While watching the vice presidential debate, I was troubled by the words of Tim Kaine, a fellow Catholic:

So let’s talk about abortion and choice. Let’s talk about that. We support Roe versus Wade . . . Governor Pence wants to repeal Roe versus Wade. He said he wants to put it on the ash heap of history, and our young people in the audience were not even born when this was decided.

Yes, it’s true: the young people in the audience were present that night because their parents did not take advantage of the legal “right” to end their lives. And the “ash heap of history?” Candidate Pence is correct. That’s where you send policies and practices that are wrong. Interestingly, candidates Kaine and Clinton have attempted to toss marriage, gender, and religious liberty on the ash heap of history.

It won’t work for long. In this great nation, there are too many good folks around to rescue truth, life, and justice from the tyranny that is the inevitable result of progressive politics.

Start your day with Public Discourse

Sign up and get our daily essays sent straight to your inbox.

A Slow Road Back

As I listened to Senator Kaine, I reflected on my path back to the Catholic Church over the last several years. It wasn’t a straight line—there were plenty of ups and downs. Perhaps surprisingly, the biggest stumbling block I encountered were Catholic public figures like Tim Kaine who promote a watered-down version of Church teaching, which did not challenge me to lead a better life as a seeker of Jesus Christ but only entrenched me further in the very errors that my conscience told me I needed to escape. Mr. Kaine’s Church seemingly denies the new life in the Spirit that Christ promised.

It was the authentic public witness of the Catholic Church that brought me back. During my first twenty or so years of adulthood, I attended mass nearly every day. In 1995, I left the Church. Eventually, I later found myself divorced from my wife and seeking romantic relationships with other men. I lived as a gay man for ten years. But as I began to examine my life and observe the world around me, I came to the inescapable conclusion that I had allowed my mind to become darkened to truth, which had allowed me to rationalize depraved behavior.

I eventually came to my senses, realizing that the Church does indeed have the answers my heart longed for. I say that with no hesitation at all, and I am happy to stake my life on my declaration.

In fact, I have so much respect for the Catholic Church and her teachings that for a few years before returning to full communion with the Church, I would drop into a church nearly every day to pray, but I did not take communion. Why? Because I was engaged in sin and I approved of it in others. I continued this way for a few years, even well after the end of my final gay relationship. My conscience would not permit me to receive the Eucharist if I did not sincerely intend to “sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin.”

A couple decades ago, the Church was rocked by a far-reaching clergy scandal. As I’ve attempted to evangelize some of my gay friends, that’s always the first thing thrown in my face. It’s hard to make progress when you are forced to begin by clawing your way up from the bottom of a deep moral pit—especially one seemingly dug by the Church herself.

In the past few years, the Church has made great progress correcting the systemic problems that allowed such widespread sexual abuse to occur. Now it is faced with a similar scandal that it seems just as hesitant to recognize and address.

Irony and Beauty

Although it may sound strange, being gay actually helped me to see the impossibility of marriage between two men or two women. It allowed me to see how harmful it is to children in general and my own kids in particular.

I am a man with same-sex attraction, and somehow God has clearly used it for my good. I don’t know why I am same-sex attracted. I don’t know whether I was “born this way.” What I do know is that were I not same-sex attracted, I would not have invested myself in understanding the beauty of natural law, complementarity, and marriage. Most likely, I would view marriage as much of the rest of the world does: a mere tradition, something ordinary, mundane, and expendable.

God in his mercy toward me has used that which the world not so long ago said was a curse—an abomination deserving death—and now says should be enshrined and venerated as a means to lead me closer to Him. The world is wrong on both counts. It lies to those who are same-sex attracted, telling us there is no happiness available to us in complementarity. It tells us that we are doomed to a life of unhappiness unless we can convince the rest of humanity to abandon complementarity, and that we will remain unsatisfied, unfulfilled and offended until it is eviscerated from human experience. The world seeks to ameliorate this fabricated “offense” against those who experience same-sex attraction. In so doing, it offends God by rejecting the riches He has provided us in complementarity.

Same-sex attraction is what led me to God. It’s what made my heart cry out to God. It made me recognize that I need God daily. It made this hard-hearted, sinful, supposedly self-sufficient man, who had rejected God, recognize that my soul has a deeper hunger that cannot be satisfied by the world or by anything this world provides. It made me recognize that I have a soul that was created by God and for God. It is His love, Divine Love, that my heart seeks more than anything else.

