Jesus and Nancy Pelosi seem to have different ideas of what it means to be a good Catholic. On Friday evening, Pelosi lashed out at Marco Rubio for being a “polarizing” figure and not a good “mainstream” Catholic like her.
When Rubio expressed his (very Catholic) opposition to same-sex marriage, Pelosi responded by pulling out her purported superior Catholic credentials, crowing that she had grown up in a “mainstream” Catholic family. She expressed her belief that Rubio’s opposition to same-sex marriage is “polarizing,” which threatens “mainstream Christian thinking.”
Pelosi’s reasoning presents two enormous problems, which seem to be lost on her and other “mainstream” Catholics.
First, over the centuries Jesus Christ has been called many things by admirers and adversaries alike, but “mainstream” is not one of them. And no one—to my knowledge—has ever suggested that Jesus was anything other than “polarizing.” Both those who loved him and those who hated him did so precisely because he was polarizing.
He was the One, after all, Who said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
One cannot get more “polarizing” than that.
“Mainstream,” on the other hand, sounds remarkably similar to “mediocre,” “middle of the road,” and “lukewarm”–three other adjectives to which serious Christians have never aspired.
Famously, in the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse), Jesus said to halfhearted Christians, “Would that you were hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Christians who aspire to nothing more than being “mainstream” and mirroring the society around them seem to be abhorrent to Jesus.
The second problem is that if by “mainstream” Nancy Pelosi really means “orthodox,” or “with the program,” she is wrong again.
The Catholic position on gay marriage is unambiguous, allowing no wiggle room whatsoever. According to the Catholic Church, the only moral position concerning same-sex marriage is opposition.
In its most authoritative teaching on the question to date, the Vatican asserted that there are “absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.”
While insisting that men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” the Vatican also urged Catholic politicians to acknowledge their particular responsibility to publicly oppose homosexual marriage.
“If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians,” it said.
If Nancy Pelosi is looking for a church to justify her support of same-sex marriage, it will have to be some other church. Many “mainstream” Christian churches do now, in fact, allow gay marriage, so she may just feel more at home there than in the “polarizing” institution in which she now claims membership.
Ms. Pelosi is free to believe whatever she wants about same-sex marriage–or anything else for that matter. She may not, however, do so in the name of the Catholic Church, which teaches nothing of the sort.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.