Sex and Civil Society

The Vatican has done it again. I mean, they've really done it this time. The Vatican has sent a letter to the nation's bishops urging them to fight against gay rights bills--euphemistically called anti-discrimination bills. That's right, the Vatican has actually come out in favor of discrimination--the one thing modern liberals denounce most fiercely. The letter says that homosexuals should not have equal rights in matters like adopting children, teaching school, or enlisting in the military. No doubt some people will ask what right the church has to speak on this issue. The Vatican's answer is that the Church has been given the task of promoting "the public morality of the entire civil society." These are remarkable words, radical words, in today's society. The Vatican is saying that the Church is not just responsible for the spiritual life of its members but for the moral health of the whole society. Up until now, churches have been debating the issue of homosexuality largely as it affects internal matters: things like whether to ordain homosexuals and how to give pastoral care. But in this letter, the Catholic Church has gone far beyond that. They have boldly proclaimed that homosexuality is not only wrong for Christians but that it also violates natural law--God's ordained plan for the created order. The idea of natural law is that God created people with a particular nature, for a particular purpose. Human life isn't the result of some chance collision of atoms; it isn't the product of impersonal chance processes. No, human life was fashioned by a loving God so that people would marry, raise children, and create a society reflecting God's own holy and loving character. So when we say homosexuality is wrong, we're not just being arbitrary or bigoted. We're saying homosexuality is against natural law: that it cuts across the kind of life and society God intended us to enjoy. But of course in today's society, people have lost any sense of natural law. Morality is considered purely a matter of private choice. To challenge how anyone chooses to live is considered outrageous. So we know what critics will say. They'll accuse the Vatican of being homophobic, bigoted, of trying to impose their morality on the whole nation. But this time the Vatican is absolutely correct. Those of us who are Protestant ought to be standing right up there with them. The truth is, the Christian Church hasn't been given responsibility only for the saved, for the flock within the gate. The Church has been given responsibility for the wider culture as well. We must lovingly persuade people that God's pattern for human society really is best--that if we follow it, whether we're Christian or not, we will have a happier, healthier society. By courageously taking the stand it has on gay rights, the Vatican is throwing a lifeline into the moral swamp of American relativism. Let's pray that other churches will have the courage to join them in their rescue mission.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary