Time for Civil Resistance to Civil Aggression

The suicidal turning point for the American system of government did not arrive with the legalization of same-sex marriage for the whole country last week, but with the legalization of the killing of unborn children in 1973. The latest event was simply a further step into the disintegration of just rule in this country. Abortion is a monstrous crime against humanity, and when a government proclaims the right to kill the most innocent and indefensible human beings under its care, it has deeply undercut its right to rule.

Legalization of homosexual “marriage” is likewise an act that contradicts the very reason for the right to rule. The legal basis for any government is its commitment to truth and justice. Declaring such unions to be true marriage is both a metaphysical lie and a serious offense against the order of justice, undercutting the very structure of human society as such. The 1965 Griswold decision and legislation that began the redefinition of marriage by allowing contraception for all Americans made gay marriage almost inevitable.

Roe v. Wade, which the other two branches of government have tacitly endorsed, effectively condemned millions of innocent children to death, over 50 million to date. If the Shoah undercut the legitimacy of the German government, surely the many millions of innocent deaths have compromised legitimacy of our government. The most recent attack on the moral order has simply deepened the case.

Catholics and other Christians who oppose these crimes have stood fast in teaching and belief, but have done little to reverse them. In the days of Nazism, there was both condemnation and active resistance. That resistance was both non-violent and violent, and it had a role in actually defeating a powerful government and replacing it.

Christian resistance has been virtually non-existent when it comes to active resistance to this government of ours that offends justice and truth and thereby contributed to the deaths of tens of millions. Now it has shattered marriage as a civil institution. Previous resistance has refused to recognize how the government delegitimizes itself by such actions. So the resistance is limited to trying to pass legislation to reverse abortion, and it will likely take the same approach on homosexual marriage. It simply refuses to oppose the government itself that has caused this madness.

Now, I believe firmly that to be effective, Christians must resist in non-violently, and only non-violently. But this resistance must take place in very public ways, by refusing to cooperate with a government that has involved itself in crimes against humanity, and in the destruction of marriage, family, and the social order based upon the family.


The late British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe already saw in 1972 where sex deliberately made sterile was leading us:

If you can turn intercourse into something other than the reproductive type of act (I don’t mean of course that every act is reproductive any more than every acorn leads to an oak-tree but it’s the reproductive type of act) then why, if you can change it, should it be restricted to the married? Restricted, that is, to partners bound in a formal, legal, union whose fundamental purpose is the bringing up of children? For if that is not its fundamental purpose there is no reason why for example “marriage” should have to be between people of opposite sexes. But then, of course, it becomes unclear why you should have a ceremony, why you should have a formality at all.

That last sentence suggests one possible mode of resistance to this latest aggression by the Supreme Court. Congressman Steve King has already proposed that states, which alone legislate regarding civil marriage, might simply get out of the civil marriage business altogether. Let the churches take care of the ceremony and formalities of marriage for their members and private marriage chapels do so for others who want a formal ceremony.

For the rest, just have a registration of a contract for tax purposes, and then let them draw up their own pre-contractual agreements for distribution of property when the contract fails. Since civil marriage now has essentially nothing to do with children, simply let the state legislate on their behalf in the same way as it does for children born out of wedlock. The state no longer has any rational basis for its legal interest in marriage (What would it be? To provide for comforting lonely people as Justice Kennedy muses?). We should just get it out of the marriage business altogether.

While the Church could support such an end to civil marriage after this decision – though it most likely will not – it could easily remove itself from the civil marriage business by refusing to allow its priests any longer to act as agents of the state for purposes of marriage. That would be a mild form of active resistance to the government and would also cut off a legal path to the homosexual lobby ever trying to force priests to perform such ceremonies based on the fact that priests are state agents. The Church could allow its members to go through a civil ceremony after the real marriage in the Church, as is done in other countries.

The Church cannot remain neutral to this governmental aggression and reasonably hope to save its children from becoming children of the government. This battle is just beginning, especially for the souls of children. They are soon going to be aggressively indoctrinated in this destruction of marriage just as they are being indoctrinated today in moral relativism with respect to human sexuality in government schools. Our children – all children – need a public witness to remind them they are in a hostile, anti-Christian environment. There is no time to lose.

Fr. Mark A. Pilon (1943-2018) was a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, VA. He received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Santa Croce University in Rome. He was a former Chair of Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, and a retired and visiting professor at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. He writes regularly at littlemoretracts.wordpress.com.