I consider my family a modern day “Pilgrim” story. My husband and I are both Catholic, and raised our four children in a church-going, close-knit family. We did the modern day “soccer parent” stuff: attending all the ball games, all the activities, all the sacraments — all the things that would help our children grow in mind, body and soul.
What we didn’t count on was the culture.
We lived in a very “liberal” part of the country, and when our kids hit teen years and turned to their peers, their peers were following the modern day “culture.” It is a culture that comes across as “loving” and “caring” and “tolerant.” Yet it is a culture that kills.
In Catholic high schools, our children were taught that all lifestyles were the same, and that sin did not matter. Sin was redefined as “tolerance,” and the door that prior generations kept shut to protect young from evil was flung wide open.
Sex was no longer something that was a sacred blessing to be shared in a marital bed between husband and wife. Oddly, the people in authority seemed embarrassed to be insisting that this truth was the Truth. Yet every social study, every experience, every life has borne out the reality of that Truth about sex — that it is a blessing only when used the way it was designed. It is like nuclear power: kept safely where it is supposed to be, nuclear power brings great life, warmth and goodness. When that same nuclear power is taken out of that supportive and protective structure, it scorches and destroys all it touches. The same with sex.
Adults should know that; we’re not the ignorant, young, unworldly ones. And yet the Catholic adults teaching our children remained silent. Oh sure, my husband and I were very vocal in telling them the truth, but the response we often got was “Mom, Sister (or Brother) at school hasn’t said anything about this being wrong— and they are Religious. They know more about God and what’s right than you do.You’re just old-fashioned, judging and not tolerant.” (Silly me, I thought an adult’s job was to judge evil — and keep it from the innocent!)
Responding to the deafening silence from their teachers, or at worse the encouragements toward “tolerance,” our children turned to the “culture.” It was there that they were led to believe that sexual relations were just something that anyone could do with anyone, as long as you were doing it “safely.” And if something happened to that “safety net,” then at least young women were not forced to accept the consequences. There were ways to get rid of the “products” of conception. Isn’t that being compassionate toward them and helping them live “good lives” in this world?
The problem with all this is that we are not part of “this world,” and somehow our Catholic educators have forgotten this. We have an enemy who IS part of this world, and he prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Who is more easy prey than the young?
You see, there is no such thing as a “little harmless sin.” Once that door is opened the tiniest bit, our enemy marches in. And he brings his legions with him.
Sin was introduced into all our children’s lives, and one by one we watched as they began to weaken and fall. The teenagers in our community were suffering the broken hearts, bodies and souls that sexual experimentation brings with it. For our enemy has been trying to bastardize sex since the days he was known as Baal, when he convinced the Canaanites to worship “sex” with their temple prostitutes. When that was successful, he convinced them to worship him as Moloch, the god of “death,” by throwing their newborns into fire. Kind of like abortion today.
Are we really that ignorant of history? Of Scripture?
As our children’s hearts broke, they had to turn to ways to dull the pain. Alcohol and drug abuse followed shortly behind. Then, of course, mental and emotional problems. Eating disorders were rampant in our daughters’ Catholic girls’ high school. Abortions were common. Suicides not unheard of.
No one in charge seemed to be able to make any sense out of the pain in their students’ lives. It almost seemed like a darkness of the senses — perhaps a spiritual darkness?
If you have forgotten, let a parent who has survived the Current War on our children remind you — we have an enemy. He’s smarter than us. He’s not here to play around, he’s not here to entertain, he’s not here to have fun. He’s here to kill.
The adults in charge of many of our Catholic schools and colleges seem to have forgotten this. They have, in the name of “tolerance,” accepted things that have his fingerprints all over them. They have allowed these things into their students’ lives, inviting “pro-choice” speakers, “Vagina Monologues,” “Gay” activists and now the latest — “transgender” representatives — onto their campuses and into their student’s lives. And then they scratch their heads at the pain, the suffering and the death that results from things that reek of the enemy. (Yes, perhaps your students will hear these things elsewhere, but they won’t have the Church’s stamp of approval on them in those other places, will they?)
My son’s last year at his “tolerant” Catholic boys’ high school saw several boys commit suicide. At a Catholic school. Good heavens, if we don’t have the way to the joy, hope and love of the Gospel, then who on earth does?
I speak not only as a parent, but as an attorney, having practiced family, juvenile and criminal law. I began to notice a trend among my most disturbed women clients.They all shared similar traits. They had been normal functioning women, mothers, wives, daughters and friends, and then suddenly one day they went “off the reservation.” They began drinking or abusing drugs. By the time they would get to my office, they had lost pretty much everything — marriages, children, possessions — everything.
It got to the point where I would simply gently ask: When did you have your abortion?
