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Objectionable or exceptional - you choose

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By Melanie Pritchard

Note: Melanie Pritchard is a renowned Catholic chastity speaker. A few years ago she nearly died in childbirth, but underwent a miraculous recovery. Read about her near-death experience here.

August 27, 2012 (MelaniePritchard.org) - One evening in my college dorm room, I saw myself in a mirror and didn’t like the reflection looking back at me. I began college a strong Catholic young woman and four short months later I was looking in a mirror not able to recognize myself. The decisions I made in college were drastically different from those I made in high school. I began wearing revealing clothes, going to parties, dating guys who had nothing to offer me but good looks, and listening to music, reading magazines, watching TV shows and movies that didn’t correspond with my dignity. I didn’t realize that all these little decisions would add up to this moment looking in a mirror hating who I had become, not realizing how I even got there.

I called a mentor and friend and revealed to her my inner longing to find joy again, to find me again. She asked me a question that opened my eyes to what was going on in the culture. She said, “Whose plan are you following for your life?” It was a soul awakening moment because naively I did not realize there were people in our culture who had plans and agenda’s for my life, for my relationships, and for my sexuality.  I remember feeling like a fool not recognizing that there are groups of people who don’t have my best interest in mind whether it is for their selfish, social, or financial gain. After much thought, I made a list of all the things I was allowing to influence me…guys, friends, movies, magazines, music, etc. Then I began to think about the source of those things. I thought, “Who wrote those Cosmo and Glamour articles my friends and I read as if they were the gospel of fashion and relationship success? Who were those musicians singing the songs we danced and listened to? What were their lives like? Were they happily married? Were they joyful and content? Did they come from good families? Did they practice a faith? Who has formed them?”

That was the day I decided that I would no longer let some unknown person sitting in a cubicle in New York writing some article they had to get in on a deadline tell me what was in. I was no longer going to let them tell me how to dress, function in a relationship, or teach me about sex. It was then that I took a look at the culture and saw three plans people are choosing to follow in their relationships, for their sexuality, and in their lives.

Plan 1: People who choose to live morally objectionable lives. They set their own standards. They have several sexual partners, they cheat, hook-up, are addicted to and promote pornography, pre-marital sex, alcohol and drugs. They view sex as just a pleasurable act that should have no boundaries. They are selfish, careless and use people and things for their own fleeting pleasure. They have abandoned God in order to do whatever they want. They object to the idea that there is any real truth. Some might call them moral relativist. They reject the idea of sin and often talk about no rules, no morality, no Heaven and no Hell. It’s a really easy plan to accomplish because it takes no act of virtue, discipline, sacrifice, or act of faith.

Plan 2: People who choose to live “seemingly” morally acceptable lives. They set their own standards and fit God into their life plan when they see fit. They are fine with just being average in their faith and values. They may not have sex before marriage, but they will do everything but that. They wear a cross as jewelry while wearing booty shorts and revealing cleavage shirts. They party hard on Saturday night but do their best to be a regular Mass go-er on Sundays. They live with one foot in the world and one foot in Church, often seeing how far they can push the limits. They desire to have values, but aren’t willing to commit fully to making good choices. They want to go to Heaven, but are willing to settle for Purgatory in order to satisfy their earthly desires. They may try to master some virtues but give up on the ones that are too hard. They can sacrifice, be disciplined, and act in faithful ways, but choose to only when it fits them best. It is a hard and confusing plan to follow because they are living between two opposite worlds often feeling a tug-of-war in their hearts.

Plan 3: People who choose to live morally exceptional lives. These are the people who know they are weak and broken and need God’s strength in order to live exceptionally. They follow God’s standards and believe He is the Way, The Truth and The Life and that He created them in His image and likeness. They believe God created them uniquely masculine or feminine and designed their sexuality for the specific purpose of bonding two people together and allowing them to co-create with God. They believe they and others have value and worth. They believe that choices have consequences and they seek to form their minds to make decisions pleasing to the Lord. They choose to have sex within marriage alone as their sexuality is a gift to be given to one person. They find their worth in God and not in fleeting things. They do what they ought instead of doing what they want, not because it confines them, but because it is what frees them. They seek to serve and be Christ-like and their ultimate goal is to get themselves and others to Heaven. They pray daily, are in relationship with God, they sacrifice on a regular basis, and they seek the Sacraments to help them stay strong. They believe that God allows them to love as He loves which is always exceptional, and His grace is what allows them to live up to His standards. They know they can’t do it on their own. They wake up daily trying to live to their fullest potential knowing they may fail but knowing there is always tomorrow to try again. This is the hardest plan to follow, but the one that brings the most joy and peace.

