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In December, the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, an eight day feast in remembrance of the triumph of the Maccabees over the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes in the year 165 B.C. The story has a lesson for us. Antiochus promoted an ancient form of political correctness. He insisted that everyone give up their own religion and traditions and embrace the Greek way of doing things. Heroic Jewish men and women died terrible deaths rather than eat one bite of pork, a violation of their laws. Today the purveyors of modern political correctness are trying to force us to swallow the whole pig.
Just as the Maccabbees called on their countrymen to rise up and oppose the political correctness of their day, the recently issued Manhattan Declaration calls on Catholics, Evangelicals and Orthodox Christians to rise up and defend “the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.”
Like the ancient Maccabees, those who add their names to the declaration are pledging their determination not to compromise for the sake of expediency, harmony or politeness.
Here are a few simple suggestions as to how to live the declaration.
1. We will speak the truth. We will not call the relationship between two persons of the same sex a marriage, no matter what the state calls it. People cannot change their sex, and therefore we will not call a man who presents himself in public a woman, even if he has been surgically altered.
2. We will defend the right of the unborn, because a woman has no more right to choose to hire someone to kill her unborn child than she has a right to hire someone to kill her husband. We will not vote for politicians who pretend that they are good Catholics and support abortion.
3. We will not allow public schools to indoctrinate our children, either in so-called sex education classes, through literature, or in other programs.
We may be called names, told we are rude, or even hateful, but we cannot surrender.
I know that for some the hardest thing will be to ask our children to stand up to the school administration. If this seems too much to ask, think of the example of courage recorded in the book of Maccabbees. The mother and her seven sons were told that either they eat port or be tortured to death. When six of the young men had died, the king encouraged the mother to persuade her youngest to eat pork and save his life, but instead she encouraged him to follow the example of her brothers. He did. Nothing our children might face compares to this.
I can assure parents who worry what might befall their children if they take a stand against the school that if parents are courageous, their children will learn courage. Many years ago our family stood up against a sex education program at Masconomet High School. We refused to allow our children to take the class, because it violated our firmly held beliefs about life, sex, and marriage. Some of our friends and neighbours felt we were over-reacting. In spite of all kinds of publicity, there were no negative consequences. My children graduated and went on to college. They grew up into responsible adults, who have kept the faith.
Obviously, it would be great if everyone could go to the website, read the pledge, and sign it. It is even more important that we all follow through on that commitment.
Why now? I have studied enough history to know that good countries can go very bad very fast and once that happens it is very hard to put things back together again. I think the declaration is a prophetic document and God is giving us a chance to say yes. Yes, we will stand for the truth. I shudder to think what could happen if people of faith ignore this call.
Dale O’Leary is an internationally recognized lecturer and author of “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality.”