Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentines Day and the Protestant Predicament

Valentines Day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. To read a rather decent and succinct history of Saint Valentine on Wikipedia go here. For a more lengthy article in the Catholic Encyclopedia, go here.

To the point though of the title of this post. At issue is the fact that Valentine's Day is in fact Saint Valentine's Day, a feast day added to the Roman Calendar, as mentioned above, by a Pope.

As we know, most non-Catholic Christians (actually all non-Catholic Christians that I know of) do not recognize either the authority of Rome (the Pope) nor the Catholic practice of honoring saints, which some consider a form of idolatry.

Yet, just about everbody I know (except Jehovah's Witnesses) "celebrate" Valentines Day - Saint Valentines Day.

Of course, they don't think of Valentines as the feast day of a Catholic saint, and if pressed, would probably respond that they emphasize the expression of love, etc., and the tradition of the day, and are definitely not honoring this early Christian martyr. (One might wonder what could be wrong with honoring an early Christian who suffered and died for Christ - but so be it.)

Sadly, many Catholics have no clue either...and think nothing of the Saint. The Church itself took Valentine off the calendar in 1969, not because he was demoted from sainthood (can't do that), but because nothing much was known about him, and in the competition for space on the ever-crowding calendar of saints and feastdays, he was let go...or more precisely, left up to local ordinaries (bishops) who are to decide to honor him or not.

One nice thing about being a "Traditional Catholic" (i.e. "Latin-Masser") is that Valentine is still on the calendar and we honor his love for Christ written into history in martyr's blood.

In any event, Valentines is a feast day honoring a Catholic saint, instituted by a Catholic Pope, and kept alive for the better part of 2 millenia by the Catholic Church. Whether our non-Catholic friends, or Catholics for that matter, pay the real Valentine any attention, does not alter the truth about the day and about the man, and about the Church that enshrined him.

But having made a note of this, we should also note that the Catholic Church is responsible for also choosing the dates for both Christmas and Easter (and Easter changes every year). I don't mean to pick a bone here, but the celebration of Christmas and Easter on the dates chosen by the Catholic Church in general, and a Pope in particular, is an implicit admission of the authority of the Catholic Church and the Pope, at least in this matter.

However, if one is to reject this authority outright, as some non-Catholic demoninations do, then intellectual honesty would demand that such objectors make their own dates for Christmas and Easter. But since that probably won't happen, I'm sure Pope Benedict has no issue with ya'll using his calendar.

Happy Valentines Day

4 Reasons Not To Pass Bill 185

Published in the PDN on 2/1/2010

The Pacific Daily News lead editorial on January 25 called for the passage of Bill 185 into law. The editorial contends that same-sex couples deserve the same marital rights and privileges as different-sex couples. In response, I would like to make four points.

First, the government is not in the business of arbitrarily handing out rights and privileges. If privileges are granted, then something is expected. In the case of different-sex married couples, the state expects the marital unit to produce, educate, and socialize the next generation (sterile couples notwithstanding). The state is willing to grant certain protections and incentives to the marital unit because the state understands that should the marital unit fail, the burden of of producing, socializing, and educating that next generation would fall to the state.

In fact, producing the next generation is what was emphasized in the oft-cited Loving vs. Virginia and its precedent case Skinner vs. Oklahoma. In these cases, the courts acknowledged marriage as a "civil right" but only in connection with "procreation" (Skinner) and the "survival of society" (Loving). The courts said nothing about the right to marry because two people love each other.

Second, civil rights apply to individuals, not to corporate entities - which a marriage is.The fact that married people can see to the affairs of each other is not a matter of civil rights, but a matter of corporate and legal agreement. There is nothing keeping a same-sex couple, or any arrangement of persons, from doing the same. The fact that an alternative entity must employ an alternative form is no more discrimination than the legal distinction between a sole-proprietorship and a corporation.

Third, if marriage, or its legal equivalent, cannot be limited to one man and one woman, then it cannot be limited to one man and one man, or one woman and one woman. The legal definition of marriage mentions nothing about a caring or loving relationship. Bill 185 would have us believe that same-sex couples should have the same legal status as married couples because the two parties commit to a relationship of "mutual caring".

If "mutual caring" is what qualifies a relationship for marital status or its legal equivalent, then there is nothing to prevent three or more people from "mutual caring". To allow the legal status of marriage to same-sex partners and not allow the same status to those desirous of a polygamous or polyandrous arrangement is an exercise in the same discrimination that same-sex couples now decry.

