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In Canada, there is a continuous edging-forward of legislation that aims to further constrict the expression of our Catholic Faith, or rather, the expression of truths written into creation that our Catholic Faith merely upholds.
At this time, this constriction seems to be focused on matters pertaining to sexuality, under the guise of providing people with the "right" to engage in (nearly) any type of sexual configuration that they feel drawn to. This "freedom" is marketed as a "human right" on a scale far more grand than people realize.
As we progress along this trajectory, the stage is being set for Catholic sexual ethics (and human anthropology overall) to be re-framed as something that counters human rights. Though we are not completely there (yet), laws proposed like the one identified below seem to indicate that we are very likely on the way to that eventuality.
As it is, it seems that our world is well beyond the point of trying to merely create a culture where people are shamed for holding authentic Catholic beliefs about human anthropology (within which sexuality is merely a subset). The law proposed is far more sinister in scope — it is about minimizing the possibility for other ideas (and mindsets) to even be expressed altogether, whereby a violation may cause people to face legal sanctions.
Meanwhile, average citizens are presented with an overly simplified explanation of this bill that has been tailored to suit the overall sentimentalized tendencies of this day.
The problem is that even though people have the good desire for justice, their paradigms of reality are increasingly shaped by cultural forces in ways that are devoid of the consideration for the truths written into creation, which form the bedrock of justice. That is to say, measures like this are paving the way to a future where truth is secondary to sentimentalized value-sets, and since the Catholic Church upholds truth, it is seen by many that the Catholic Church needs to be annihilated (or eroded).
Also, in speaking through the lens of being a trauma survivor myself, I can now see that our society is very much acting in ways that seem like "textbook" trauma-response behavior. In our society, a person's "own truth" is enshrined as being superior to the truths authored into creation, which allows a person to believe whatever they want if it feels more comfortable for them.
As a result, it promotes the idea that people ought to stay where they are instead of being as open to growing as they otherwise could be. And this systematically entrenched suppressor of uninhibited personal growth (that we don't even realize exists) prevents people (to some degree) from becoming engaged in a journey whereby they may be more likely to begin a transition from merely coping to actively pursuing something better along some sort of healing trajectory.
Also, however, is the increasingly common situation where people are becoming more bold with their proclamation that anything that challenges that which is seen to be most sacred (such as "sexual freedom") ought to be destroyed or incapacitated. This gradual shift in our society seems to be a macro-example of the many individual cases of people living in fear of what they do not know (and do not want to know).
I was that person too at a prior point in my life, lashing out at those who brought an idea different than my own, that hit a little too close to the deepest wounds in my life that I had tried to bury for so long. I understand that trauma, and the trauma-influenced response, but I also understand that it is possible to move beyond that.
Nonetheless, if the laws being proposed in this day and age were being proposed in my time of deep unrest several years ago, they would have prevented me from ever being able to see a mindset beyond what I had entrenched myself within — which was largely based on the ideas I was exposed to.
The laws would have prevented me from entering a better place, where I am now truly free, having now tasted the joy of pursuing chastity, with both same-sex attractions and transgender inclinations both being a part of my history. That is to say, these types of laws would have made it more difficult for me to move beyond the misery and despair of thinking that "gay is who I am" and forever who I must be.
Yet it seems that those who push for these laws do not want people with a story like mine to know there is a way out and that there is such a thing as a joyful, chaste narrative. Truly, if all stories matter, and if tolerance is really a thing, then that narrative has to be included, as opposed to being illegalized.
Within this law, there are some chilling lines of text. It is not merely about therapy designed to change a person from gay to straight (which, of course, the Catholic Church doesn't endorse anyway). Rather, it seems to be all-out aimed at outlawing anything that may direct a person to living a holy and virtuous life. Consider the following excerpt:
286.6 (1) In this section, conversion therapy means any practice, treatment or service designed to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity or to eliminate or reduce sexual attraction or sexual behavior between persons of the same sex. For greater certainty, this definition does not include a surgical sex change or any related service.
As anyone can plainly see, this is about more than attractions experienced (which, of course, people don't choose). Rather it is also about identity (and therefore also self-concept, and therefore also self-concept-influencing experiences/encounters, and therefore also perceptions — of ourselves and of our life experiences). All of these things are connected to the mindset to which a person becomes attached (and the formation of that mindset), in addition to any sexual/romantic behavioral patterns that people may choose to engage within, en route to fulfillment within said mindset.
If this particular law passes, it appears as though we will no longer be able to encourage people who experience same-sex attractions or transgender inclinations to live chastely. However, if we offer the invitation of chastity to all people, without there being any reference to persons who experience same-sex attractions or transgender inclinations, then it is possible that it may be perceived to be not contrary to the law as proposed.
