I recently saw a quiz on the popular site Buzzfeed called, “Are you going to Hell?” Intrigued, I decided to take it. The quiz asked questions regarding my views on same-sex marriage and sexual morals, among other things. Due to my understanding of such issues, Buzzfeed claimed I was going to Heaven…but that I probably shouldn’t be allowed to.
It seems that many people tend to view those adhering to traditional morals—people who expect society to live up to such standards—as too judgmental or narrow-minded. If we personally adhere to these “backward” standards of conduct, we are expected to keep them to ourselves and not tell others how to live.
Politicians often claim to hold a certain conviction personally, such as being pro-life, but profess that they do not believe they should force others to follow these same morals. True morality, however, is not subjective and thus applies universally. If you believe something is morally wrong, you cannot accept that anyone else might partake in that activity.
When Mario Cuomo visited the University of Notre Dame in 1984 and delivered the lecture “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective,” he admitted to being pro-life personally, yet he did not dare impose his “religious” beliefs on others.
I am not making a statement about public policy, but simply about the objectivity of moral wrongs and goods. If an action is wrong, it cannot, and should not, be tolerated; the number of people who support it does not change this fact.
Upholding traditional morals comes with a concern for the common good and the preservation of the family—we believe in these moral standards because they are based on authentic truth and thus create moral individuals and a moral community.
On college campuses, where tolerance and acceptance are praised above objective moral good, students advocating traditional moral values experience much opposition. Even at a Catholic university like Notre Dame, animosity persists, and those with traditional values tend to keep quiet for fear of being labeled judgmental.
In my own experience, my beliefs about marriage and relationships have not always been welcome. As a Catholic, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and unless a man and a woman are united in this sacred union, they must remain celibate.
I have gotten into disagreements with others about these two particular topics, especially relating to homosexuality and the hookup culture. I have been called a “homophobe” for professing my understanding of marriage, but I cannot let this false label affect my views. According to a recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California Los Angeles, 71.3 percent of college-aged students support same-sex marriage. Even though I find myself in the minority with regards to same-sex marriage, I believe as a Catholic that I am called to be a witness to the truth.
I have also realized that I am in the minority of college students who have a problem with the hookup culture. The casual way people describe “hooking up” is troubling, but sometimes I just let it slide. Trying to engage with friends about my views on the subject has led to unpleasant and occasionally hostile encounters. Many of my friends hold to the pervasive conclusion that I don’t have to “hookup” if I don’t want to, but that I should accept that others have a right to do it.
Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to simply acquiesce and remain silent on these crucial issues, especially because the vast majority of college-aged students support same-sex marriage and have no problem with commonplace, random hookups. I have too often found myself trying to avoid them in conversation in an attempt to avoid conflict, instead of truly being a witness to the truth.
I am by no means suggesting we must purposely enter into heated arguments about controversial issues with our peers. Rather, I am advocating not shying away from the discussion and using these opportunities to inform others of the truth, even though it may be difficult in contemporary culture. In the words of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I believe that Pope Francis was speaking to all students at Our Lady’s University when he challenged Notre Dame to be an “uncompromising witness … to the Church’s moral teaching.” We are each called to take up this task by vocalizing the truth about these controversial practices that are evidence of a much deeper problem of society—the absence of God due to increased secularization.
My father often says that the best way to draw people to the Church is through joyful action. By living happily and fully, I may help others realize what richness the Church’s teaching can bring to every person’s life.
As St. Bonaventure declared, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”
Though we must speak out against these issues for the sake of truth, we can direct more people to the truth through our actions and the joy and fulfillment we exude in living according to the Church.
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