On my own, I would have chosen to be one of the sophisticates of the world, embracing the world’s wisdom about my same-sex attraction and working to remake the world as I thought it should be. If I had stayed on that path, I would have rejected not only for myself but for all others who experience same-sex attraction our rightful place in the cosmos. But thanks to God’s intervention in my life, the very real power of His Cross, the Church, the many brothers and sisters whose faith is a constant witness and encouragement to me, and the many saints who have gone before me and inspired me, I see that as folly now.

Led by Truth

My personal conviction about this has been strong enough to compel me very publicly to oppose same-sex marriage. I’ve lobbied lawmakers and testified before state legislatures against same-sex marriage. I’ve written opinion pieces in The Washington Post, The Washington TimesThe Washington Examiner, and American Thinker, as well as Public Discourse. I’ve written United States Supreme Court briefs. I’ve given speeches and served on panels and town halls. I’ve done TV and radio interviews. I have put many relationships on the line, all in the name of upholding Truth.

I am also a pro-life activist. Most Monday mornings you’ll find me in Germantown, Maryland, near the office of Dr. Leroy Carhart, the notorious late-term abortionist. Each week, several dozen to a few hundred people gather there to pray and protest peacefully. Many of us walk the sidewalk near Carhart’s office praying the Rosary in small groups.

After a decade of divorce, I worked hard to see my family pulled back together again—successfully so, I am happy to say. I could no longer continue inflicting a broken home on my children, always depriving them of one parent or the other. My broken relationship with my wife was an equal source of heartache and regret, which I am thrilled to say has been repaired.

Kaine Catholics: An Impediment to Faith

But bad Catholic witness can be an enormous roadblock to faith. It certainly was for me. So many public Catholics told me—told the world—that the Church is wrong about marriage. That I should act on my same-sex attractions. That I should be gay married. Tim Kaine even said he expects the Church one day to embrace gay marriage. Although I try to be a well-informed Catholic, I have never been able to understand why the Church continues to hold in its warm embrace people like Kaine, Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and my former governor Martin O’Malley.

I don’t know if the hierarchy recognizes the great harm these very public figures do to the Catholic Church. They relish their roles as high-profile dissenters, leading the charge within the Church to institute what is known to be objectively evil. They serve to weaken Catholicism and the faith of individual Catholics. They love what they perceive to be progress more than they love Truth. They actively spread damaging lies that hurt other people—especially our youngest and our most vulnerable. These Catholic VIPs are not progressive. They are regressive, bringing us back to a time in history predating respect for human dignity and human life itself.

Equally troubling have been the recent WikiLeaks revelations of email exchanges between members of Hillary Clinton’s staff ridiculing the Catholic Church as nothing more than a “middle ages dictatorship.” Again, high-profile Catholics John Podesta (Clinton campaign chairman) and Jennifer Palmieri (Clinton communications director) reveal their personal contempt for church teaching and display an inclination to undermine, not protect, their Catholic faith.

There is afoot today an unprecedented, massive effort to weaken—if not completely neuter—the witness of the Church. Here’s what I know to be true: the Church of Kaine and Kennedy, Pelosi and Biden, Sebelius, Podesta, and Palmieri makes no demands on people, seeks no dedication, no sacrifice. If you ask little of people, that’s exactly what you get—a church full of the disengaged and distracted, and ultimately, the unbelieving. Yet if you make big demands of people, such as Jesus himself did when he said, “the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel,” you end up with a church brimming with dedicated souls willing to lay down their lives, seeking to do all they can for the Kingdom of God (see Acts of the Apostles, 1:1-28:31).

And so now we have a Catholic vice presidential candidate who has a 100 percent rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood. He supports same-sex marriage and, oddly, showed himself to be so gender-compromised at the vice presidential debate that he couldn’t refer to himself as a man. Instead, he promised to be “Hillary Clinton’s right-hand person,” not right-hand man. One wonders what his preferred pronouns might be.

I know that many bishops don’t want to appear to be weaponizing the sacrament of communion by withholding it from individuals like these. But this is exactly what these folks themselves are doing—weaponizing communion to create the appearance that the Church fully accepts their very dangerous worldly viewpoints. Wittingly or not, these people have managed to achieve great evil and continue to do so, yet they enjoy fraternity and camaraderie within the Church. They are headliners at church-sponsored events one day and spokespersons for Planned Parenthood or the Human Rights Campaign the next.

The Catholic Church, by never speaking out in direct opposition to these folks and rarely condemning their views publicly or withholding communion, lends tacit approval to their violations of human dignity.

If Tim Kaine wins, the Catholic Church loses.