Fourth, regardless of what it is called, Bill 185 will make same-sex unions the legal equivalent of marriage. Once that happens, any refusal to accept the representation of same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage will be considered discrimination. School curricula will be made to include representations of same-sex parented families. Sex education will need to include descriptions, illustrations, instructions (and hopefully, precautions) on engaging in same-sex sexual acts. Public Health departments will be required to produce media that equally represent same-sex options along with what is normally produced.

Think this is far fetched? Research the states where same-sex unions are already legal. Look up the California state law (SB777) requiring same-sex sensitivity education in public schools beginning in Kindergarten. Look up the "safe sex" literature that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is now publishing. See for yourself what the future holds for Guam should this bill pass into law.

The number one question I heard during this long debate is "How will this affect you?" Well, that's how it will affect us. Are you willing to present your children with both the "skinny" on homosexual sex and heterosexual sex when you get around to the "birds and the bees"? No? If not, don't worry, the schools will do it for you. They will have to.

The Authority of Peter and Apostolic Succession

This is the text for my talk for the most recent edition of "Catholics on the Move" which can be viewed Sundays on KUAM at 4pm and 8pm.
Hi, I’m Tim Rohr of the Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam and this is “Sharing the Faith”.
In our last episode, we made the point that while the Catholic Church reveres Holy Scripture as the inspired Word of God, the Word of God cannot be confined to a book. In other words, if Jesus had wanted us to just follow a book he would have left us one. He didn't. What he did leave us was a Church, and a teaching authority for that Church.

We pointed out that in Matthew 16, Jesus hands Peter the Keys...not a book.

Let's take a look at Mt. 16: 18-19

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (By the way, that's right from the King James Version)

In these two verses we see Jesus doing several things:
1. He gives Simon a new name: Peter, which means Rock
2. Then He tells us why he came: to build his Church
3. He then tells us where He will build that Church: on Peter
4. He then guarantees that He personally will protect His Church: the gates of hell will not prevail

5. Next, he confers upon Peter the office of prime minister and (this is important) dynastic succession upon his office

6. And finally, he gives Peter's office ultimate authority over earth AND heaven: what you declare bound on earth will be bound in heaven...

Pretty amazing stuff.
Critics try to explain away Peter as the Rock by claiming that Jesus was only referring to Peter's confession of faith, and not Peter personally. However, if that was the case, there would have been no need for the name change. Amongst the Jews, as in the case of many ancient societies, a name denoted function. The changing of Simon's name to Peter was a role change that was obvious to the rest of the apostles.

Two important things about the name Peter. First, Peter, had never been used before as a name. No one had ever been given the name Rock before. Second, not only does Jesus continue to call him Peter throughout the rest of the Gospel, Paul and the other apostles call him Peter, or Kepha (Rock in Aramaic) throughout the rest of the New Testament. If Jesus had only been referring to Peter's confession of faith and not Peter himself, they would have just kept using his original name, Simon. But they didn't.

And what about the Keys? Was this just a nice literary symbol that Jesus used or did it mean something? Jesus' words are almost verbatim lifted from Isaiah 22:22
"And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open."
Again, from the King James version.
The Lord here is speaking of Eliakim. David is long gone. But the house of David is still around. And Eliakim is given the key, the authority. It's still David's house, but someone else is running things, Eliakim. Eliakim doesn't take the place of David. He's not a new David. He's filling an office in David's house, David's dynasty. Eliakim is in effect the prime minister.
Christ's almost verbatim use of Isaiah 22:22 here is not accidental. Christ, himself, is the fulfillment of the House of David. And in Mt. 16 He makes Peter the Prime Minister. The keys imply both authority and dynastic succession just as it was with Eliakim. Peter is the new prime minister, but with a twist. Where as Eliakim was not a new David, Jesus is. It's now his house, Jesus's house. And Peter or Rocky is the new first dude.

But what's really wild here is the power he gives to Peter and to Peter's office: the power to bind and loose, both on heaven and on earth. Jesus is giving this guy power over everything and through his office, the same power to all who inherit the keys...right down to Pope Benedict XVI.
Some will call this a circular argument and claim that if we don't claim the absolute authority of Scripture we cannot claim that this particular Scripture is authoritative in itself.

In short, the Catholic Church does proclaim the authority of Scripture, because the Catholic Church, the Church built on Peter, gave us that Scripture. In other words, the Bible is true because the Church which Jesus founded, built, protected, and empowered...says so.
Jesus didn't give us a book. He gave us a Church, and a teaching authority for that Church. The question is which Church is it? It's the Church built on Peter. And there is only one Church that even makes the claim.
To learn more about this topic and the Catholic Faith, visit us at
I’m Tim Rohr of the Catholic Evidence Guild of Guam, and this has been “Sharing the Faith.
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