American society is still built on a desire for truth. In most venues whether at home, work, business, play, or even in the functions of government, this is true. Despite this longing for truth and honesty in all areas of life, people still lie. I often pause in awe to realize that the American people are still appalled in 2008 when lies or vices are exposed.
Denying a cynical view, they even now look to truth and virtue as the standard and yearn for it.
Most recently as an example, people were surprised at the revelations of the national mortgage lender crisis involving the familiarly known entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The vice of greed most recently exposed the managers and executives of the lenders, because they received false generous bonuses due to pufferied income figures. From the most celebrated case, Enron, to Wall Street, from Congress to city hall, greed and lies continue to be exposed.
Its impact on the U.S. economy and on the international scale may unfold for years as investors and consumers loose confidence and trust in the American financial system–at one time the envy of the world.
The life of overconsumption and abuse of the material creation caused by greed and dishonesty has affected America. Of course, as the old biblical saying goes, the Truth shall set you free. All people hold onto affections, ideas, things, desires, hopes, and dreams that are yet be exposed to the light of truth, and when done so, if we are honest with ourselves, we tend to let those things go. After all, God wants us to be free. When we are truthful with ourselves, and with each other in charity, it is there that we are able as children to receive His grace and adore Him fully.
Yet, the impact of lies on our Nation is especially revealing today. The leading example is abortion (the legal prohibition of abortion was lifted in the 1970s). There are philosophical and religious institutions and profit-making industries devoted to one colossal lie and to the loss of one life at a time: that it is legitimate to spill the blood of a kid in the womb.
Another 1970s monstrosity changed modern American jurisprudence. It enables men and women by the thousands daily to lie with little or no effort in court. In the early 1970s, the legislatures across the United States passed laws that permitted divorce by a reprehensible claim of “irreconcilable differences.”
By simply testifying before a judge under the penalty of perjury, imprudent men and women tell a judge that he or she cannot cannot reconcile with their spouse. Christians and non-Christians alike. Catholics and non-Catholics alike. No statistical difference. Yet, these Christians and Catholics lie, stating proudly and unequivocally that they cannot get along with their soon-to-be former spouse. [Note here that this does not discount the spousal physical or sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, or adultery, or other legitimate causes. These can be legitimate and right claims to escape the terror of real abuse].
Where the claim of irreconcilable differences are made in court, surely there are some differences between spouses that are insurmountable and irreconcilable. Yet, divorce? Have we become so desensitized that America–or should I say, Catholics–has forgotten the real tragedy called “divorce?”
By the grace of God, the effort to get along with one’s spouse is more than mere words, challenges, or claims. Has the husband been all he can be in Christ? Has the wife been the helper that she has been called to be? Most often, the failing answer is “No.” This is not an excuse for divorce. The classroom called marriage teaches us the real reason for the marital institution: to help us save our sinful souls. Men need to be men and use their testicles. Women need to be women and to stop looking at the extremes of feminism or other false ideas.
The real casualty of the courtroom lies is the children. Their limitless imaginations, playfulness, inquisitiveness, innocence, and love are shattered against the rock of selfish and impatient worldliness, and self-absorbed spouses known also as Dad and Mom. The social devastation and evil done to children in this generation and its progeny is immeasurable except by God Himself. Yet, we live with it today, with children who quickly become adults, well versed in the excuses and misgivings of adulthood long before their bodies reach maturity. They have learned the wiles of lying parents, maddened by separation, frustrated by lost and noble parental purposes and love, and haunted by a seemingly unrecoverable loss.
The world looks at this and says, “Get over it,” “Live with it,” or the old primers, “It must have been God’s will,” or “My spouse is not the same person I married,” or with equal nonsense, “He (or she) was too immature, incapacitated, or childish to have entered marriage.” As arrogance is to pride, is denial of the impact of divorce on individuals and society. Another lie.
As friends, ministers, and counselors of these dissolved spouses, we church men and women at times rush to salve the guilt that dissolution brings, ready to deny the truth and the trajedy, to give excuse and comfort to every sigh and whim rather than encouraging the spouse to face, settle, and reconcile differences with his or her spouse. Are those who aid and abet such nonsense any less problematic or better said, any less sinful?
Christ came as a sign of contradiction. Too often, what we see on another person’s face is not what is inside. Defensiveness caulks up our willingness to expose our innards to our spouses and friends. Poor thinking and sinfulness further darkens our minds and weakens our wills that is so necessary for grace, the type of grace that encourages reconciliation and hope for a relationship, for ourselves, but most importantly for our children.
The one hope that can be expressed is that the American people born of freedom and personal responsibilty, still show an outward love of Truth. Yet as the human condition reveals we often tolerate lies that end up either killing people physcially or inside their souls. It is hopeful, that in an effort to right some of the wrongs of the last supercilious 20th Century, i.e., self-absorbed, permissiveness, feelings, sexual revolution, abortion, divorce, and excuses upon excuses, that we can reform some of the laws the permit an easy divorce, or an abortion that kills a kid.
Of course, a change in the law does not change hearts. The law is but a standard. The law will change most fully when we adapt our lives personally to Christ.
A just society can be measured by how it treats its families, treasures relationships, and secures those relationships to secure the institution called a family. In this way, the most innocent members of society which are our children, remain protected whether in the womb or in the bedroom. Trust of family, friends, and institutions will be remade, and our society reformed.
In the end, Catholic social justice demands that the family be protected, that abortion be ended, that the divorce laws are reformed, and that Catholics make their spouses and children their first priorty after God–not jobs, wealth, or things. Outside of Our Lord and the promise of Salvation if we but follow His commands, These are the most dear and lovely things in our personal possession.