A long, long, time ago…in a land far, far away, there was something called logic – Aristotelian logic that is. What is that you might say? Well, the idea that by working from clear assertions (apophanseis) you can arrive at perfect deductions or ends (teleios). If you are old enough to have absorbed logical thinking from your ambient air back in the day when there was a thing called “objective truth” (ugh…how archaic right!) or privileged enough to have had a parent who insisted you take philosophy in college, you may remember Aristotle’s syllogism: If A = B; and B = C; then A = C. Pretty straight forward right? Not anymore.
Aristotelian logic is all but eradicated by public consciousness. Within the last 50 years the public school system, and even many Catholic school and universities, have embraced relativism. Relativism embraces the idea that if A = B; and B = C; then A = C only if you choose to believe it. If you don’t, then it isn’t so. The argument for relativism continues like this: The deduction of A = C is just one truth, your truth, but not everyone’s truth. Just because A = C it doesn’t mean I have to accept this. After all, I have every right as an individual to disagree with you. Furthermore, you can’t make me believe that A = C. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have to believe in this whole ‘syllogism’ stuff anyway because it discriminates against those of us who choose to not believe A = C.
As you can image relativism is a form of anti-reason. The assertion that there is no objective or absolute truth but rather just opinion is of course a statement of absolute and objective truth in itself. The premise is therefore absurd and self-refuting. Yet the anti-reason of relativism is the overwhelming ideology of our times. It has permeated our culture in general and the liberal media wallow in it. Why? It is the most convenient ideology of all. In a world where Truth, and therefore God (who is Truth), does not exist, anything is permissible (F. Dostoevsky).
There is no greater example of the anti-reason of relativism than the pro-abortion argumentation for the killing of a baby in the womb of his/her mother. The baby is a human being from the moment of fertilization (DNA tells us so); the baby is alive (otherwise you wouldn’t need an abortion); therefore, abortion kills a human being. Abortion is also violence and trauma not just to the baby but also to the woman who is carrying the baby. Yet pro-abortionists insist that the killing of a baby is subject to the will of the mother. Hardliners even argue that if a baby is born alive and was intended to be aborted, the baby should be killed by the doctor!
In a 1999 exchange in the U.S. Senate between Sen. Rick Santorum (R – Pa.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D – Calif.), the latter stated the following when debating when a baby is to be protected by the Constitution – “when you bring the baby home, when the baby is born…the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.” Human life begins when the baby is taken home from the hospital by the parents – astounding! By what standard or reason does she make the decision that this is the moment the baby’s life begins and should be protected? The answer is by her own of course. It is totally arbitrary and unsupported by logic. By what magic does birth give the baby the status worthy of being protected? Once again we encounter relativism. She decides when a baby is a human being protected by the Constitution. You can’t make her believe that a baby’s life in the womb is worth protection – even if it was one second before birth.
The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is the Creator, not the State, who imparts these self-evident “truths” and these truths are absolute. We fought a Civil War in part to defend the truth that the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit happiness are applicable to every human being not just white men. The pro-abortion proponents like Sen. Boxer have taken it upon themselves to arbitrarily determine what constitutes a human being worthy of Constitutional protection. This reasoning is not just relativistic and anti-reason, it is anti-human.
The lunacy of abortion is tragically compounded, promulgated, and championed by almost all the media and entertainment industry; as well as the U.S. government whose members have for the most part drunk of the poison of relativism. Imagine the influence on society and public opinion these three groups have with their programming and propaganda. And what is the basis for their support of abortion? The answer of course is the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade. This decision has become sacrosanct for pro-abortionist. Never mind that history shows that the Supreme Court is anything but infallible: Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857); Plessy v. Ferguson (1896); Pace v. Alabama (1883); Korematsu v. United States (1944).
You may ask, “Hey, wait a minute. I thought there was no absolute truth no matter who claims to have it? Only opinions exist…right? How is it that a relativist majority accepts Roe v. Wade?” Oh yeah, I forgot to mention… Relativists only embrace relativism only when they are in the minority (it’s cool to go against the grain). Once relativist have control and power over government and society, their point of view, that is, their opinion, becomes absolute truth and any other opinion is forbidden no matter how reasonable. The opinion of the State then becomes absolute and totalitarian.
