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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Are We Haters?

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"If you love me, keep my commandments" "If you love me, keep my commandments"

After posting a comment on The Remnant’s blog, Fetzen Fliegen, about singer/activist Elton John singing the praises of Pope Francis, his new ‘hero’, we garnered a few comments on The Remnant’s Facebook page accusing us of hating those with whom we disagree. One comment in particular provided an opening for us to address this issue of “hate” head on. Since hatemongering is the accusation du jour, leveled against anyone and everyone who would dare hold up the law of God to a world that is increasingly rejecting Him, we believe the following exchange may be useful.

COMMENT FROM HEATHER: Can't we just love all people for who they are? Doesn't your faith and religion teach you to cherish all life? Hate and meanness hurt all including those that spread it. Someone may not have the same beliefs as you but that doesn't mean you should put them down or bash their way of life. Put out hate and hate will spread...put out only love and love will be returned.

MJM RESPONDS: Agreed, Heather! Of course, our Church teaches that charity must always come first and that hatred of anyone is a mortal sin which, unrepentant, makes a person deserving of eternal damnation. And if you actually read the article you may be surprised to discover that it's something of an ironic defense of Elton John.

After all, one can hardly blame Elton John for the fact that our Church has recently begun sending mixed signals and confusing messages about the possibility of watering down her own teachings, which are based on the law of God and Holy Scripture. If the Catholic Church could actually abandon her own catechism, moral theology and scriptures in the face of these now controversial “social issues”, then perhaps this all would make sense. The problem is, she can’t now nor can she ever, and to suggest otherwise is to perpetrate a deception that is itself a violation of charity.

The Church simply cannot abandon her teachings on Faith and Moral without abandoning her divine constitution. So at the end of the day, Elton John is being deceived by the suggested message of imminent compromise, recently sent all over the world by the ill-fated Synod on the Family in Rome. This is not love. Love means telling the truth and, as the resistance of Cardinal Raymond Burke and others has now amply demonstrated, the waters of truth were in this case muddied indeed.

But about his question of hate, let us consider an example or two. Does the drill sergeant hate the soldiers he is commissioned to train in boot camp when he insists they learn the rules of army life and live by them? Of course not. It would not be an act of love or compassion for him to tell his soldiers to sleep in, skip the drills and do whatever they want. You and I may think those rules are over the top but we would hardly accuse the drill sergeant of hating his troops for enforcing them. If he cares about his soldiers, he will do his job by enforcing rules that in combat will mean the difference between life and death.

Now, you don't have to agree with our Church's moral theology to understand that it can't possibly be right to withhold the truth about what the Church teaches, merely to make someone feel free to live as they want. As practicing Catholics we all accept the rules, which include a demanding moral theology that may well conflict with our given “lifestyles”. My Church insists that I cannot commit adultery, for example, that I cannot commit self-abuse, that I cannot lie and steal—in short, that I cannot do whatever I want to do simply because I “gotta be me”.  Like everyone else, I was born with inclinations that are curbed severely by the Church’s moral law, but that does not change the fact that in her prohibitions of acts towards which I am inclined, holy Mother Church acts out of love for me, just as parents act out of love for their children when they teach them right from wrong.

One more example: Does the police officer manifest hatred for me when he arrests me for walking down the middle of a busy road? No, in fact he's attempting to save my life. And even if I know for certain that I'm so fleet of foot as to avoid being struck by one of those passing cars, I still could not jump to the outrageous conclusion that the cop trying to enforce traffic/pedestrian laws harbors hatred for me in his heart.

Similarly, I don't resent my Church for telling me that there is a God, that there are Ten Commandments, that Natural Law reveals the existence of a Divine Lawgiver, and that I must follow a moral code if ever I expect to save my soul. You don't believe in all that? Fine, but that's precisely not the point. The Catholic Church teaches this; she exists not to green-light all of my inclinations but rather to tell me what she has told my fathers and mothers all the way back to the time of Christ—“This is what you must do to save your soul.” That's her job, if you will. That is her reason to exist, not to make me feel good about myself but rather to teach me how to do the right thing, even when it is difficult.

I firmly believe that Elton John, who is my brother, also deserves to know the full truth about God’s love, His justice, and the moral teachings of His Church. Disagree with this all you want, but please don't confuse it with hate. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. If I hated Elton John I'd be utterly apathetic to him and wouldn't care in the least what he does. It's because I believe in Jesus Christ that I am confident He loves me, a sinner. But I cannot love Him on the one hand and reject His teachings on the other, nor can I suggest this option to others.

If Jesus Christ came down to earth and died for us so that we may have a chance to save our souls, then we must share His love and explain and defend the rule of moral law that He has lovingly given to all men—even to a world that has largely rejected both His love and His rule. The point is, He rules over this world and all of us whether we acknowledge Him or not. And there will be a reckoning, not from us, but from Him, the Divine Judge of us all.

Hate has no place in the Christian religion, and just as you have sought to correct me, out of love, for what you see as my destructive inclination toward evil, so too I would try to share with you, Elton John or anyone else what I see as the truth. God is love and God is merciful; but love without justice is cheap and dangerous sentimentality.

You didn't leave me in my "hate and ignorance" tonight but rather sought to intervene, and I do not see your intervention as motivated by hate. You're motivated by love, and so am I. Hate has nothing to do with it.



Last modified on Friday, October 31, 2014
Michael J. Matt | Editor

Michael J. Matt has been an editor of The Remnant since 1990. Since 1994, he has been the newspaper's editor. A graduate of Christendom College, Michael Matt has written hundreds of articles on the state of the Church and the modern world. He is the host of The Remnant Underground and Remnant TV's The Remnant Forum. He's been U.S. Coordinator for Notre Dame de Chrétienté in Paris--the organization responsible for the Pentecost Pilgrimage to Chartres, France--since 2000.  Mr. Matt has led the U.S. contingent on the Pilgrimage to Chartres for the last 24 years. He is a lecturer for the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy. He is the author of Christian Fables, Legends of Christmas and Gods of Wasteland (Fifty Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and regularly delivers addresses and conferences to Catholic groups about the Mass, home-schooling, and the culture question. Together with his wife, Carol Lynn and their seven children, Mr. Matt currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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