The “Tokugawa Shogunate” ruled in Japan from 1603 until 1868. This feudal regime, established by an individual named Tokugawa Leyasu, was ruled subsequently by the “shoguns” of the Tokugawa family. Now a shogun was a “hereditary” military commander while the Emperor was more of a figurehead during the long rule of the shoguns in Japan (1192-1867). One may remember a TV miniseries called “Shogun” based on the novel by James Clavell. Clavell also wrote “To Sir With Love” that was turned into a wonderful movie starring Sidney Poitier, the first African-American to win an academy award for his role in “Lilies of the Field.”
The Tokugawa Shogunate ruled from Edo Castle which was changed to the name “Tokyo” in 1868 after the abolishment of the Tokugawa shogunate (and thus the rule of all shoguns) during the Meiji Restoration. Shogun rule was based on a strict class hierarchy that was inflexible. It was a military style rule where there were lords, warriors (samurai), farmers, artisans, and traders. The movie, “The Last Samurai” (2003) starring Tom Cruise, is set in 19th-century Japan where after centuries of hiring samurai for the national defense, Emperor Meiji has made it clear he wants to do away with the samurai warriors. Tom Cruise plays a Civil War veteran hired to train an army to wipe out the samurai. However he is captured by the samurai and becomes conflicted once he learns of their history. Before the drama depicted in “The Last Samurai” and during the early rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Christianity was banned or being stomped out because of one man’s two year visit to Japan starting in 1549.
St. Francis Xavier (a Jesuit priest) was the first Christian to go to Japan as a missionary and at first he was met with tremendous resistance, but after working for more than two years he was able to establish, along with help from many others, three congregations within Japan’s feudal society. St. Francis struggled to learn the Japanese language but he was able to use artwork to teach the Christian faith. Christianity began to grow in Japan, albeit slowly, and things came to a head in 1637-38 in the Shimabara Rebellion where 40,000 Christian peasants were confronted and the Christian religion was banned under the penalty of death. Whenever someone was suspected of being a Christian, regime officials from the Tokugawa Shogunate would place pictures of Jesus and Mary before the “suspects” and order them to stomp on them. Refusal to do so, if persisted in, would end in execution.
The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Timothy Dolan said on May 9th, 2012, “In our own country we are seeing the growth of a movement just as antithetical in theory to Catholicism and traditional Christianity as the Tokugawa shogunate, and it finds its home in the Democratic Party. What we have seen over the last few decades is the evolution of the Democratic Party into an overtly anti-Catholic party. The Obama administration is the culmination of this trend. This, of course, is deeply ironic because the Democratic party is a major party in this country with the help of the votes of tens of millions of purported Catholics.” Cardinal Dolan goes on to point out how Democrats, with some notable honorable exceptions, have championed things like abortion rights, the embrace of homosexuality including driving the Catholic Church out of the adoption business because it refuses to embrace adoption for same-sex couples and mandating homosexual indoctrination in public schools that masquerades as education and finally mandating that Catholic Institutions offer “free” contraception coverage for its employees. Now more recently the President has endorsed same-sex marriage which is an attempt to “redefine” marriage.
At the heart of any significant relationship is a desire to belong to another perhaps in friendship or as life-long married partners sharing all of life’s joys and sorrows. So why is a marriage between two people of the “same-sex” not the same as marriage between a man and a woman? Pope Benedict provides us with the most clear voice on this matter when he states that “the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering.” The Holy Father connects unchanging moral truths as a key to human happiness and social prospering and neither cultural trends, scientific rationality, suppression through government action or majority rule should deter the truth from being offered to all men. Pope Benedict says that nothing should get in the way of man’s ultimate vocation, a relationship with God. Closing the doors to “transcendent” truth leads to impoverishment and to a reductionist and totalitarian understanding of the human person and the nature of society. “The cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning.” The Holy Father goes on to state that, “this moral reasoning, based on the natural law, is grounded on the Church’s conviction that this law is not a threat to human freedom.” The moral message of Christianity is not a message of constraint but one of liberation, of true freedom. Christians cannot be silent on “certain issues.” There is a tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience. “There is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and His Dominion.” Christians, especially Catholics, have a sacred obligation to be a consistent witness of their deepest convictions and contribute to the renewal of society as a whole.
Homosexuality is not a lifestyle that is conducive to the dignity of the human person. It eats away at true human joy and happiness and it is not a good for society. This is no different from the sexual struggles found by others in pornography, masturbation, and sex outside of the marriage covenant between a man and woman. These (and many other sexual sins) are all outside of God’s plan for all men and women. When I was getting my counseling degree I was privileged to hear a young man speak about his struggle with homosexuality and his eventual “escape” by the Grace of God from that lifestyle. One thing he always said has stuck with me. He said that he wanted to fight this sin in his life much like a recovering alcoholic wants to fight against the addiction of alcohol. Thus he needed a support group, a willingness to surrender, and personal accountability. Just like for all sinners we need each other, we need to surrender our wills to God’s will, and when we fall, to take responsibility for our actions and continue to fight against our individual vices and bad habits by the Grace of God. After all, He wants us all to be joyful and to go to Heaven. Don’t be fearful of the struggle for God is on your side!
“Here the subliminal influence of Marxist philosophy surfaces: the notion that it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. It is a moral problem, not a problem of morale.”
“Material security and human relationships unconstrained by any kind of necessity does not set mankind free.”
“Only if the veil of self-deception is torn from their eyes can anyone improve the quality of their lives.”
“Experience has taught me that it is wrong and cruel to suspend judgment, that non-judgmentalism is at best indifference to the suffering of others, at worst a disguised form of sadism.”
Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, British Psychiatrist