In Ireland, the old is out and the out are in

Current events are a reminder that there is nothing quite as hellbent—quite literally—as a grave sin unleashed, publicly encouraged, and culturally affirmed

The Reuters’ headline declares that the old is out and the out are in: “Gay Ireland hails ‘a new Republic’ as same-sex marriage approved”.

This quote, a few paragraphs into the piece, says even more:

“The amount of people who came out to vote is just such an emotional thing for us,” said Fred Schelbaum, 48, standing with his civil partner Feargal Scott, 43, who he said he intended to marry.

“Up to now a lot of gay people felt they were tolerated in Ireland. Now we know that it’s much more than that.”

Yes, and it has long been about much more than “tolerance”. But “tolerance” and “equality” have been the two rhetorical hammers constantly employed by the Reign of Gay, which has now claimed its most significant, high profile conquest. As expected, The New York Times is delighted that the good (gay) guys have crushed the nasty (Catholic) guys:

Ireland has become the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote, sweeping aside the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in a resounding victory Saturday for the gay rights movement and placing the country at the vanguard of social change.

Ah, who doesn’t want to be “the vanguard of social change”? Change is good, as they say, although reasons for why change in general is good are often vague and reactionary, and the reasons for why this particular change–the wholesale celebration and installation of homosexuality as a social good–are built on the sands of sentimentality and subjectivism.

And yet most individuals and institutions, traversing the same tricky landscape, are unable to mount any sort of cogent response. For instance, here in the United States, the Boy Scouts have finally flown the white, er, rainbow flag:

The Boy Scouts of America must reverse its longstanding policy of excluding gay adult leaders or risk unfavorable legal decisions that could doom the historic organization, its president, Robert Gates, warned his group’s national leadership Thursday. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” said Gates, a former Pentagon and CIA chief. “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”

As head of the Pentagon, Mr. Gates may have been able to help wage wars against foreign powers and terrorists and such, but he is reduced to a meek prisoner of war in the face of being shamed, slandered, bullied, and vilified. The secular leaders of the West, in short, can manage the construction and operation of weapons of stunning technological complexity, but are incapable of defending the foundations of Western civilization: marriage, family, and properly ordered sexuality. That is hardly a new problem, however; it has been the case for decades, with only a few scattered exceptions.

But we expect secular leaders to be secular; that’s hardly newsworthy. What is far more distressing, if not exactly shocking, is the equivocation, even capitulation, of some priests and prelates:

Before the vote, the Bishop of Derry, Rt Rev Donal McKeown, said in a radio interview: “I would hate for people to vote no for bad reasons, for sort of bigoted reasons, for nasty reasons, for bullying reasons. People have to make up their own mind, and I’m quite happy that they can do that in front of God, be it yes or be it no.”

Fr Tony Flannery, a Roman Catholic priest in favour of the same-sex marriage legislation, told Christian Today that the vote was “amazing”.

He said: “This is a conclusive indication that the power of the bishops in Ireland is gone. Even the older generation is not listening to them any more. The young generation came out in force; some even came home from abroad to vote. A new, and very different, Ireland has become a reality today.”

Yes, a “new reality”, but not one that is really honest about reality. However, what is happening shouldn’t surprise us, even if the rapidity of the Reign’s spread is startling. “Nor can we ignore the social, political and juridical changes taking place in our country,” said Gates, “changes taking place at a pace over this past year no one anticipated.” It’s a good reminder that there is nothing quite as hellbent—quite literally—as a grave sin unleashed, publicly encouraged, and culturally affirmed. We need only to look at contraception, abortion, cohabitation, and a myriad of related ills.

Meanwhile, the Grey Lady highlights two factors in the vote in Ireland:

Not long ago, the vote would have been unthinkable. Ireland decriminalized homosexuality only in 1993, the church dominates the education system and abortion remains illegal except when a mother’s life is at risk. But the influence of the church has waned amid scandals in recent years, while attitudes, particularly among the young, have shifted.

That’s fair enough, in general terms. The key word here is “attitudes”–a word that C. S. Lewis used specifically in his brilliant essay “The Poison of Subjectivism”: 

But when we turn to practical reason the ruinous effects [of subjectivism] are found operating in full force. By practical reason I mean our judgement of good and evil. If you are surprised that I include this under the heading of reason at all, let me remind you that your surprise is itself one result of the subjectivism I am discussing. Until modern times no thinker of the first rank ever doubted that our judgements of value were rational judgements or that what they discovered was objective. It was taken for granted that in temptation passion was opposed, not to some sentiment, but to reason. Thus Plato thought, thus Aristotle, thus Hooker, Butler and Doctor Johnson. The modern view is very different. It does not believe that value judgements are really judgements at all. They are sentiments, or complexes, or attitudes, produced in a community by the pressure of its environment and its traditions, and differing from one community to another. To say that a thing is good is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have.

Although Lewis didn’t use the word, what he essentially described is a parasitical process, in which traditional beliefs, rooted in an objective moral order, are relentlessly pillaged, with various nuts, bolts, and other pieces used in the construction of a subjective order that relies on much of the language and assumptions of the previous order:

This whole attempt to jettison traditional values as something subjective and to substitute a new scheme of values for them is wrong. It is like trying to lift yourself by your own coat collar. Let us get two propositions written into our minds with indelible ink.

1) The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum.

2) Every attempt to do so consists in arbitrarily selecting some one maxim of traditional morality, isolating it from the rest, and erecting it into an unum necessarium.

Again, “tolerance” is one such maxim, a traditional notion that has now been completely severed from its original meaning, as well as “equality” and “love”. And then there is the word “marriage”, which is being completely stripped of its authentic meaning and true nature, as Robert R. Reilly recently explained on this site:

Because the use of the word “marriage” is a misrepresentation of the homosexual relationship which it professes to describe, the meaning of “marriage” must be changed and brought into accord with the homosexual relationship. To do this, homosexuals give marriage a purpose that is not congruent with its ends. The heterosexual couple wants, or has as its purpose, the fulfillment of the unitive and procreative ends of marriage. The homosexual couple does not have this purpose, and could not fulfill it. It has a purpose for marriage that is against its ends. The problem is that acting against the ends of marriage will tend to destroy it. This is the nihilism inherent in the homosexual movement.

“Why is this so dangerous?” asks Reilly, “Because the nihilism inherent in the homosexual movement necessarily extends to all of reality.” So, yes, Ireland is a “new Republic”. But what, exactly, does that mean and where will it lead? On what is it built? And for what end? After all, “tolerance” is not an ultimate end, but can only be defined and lived when there is an objective end that is widely accepted. What we are witnessing in Ireland, in the U.S. and in the rest of the West are cultural and civil wars, fought in courts and in voting booths and the public square, and they will apparently continue to sunder the bone and sinew, the spirit and soul, of civilization.

So, It does seem that the old is out and the out are in, at least for a while. There is much that is yet unknown about this “new” Reign, but we certainly know this is about much more than tolerance: it is about total obeisance. 

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About Carl E. Olson 1227 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.