Fortitude for Future Generations: Day 36
‘To be brave actually means to be able to suffer injury. Because man is by nature vulnerable, he can be brave.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 117)
‘If the specific character of fortitude consists of suffering injuries in the battle for the realization of the good, then the brave man must first know what the good is, and he must be brave for the sake of the good.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 122)
‘…without prudence, without justice, there is no fortitude; only he who is just and prudent can also be brave; to be really brave is quite impossible without at the same time being prudent and just also.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 123)
Fortitude only makes sense if we are enduring hardship for what is right. The brave must be prudent. We can suffer well for what is beautiful; we suffer as fools for our delusions. I won’t soon forget Pete Buttigieg’s fielding a 9-year-old ‘gay-identified‘ boy’s question while campaigning for president with his ‘husband’ last February: ‘Thank you for being so brave, would you help me tell the world I’m gay too? I want to be brave like you.’ Welcome to the ‘brave’ new world (again) of identity politics in which smart people in darkness set sick precedents for our kids.
As America changes its political guard, I am blessed to be more countercultural than ever before. Any person still reasonable in defining human sexual dignity will have plenty of opportunity in the next four years to be brave. Bring on the opposition! How else can we act like Christians? I am only grateful for a culture that provokes me to resist and be refined as the Christian that I am. I read the Bible as a document forged in the fire of people who wanted the heads of Christians, not a system who ‘high-fived’ them. We get better ‘under the rainbow,’ shining like lights in the universe as we hold out the Word of life.
‘Because we are vulnerable, we can be brave.’ What Pieper means is that we are subject to losses for advocating what is good, in truth. I’m surrounded by saints who endure scorn daily because they have the audacity to express publicly that sleeping with one’s same-gender roommate may not be best for either party, or who still hold out that 11-year-old Karen who wants to be Ken will come to her senses before she irreparably lacerates her body.
I think of my friend Anne--fortitude personified--who married a man like her (both came out of homosexual backgrounds) then years and several kids later abandoned family for the pursuit of young guys. Anne endured the fire of losing what was most precious to her and chose instead to rally saints around the globe who still dared to still trust in Jesus’ transforming power. She suffers losses daily for that hope; she shines brighter too, day-by-day.
I think of Werner and Charlotte, and Claude and Monique who lead Living Waters in France (Torrents de Vie). They are maligned constantly by the French press and government for offering all persons, including persons with same-sex attraction, Jesus’ way to wholeness. They thrive in the fire, grateful to suffer for His Name. I think of my friend Joan whose Catholic faith was sparked by the ‘coming out’ of loved ones; now the lone minority voice in a large family, she loves sacrificially by agreeing to disagree with those she cares for most. She offers her life today to serve other family members who vow to remain true to human dignity, especially as sexual indignities proliferate in loved ones and in a culture that applauds them.
I think of my wife Annette who married me 40-years-ago (too late to leave now, sorry sweetie) when homosexuality was still swathed in shame and we were brave for just declaring that devout families were impacted by ‘gay’ stuff. She has endured the slings and arrows of my many weaknesses and unusual habits (40-day fasts, up at 2:30am, etc.) and an increasingly wicked culture that portrays our marriage and family as fake. All this for a sports-crazy girl from UCLA who wanted to marry a football coach! Talk about fortitude. Jesus takes her many little losses and turns them into greater gain. (Seven grandchildren and counting…)
Annette casually referred to our efforts at DSM as a stealth, covert cell of a larger organization (the Church) that is slender and strong enough to endure lawsuits, moral and viral pandemics, ongoing slander, and constant misunderstanding. Fortitude. We endure, sorrowful yet always laughing, for the joy set before us.
‘Thank You Jesus, for helping us to know Reality, and for making us brave in the face of vicious unrealities. We endure, not only to save our own lives but to make a way for generations who will perish without a vision of real human dignity. Grant us unusual courage in the season ahead. Yes, thick darkness covers the peoples, yet may the Light—which is You—find willing reflectors in us.’
‘Jesus, thank You that we are first and foremost citizens of Your Kingdom. Your saving purposes, the plans of Your heart, endure forever (Ps. 33:11). Patriotism and its partisan interests must bow before Thy will be done.” “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, who trust in His unfailing love” (Ps. 33:18).’