In his much-discussed book The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher makes clear that the widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage constitutes “the Waterloo of religious conservatism.” This is not, Dreher stresses, because such sins are somehow “worse” than any other. Rather, the Waterloo is the insistence on full, public acceptance and approval of these relationships—backed by the force of law if necessary. This means “Christian beliefs about the sexual complementarity of marriage are considered to be abominable prejudice—and in a growing number of cases, punishable.” There is just no cooperative way forward.
Fr. James Martin, SJ, could be said to be the anti-Dreher—and not merely on this topic. Call it the Ignatian Option. Martin’s works have consistently sought to convey the riches of Catholic Christianity in both a style and a language that is as accessible as possible in a pluralist, post-Christian culture. And it is one of Martin’s great gifts that he does not sacrifice sophistication in aiming at accessibility. His books are not “Catholicism lite.” I have used Martin’s Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything in several theology classes, particularly because it is one of those few books that proves appealing and enriching to the whole range of students who take required undergraduate theology courses. And thankfully, Martin’s books consistently avoid unbalanced polemics, especially about ecclesial politics, that (to be candid) are a turn-off to most young people trying to learn more about their faith.