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How to Lose a War

If you’re a general and you wish to break the enemy’s line of defense, you find his most vulnerable point and attack him precisely at that point with an exceptional concentration of forces.  When you break through at that point, there’s a good chance his entire line of defense will collapse.  You will have won the battle, maybe even the war.

Catholicism’s most vulnerable point, as it defends itself against the assault being made against it by present-day atheism, is its ancient teaching that homosexual practice is a great sin.  Many of our nominal defenders don’t truly believe that this point in our line of defense is worth defending, at least not with heroic energy.  Some of our “defenders” are even quite willing to allow the enemy to pour through a gap at this point.

Once we fail to defend our teaching on homosexuality, once we allow the enemy to break through our lines at that point, can anybody but a fool doubt that other sections of our defense will also collapse?  If homosexual conduct is permissible, how will we be able to say that fornication is seriously sinful, or even adultery?

Once we abandon the old moral doctrines regarding sexual matters, how will we be able to maintain our old moral doctrines regarding lying and cheating and stealing, not to mention our teachings regarding the use of physical force?

And once we abandon our moral doctrines, how will we be able to maintain our dogmas regarding certain essential miracles, e.g., the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?  Finally, we’ll find it hard to believe in the Incarnation or the Trinity or even the very existence of some ill-defined God.

Catholicism is a system; every part is connected with, and dependent upon, every other part; let one part collapse, and the whole system will be in danger.  Let the enemy break through at Fort Homosexuality, and, eventually, all our other doctrinal forts will fall.  Maybe not overnight.  But sooner or later.  Rome wasn’t built in a day; nor did it fall in a day.

The atheistic enemy senses that he is close to victory.  Hence his immense concentration of propaganda forces at this vulnerable point – such forces as Hollywood, popular music, the journalistic media, our colleges and universities and law schools, our public schools, the Democratic Party, and the current president of the United States.

Anyone not aware of this must have slept through the recent month of June, Pride Month.  But this great propaganda assault is not limited to Pride Month.  Far from it.  It’s a 12-month/24-hours-a-day assault. And it tells us, without ceasing, that homosexual desire and homosexual intercourse and homosexual relationships are splendid things. And that to utter negative words about these things, or even to have negative thoughts about them, is very naughty, even downright wicked.


Why are American Catholics inept at defending the faith at this vulnerable point?  A number of reasons.

  1. Catholics, once a marginalized group in America, have long since been thoroughly Americanized; hence, if being pro-homosexuality is now the American thing (which it seems to be), we Catholics can hardly help but be pro-homosexuality.
  1. Many Catholics have adopted America’s now-dominant moral theory, according to which everything is morally permitted that does not cause obvious and tangible harm to another. Since homosexual acts don’t cause the sky to fall, they must be morally permissible.
  1. We live in a highly commercial society in which “anything goes” provided it’s not bad for business. Homosexuality, it seems, is not bad for business.
  1. We commonly construe the commandment “love thy neighbor” to include the sub-commandment “don’t hurt thy gay neighbor’s delicate feelings.”
  1. Since we either know – or know about – homosexual persons who appear to be living unobjectionable lives, we figure that their sexual proclivities too must be unobjectionable.
  1. Most of our bishops and parish priests avoid making a great fuss about the wickedness of homosexual conduct. And if an unwise bishop does happen to make a great fuss (see Bishop Strickland of Tyler TX), the Vatican may pay him a cautionary “visit.”
  1. Pope Francis doesn’t help when he pays extraordinary honor to Fr. James Martin, S.J., America’s most famous/notorious pro-homosexuality priest.

What can we Catholics, pre-eminently our bishops and priests, do to defend the faith at this point of maximum vulnerability?  For one, we might adopt as our motto the words of the great abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: “I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – and I will be heard.”

This doesn’t mean we have to re-criminalize homosexual conduct.  It’s too late for that.  Besides, we need to make a clear distinction between moral permissibility and legal permissibility.  A religion like ours, which for centuries allowed legal tolerance of prostitution, can allow legal toleration of homosexuality.

But we must do what we can to end the public glorification of homosexuality, a glorification that undermines the foundations of our religion and corrupts the hearts and minds of our young people.  At a minimum, we must shout from the rooftops a message that our religion has proclaimed ever since the days of the Apostles, namely that homosexual conduct is a great sin, a vice contrary to nature.

This will take a certain amount of courage.  But not tremendous courage.  Not the courage needed to face death by martyrdom.  Rather, it’s the courage needed to face insults like “homophobe,” “bigot,” or “hater.”  In some few cases, the courage needed to face the loss of a job opportunity, even the loss of a job.

If, on the other hand, we elect not to defend the teaching on homosexuality that dates back to the Age of the Apostles, and even earlier into Jewish tradition, the faith our descendants inherit will be no more than a shadow of the Catholic faith handed down by the Apostles.

We may kiss American Catholicism goodbye.


David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, and most recently Atheistic Humanism, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Church.