Here’s the teen club fun activity we did tonight. We followed with a very powerful discussion on forgiveness, but this gets them gathered for the meeting. Enjoy!
Presidential elections are always contentious, and mudslinging and name-calling go with the territory. This year’s election however, is taking this characteristic to an extreme. There has also probably never been an election where more is at stake than this year’s presidential election. We have two candidates running for office that are of absolutely completely different viewpoints on the direction in which they wish to take America. To top things off, we also seem to have the two most unlikable people in America running for president, and one of them will win. How we got to this point is not my current concern. The reality is that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States, and their view for the country will be guiding us for the next four years, perhaps longer. While sometimes we feel really sure of one candidate or another and truly like him, that is not always the case, and sometimes we have to vote for the lesser of two evils. This year appears to be one of those times. Sadly, many people vote for a candidate based on his or her likability. I have heard people tell me they will not vote for one person because “I don’t like his voice,” or “he looks creepy to me.” I have never found this an appropriate way to make such an important decision as to whom I will be casting my vote for President. Somebody can be very charming and pleasant but their beliefs can be absolutely diabolical. Similarly, I’ve heard people at times mention that this person or that should be elected because he is a good motivational speaker and knows how to inspire people. This too, is a danger. Who was a greater motivational speaker than Adolf Hitler?! At this point in the 2016 election, the likability factor is totally out the window. As I write this, allegations are coming forward about Donald Trump groping women, which he flatly denies, and which he claims are deliberately fabricated by the Clinton campaign. I certainly do not know how these allegations will end. I personally find the timing of these allegations very questionable, that actions that reportedly occurred years ago are all of a sudden y coming to light just three weeks before the election makes you question the truth of the allegations. If they are in fact true, then they tell us something important about Donald Trump. If, however, they are false accusations fabricated by Hillary Clinton and her campaign, then that tells us something extremely important about Hillary Clinton. The truth behind these is bound to be damaging to one or the other candidate. Will they affect our vote? For me, I have decided as I always do that it is all the more important this year that we vote for the candidate who most represents my vision for America and whom I think will lead us in the direction in which I want to see our nation go. I find it critical at this point that we pay attention not to the mudslinging and the accusations against candidates but what they stand for and what they advocate. Every American needs to figure out which issues are the most important in his or her life and are the most critical for casting their vote, and then choose the candidate that best represents their views. I would now like to take you through my own thought process as to how I have come to the decision of the person for whom I will vote.
I am not registered in any political party. I do this specifically so I can feel free from party allegiance and cannot accuse myself of blindly supporting my party’s nominee. I make any choice I make based upon the Gospel of Christ. Jesus is my truth, and I am convinced that fidelity to His teachings will lead us to a happy and prosperous nation and ultimately salvation. I am further convinced that all the world needs to follow Christ and espouse what he teaches, even if it’s not popular or politically correct. I therefore weigh all the issues in relationship to the Gospel and try to prioritize them as to which ones are most important. I rarely find a candidate that agrees 100% with everything that I as a Christian believe, but sometimes I can find one candidate that supports more of my beliefs than the other and whose direction is more intrinsically in line with the Gospel of Christ than the other. This year I have been able to prayerfully conclude that one of the two major candidates can morally receive my vote.
While there are many pressing issues that people will discuss, everything from global warming to ISIS to the economy, for me the most important issue I see is the moral decay of our nation. We are morally bankrupting ourselves, and if we continue down this path we will destroy ourselves long before ISIS or global warming gets around to it. We have increasingly become a nation that is seeing God as obsolete, and every year things seem to get worse. When I was a boy the prevailing sentiment was that Catholic teaching is archaic or antiquated. “This is 1975!” was the mantra I remember hearing over and over again, and that the church had to modernize and change her teachings to be more popular. Of course I reject that view. But today things have gotten even worse. God’s laws have ceased to be seen as antiquated and have now come to be seen as hostile, as discriminatory, and as hate filled. Decisions by our Supreme Court that have legalized same-sex marriage as well as policies by the current administration encouraging people to choose to be whatever gender they wish – as if being male or female is up to my opinion as opposed to biological fact – leave me extremely worried about our future. We have developed a world that sees the foundation of truth in personal opinion. Opinion, however, is not the source of truth. How many times have we discovered later that we were wrong about what we previously felt or thought? This also is precisely what Original Sin was all about. Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is a nice poetic way of saying they tried to decide for themselves what was right and wrong rather than listening to what God had revealed to them, and the results of that were disastrous! Year-by-year I see us further and further alienating God and deciding that we as Americans can choose our own destiny and our own truth rather than listening to what God reveals to us, yet when we do that things don’t improve; on the contrary, they only get worse. When was the last time you heard somebody say they really like the direction in which America is heading and that everything is wonderful? Virtually everyone agrees that our country is not doing well and we need a radical change, yet it seems that the further away from God we get the worst things get, and the more we continue to think we don’t need God. God provides the moral foundation upon which a stable and healthy society is created and I find it imperative that we reestablish God and his sovereignty over our lives. When we take things into our own hands we only reap disaster. That was the whole message we read through the Old Testament. When people followed God things went well for them, but when they abandoned God things were a disaster until they finally turned to God again and followed him. Only then did they improve. The same is true for us today.
