It is depressing watching a once-great nation try to destroy itself.
Britain’s government passed a law announcing that two people of the same sex can "marry."
The Parliament of which St. Thomas More was once speaker, the Parliament that later oversaw a worldwide British presence on the world’s oceans and the drama of empire, the Parliament that echoed with the names of battles in two world wars, the "Mother of Parliaments" that set a pattern of debating and legislating to be copied by others in distant lands … has been reduced to the absurdity of listening to people talking about how "marriage is just all about love" and how, "if two people love each other, whatever sex they are, they should be allowed to get married."
It would be funny if it were not so ghastly.
And the debate — in general, of poor quality and with some particularly dreadful contributions from self-announced Catholics proclaiming their piety and proclaiming that it was this that made them so supportive of same-sex unions — was only the prelude.
We are going to see some horrid things imposed on Britain now that same-sex "marriage" is legal. The law received royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II July 17, and the first same-sex "weddings" will happen in due course.
Prime Minister David Cameron and others have sought to claim that there is no danger to religious liberty because churches will not be forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
But this misses the point.
In one sense, of course a Catholic priest cannot be forced to offer a sacrament that is not valid — he cannot, for example, be forced by Parliament to use apple juice instead of wine for Mass or to baptize a teddy bear instead of a baby.
Policing churches can be difficult, if not impossible. If some future Islamic-dominated Parliament in Britain were to ban alcohol and make the Mass illegal, Catholic priests would simply celebrate Masses secretly, and whole networks would be established to obtain the necessary wine and so on, just as it was during the Reformation.
We are all well aware that even if Parliament tells us that two men — or three or whatever daft thing they next try to enforce — can marry each other, this would have no validity whatever in the Catholic Church. We can’t and won’t attempt to "marry" two people of the same sex.
But the issues at stake do not essentially relate to this. They relate to things that are already happening: a teacher reprimanded for saying that true marriage can only be between a man and a woman; an office worker disciplined for giving his views on the subject in a private email.
We are seeing the enforcement of something horrible, something which, in fact, does not have the true backing of the law but is simply being accepted as standard practice: the crushing of opposition to same-sex "marriage" and the attempt to impose a standard view on the subject on everyone.
Essentially, the position is this: If I am a firefighter, a social worker, a teacher, a policeman, an office worker for a local authority — or I hold any sort of public position, such as that of magistrate or borough councillor — I may face dismissal, serious penalties and massive public humiliation simply because I disagree publicly with the government’s policy in this area.
This has not been spelled out in law, but it is happening; and, over the next months and years, there will be endless legal cases relating to this as people struggle to assert a right to free speech that current practice denies them.
I can announce my opposition to the government’s policy on Afghanistan or Europe or the building of the new high-speed railway, and all this is — at present — recognized as freedom of speech. But if I announce, for example in a letter to a local newspaper or on Twitter, that it is absurd and gravely wrong to impose on Britain the notion that two men can marry each other, then I may face serious penalties.
The Coalition for Marriage — an excellent campaigning organization fighting to defend true male/female marriage — has publicized some truly shocking cases where people have been disciplined for sharing an opinion supportive of marriage between a man and a woman.
Britain is a sad country at the moment. Large numbers of our young people are spending most weekends drunk, and the hospitals find it difficult to cope. There is a rising problem of violence among young children — 8 years old and younger. Fewer and fewer children are born within marriage. Schools now routinely use words like "carer" instead of "parent" because so many pupils are with only one parent.
Forcing acceptance of same-sex "marriage" may not be too difficult — many people in Britain now function at a very superficial level of debate, influenced by television soap operas and a culture heavily saturated with sexually explicit images.
But among churchgoing Catholics interested in the great issues facing humanity, things are different. We will continue to preach and teach the truth about men and women. We know that God’s plan is the lifelong union of one man and one woman in marriage.
Royal assent has been given to a new law opposing this. We recognize that. But we know our history. We have been here before. We are the queen’s good servants — but God’s first.
Joanna Bogle is an author
and journalist who writes