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Attacking the Catholic Church: an assault on morality?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome seen from the roof of Castel Sant'Angelo showing the dome rising behind Maderno's facade (Credit: Wolfgang Stuck via en.wikipedia.org)

“It’s Time To Quit the Catholic Church,” proclaims a full-page ad in The Washington Post that’s making news today.  The ad asks, “Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages?  Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs?”  It closes: “We invite you to free yourself from incense-fogged ritual, from ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men, from blind obedience to an illusory religious authority.”  The ad was placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose co-president says, “We’re telling truth to power.”

Are they?

Their ad chides the Catholic church for its “irrational opposition to medically prescribed contraception.”  Here’s the story: last year, the Obama administration mandated that all employers, including Catholic institutions, must pay for health insurance covering sterilization, contraceptives, and the “morning-after pill.”  Under heavy criticism, the administration amended its position to require instead that Catholic non-profits allow employees to obtain such coverage in their insurance plans.  But who will pay for this coverage?  What if the employer is self-insured?  What about Catholics who own non-religious businesses?

Here’s my larger question: are we seeing an unprecedented assault on Christian institutions and traditional morality in our day?  The gay marriage controversy continues this morning with Newsweek‘s cover story proclaiming Barack Obama “the first gay president.”  New studies indicate that gay characters on television programs such as Will & Grace are changing our attitudes toward homosexuality.  Modern Family, which features a gay couple in the process of adopting a second child, is now the most popular TV show in America.  Is this an intentional strategy to win acceptance for a lifestyle that the Bible warns us against?

How should Christians respond?  First, we must model the morality we ask others to consider.  If our “salt loses its saltiness” or our light is “put under a bowl” (Matthew 5:13, 15), others will judge Christ by the Church and reject both.  Second, we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  Our culture deserves to know God’s word on the issues of our day, but it also deserves to know God’s love for us, whatever issues we face.

Last, we can change culture most effectively by attaining our highest influence and living there faithfully as followers of Jesus.  James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World proves that cultures can resist political strategies such as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, but they have no defense against Christians using their influence to share God’s love with their world.

Are you concerned about the moral trajectory of our day?  God is looking for changed people he can use to change the world.  Did you read this essay by coincidence or providence?