Presidents will often make decisions that we don’t like and sometimes we are under the effects of their policies for four or perhaps eight years. Then a new administration comes in and they often change some of those policies, and they no longer bind us. Economies ebb and flow often from external factors that have nothing to do with the president’s policies. But one legacy a president leaves behind is whom he or she appoints to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices can last for decades. The next president of the United States may have the ability to appoint as many as four new justices to the Supreme Court. This will shape the moral direction of our nation for better or for worse, and whom they nominate for the Supreme Court will affect us for decades to come. Therefore, for me, the single most important issue facing us as Americans in the 2016 presidential election is the next president’s nominees for the Supreme Court.
I don’t like the direction in which the Supreme Court is currently taking us. Recent decisions by the court seem to be politically motivated and what I call “the bandwagon effect”, meaning that they seem to jump on the bandwagon of what is currently popular just to please people. Any new idea that comes along is too quickly embraced without looking through the ramifications of where this will lead down the line. Any objection, even if based on millennia of human understanding and reason, is quickly dismissed as “discrimination” and “hate speech.” I do not support the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision, nor do I support last year’s equality in marriage declaration. I firmly believe these two need to be revoked, as they put us down a dangerous path. Hillary Clinton has publicly affirmed Roe vs. Wade and the marriage equality act, and she has promised that she will only nominate for the Supreme Court justices who will defend Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land and continue to advocate so-called “marriage equality”. For this reason alone, I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. For me, to vote for Hillary Clinton would be to vote for somebody who is espousing everything that I feel is offensive to God and is taking us away from him and in the completely opposite direction of where I want to see America go; therefore, I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton.
The next question then becomes, can I vote for Donald Trump? Personally, I do not like either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Both are arrogant in my eyes. Hillary Clinton tends to blame other people for her mistakes and does not take responsibility for her own actions, plus she has been caught in so many lies that that makes me question whether or not I can truly believe anything she tells me. Donald Trump has a habit of opening his mouth and saying nasty things to and about people that grate on my conscience, and there is an arrogance about him that I personally do not like, and I probably would never want to find myself playing golf with him or sitting with him at dinner. That being said, following my own rules from the beginning of this post, I must put those personal feelings aside and look at the issues. I don’t agree with everything Donald Trump says. For example, I find the NRA to be gun-happy, and I do believe there have to be some restrictions on gun sales and stronger controls over who may legally purchase a gun. While I certainly respect the legal rights of hunters (even though I could never go hunting myself) and I support people owning rifles for hunting, as well as responsible people owning handguns in areas where people feel the legitimate need to protect themselves and their loved ones; nevertheless, I don’t see why anyone needs to own a semiautomatic rifle or submachine gun! But I do agree with Donald Trump on many other issues. As concerns our fight against Islamic terrorists, I do believe, as Pope Benedict once said, that nations have the right to secure their borders and cannot be expected just to open them to everyone. Hillary Clinton’s desire for open borders with Mexico is a danger in my mind and I do believe there have to be some legitimate means of vetting out those who would be here not to become part of the American system and the American dream but to destroy us. While the refugee situation is certainly of critical importance, and we have a Christian duty to take care of the legitimate needs of refugees from foreign wars; nevertheless, we have to make sure that our enemies are not deliberately sneaking terrorists into the United States by passing them through disguised as innocent refugees. I agree with the analogy that blindly accepting all immigrants into the country is like welcoming the Trojan Horse. We do have to make sure that the people we are accepting across our borders are not here to harm us but are here to take part in the American life, and that they will support the laws of this nation. I personally would have no trouble refusing admission to anyone who thinks that America has to be run by Sharia law. If they do not agree to abide by the Constitution of the United States, then we have no moral obligation to accept them. But most importantly for me, Donald Trump has stated that he wants to recover traditional Christian values, especially among people he appoints to the Supreme Court. I personally don’t like the idea of litmus tests for justices. I would like to know why presidents can’t say they will choose people who will put their personal feelings aside and will interpret the Constitution as it is written rather than promising to place people on the Supreme Court who will already interpret the Constitution the way they want to see it interpreted, as I believe Hillary Clinton has done. But since that is not the case in America today, I must side with the candidate who shares my view on the moral direction of our nation and who will appoint nominees to the Supreme Court who will restore the Court to one that respects the sovereignty of God. Donald Trump sufficiently shares that view with me, and therefore, after prayerful consideration of both candidates I have decided that I will be casting my vote for Donald Trump.
