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June 18, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — St. Augustine’s famous book, The City of God, identifies the “heavenly kingdom” not as a physical place, but as a way of living in accordance with the Will of God.

The great Fifth-Century philosopher and Doctor of the Church describes certain behaviors and attitudes which we must adopt in order to be included in the kingdom. And he notes that each of us is called upon to decide whether we will make those behaviors and attitudes part of our lives.

In other words, we must choose which city we wish to live in: the City of God (the heavenly kingdom), or the City of Man (the earthly realm).

It’s been my experience that this isn’t a decision we make once for all time. Rather, it’s a process that repeats itself every day of our lives. We choose our city each time we make a moral judgment, deciding to follow what we know is the correct path, or else to cut some ethical corner.

Most of these decisions are about small matters. And while the cumulative effect of such choices determines our moral destiny, we don’t see the immediate results of each judgment — not usually, anyway.

On occasion, though, we run up against a choice whose moral contrast is all too stark and whose consequences are obvious and threatening. I became aware of such a situation this week, when I received a phone call from an attorney who found himself in a quandary.

This fellow works for a government agency in another state. He had been called upon to process a court order to change the legal identity of a 17-year-old boy who’s been adopted by a same-sex couple, now claims he’s a girl, and has begun hormone treatments.

“Can I do this, Father?” the attorney asked me. “I know in my heart this isn’t right.”

His dilemma illustrates how the cultural madness that breaks out from time to time in the City of Man can have profound consequences for the lives of innocent individuals. I receive many questions from lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other professionals drawn into such morally conflicted situations.

There are lots of good people struggling with difficult ethical problems of which we may be totally unaware. And these are not abstract questions. They can affect someone’s livelihood, their civic responsibilities, personal reputation, and position in the community.

As Christians we must never promote what is evil. But it takes a strong and devout person to draw a line and say, “This is where I stand. I cannot do what is wrong.” Because the price of drawing that line may be high. In the case of the attorney — a husband and a father of three children — his job and insurance benefits were at stake.

It’s often the case that your gut tells you what’s the right thing to do, so I asked him, “How do you feel about doing this?”
He said, “I feel sick.”

We talked some more, and at the end of our conversation he said to me, “Father, I’m not going to do it. This is not of God.” He chose to live in the City of God.

I don’t yet know the outcome of the attorney’s decision, but I’m not a fatalist. Things may work out. There was recently a similar situation involving a gym teacher in Virginia who resisted his school’s policy of forcing the use of “preferred” pronouns for children who insist they are the opposite sex.

The teacher was suspended, but he went to court, and won reinstatement on First Amendment grounds. The court found that the school had violated his right to freedom of speech.

It’s absurd that such battles must be fought, such risks must be taken. But that’s life in the City of Man, the place of idolatry, where we’re told a boy can be made into a girl or a girl into a boy, all as an expression of human will.

Just as the early Christians sacrificed much for their right to live according to the Will of God, so are those battles being fought again. Pray for the brave individuals who are carrying on the struggle in our day, trying to live in the City of God.

A priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Rev. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Florida. He is host of “Action for Life TV,” a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications and online journals. His TV show episodes can be viewed online HERE.