Love and hate

What is love? What is hate? To love someone is to want what is best for him or for her. What is best for every person is to do God’s will. And what is God’s will? That we love him, serve him, and obey him and that we love our neighbor as ourselves.

It is the duty of the pope, the bishops, the priests, and the laity to proclaim the truth as God revealed it to the world, without compromise, for how can people obey God if they don’t know what he has commanded. That is love.

In a way, we are like postmen who are legally required to deliver the mail to those to whom it is addressed. In that mail there are bills and checks, we must deliver both, but we are not responsible for what those who receive them do. If they throw the checks in the trash rather than cash them, that is their loss. If they don’t pay the bills, that is their problem. We have done our job. We can’t say, “Bills make people feel bad so I will not deliver any bills, just checks.”

If we speak the truth and others don’t listen, God who is all loving and all merciful will judge their hearts. This is not our task and I for one am glad. When I come before God, I plead for mercy and I pray that he will be merciful to others. But how can people know to ask for mercy if they don’t think they have done anything wrong? And how can they know what they have done wrong, if the world is constantly telling them that what they are doing is OK and we who know the truth are silent?

If we withhold the truth or water it down, we are not being loving. As Catholics -- as Christians -- we must be faithful to the truth even to the shedding of our blood. We, who have been entrusted with the truth, must never call black, white or evil, good. For us this would be a terrible sin, because we would not only be endangering our own immortal souls by lying, we would be leading into sin those who might hear us and believe what we say,. This is the worst kind of crime. This would be a real hate crime.

Tragically, many think that it is wrong to hurt people’s feelings. We must distinguish between personal accusation and public proclamation. The Church is called to proclaim the truth, both the good news of salvation and the warnings about sin -- and not just about sexual sins, though today it appears that the only sins that the world doesn’t want to hear mentioned involve sex. The goal is to bring people who are committing sins to repentance and to warn those who are tempted not to go in that direction.

This may hurt certain people’s feelings, particularly if they are engaging in these sins and feel justified. On the other hand, as a Church and as individuals, we must be very careful about making personal accusations, particularly those based on gossip or hearsay.

Jesus laid down a procedure for dealing with the problem in Chapter 18 of the Gospel of St. Matthew verses 15-18. This process may be very painful for those who are confronted with their faults, although I have found that those who feel obliged to speak to another person often find the process painful.

Today, the number of those directly attacking the clear teachings of Scripture is growing. They have declared war on the Church, demanding that Church change teachings that cannot be changed. They insist that if the Church will not conform to their ideology then the Church is guilty of “hate” and “bigotry.” They want the government to force the Church to be silent by restricting its right to participate in the life of the community, removing its tax-exempt status, and threatening its members with accusation of “hate speech.”

These activists see “hate” everywhere. They claim we “hate” women because we proclaim the truth that life begins at conception. We were told that we hate persons with same-sex attractions because we insist that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Their goal is clear: truth spoken with love will be legally designed “hate” and the prophetic voice of the Church silenced.

We must not let this happen.

Dale O’Leary is an internationally recognized lecturer and author of “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality.”