Some Roman emperors didn’t like Christians.
To flush them out, Roman authorities would often force people suspected of being Christian to do a public act that no Christian could in good conscience perform, such as offering incense on the altar of a pagan god or before an image of the emperor himself. Because, in either case, the Christian would be publicly treating that god or emperor as divine (something a Christian – who accepted the One, True God of the Gospel – simply could not do). If they refused to do the act, his or her identity as a Christian would be exposed and the consequences would follow.
Often, these consequences were torture and death…
… and thus the early martyrs were born.
Those who offered incense to the gods had apostatized – they had publicly denied their faith.
This type of test has been forced upon Christians for centuries.
Martin Scorsese’s movie Silence (2016) evocatively tells the story of the persecution of Catholics in Japan in the 1600’s, where Christians were forced to stomp on a holy icon of Jesus or the Virgin Mary – or to spit on a crucifix (*warning: graphic imagery – blood and execution*):
(The priest in the scene above is a Jesuit missionary.)
Today, something similar, I suggest, is being tried with the “rainbow flag” of the LGBT movement. Waving the flag, identifying with it, and participating in the public parades staged by gay activists all convey an agreement with an agenda that, at its heart, contradicts and denies, among other things, the teachings of Christ and His Church about the nature and destiny of the human person.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, the rainbow flag is not a neutral flag — it conveys that the flag and the agenda behind it is more important to one than the Christian faith and more important than the teachings of Christ handed down by his apostles, priests, bishops, doctors, martyrs, and popes.
Catholics who refuse to wave the rainbow flag, literally or figuratively, especially if they work in industries like entertainment, risk being mocked, passed over, or their having character denigrated.
So it’s sad when prominent Catholic figures such as Jim Gaffigan wave the rainbow flag of the LGBT agenda and, in much the same way that some Christians throughout history have publicly rejected certain truths of the Faith, bow to the spirit of the age:
Some Christians are, I grant, unaware of the full implications of what they are doing, but whether they mean to do something contrary to the faith or not, it is still a public act that implies endorsement of several anti-Christian positions.
LGBT activists get this. That’s why it’s not uncommon to find offensive, even blasphemous, activities at gay pride parades, as a 15 second Twitter search will show:
(Note the noose-tie around Jesus. This photo was taken at last weekend’s Dublin pride parade.)
In 16th century Japan, some Christians chose to spit on a crucifix while still, they felt, loving Jesus and hating the fact that they felt compelled to disparage his image. Today, many Christians tell themselves that waving the rainbow flag is simply a sign of personal support for people they know and love. But waving that flag is not a neutral act.
And it’s time we stop kidding ourselves that it is.