Making the case for traditional marriage like a marathon, local attorney says

For the faith community, the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex ‘marriage’ was a watershed moment. The damage to the country will continue to unfold, said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference.

“I think we’re wading through a watershed moment when it comes to this issue,” Kraska, an attorney, commented after the justices’ ruling. “I don’t think we’ve internalized the full impact of what that’s going to mean for community, for marriage, for families, for children.”

The 5-4 ruling in the case Obergefell v. Hodges allowing same-sex marriage has been compared to the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion for their historic and sweeping nature.

“I think, unfortunately, we’re going to have to struggle through the consequences of this just as we have with abortion,” Kraska said. “And hopefully just as we’ve done with abortion, we’ll fight the good fight and really do what we need to do to mitigate a really damaging decision.”

In the wake of the decision, some states like Texas faced immediate changes when licenses were issued and some government workers cited religious objections to being participants.

Colorado was one of 37 states that previously permitted same-sex ‘marriage’ before the ruling. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which rules on cases in Colorado and five other states, ruled against Utah’s constitutional marriage amendment in 2014, and an appeal was rejected. The state then was required to immediately legalize same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses.

“The state constitution was already overturned with the 10th circuit decision ruling that came down,” Kraska said. “Practically, in terms of day-to-day, Colorado wasn’t one of the states that were directly a part of the lawsuit at the Supreme Court.”

But she said it’s a matter of time before the finer details of the Supreme Court’s decision are litigated. One question is how tax exempt religious organizations will be impacted.

“That’s a big area of concern for all types of religious organizations not just the Catholic Church,” Kraska said. “There’s a lot of unknowns out there, and I think until we start to see actual cases come forward and be litigated, we won’t really know the full extent of the impact.”

It’s also unclear if religious objections to participation in a same-sex ‘marriages’ will be protected—a battle that will also likely unfold in the courts.

“I just think it’s going to be a real shame if all we’re doing is having to defend ourselves against these types of attacks and this kind of litigation,” Kraska said.

The ruling also points to the need for a continued response.

“I do think that this is just another example of why people need to be vigilant and why people need to get involved,” she said.

Faithful need to be involved in the legislative process, vote and express their views.

“There’s just really no other way to put it,” Kraska said. “We have to understand that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There’s going to be bumps along the way. You can’t get discouraged when your candidate doesn’t win or doesn’t do exactly what you want them to do. It should just make you want to fight harder for your beliefs …”

 

UPCOMING EVENT
7 p.m. July 22
“The Catholic Church: The Supreme Court-the definition of marriage.”
Risen Christ Church, 3060 S. Monaco Parkway, Denver
Speaker: Msgr. J. Anthony McDaid, pastor

COMING UP: Did Christians ban the Games? Tales, myths and other fun facts about the ancient Olympics

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The 2020 Summer Olympics began less than a week ago, and as is usually the case, there’s been enough stunning athleticism, shocking upsets and yes, even a little bit of drama on display to keep the water cooler chatter abuzz until at least the 2022 games.

At their best, the Olympic games bridge cultural divides and unite countries around the world as the greatest living athletes around the globe compete for the coveted gold medal in their respective events. There’s a spirit of global camaraderie that welcomely comes about during every Olympiad; whether watching the Games at home with the family or going to a local bar to cheer on your favorite country, the Olympics bring people together in a way that most other sporting events do not.

Another astounding thing about the Olympics is how they’ve endured over the millennia. Indeed, they provide a special glimpse into the history of the world and those common qualities of humanity that will never die; namely, the need for both unitive, universal community and friendly but fierce competition.

The first recorded Olympic games took place in 776 B.C., though some historians speculate that they could have began as early as the 10th century B.C. The games were held every four years in Olympia to honor the greek god Zeus as one of four Panhellenic festivals, this one coinciding with the second full moon following the summer solstice, usually at the end of July or early August. The Olympics became so significant that the term Olympiad was used to mark a year the games took place, and became a common unit of historical time measurement.

Now, the ancient world wasn’t exactly known for its amicability or even peacefulness, as indicated by the countless wars and power usurpations that took place throughout its history. However, Olympic festivals were marked by a truce among the Greeks called ekecheiria, which roughly means “holding of hands.” This ensured safe travels for athletes and spectators as they made their way to the festival and was a common basis for peace among the Greeks. That the Olympic games could get even the constantly feuding Greeks to lay down their arms and come together in a spirit of solidarity speaks to their significance in ancient history.

Early Olympic events included the footrace, wrestling, the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw and boxing. Of course, it’s nigh impossible to read about the ancient Olympics and not come across epic tales of chariot racing, an event which was briefly banned early on but was reinstated by the first century B.C. and drew the interest of several key Roman figures (more on that later).

By the fifth century B.C., athletes from all over the Greek-speaking world came to Olympia for the games. The footrace, also called the Stade or Stadion, was considered the most prestigious event, and is where the english word “stadium” is derived from. Stade was a unit of measurement in ancient Greece which modern historians say is the rough equivalent to 600 feet or 200 yards, though the actual length has been a subject of debate for many years. Either way, it represents the length which runners in the Stadion ran to prove themselves as the fastest sprinters in the ancient world.

Interestingly, very little record about the Olympics games during the time of Christ exists. History tells us that the Roman emperor Tiberius, who was emperor during Christ’s life, won the chariot races during the 194th Olympiad in 4 B.C. In 17 A.D., the popular Roman general Germanicus, who was Tiberius’ adopted son and the future father of the third Roman Emperor Caligula, won the chariot races in 17 A.D., presumably around the time Christ was a teenager.

About those chariot races: they were known to attract elite political figures, some of whom won based on true skill, and others who only wanted the appearance of winning to further exert their power and status. During the 211th Olympiad, Emperor Nero, known for his fierce persecution of Christians and rather narcissistic personality, forcibly moved the Olympic games set to take place in 65 A.D. to 67 A.D. so he could compete while on a tour of Greece. He participated in the chariot races (with six more horses than the other competitors), and declared himself the greatest Olympic victor of all time, though historical eyewitness accounts tell a different story. Nero actually nearly died after a severe wreck, but Nero being Nero, he was still declared the winner.

Thankfully, Nero’s title as an Olympic victor and the Olympiad he “won,” which did not adhere to the established chronology of the games, were subsequently stricken from the official Olympic records after his death.

The Olympics grew over the course of 1,200 years until 393 A.D., when Emperor Theodosius I banned all Pagan festivals from the Roman emperor after Christianity became adopted as the state religion. Popular culture and history has long maintained this story of Christianity being to blame for the halt of the Olympic games. However, in recent years, some historians have disputed this account, saying that it was not for religious reasons but rather economic reasons that the games ended when they did. In fact, even after Theodosius’ death, there are still records of Olympic games taking place up until the fifth century. As the administration of Roman Empire evolved, the Olympics could no longer be sponsored by civil funds and instead became sponsored more and more by rich elites of the time. Simply put, the games became too expensive, and no one wanted to pay for them anymore.

The Olympics did not make a return for 1,500 years, until the Athens Olympics in 1896. Over the last 125 years since their reinstatement, the Games have become an integral piece of modern culture and a remnant of ancient history that was revived to great avail. As the Olympics in Tokyo continue over the next week and athletes compete for the gold, the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians serve as a pertinent reminder of how the spirit of an Olympian imitates closely that of a Christian:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

So let the Games continue! And may the race be run not for a perishable prize, but an imperishable one.


Featured photo: Met Museum, Terracotta Panathenaic prize amphora (jar), ca. 510 B.C. Attributed to the Leagros Group.