Let me make it perfectly clear, because I know some people will respond to me by saying my decision to vote for Donald Trump automatically means I approve of everything he says. This is simply not true. I repeat: I do not agree with every opinion of Donald Trump nor do I like his attitude, so please kindly refrain from posting anything in response to this blog post saying that if I support Donald Trump I must obviously then support his belief in “such and such” or that I “enjoy seeing women mistreated”. That is simply not true. The only other option would be if I felt Donald Trump did not sufficiently support anything of what I believe, leading me to feel it would be equally sinful to vote for him as I feel it would be to vote for Hillary Clinton. If that were the case, then I would have an obligation to look at one of the minor party candidates or write myself in for president. But again, while I do not like Donald Trump’s character or the way he speaks to people, and I don’t necessarily want to be his friend and have dinner with him, when I look at the issues, I cannot in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton, and I can find enough in line with Donald Trump to justify my voting for him. And especially since the alternative of giving my vote to a minor party candidate would be further ensuring a victory by Hillary Clinton – which I believe would be disastrous for the United States – I feel I in good conscience can cast my vote on November 8th for Donald Trump, and if you agree with our Catholic moral beliefs I urge you to do the same.
I recently came across this blog post about the effects of contraception on our society. It is well-written and deserves to be seriously pondered by all.
Discipline and Contraception: A Cause for Joy
A few nights ago, well after our darling little three year old should have been asleep, she came running into our room crying hysterically. Something about her night light and a noise and now it wasn’t working.
Upon investigation, we found this:
Turns out, she was playing with a penny and placed it on the metal prongs of the plugged-in night light which caused the explosion, the noises, and the scariness. We are thankful that she is okay, and she cried over and over again that would, “never ever do that ever again.” We used the opportunity to reinforce why she isn’t supposed to be playing with coins in her bed (we’ve already had to explain the choking hazards), and why she should not play with her night-lights or outlets in general. The next step is taking her coins away completely, because discipline requires consequences for behavior. It is because we love her that we want to discipline her so that she remains safe.
I started thinking about this incident again when I was reading about the Wijngaards Statement to the UN, encouraging the Catholic Church to change its stance on contraception.
Back when Humanae Vitae was written, Pope Paul VI warned that if we went down the road of widespread acceptance of contraception, we would see in our culture a lowering of morality, increased infidelity, less respect for women, and government coercion of reproductive technologies. He, like a loving father, warned us that if we were going to play with pennies in an electrical outlet, we were going to get burnt.
But for the most part we didn’t listen, and now look around you. Religious groups are suing the government over the HHS mandate, some countries forcibly abort babies past the second child, the Ashley Madison leak revealed thousands of names of men being unfaithful for their wives, pornography is a billion dollar industry and fuels sex trafficking, and we all know someone affected by divorce or infidelity.
We are experiencing the consequences of our actions, and I think many in the younger generation are now desiring the safety of discipline. You can tell us “no” to contraception because we have experienced the devastating effects of divorce, pornography, rape, and infidelity in our own families. I think deep down, like children, we want to obey and be protected from the harmful effects of going against the plan God has for us.
A group of 500 scholars have come out with a statement (and signed by hundreds of more with doctorates) denouncing the Wijngaard position and affirming all the Popes’ teachings on the inseparable unitive and procreative meanings of sex, as well as the language of the body as self-gift in the marital act, and how contraception distorts that meaning. You can read the “Affirmation of the Church’s Teaching on the Gift of Sexuality” and read all the signatures here.
Now back to discipline. Some of the Church teachings can seem hard at times. I see couples wrestle with these hard teachings during marriage prep all the time. I have wrestled with them myself. Even disciples in the bible struggled with accepting hard teachings. And then I see my kids struggle to put their clothes away when I ask, or clean up the toys in the basement, and I know that we all struggle with accepting doing the hard things. Still, it’s good for us to learn to obey and learn the value of discipline. There is the fruit of joy in peaceful, loving families with faithful spouses and respect for all life. This fruit can only happen when we reject the rebellion of contraception and accept the sometimes-difficult way that is open to life.
“Endure your trials as ‘discipline’; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? . . . At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7-11