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What the Donald Sterling Situation Means for Christians

AP Photo/Mark J Terrill

John V. Gerardi - published on 05/05/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Because Brendan Eich believed that the title of “marriage” should not be extended to unions of homosexual persons, he was deemed a kind of societal leper. Because Rich DeVos believes similar things, he might be, too. And if we’re being realistic, any Christian reading this might well also become a societal outcast at some point within the next 20 years

St. John Paul II recognized these very conflicts within liberal democracies in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor. In this encyclical, he taught that there is a danger for democracies to embrace moral relativism, and thereby to reject the very moral principles that are necessary for the just and free functioning of democracy in the first place. He says,

In the political sphere, it must be noted that truthfulness in the relations between those governing and those governed, openness in public administration, impartiality in the service of the body politic, respect for the rights of political adversaries, safeguarding the rights of the accused against summary trials and convictions, the just and honest use of public funds, the rejection of equivocal or illicit means in order to gain, preserve or increase power at any cost — all these are principles which are primarily rooted in, and in fact derive their singular urgency from, the transcendent value of the person and the objective moral demands of the functioning of States…

This is the risk of
an alliance between democracy and ethical relativism, which would remove any sure moral reference point from political and social life, and on a deeper level make the acknowledgement of truth impossible. Indeed, “if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”  (
Veritatis Splendor, 101, emphasis in original)

The Lesson of Sterling

How does this relate to Donald Sterling? Quite simply, I would ask Christians to look at the ways in which racists are disfavored and diminished through law within our nation, often rightly so.  Look at Sterling, how he has been rejected from all civilized society and even from his chosen business. This kind of societal disfavor, and much worse, can be expected to be leveled against opponents of gay marriage.  

As St. John Paul said in his encyclical Centesimus Annus, “If one does not acknowledge transcendent truth, then the force of power takes over, and each person tends to make full use of the means at his disposal in order to impose his own interests or his own opinion, with no regard for the rights of others. . . ”  (Centesimus Annus 44, quoted in Veritatis Splendor 99).  

Brendan Eich was forced out of his job by a popular grassroots campaign, not by the demands of a minority elite. The same mob-majority intolerance for any opposition to the gay agenda will be levied against all of us through law, unless Christians can be faithful and fruitful in our vocation to be salt and light in evangelizing the broader culture.

John V. Gerardi is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Notre Dame Law School. He currently works as an associate for a law firm in Massachusetts. He writes on issues relating to law, politics, and ethics for online journals such as Aleteia, Ethika Politika, and his own personal blog, johnvgerardi.wordpress.com.

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