December 23, 2016
By FRC's Dan Hart, Managing Editor of Publications
Christmas is a joyous time of year for many reasons -- a time for celebrating the blessings of family and friends, the giving of gifts, and sharing festive meals. What is most wonderful about Christmas is that it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the most perfect gift that human beings could have ever been given: the person of Jesus Christ.
This gift is something that must be shared -- we are all called to be Christ's leaven in the world. This starts with protecting the dignity of every human life. It's important to reflect on how Christ came to earth. He didn't burst through the heavens and descend on a kingly chariot accompanied by legions of angels, even though He could have. Jesus came to us as a zygote that was implanted in the womb of a virgin. This is a mystery that can never be pondered enough: Almighty God humbled himself to the point of becoming a tiny unborn baby, slowly developing over the course of nine months. This speaks to the nature of God's heart -- He patiently walks with us through the smallest details of our humanity, from a baby born in an animal's stable, to a boy lost in a temple, to a humble carpenter's apprentice, to a public ministry that relied on the charity of others for food and shelter, to a grisly execution on a Roman cross. By becoming fully human, Jesus sanctified and redeemed every aspect of our humanness. That is why every human life is sacred, and why we fight the culture of death.
Once life is protected, it must be lovingly nurtured in order to flourish. This is why we all must work for a culture that upholds natural marriage, which is the seedbed of virtue. Jesus's teachings and reverence for marriage were unequivocal. His first public miracle took place at a wedding in Cana, so that the guests might not run out of wine. In Mark 10: 6-9, He plainly spells out the sacredness of the bond: "[F]rom the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." Therefore, marriage is deeper than merely a contract. It entails a sacramental giving and receiving between husband and wife that is fruitful -- this images the communion of persons in the Holy Trinity.
The freedom to work for the protection of human life and natural marriage hinges on religious liberty. When Christ was asked by what authority the state can levy taxes, His answer was clear: "[R]ender to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." In other words, the state is just in regulating the aspects of society that it is designed to regulate, like taxes, national defense, and law enforcement. But the state is unjust if it infringes on the freedom of mankind to render to God the things that are His: our love and obedience. A true understanding of "liberty," then, is the freedom to pursue the common good of our neighbor (versus the mere freedom to "choose"), which in turn brings about the common good of society.
Christmas is therefore a magnificent celebration of the perfect gift that all of humanity has received. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus implores us to "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." At first blush, this may seem like an impossible challenge. But on deeper reflection, Christ demonstrates for us how this is possible: the fullness of His divinity perfected His humanity, showing us how to be more perfectly human.
In Christ, we have been given everything. May the perfect gift of Christ illumine your life and the lives of your family this Christmas.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.