The headline on a recent column by National Post editor Jen Gerson asked whether Catholics face an unfair double standard.
Leaving aside the question of whether it’s possible to have a fair double standard, it seems to me there is a more compelling question for Catholics—and all Christians. It’s this: should we care about the double standard we face? Why?
Asked in these forms, the question heading up Gerson's column becomes rhetorical, not real. The answer is inherently ‘yes’, the evidence is self-evident, and we can move directly on with what, if anything, is to be done. Why, after all, would we spend time debating double standards with the standard bearers of a culture that insists there are no such things as standards?
Gerson’s text typified the phenomenon. It centred on a flap that arose at a Calgary school board meeting when a Catholic trustee challenged the newly invented writ of transgenderism. The trustee in question went apostate on the recently delivered secular dogma that DNA means diddly.
He publicly disagreed that our “gender identity” is but a function of some deep inner tingles, and of the medico-consumerist choice that frees males to buy femaleness off the rack (or vice-versa). The Church, he pointed out, sides with science in maintaining that our genetic blueprint has a lot to say about who and what we are.
Outcry predictably ensued, including the ubiquitous brandishing of the Scarlet H for “homophobia.” No one seems to have asked what possible connection irrational hatred of homosexuality could have with men becoming surgical women (or vice-versa). Indeed, that particular question always seems left to hang in the air like a thespian’s wig falling off in the middle of the second act. It’s just not part of the show.
What is allowed to be shown, at least from time to time in column’s such as Jen Gerson’s, is a kind of ersatz empathy, a faux fairness, if not for Catholic/Christian positions, then at least for the mental aberration that forces us to persist in our delusions. The modern peeps in the basilica door as the Elizabethan eyed the lunatics at Bedlam.
As Catholics, as Christians, we have become habituated to playing along. We play our appointed role by actually getting huffy (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) and crying out loudly against various forms of blatant unfairness. We angrily demand (mea culpa, mea…) an end to the “unfair double standards” by which the world judges us.
Why? Why should, why do, we care? Transient secular standards are not the standard by which we are judged. They have exactly nothing to do with the nature of our Judge. We forget that, literally, at our peril. As in everlasting.
There is, obviously, a difference between avoidance of kvetching about unfairness and active confronting of ingrained evil. The papacy of Saint John Paul II was centred on confronting the ideological evil that afflicted Eastern Europe (and washed over the West as well). The papacy of Pope Francis is giving life to affronting the evils of denying natural justice ecologically, environmentally and economically. Protestant pastors and theologians have likewise waged courageous battles against slavery, poverty, inequality and violence. But all those things have to do with being called as witnesses in the world since we are already victorious in Christ. By comparison, warm and fuzzy fairness is hardly worth the candle.
In fact, our standard is not the nose-counting pap of fairness. It is the head and shoulders higher standard of foolishness for Christ. It is being a stumbling block to the world.
Here we stand, as a wise man once said. We can do no other.