It wasn’t an exorcism, not in the way most people think of it: priests confronting the possessed with crosses and commands, the possessed responding with spinning heads and levitation. You know, like in the movies.
Instead, this was a worship service in a cathedral, led by a bishop. And its content was the rejection of Satan and his lies, affirmation of God and His truth, and repentance for the actions of our leaders in government.
The service was held at the same time Governor Quinn was signing the newly-passed same-sex marriage bill into law at an exuberant celebration in Chicago. Inside the Cathedral, it was prayerful and peaceful. A quick glance outside showed only a few protesters. And while the service was well attended by Catholics and some conservative Christians who had fought legalization of same-sex marriage, it went mostly unreported outside Illinois.
It was one year ago this week, on February 14, 2013, that the State Senate passed SB 10. The succeeding flurry of rallies and legislative maneuverings produced a roller coaster of emotions for people on both sides, until the House passed the bill on November 5, 2013. Same-sex marriages will begin in Illinois on June 1.
Until then, what remains are the questions: How will churches respond when same-sex couples seek use of their facilities for wedding ceremonies?
Will churches allow the threat of lawsuits to have a chilling effect on other outreach ministries to their communities?
Will Christians remember the actions of their local legislators when they enter the voting booths in March and November?
And how long will mainstream media continue to depict people who hold to a biblical definition of marriage – Protestants and Catholics alike – as intolerant and extremist?
In answer to the last question: For a long time to come.
In January, Salon.com published excerpts of an interview with Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, calling the November event “a massive exorcism.”
“Certainly the redefinition of marriage is an opposition to God’s plan for married life,” the Bishop explained. “So I thought that would be a fitting time to have that prayer, really for praying for God and his power to drive out the Devil from his influence that seems to be pervading our culture.”
Now, three months later, Paprocki equates his actions with parenting: “Perhaps it’s the permissiveness of our society that people think…that you’re somehow being hateful, if you don’t give them what they want. But sometimes, like any good parent will tell you, that sometimes you have to discipline your child, sometimes you have to say no.”