Reading through the “Plans” you may be asking yourself which one you follow, but I must warn you, one of them is a figment of the follower’s imagination. Revelations 3:15-16 tells us “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”  “Plan 2: ‘Seemingly’ Morally Acceptable” doesn’t really exist because either a person is in a relationship with God allowing Him to set the standard so they can move toward exceptional love or they are in a relationship with sin choosing a morally objectionable life. Sadly the plan I see many follow is a “seemingly morally acceptable” one where they are always in great danger of falling more and more into sin, sadness, and loneliness instead of a life of grace, joy and freedom.

If I were to ask people if they want to live a morally exceptional life, I feel their response will be one underlined in fear. They might say, “I don’t want to be a saint; saints are exceptional!” When what they are really saying is, “I don’t believe in myself enough to live to my full potential.” These were my own thoughts as a freshman in college when I chose to believe I was living a morally acceptable life, only to find myself…lost, doubting my own potential for greatness. Those of us who have believed it possible to live a “morally acceptable” life can tell you it is a constant tug-of-war, sliding into objectionable decisions (sin), but desiring to be exceptional (in relationship with God).

There isn’t a famous athlete or musician in this world who would walk on a field or stage and say, “Today I am NOT going to play to my full potential. I’m NOT going to go out there and give it my best. Today I will settle for third.” No, instead they say, “Today I am going to try to be exceptional. I will try my hardest.”

We have it in us to play, sing, dance, study in exceptional ways, but why is it some of us cringe at the idea of being morally exceptional. We choose passions where we have to make healthy choices, be disciplined in our regiments, and sacrifice, but when it comes to our morality, we don’t know if we are capable.

And, maybe that is just it. When it comes to morality, it is harder, and we just aren’t capable…on our own.

Every day we walk out the door of our homes in a battle: A battle to protect our purity, dignity, chastity and virtue. Peers, billboards, magazines, music, TV shows, movies, books, boyfriends, girlfriends will tempt us, bombard us, and pressure us to make dangerous decisions that may negatively affect our lives. We are in a battlefield. Where is our armor?

Our armor is the sacraments and the Holy Spirit! In addition, making a habit of all the four Cardinal Virtues of prudence (wisdom), justice, fortitude (courage), and temperance (self control) strengthens our armor and prepares us to combat a culture that is getting ever more morally objectionable. A culture which is willing to settle for mediocrity instead of exceptionality! We weren’t created for mediocrity. As Pope Benedict said to a group of young people, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!”

And, those who choose, regardless of how many times they fail, to be morally exceptional, are the game changers! We can change the world with our yes to the Lord, with our yes to being loved rightly, and with our yes to the sacraments. We will change the world by rejecting conformity and inviting Christ in to transform us. We will change the world with our joy.

And, when people ask us whose plan we are following, we can say, “The Maker and Creator Himself. The One who wrote the original plan. The plan that lets you look in a mirror and like what you see. The plan that brings you joy and secures your spot in Heaven for all eternity.”

Remember, God doesn’t need you to change to come to him. If you are far from God or living your faith with one foot in the world and one foot in Church, go to God without changing. If change needs to be made, Christ will inspire it within you. We can’t be morally exceptional on our own; it takes God’s grace. The Holy Spirit is our strength. We must live our lives with intention and choose to live to our fullest and greatest potential, seeking to be exceptional knowing it is God that makes us perfect through His Son.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” –John 10:10

Reprinted with permission from MelaniePritchard.org

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David Bereit of 40 Days for Life, on the right.
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All one fight: Why the leader of 40 Days for Life says he may become active in the fight for marriage

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Just eight years ago, 40 Days for Life was founded as a pro-life Christian ministry. This year, it reached 252 cities in 19 countries.

Now, says founder and National Director David Bereit, he's discerning whether to expand his personal activism to marriage.

"The various moral issues we confront in our culture today are all intrinsically connected," Bereit told LifeSiteNews at Saturday's March for Marriage. “When you look at the various factors that lead to the breakdown of nations and civilizations, they are moral factors," Bereit said. "It's the devaluing of human life, it's the abandonment of religious belief and practice, it's immorality -- the increase thereof – and it's the breakdown of the family."

"They're all tied into this moving away from God, and America was founded as a nation with Christian principles and ideals that used to say 'In God We Trust.' And the further we've turned away from that, the more we have fallen,” he said. "I believe that with man, turning the tide in our culture is not possible, but with God, all things are possible."

Bereit stressed that his attendance at the March for Marriage, as well as his ongoing process of discernment, was representative only of his own circumstances -- not those of 40 Days for Life, which remains an abortion-focused ministry.

Bereit did not shy away from questions that are often raised about what President Barack Obama called America's “tragic” history.

"America was built on Judeo-Christians principles,“ he said. “There are still fallen people that make up our churches and our communities."

"The question is, will people of faith and conscience turn back to God and do their very best to align themselves with the principles that formed our nation and made our nation such a great place in history?"

