Cheer up, social conservatives. Things aren’t so bleak as they seem.
To be sure, the battle over gay marriage is lost. Not to be flippant, but so it goes. Sometimes, in this imperfect world, the wrong side wins. Yet there are many reasons for that happening, and not the least of which is the simple fact that the world in its imperfect vision blurs the lines. People reach a point where they cannot or are unwilling to fully see right from wrong; this is not said to excuse them but only as an observation. Either way, we’re at the point so that as long as religious liberty is not infringed upon by the gay rights activists we may just have to live with parts of their program. Worse things have happened in human history and, not to excuse them, but sins of the flesh are indeed the least immediately harmful of the sins. At the end of life, those who commit them will have to answer to God for their errors as we will for ours. If you aren’t shuddering at the task of explaining your own sins to St. Peter, then you may need to give that question better thought anyway.
But as to our responsibilities towards justice on this Earth, well, sometimes all that can be done, so long as we’ve actually done all that we can do lately, is to wait for the next best opportunity and do what we can do now about whatever other errors are out there. With some few exceptions, there is no point to fighting battles which cannot at this time be won. All that does is expend resources uselessly while perhaps leading to other more critical battles unwon. Abortion still exists, and is surely a worse evil. So long as we will not support human rights among our weakest brothers and sisters then talk about rights and responsibilities in general is pointless. Even this does not preclude our speaking from the pulpits and through our social media against what has been made conventional. Leaving the battlefield does not mean we are no longer to propagate. It only means that we must be patient about ultimate ends.
The one thing we cannot do is allow ourselves to be painted into a corner. We cannot be lumped in with the buffoons who say that rape can’t cause pregnancy or that God wills this or that; we don’t really know God’s will in particular instances, and He cannot undo the free will of men and women. But we insist that as a group we are not Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock. We must stay reasonable about our cause. Further, we must not allow ourselves to be called bigots. It is the bigots against religion who call us that, and they cannot be allowed the high ground. We speak, if we speak truly, for what is really right and what is really wrong. As such, we need to call for honest introspection and proper self denial among ourselves as well as our adversaries. They speak almost by definition for shallow self interest. That by itself should give our beliefs greater moral clarity and power.
And it will in the long run. Keep the long run in mind, for the short run will never give us complete satisfaction for the good or the bad. That’s simply the way things are, and there’s no use becoming pessimists over short term defeats. We must remember that we are called to optimism in this world even when evil seems to be carrying the day. Without that belief, how are we to be optimistic about the next?