At best, however, that is a maybe.
A worst-case scenario would be that our invitation to chastity for all people would be interpreted as being specifically binding to those persons who experience same-sex attractions and or transgender inclinations (even though it is proposed for all people). However, given that our world does not look towards the Church's understanding of chastity but rather its own, I believe that we ought to anticipate that worst-case scenario as being more probable than not.
If we awaken to that likelihood now, then we will have more time to prepare for the day when the only thing we will be able to do is simply promote a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, via our offering to others the invitation to make room for Him in their hearts, if they want Him. This, however, will still allow us to evangelize. Jesus Christ is not subject to the laws of man. And God can work through us in this way if He wants.
Furthermore, for as long as people still thirst for truth, they will thirst for something more, and will answer the call to walk away from things that are oppressive of truth — and thus will continue to walk away from the LGBTQ movement (note that the number of people who represent this population is growing rapidly).
In short, with a law like this, the Church does not seem to be de facto illegalized, although Catholics would become further limited in what they would be able to say or do. That is to say, how we express our faith, in some ways may, in fact, become illegal.
Furthermore, expressing our desire to draw people into the pursuit of living holy and virtuous lives will also perhaps be considered illegal, because in doing so, we will be drawing them into the conversation of virtue, and through a true openness to growing in the fullness of virtue, people's whole lives begin to change — with regard to expectations about their lives, their purpose and what their pursuit of fulfillment might look like. These are factors that stretch far beyond the idea of a change in attractions/inclinations experienced.
With that being said, it leaves much of the work in the hands of those who are willing to share their testimonies, unpaid, wherever they go, not as a service but in conversation with as many people as possible.
The law does not (yet) forbid people from joyfully sharing their love for Christ.
It does not forbid people from saying that they found joy in pursuing Jesus Christ and a heart of chastity. It does not forbid people from saying that they now experience joy in their choice to abstain from sexual relations (and their choice to live celibately if remaining in a single state). That is, it does not forbid people from expressing the joy that they now experience, nor does it forbid people from saying that they wish other people could also experience that joy. It also does not forbid us from proposing that Jesus Christ can give us a love that is greater than what we have ever encountered.
However, if this new bill is passed, it would forbid us from proposing that a person ought to do this or that. Indeed, this must be resisted, lest the envelope be pushed even further in the days after these.
In a sense, however, this is actually nothing more than a refining of effective evangelical methods that we already know. We know that telling people they ought to do this or that is not the most effective way to reach and transform hearts. Rather, we know that sharing our own stories of joyful conversion is far more effective.
If anything, God might use the proposal (and possibly passage) of this law to write it into the hearts of all remaining faithful that if there ever was a time for us to strive to evangelize first and foremost by revealing the love of Jesus Christ, the time is now. Why? Because it is soon becoming the only form of evangelization that we will have left. That is, unless there is a concerted effort towards appropriate resistance against the ideology of this day.
And when we suffer for sharing our stories (which it seems we eventually will, regardless of the degree of resistance that we build), we will not only be given the gift of being able to share in the sorrow of Our Blessed Mother, but also in the experience of Christ's crucifixion. And, as I heard from a monk long ago, when our liturgies become illegal, our crucifixion will become the liturgy. And if we cooperate with God by offering our sufferings to Him within a gift of love, He can use it for the salvation of souls, which for us, should be a cause for great interior peace and joy.
And if we suffer that crucifixion with peace and joy within our hearts amid the pain, some people will want to know the reason for our peace and joy (while others will observe, reveling in the moment of resentful vengeance). The truth is that people are going to suffer in life, but if we can give them hope amid suffering, through the profound example of our own martyrdom (not that we ought to seek that out), then let us rise to that occasion as it approaches.
To prepare for this is not akin to abdicating our role in resisting the current cultural push. Rather, it is about us preparing for how to deal with the worst-case scenario, while being open to the truth that this trajectory may be averted through our concerted efforts, led first and foremost by prayer and fasting.
Overall, regardless of the role that we will play in how this unfolds, I invite all people to look to Jesus Christ, and to our Blessed Mother, Mary, and to her holy and chaste spouse, Joseph, and be reminded that we need not fear suffering, and that we are to utilize every day of our lives to learn to suffer well so that within our suffering we may be the beacons of hope within a world of darkness, pointing people to a reality that exceeds human understanding. And may any law of this type be an opportunity for us to glorify God at all times, especially amid the reminder of the most unspeakable acts of persecution that have occurred before, and which may very well occur again in the future.
And may the peace and joy in our hearts — despite all of that — be what provides the seeds of resistance for others.