The self-medication was always traced back to that one event. Taking an innocent life always matters, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves it doesn’t. Our hearts know, and the ones who suffer the most are those whose own heart convicts them, along with the enemy, forever after.
On a personal level, I have a younger sister who was encouraged to have an abortion as a teenager so that a child would not “complicate” her future. She went on to marry a police officer, have two children and a 20-acre horse farm. Problem was, she could never get over the self-anger that led to self-medication through alcohol and then drugs. Today she, a Catholic girls high school graduate, sits in prison having lost husband, children, home — everything.
Just how “empowering” to women is it to bring that “pro-choice” speaker onto your campus after all?
You forget. We have an enemy. His “choice” is always death. Death for all.
But back to my Pilgrim tale. My husband and I cared more for our teenagers’ lives, temporal and eternal, than for our popularity among them, and so we did what grownups are supposed to do. We made hard decisions to protect them. I sold my law practice, he changed jobs and we dragged them all kicking and screaming to a strong faith-filled diocese and a more “conservative” part of the country. It took at least a couple years of being around rational adults who had not drunk the “culturally tolerant” Kool-Aid before our children began to regain their senses. And of course the icing on the cake was Franciscan University of Steubenville.
We dragged our teenagers there for a youth conference, desperate for anything to wake them up to the truth, and they came home changed individuals. There, for the first time, they saw the Reality of their Faith lived out. They saw REAL “tolerance,” the kind that comes with Truth in Love. It was solid, it was real, it was life-giving. Like Jesus.
Today they are all working professionals, on fire for their faith because they have seen the reality of life without real faith, without Truth, and they know that it ain’t pretty. The friends left behind in the “tolerant” world of their childhood all have crippled, broken adult lives. Even those who are deemed “successful” by current cultural standards walk about with real emptiness inside — an emptiness that all the fun and parties in the world can’t seem to fill, though not for lack of trying.
And so my children try to reach out to save as many as they can, something that was once the job of Catholic educators like yourself. My grown children tell other young adults the hard truths, truths that prior generations were always told because, well, it’s the truth. Not pretty, but true.
And only truth is solid enough to build a life on.
I’ve seen another side of the current “tolerance” reality after getting involved in Christian Healing Ministry. I saw this ministry heal my own children’s wounds inflicted by “tolerance,” and I investigated it further. It was there that I witnessed the reality of “same-sex” relationships. I’ve since met many people who had lived their entire lives as “gay” individuals, only to lose that “attraction” after going through Christian Healing Ministry and Prayer. Now with their God-given attraction to the opposite sex restored, they are the most honest, open, joyful and amazing people to know. The joy they feel in their freedom — freedom based on truth — is infectious and healing. They often say, “Alcoholics struggle with attraction to alcohol, but no one tells them to drink themselves to death. Why did no one love me enough to tell me the same concerning my same-sex attraction? There is freedom in Christ; why was I never told?!”
It is a heart cry expressed by countless others who have been abandoned in this new world of “tolerance.”
Even so, was their path to freedom easy?
No. No brokenness is easy to fix; the scars of sin and evil go deep. That’s why rational adults try to keep sin and its resultant brokenness away from the innocent as much as possible. They try to tell them the Truth.
And the one thing rational adults, and certainly those who claim to know Jesus Christ, don’t do is to encourage more brokenness in the name of “tolerance” and “freedom.”
Because there are eternal consequences to doing so — for our victims, and for ourselves.
So please take this one pilgrim’s story to heart. In history, the Puritans moved to Holland to escape persecution in England before coming to America as “The Pilgrims.” The sinful lifestyles surrounding their children in Holland thereafter caused them to abandon all security so as to protect the temporal AND eternal lives of their children, and to choose instead to fall into the arms of God on an ocean voyage to a new continent.
These times are no less perilous for our youth. They are being lost at alarming rates. Try to save them. Don’t destroy them. There are “clouds of witnesses” watching. What will you tell them, when your job here is done?
When you must give an account for the eternal souls that were placed in your keep, will you be able to say that “True Love” accepts sin so that no one “feels” bad, that you were wiser than Christ in defining “real sin?” Or will you have the great honor of testifying that you taught Truth?
Think on these things. They have eternal consequences. You will see what those consequences become, and you will share responsibility.
Remember the millstone; it’s very heavy. But remember too the great joy and heroism in leading young people to Christ! Some day we parents will also be among the “cloud of witnesses,” and for your courage, love, faithfulness and perseverance in speaking truth to our children, we will be eternally grateful.
Susan Fox and her husband have four grown children. She has worked as an educator and as a family, criminal defense and juvenile attorney, including pro bono work to defend religious liberties and parental rights.