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The third annual March for Marriage, which was organized by the National Organization for Marriage and exclusively livestreamed by LifeSiteNews, drew thousands of people, mostly minorities, just three days before what is being billed as the definitive U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the issue of same-sex "marriage."  

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‘Persecution plain and simple’:  Franklin Graham fundraises for Oregon bakers after GoFundMe shuts them down

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By Ben Johnson

BOONE, NC, April 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – First, they were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual “marriage” ceremony. Then, a rival business owner convinced GoFundMe.com to stop Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein from raising money to pay the fine on the grounds that, since their religious beliefs violate state law, they are common criminals.

Now, one of the nation's most well-known Christian ministers and philanthropists is coming to their aid.

An administrative law judge fined the Oregon bakers, proprietors of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, $135,000 to pay for the emotional suffering of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer – a lesbian couple who say they feel the Kleins “mentally raped” them.

The Kleins have since closed their Portland-area business and lost substantial income. After hearing of the fine on Friday, Melissa said the amount would financially crush them.

The family opened a GoFundMe page and, within hours, they collected more than $109,000.

Then Lisa Watson, the co-owner of Cupcake Jones in Portland, began lobbying the website to banish the couple's appeal.

“The amount of money they have raised in a matter of a few hours by thousands of anonymous cowards is disgusting,” Watson wrote on Facebook. She added that the website's “terms of service address hate speech, bigotry, criminal activity, and sexism among other things in their campaign.”

GoFundMe then suspended the Kleins' fundraising.

“While a different campaign was recently permitted for a pizzeria in Indiana, no laws were violated and the campaign remained live,” GoFundMe said in a statement. “However, the subjects of the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”

The day after the announcement Watson, who operates her business with husband Peter Shanky, posted a photo of her 2015 Equality Advocate Award “for outstanding leadership to advanced lived equality for all LGBTQ Oregonians.”

The Kleins hope the website will reconsider. “We have told GoFundMe that the money is simply going to be used to help our family, and there is no legitimate breach of their terms and conditions,” the Kleins wrote on Facebook.

That's when the Reverend Franklin Graham and his ministry Samaritan's Purse stepped in, allowing those who wish to alleviate the couple's suffering to donate on its website.

"The fund was created to help persecuted Christians in the U.S., including Aaron and Melissa Klein,” an employee at Samaritan's Purse told LifeSiteNews today. “It was only activated over the weekend and the organization has not yet announced any numbers. Currently, Samaritan's Purse is focused on the earthquake in Nepal and providing relief supplies to people impacted by the disaster.”

Graham praised the Kleins' steadfastness in the face of legal challenges. “They have taken a stand for the Word of God, and they should not have to stand alone,” the ministry's founder and president Franklin Graham said. “I believe that Christians across our nation will rally around Aaron and Melissa and their five children. Please pray for Aaron and Melissa, and pray for our nation. When our judges are punishing Christians for practicing what they believe, that’s persecution, plain and simple.”

“God bless Reverend Franklin Graham,” AFR Talk radio host Bryan Fischer said today. 

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The Kleins will still receive the money raised by GoFundMe, in addition to any supplemental funds raised by Graham's international charitable ministry.

Conservative author Dan Calabrese wrote that “Melissa's Sweet Cakes will not have to go into bankruptcy and the family won't personally be ruined. And what a disappointment that must be to the gay mafia, whose agenda is to intimidate all gay marriage opponents into not just silence but compliance, for fear of just such” an outcome.

Christians have risen to the challenge before. Memories Pizza raised more than $840,000 after the Indiana pizzeria was harassed into closing its doors for saying it would cater a same-sex “wedding.”

Calabrese warns that these victories may lead to more intense anti-Christian persecution.

“When put in an untenable position like this, Christians and others who support their right to operate their business as they see fit will come to their aid. So the gay mafia will take it up a notch, attempting to intimidate the fundraising organizations from cooperating with the effort,” he said.

If that fails, “Maybe they can persuade friendly Democrat lawmakers (or terrified Republicans) to legislate them out of business.”

Readers can donate to the Klein family here.

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Opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’ – a deeper love

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By John-Henry Westen

April 27, 2015 (CNSNews.com) -- Same-sex “marriage” – the legal recognition of same-sex relationships – is one of the most contentious issues in America. Laws, constitutional interpretation, and the future of religious liberty may well rest on what nine justices decide two months from now.

Many observers seem to believe that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of redefining marriage. And while many on all sides of the debate, especially those who are undecided, believe this will bring cultural peace, evidence around the world points in the exact opposite direction.

Rather than settle animosity and ease cultural tensions, the advent of same-sex “marriage” will lead to the repression of religious freedom and determination to root out dissent to the gay rights doctrine. At LifeSiteNews, we have watched this play out for nearly two decades in 17 countries around the world – and America is next.

