Duterte Catholicism: When ‘Love’ Becomes a Heresy

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“Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passé?”

That was the question posed by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte last weekend when he announced his desire to “change the law” to allow “same-sex marriage” for the first time ever in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

But where a brute like Duterte shrugs approvingly at “gay marriage,” Christians are called to shoulder the Cross of true Charity.

President Duterte, notorious for his bloody “war on drugs,” has long butted heads with Church leaders. But his stated reasoning for considering same-sex unions reflects a kind of complacency that has become common even among faithful Catholics.

An amoral authoritarian like Duterte is a prime example of how the “gay marriage” crowd misses the mark when it comes to true compassion. Duterte’s policy of achieving his political ends by any means possible is identical to the Machiavellian tactics of the progressive Left.

Consider this: Duterte, like the U.S. Supreme Court, wants to redefine marriage by fiat against the will of unknown numbers of his own people, without so much as the pretense of a democratic consultation or vote. Many people, however, overlook this “might-makes-right” approach because its proponents employ the language of “love.”

As a result of this tremendous legal and social pressure, many Christians have come to believe that causing “offense” is the cardinal sin of our day. To these individuals, offending others means failing to love them unconditionally.

The love demonstrated by pro-“gay marriage” Catholics only serves the purpose of cynical self-preservation—preservation of their influence and standing in a corrupt society. They’re simply siding with bullies against victims in order to avoid being victimized themselves.

It’s hard to blame them. Who wants to be at odds with the most vocal and powerful members of their community if such a dangerous position can be avoided?

This way of thinking is what keeps prominent faith leaders like Jesuit media priest Fr. James Martin and Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz from defending the Christian views on issues like homosexuality and abortion. After all, if our chief duty is to minimize offense, we must take care not to “judge” those who blatantly disregard Church teaching in pursuit of their own wickedness.

But Christianity doesn’t teach us to live in truth so long as it doesn’t offend the powerful. On the contrary, our faith affirms that the True is always good and worth defending, whether people understand and accept it or not.

It is always good to be honest with your gay parishioners about the Church’s teachings on chastity. It is always good to come down firmly against abortion, even if it might put you at odds with powerful interest groups.

As Christ demonstrated, offending others is sometimes the price of true charity. Recall the Gospel story of the rich young man who wants to know what he must do to gain eternal life. When Christ tells him to sell all of his possessions and give to the poor, he walks away very sad. Jesus’ words had offended him.

The question President Duterte raised is an interesting one. Why rock the boat by defending moral truths when most people will just ignore or dismiss you anyway?

Christ tells us that the answer to this is love—that is, true charity, as opposed to empty affirmation that breeds confusion.

Many modern Christians try to avoid addressing controversial moral issues by claiming that doing so would negatively affect their witness. This term “witness” is often misused to describe how favorably one is viewed by non-Christians.

But the mark of a good witness should really be how accurately one’s life reflects the teachings of Christ, which were often offensive–especially to those who were in a position to punish Him.

The dereliction of moral duty is so pervasive in our culture that it’s extremely rare to see someone who is willing to incur great personal cost in order to defend truth as Christ commanded. One such person is Christian baker Jack Phillips, whose refusal to endorse “gay marriage” has cost him nearly everything.

Phillips stood up for the truth and goodness of marriage, and as a result, lost 40 percent of his business and most of his employees. He’s faced slanderous attacks on his character and the bitter wrath of the increasingly powerful LGBT movement.

The contentious Supreme Court battle, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, is a case study in true Christian charity. Here we have Phillips, a man who loves truth and loves people more than he loves being liked. That is unconditional love in the truest sense, and it is the opposite of merely ingratiating oneself to the powerful.

The most loving man to ever grace this planet was spat on, mocked, and murdered. And Christ promises that if we follow Him, we will face persecution in some form or another. Are we willing to demonstrate that kind of love for our neighbor?

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

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Carly Hoilman is a columnist at CatholicVote.org, and a freelance culture writer and editor based in the greater Philadelphia area. She is a wife, mother, Catholic convert, and alumna of The King's College in New York City. You can find her writings at CatholicVote, TheBlaze, Conservative Review, and Faithwire. Follow her work on Twitter @carlyhoilman.

4 Comments

  1. Two questions for the author:
    1. If the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell was a fiat overriding the will of citizens because the issue was not decided legislatively or via some sort of popular vote, how do you reconcile this with the Loving case? It is indisputable that Virginia had passed legislation banning interracial marriage, as had some 20 other states at the time. How did the Supreme Court, in Loving, have the right to overrule legislatures and popular votes, but did not so in Obergefell?
    2. Your website has written extensively about the Masterpiece case before the Court, and has declared the religious rights of the baker to participate, or not participate in a gay wedding to be inviolable. Given that a significant portion of Americans practice religious faiths that include teachings that espouse gay marriage (the Episcopalians come to mind as an example), why was the Supreme Court wrong to protect their right to participate in civil marriage? Do Episcopalians and/or gay Americans share the same inviolable rights as the Colorado baker?
    I don’t mean to say that your article is wrong or anything, but these seem like some logical contradictions in your argument.

    • To your point, Ben, I am having difficulty with your line of inquiry RE: the Episcopalian and the Masterpiece Cake guy.

      The TEC member’s beliefs affirm SSM. The baker’s may not.

      The two must reach an at-will agreement for provision of services. The TEC member’s beliefs cannot supercede the baker’s, nor can the baker’s supercede the TEC member’s-the resolution is that they do not make a contract and the TEC member obtains the product/service elsewhere.

      It works both ways. No one’s religious belief is being overridden or being made subservient to the other’s.

  2. 1.) Extension of the Civil Rights Act, not (IMO) analogous to Obergefell. A man and a woman were the marital couple in Loving. Miscegenation laws on state books were nullified.

    2.) Do Episcopalians and/or gay Americans share the same inviolable rights as the Colorado baker?

    Yeah.

    No one’s religious beliefs are required to be/should be violated by Episcopalians’ desire for a cake.

  3. “prominent faith leaders like Jesuit media priest Fr. James Martin and Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz ”

    Fallacy here by the author.

    I do not presume these people to have attained this position. Fr.Martin is not a Bishop and Lentz, but protestant definition, shepherds only his own congregants.

    No one looks to either of these two for definitive statements about Christianity. They’re just two guys who who have given themselves a platform.

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