Don’t Feed the Trolls

Like many of her fellow lefties, Nancy Pelosi is a troll. I’m not talking about her looks; I’m talking about her clever use of deliberately inflammatory behavior that serves only one purpose: to keep the enemy (that’s us) riled up about a problem that doesn’t exist. Case in point: the January 2 House of Representatives’ new rules proposal, officially presented by Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chair James P. McGovern, serves to “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral.” If adopted, this would eliminate terms like father, mother, sister, and brother from House rules.

Yes, anyone this stupid ought to be smacked upside the head by a team of gender-neutral robots. But don’t waste any energy being mad. They’re trolling us, and by us I mean both Catholics and persons with common sense and respect of the natural law. They want us to be destabilized, angry, and upset. They want us to roll up our sleeves and start energetically proving—by geometrical logic—that fathers should be called fathers and mothers called mothers; that circles are round, water is wet, and the sun rises in the east. They’d like us to think that their stupid little games actually have the power to change something important. They want us to feel that reality is endangered. Most importantly—and this, I think, is key—they want to set the parameters of public discussion. They don’t mind if we skewer them with brilliant arguments, parody them and caricature them, or denounce them from the rooftops. In fact, they’re thrilled. That’s what they want: for us to talk about it. We’re being invited to join in a round-table discussion of something that we—as Catholics and as decent human beings—firmly believe is not up for discussion. Yet we swim forward like good little fish to take the bait. How about talking about what we want to talk about?

What’s the best way to put out a fire? Stop it before it starts—or so they told us in elementary school. Once people seriously start believing that it would be better not to use gendered words like brother and sister—and for the record, nobody genuinely believes that aside from a few mental cases—the battle is already lost. If we want to save the family, we need first of all to understand and live out the truth about the family in our own lives. Good examples touch more hearts than a million arguments. And secondly, should we have the opportunity to speak out publicly, we should favor proclamation of the truth over engagement with error (though of course the latter has its place).

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Already in the interwar period, Pope Pius XI realized that modern culture was making it increasingly difficult for ordinary Catholics to successfully achieve the simplest and most natural thing in the world: get married and raise a family. He realized that many well-intentioned people no longer had any idea of how marriage and family were supposed to work. So he wrote the encyclical Casti Conubii (1930) to explain something for which earlier centuries needed no handbook: how to have a successful Christian marriage; how the husband and wife should love each other; and why the child is the primary good of marriage.

One holy Christian marriage does more good than a thousand protest marches. One husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the Church; one wife who honors her husband as the defender, provider, and leader of their family; one family that acts in accordance with this holy Pope’s teaching that the procreation and education of children is the primary purpose of marriage; these do more good than a million opinion pieces satirizing the idiocy of woke culture. (I’ve written a few, so I know.) Parents who shield their young children from society’s vile and unnatural practices so that their early years are spent in untroubled innocence, developing an inner life with God and building an unshakeable confidence in the beauty of naturally ordered family life—they do more good than all of us keyboard warriors put together.

This is not to dismiss these secondary activities as worthless. But building Christian civilization and the communion of saints from the ground up will always be a more valuable activity than critiquing the wrongheadedness of our enemies. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Catholic family, in that order, are the two most important elements of Catholic civilization. Nothing is better than a priest who loves and says the Mass or a Catholic family that does what Catholic families are supposed to do: raise children in the fear and love of God. Everything else, including activism, is secondary, intended to serve the Mass and the family. This is why the family should not be guilted into thinking that activism is among its primary duties. The family is a precious (and nowadays a delicate) structure, easily damaged by outside stresses and false priorities. It cannot allow worthy secondary causes to interfere with its healthy function.

When Nancy Pelosi and her pals attack the family with nonsensical ideas to the effect that somehow fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters are offensive terms, the absolute best response is to do something to support the families in your own life. Perhaps you are married and have a family of your own. Perhaps you have married friends or relatives. You certainly know children of married parents.  Every Catholic, wedded or not, ought to inform himself of what a true Christian marriage looks like by study of Church teaching, especially Casti Conubii and Pope Leo XIII’s Arcanum (1880), and by studying the great literary works of centuries past. Once we have understood the spirit of the Catholic family, example is again our most powerful tool of support, both by living an exemplary family life and by adopting an exemplary attitude towards other families: treating fathers of families with honor and respect, especially in front of their wives and children; showing consideration and deference towards mothers, and by extension all women, since they possess the potentiality for motherhood within them; encouraging those around us to show loyalty, affection, and respect for their parents and their brothers and sisters; expressing regret when hearing of a divorce or a family dispute.

It’s second nature to mock and denigrate family ties for a cheap laugh socially—as one soon realizes if one makes a conscious effort to avoid doing so. Consistent affirmation of the sacredness and special dignity of the family hierarchy, the marriage bond and the blood relationships it engenders will repair Christian civilization, one torn fibre at a time. And it will also fox Nancy Pelosi. If, while saving the world, you still have time to care about that.

[Photo Credit: Shutterstock]


  • Jane Stannus

    Jane Stannus is a journalist and translator. Her writing has also appeared in the Catholic Herald of London, The Spectator USA, and the National Catholic Reporter.

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