are. I used to volunteer at it. Until it got closed down by budget cuts from the republicans in San Diego.

          • http://twitter.com/PhloontManphred Phloont Manphredsing

            Thank you for your admissions, P. Those same evil, uncaring Republicans are staffing real crisis pregnancy centers, which do not rely upon taxpayer funding, and so cannot be shut down by the government. If you care, you can volunteer at one of them.

            Maybe we can at least agree that love can never be forced, and so is not subject to politics or government, but only the human mind, heart, and soul, created in the image and likeness of God.

          • Paulspr

            Yes. And banning gay people from marriage by force of law is not an act of love.

          • Joe M

            Gay people are not banned from marriage.

          • Paulspr

            Yes. They are.

          • Joe M

            Can you cite the language declaring the ban?

          • Guest

            Now YOU’RE telling me how I can or cannot legitimately express my love? Delicious! Oh, how the tables have been turned!

            This is too much! I’m going to get myself a bowl of Haagen-Dazs!

          • http://twitter.com/PhloontManphred Phloont Manphredsing

            Thank you very much for this most revealing of all your comments so far, Paul.

            With this comment, you are a textbook-perfect example of how replacing the truth of love with the sentiment of niceness cripples one’s ability to perceive and analyze reality. I hope our fellow readers of this site find your comments as helpful as I have.

          • http://twitter.com/PhloontManphred Phloont Manphredsing

            Now YOU’RE telling me how I can or cannot legitimately express my love? Delicious! Oh, how the tables have been turned!

            This is too much! I’m going to get myself a bowl of Haagen-Dazs!

    • http://twitter.com/TomCrowe Tom Crowe

      Paulspr, You confused arguments here and missed the point.

      E pluribus unum is about nationalities, not any old difference or deviancy we can grow fond of. But I think you knew that.

      When people opposed to same-sex “marriage” argue against civil marriages we are not making an argument based on religious tenets but on human history, biology, psychology, and statistics. Your claim of a religious liberty violation when pursuing a civil marriage is a non sequitur. It is utterly baseless.

      On the question of why people oppose same-sex “marriages” in general versus what you are describing, it comes down to definitions. If you want same-sex couples to be able to enjoy the tax benefits and contractual statuses that married couples enjoy, that’s one thing. Fight for civil unions if you want that. But that’s not the agenda. The agenda is to force everyone to accept this new definition of “marriage.”

      If it comes down to it, I’ll accept getting the state out of the marriage business and have the state issue nothing more than “civil union” licenses/recognitions so any combination of human persons can obtain such a recognition or license. It’ll be little more than a contract. I believe it would be harmful for society, and I believe the stats back that up, but if that sort of strategic retreat is necessary to preserve marriage as it truly is then I can accept it.

      But that isn’t what the same-sex “marriage” campaign is about. We both know that but only one of us is willing to admit it.

      • Marvin Derks

        “The agenda is to force everyone to accept this new definition of “marriage.” No one is forcing anyone to accept anything. Accept what you want. If you don’t want to accept gay marriages then don’t accept them.

        • http://twitter.com/TomCrowe Tom Crowe

          Heh. Yes, if only it were that antiseptic and easy. I think you know better.

          • Paulspr

            No, it actually is that easy. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t gt gay married.

          • http://twitter.com/mcford1 mcford1

            “Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get gay married.” Right, Paulspr. And don’t own a B&B forced by law to cater to sodomy. And don’t own a bakery compelled by law to bake wedding cakes with two little “grooms.” And don’t own a photo studio forced to take pictures at gay “weddings” or by hit by legal penalties.

            And don’t be a faithful Catholic, or be subject to the Orwellian jingos and soft-headed politicizing of the Paulsprs of the world. Yes, you’re right, it really is that easy, Paulspr. All one has to do is check one’s brains and morals at the door, right next to one’s civil liberties.

          • Paulspr

            If a gay couple was wondering the street at night, do you think Jesus would have left them on the street to suffer, or invited them into his home to eat and rest?

      • http://www.facebook.com/greg.smith.1420354 Greg Smith

        Tom ~ Just FYI, in the early “90swhen the gays in San Francisco proposed domestic partnerships the Archdiocise tasked George Wesolek to organize a referendum against it. Some of the material put out by non-Catholic groups was right out of Der Strumer. They won, but a year later the gays got organized and reversed it 60/40. That contest led to the rise of the gay political movement in the Bay Area. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Archbishop Quinn had just said “OK as long as marriage is reserved for husbands and wives.” Pax Greg

        • http://twitter.com/TomCrowe Tom Crowe

          Greg— As I said, there is still a very strong argument from many angles that partnerships or civil unions recognized by the state are bad for society, and those arguments can be advanced by people within a religious hierarchy without the arguments themselves being rooted in purely religious doctrine. That said, if push comes to shove, a strategic retreat is better than surrender.

          • Paulspr

            And there it is. You just don’t want gays to have any rights whatsoever.

            I’ve never seen a single rational argument that domestic partnerships are somehow bad for society. You are just manufacturing some vague threat from gay people in order to incite prejudice. How predictable.

          • http://twitter.com/TomCrowe Tom Crowe

            The powers of reason that you have demonstrated in this space do not speak well of your ability to recognize a rational argument or admit having seen one. “I’ve never seen” does not equal “None exists.”

          • Paulspr

            When you have no argument or response, you attack the messenger. Way to be predictable.

            Perhaps I should ask this directly. What terrible harms befall on society when gay couples are allowed to form domestic partnerships? Please cite something specific.

          • Joe M

            People who define marriage differently are forced by law to accept gay marriages.

            That is harmful to liberty, one of the declared tenets of this society.

          • Paulspr

            Nope. When you walk down the street and see a happy gay couple leaving city hall with their marriage license in hand, you are still free to think quietly to yourself that they are not married.

            See. Your religious beliefs are wholly unaffected.

          • Joe M

            That argument would make sense if the sum of all human activity involved only walking down streets.

            There are many other circumstances that would force gay marriage upon people who do not accept that definition.



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