By Robert P. George, Touchstone.
The days of socially acceptable Christianity in the West are surely over. The days of comfortable Christian orthodoxy are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic Evangelical witness to the truths of the gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.
Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Christian,” and even be seen going to worship services at church. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Christian” or going to church necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.
Now, if one does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe—one can still be a comfortable Christian. In other words, a tame Christian, a Christian who is ashamed of the gospel—or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed—is still socially acceptable. But a Christian who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices.
The saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes, integrally, the teachings of his Church on the profound and inherent dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage as a conjugal bond—a one-flesh union. Believing these things is a crucial part of the gospel.
These teachings are not the whole gospel—Christianity requires much more than their affirmation. But they are integral to the gospel—they are not optional or dispensable. To be an authentic witness to the gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The gospel is, John Paul II said, a Gospel of Life. And it is a gospel of family life, too. And it is these integral dimensions of the gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.