It is nearly impossible to overstate the evangelistic failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland following that country’s democratic embrace of homosexual marriage – the first nation ever to openly choose such debauchery for itself instead of having it imposed by the courts.
Many reasons were offered last week for why this happened on an island nation where roughly 84 percent of the population identifies as Catholic. Among them were the tone-setting decadence of a divorce culture, the priest abuse scandal and the fat, dumb and happy that came with the country’s economic revolution in the 1990s.
There is something more fundamental going on, though, and it is hidden in plain sight when you bottom line the election turnout. While 62 percent of those who voted came down on the side of bringing Romans 1 to life by endorsing perversion and chaos, that testimony actually amounted to only 36 percent of the total electorate.
Put another way, 4 out of every 10 voters simply stayed home on Election Day and seemingly didn’t give a rip one way or the other. To paraphrase scripture, be either hot or cold because lukewarm is a vital trump card of the Rainbow Jihad.
The church has always had its heresies to fight, but never does it seem to have had quite so many ‘who cares’ to run de facto interference for those who wish to do it harm. There is simply no way a land with the kind of “Catholic” majorities Ireland has could have endorsed homosexual marriage unless the faith in general had become a game of make believe to a vast segment of society.
That fact is embodied by this shocking tale of free fall: Whereas nearly 90 percent of Irish Catholics went to Mass every week in 1984, only 18 percent were going as of 2011.
No, an entire country didn’t suddenly start believing in the right for Bob and Steve to marry with Jesus’ blessing over the course of a single generation. What many of its parishioners/citizens did instead is start believing in almost nothing at all.
And this all happened in a place where the Catholic Church runs 90 percent of the primary education system, and where the constitution opens with the words "In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority."
Many of us here in America regularly lament the influence of what are deemed to be godless public schools. What the above overwhelmingly points out is that we should be far more worried about godless churches. Politics, whether it concerns marriage or education or basket weaving, always sits downstream from culture.
Writ large, that is clearly not just a Catholic or an Ireland problem. Mainstream Protestantism is plagued by the same virus across Europe and in the United States. Western civilization is in a state of perpetual decay, and it’s a phenomenon characterized primarily by the kind of spiritual collapse that comes after years of trying to be relevant among the culture’s various cool kids’ tables.
We’ve heard about tables like that from the very beginning of the Christian story. When the Lord found those tables in the temple, not only did he refuse to buy what was being sold on them, but he turned them over Incredible Hulk style. Then he chased those tables’ fanboys and frontmen away with a whip made out of cords.
So much, though, for “God's ways are not ours nor His thoughts our thoughts.” We’ve evolved beyond that, all the way back the savagery from whence we came. We are the people we’ve been waiting for. We are on the right side of history now.
It is all the very worst sort of false hope, but even now despair is not what is called for. God has promised that his Word will not return void, and that the gates of Hell shall not prevail.
He never ceases to give us signs of his glory, which social media – with its many ills and distractions – sets before us like never before. Last week, a photo of a United States Marine praying with his bride-to-be went viral, as did a short video of actor Chris Pratt teaching his young son the Pledge of Allegiance.
And little more than a year ago, we were captivated by amazing photos of Orthodox priests from the Ukraine who regularly put themselves between the weaponry of that country’s warring factions, with the cross held high and prayers of salvation on their lips.
This is what real men look like. They stand out to us because they are good and true and pure, and that kind of light always survives no matter how deep the surrounding darkness. Now the task before us is to question whether those sorts of examples are the life blood of the churches we attend.
Are the sermons we hear, the fellowship we engage in, and the crosses we bear truly revolutionary in spirit? Are we unapologetic about what we stand for and why? If you have to think about those questions for more than a second, the answer is probably ‘no.'
Whether in Ireland or America or elsewhere, it’s high time to stop using St. Patrick as little more than an excuse to get drunk every March. That former fifth-century slave of then-pagan Ireland became the very embodiment of both Plato’s Parable of the Cave, and Christ’s Matthew 28 mandate to go forth to all nations.
Having been set free and returned to his native Britain, Patrick prayerfully discovered that his story had only just begun. He returned to Ireland a priest, chased down the darkness and entered into legend when he sent the snakes running scared.
We likely need not travel quite as far to take up the same banner of courageous Christianity in our own lives. We can start right in our own churches by growing a pair and declaring ‘enough is enough.’