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June 28, 2018 (The Catholic Thing) – In the spiritual life, there is no standing still. You are either advancing or retreating. Like many other true things, this is necessarily taxing, especially when just treading water seems like a triumph.

There is no standing still on the societal front either. Look how quickly the transgender movement followed Obergefell.  It would be folly to imagine that this “achievement” would placate progressives – as if transgenderism were the goal to end all goals.  So one logical question is: what comes next?

It seems there are only two general options.  We might recover a saner appreciation of reality and tradition, or we will continue to degenerate in yet other destructive ways. My guess, unfortunately, is that the latter is more likely.

Polygamy is a somewhat obvious candidate for the next wave to crash ashore. As predicted, Muslims in the West have begun advocating for its acceptance based upon legal precedent sanctioning “gay marriage.” Why should “love” lose in a polygamous context?

The point is not hard to appreciate: they got theirs by throwing reason out the window, why shouldn't we get ours? There is also now a special term for incest – “Genetic Sexual Attraction” – designed to give it a scientific aura and thus a kind of respectability; well, if that is what we are calling it now, it's ok then.

But we may also have to contend with an attempt to normalize pedophilia.  I hate to even write this, but you tell me what is beyond the pale nowadays – and why?  Providing a reason it should be singled out as verboten is not so easy, given the justifications we now accept for other transgressions.

A few months ago, I saw an episode of Chicago Med – a hospital-based TV drama – in which one of the patients facing a life-threatening medical emergency happened to be a pedophile. He did not want to continue being an offender and thus chose to forego treatment in order to ensure his death.

While cast in this sympathetic light, his medical team was eager to find explanations for his “condition”: there was talk about new “scientific” indications that pedophilia could be classified as a disease – traced back to a gene or some neurological trigger. This explains the title of that episode: “Born This Way.”

Pope Francis seems comfortable with that mindset if, as per media accounts, he really did tell a “gay” person – a victim of clerical sexual abuse! – he was born that way. Whatever Francis' actual view, the impression remains that he might have actually confirmed him in that lifestyle; if so, why could he theoretically not say the same for a polygamist or even a pedophile?

And why does this justification only pertain to sexuality: was Bernie Madoff born to defraud the unsuspecting out of their life savings?

The Chicago Med program aired on NBC, an indication they suspect the public may be prepared to accept the concept that pedophiles (like gays) simply act as their biology determines them to act. You see, biology is unalterable (LGB), except, of course, when it is alterable (T).

Biology is what we say it is, when we say what it is. Got the reasoning there? Good, then you see the attempt to classify pedophilia as a disease for what it is: the first step towards normalization. Disease can become benign just as bad can become good – when we say so.

Netflix is streaming a drag queen superhero cartoon, and some public libraries have hosted drag queen story time – yet further indications that some want sexualizing children to go mainstream. UC Santa Barbara also apparently sees this stance as permissible. Are we really going to let the standard “argument” for the gay-rights lifestyle expand to include “access” to kids as a right?

In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Pope Francis spoke strongly against pedophilia – and yet had an unfortunate lapse in so doing. Perhaps it was another case of a poor word choice, but he said:

Towards pedophilia, zero tolerance! And the Church must punish such priests who have that problem, and bishops must remove from their priestly functions anyone with that disease, that tendency to pedophilia, and that includes to support the legal action by the parents before the civil courts.

That disease?  This is the linguistic opening through which zero tolerance morphs into exculpation.

If it is an enfermedad, why would we be talking about zero tolerance? Should a priest with arthritis or diabetes be shown “zero tolerance” when manifestations of those diseases resurface? Trying to reclassify the act of abusing an innocent person as a “disease” should be met with resounding repudiation.

But what do we really repudiate anymore? When there is no objective truth to defend, everything else becomes defensible. Perennial Catholic teaching may be difficult, but it is coherent and its truths fit together as a whole. Take away a seemingly small part of it, and the whole is bound to unravel.

Notice how children are viewed in our post-truth era: unwelcome (contraception), out of the equation (gay), malleable innocents to be steered towards destruction (LGBT indoctrination), and unworthy even of protection from violence (abortion).

Children can also become, through technology, objects engineered to suit the wishes of adults. If we accept these “reasons” to treat children in such a disinterested and ruthless manner, why cannot they also be used as sex objects?

Pushing the envelope in that direction may be packaged by some radical Westerners as “progress.” Yet the practice of abusing boys is already entrenched in Afghanistan.  Take PBS' word for it.

Such is our mental landscape. Nihilistic willfulness is in charge; humane regard for others is on the chopping block. Appeals to reason are as welcome as appeals to religion. Maybe, after all, there is something to categorizing sin – as the Catechism does – as an offense against reason and truth.

We are so estranged from reason nowadays that we are poorly positioned to resist even greater harms lurking ahead.

Published with permission from  The Catholic Thing.