A prime example is Canada. Same-sex “marriage” passed in 2005. Similar to European countries which have done so, there has been a relentless pursuit of the minds of children against the wishes of their parents. Schools, both public and private, were first mandated by law to have gay-straight alliance clubs under the auspices of anti-bullying. Then, sex-education, teaching the normalcy of homosexual sex, was given to children without parents being permitted to opt their children out of the classes.

We have arrived at this state of affairs because of the silence of Christian pulpits on sexual matters, and the concomitant shouting from every secular pulpit, screen and book. Even the current discussion around same-sex “marriage” in the United States reveals a grave reluctance to speak about the heart of the issue – homosexual sex. Rather, arguments are made about the goodness of natural marriage, about its benefit to children, and its unchangeable character.

From reporting on the subject every day for so many years, we knew that the struggle for same-sex “marriage” has very little to do with marriage. In fact, until just recently, gay activists didn’t even want to be “married” to each other. Most had no interest in the constraints that such a formalized union would entail in terms of exclusive partnership.

However, the leaders among the activists convinced the movement that they must attain marriage as a societal stamp of approval to homosexual behavior. And, frankly, they have largely succeeded.

Today, in many of the nations where same-sex “marriage” is law, opposition to it is seen as akin to racism. It is seen falsely as an animosity against someone for who they are—an unwillingness to recognize the human dignity of a class of persons due to an immutable characteristic.

However, that false perception is due to a purposeful agenda to conflate animosity against homosexual sex acts with animosity against persons who experience same-sex attraction. The ancient Christian teaching to “love the sinner and hate the sin” is an impermissible distinction in the minds of some. It is, however, the key to understanding the majority of the opposition to same-sex “marriage.”

The plain truth of the matter is that opposition to same-sex “marriage” is rooted not in hatred and bigotry, but just the opposite – in love. Like parents who do not allow children to behave dangerously without lovingly correcting them, opponents of same-sex relationships are hoping to save people with same-sex attractions from severe physical, psychological, and spiritual harm.

Just as, out of love and concern for their children’s welfare, parents must correct and discipline, despite the protests they may get in return, any true believer in marriage, natural law and science must lovingly correct their fellow man.

In other nations, the perception that opposition to same-sex “marriage” is based upon bigotry has led to laws that violate religious liberty, parental rights and freedom of speech. This is why those who oppose same-sex “marriage” must present their reasoning as based on love and concern for the welfare of those in homosexual relationships, in addition to concerns for children and society itself. And there is ample evidence on which to base that concern in the numerous studies showing the grave harm of homosexual sex to both body and psyche.

When I’ve spoken of these findings at conferences around the world, some have questioned if the researchers who showed these harms weren’t themselves biased by anti-gay sentiment. And so I’ve taken to carrying with me on my phone the quotes of the late Canadian gay activist Gens Hellquist, whose testimony proves the harms of gay sex better than any study ever could.

Speaking a year after the passage of same-sex “marriage” into law, Hellquist was seeking more healthcare dollars for the LGBT community. "We have one of the poorest health statuses in this country,” he said. “Health issues affecting queer Canadians include lower life expectancy than the average Canadian, suicide, higher rates of substance abuse, depression, inadequate access to care and HIV/AIDS."

"There are all kinds of health issues that are endemic to our community,” he added. “We have higher rates of anal cancer in the gay male community, lesbians have higher rates of breast cancer.”

He concluded: “Now that we can get married everyone assumes that we don't have any issues any more. A lot of the deaths that occur in our community are hidden, we don't see them. Those of us who are working on the front lines see them and I'm tired of watching my community die."

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Pastors and preachers must take up this call to speak the truth in love, for without this approach, the public will be led to believe that those opposed to same-sex “marriage” are indeed haters needing to be stopped with the force of law. Love is the most powerful force in any argument, and gay “marriage” pushers have used it very effectively. As Hilary Clinton tweeted as she fought religious freedom laws in Indiana: “We shouldn't discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT”

The truth is that those who oppose same-sex “marriage” are showing a deeper love, as any parent does when instilling difficult discipline. We have enough love and concern for those with same-sex attraction to warn them not to engage in behaviors proven to be very harmful. We won’t encourage people to enter into such harmful behaviors by redefining marriage to encourage it, nor will we allow our children to be indoctrinated into regarding it as a healthy and safe alternative lifestyle.

We have failed so far to get this message of love out to the public. I will not be surprised if the Supreme Court approves of same-sex “marriage” – and I will be even less surprised to see a subsequent  crackdown on religious freedom, as already seen in states like California and Colorado.

Pope Benedict XVI predicted it a decade ago. Observing the international trends, the then-Cardinal said “very soon it will not be possible to state that homosexuality, as the Catholic Church teaches, is an objective disorder in the structuring of human existence.”

Reprinted with permission from CNS News

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