For example, if you happen to disagree with the pro-abortion platform then you must be one of the following: a right-wing fascist, a brainwashed Christian fundamentalist, a patriarchal male chauvinist pig (yeah, this 70’s favorite is still alive and well), or simply plain ol’ Archie Bunker-style ignorant. Therefore your rights or freedom don’t matter. You can forget about individual freedoms or religious freedom. We are seeing the erosion of those freedoms as we speak.
This past Wednesday, January 22 more than one hundred thousand pro-life marchers came to Washington, DC in spite of a snowstorm that hit DC the night before and sub-freezing temperatures on the day of the march. The majority of the marchers were young women who understand the great tragedy of abortion. They understand that abortion is bad not just for babies but also for women since they probably know someone who suffered through an abortion – if they didn’t have one themselves.
The fact of the matter is that hard statistics show how abortion hurts women and that the radical feminist mantra of “Abortion on demand, no apologies!” crumbles under the weight of its own anti-reason. The unholy rage exhibited by those who scream this mantra speaks to the damage done. That is, the damage done physically, emotionally, spiritually, by abortion and its anti-logic.
As a Catholic priest who hears confessions, I have witnessed this pain first hand. The self-deception of the pro-abortion activists reminds me of the 1972 Neil Young hit song about heroin addiction “Needle and the Damage Done” – “I watched the needle take another man; Gone, gone, the damage done.”
I will never forget the time when a woman came to my office in the early years of my priesthood – she had a crisis pregnancy and was encouraged at an abortion clinic to have an abortion. She was visibly in distress and suicidal. Sobbing she kept saying – “My baby, my baby, it’s gone.” Although having a crisis pregnancy she would have given anything to have her baby back – damage done. This experience prompted me to help women in her situation and I later worked with Project Rachel, a post-abortion healing ministry that offers compassionate help to women and men who are experiencing the emotional and spiritual pain after an abortion.
You would think the news media, whose job it is to report news, not propaganda, would acknowledge the points of both sides of the abortion debate – of such an important story on which the future of humanity depends. Not The Washington Post. You would think that a new generation of young people (including an overwhelming number of young women) coming out in the hundreds of thousands to participate in the March for Life, in spite of arctic temperatures, would be worthy of a balanced report – nope!
The day after the March for Life, the Post pulled its usual – minimized the number of marchers, ignored the women at the lead of the pro-life movement, and minimized the importance of the march by placing it other than in the front page. Can you imagine the coverage if this was just a few hundred gathering for the SlutWalk? It is nothing short of a miracle that this pro-life generation has refused to imbibe the pro-abortion ‘opium of the people’ and gone against the deus ex machina of the pro-abortion lobby – yet no serious questions are raised by the Post about what drives these young people in such great numbers.
There was no reporting of the general trends among the young towards the pro-life position in spite of the media and entertainment industry promulgating the “culture of death.” The treatment of the March for Life by the Post is not only tragically biased but shows no desire to go beyond superficial reporting and standard stereotypes showing the marchers as naïve, religiously fanatical, or overly sentimental when it comes to the life of the baby.
The trend of more state abortion restrictions is a sign of the times. A new generation of women get it – the future of women, of men, of humanity, depends on a culture, society, and a nation that defend the life of the most vulnerable. The pro-life movement today, led by an authentic feminism is the new civil rights movement of our times. I’m reminded of my childhood hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said – “I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because ‘truth crushed to earth will rise again’.” The truth of the human dignity of the unborn child will rise again and we will look back on Roe v. Wade as we do on Dred Scott v. Stanford.
The choirmaster of Psalm 42 speaks to the deeper reality that lies in the heart of the marchers this past Wednesday afternoon – “Deep is calling on deep at the thunder of thy cataracts; all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love; and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life” (Ps 42:7-8). The driving force of the new “pro-life generation” comes from a profound conviction that comes from faith in the “God of my life.” This new generation unlike the generation of the 60’s and 70’s, does not see rebellion against God or organized religion as a virtue. They have seen the devastating effects of this flawed ideology and many of them having seen the misery or anger of their parents or grandparents and say – “this is not the answer.”
Just like civil law, faith and religion are teachers. The law regulates what we can do through what is legal. The Church teaches us what we ought to do because it is right. A wise nation is interested in the common good and should pass laws that are both right, moral, and legal. What nation can survive that passes immoral law? God who is always calling mankind in the language of mystery and in whose model we are made beckons to the human heart in ways that are always new and full of truth – indeed “deep is calling on deep.” Truth is ultimately beautiful because it is right and moral. It is this beauty that ultimately attracts the masses of young and not so young to March for Life.
What about the cases of rape, incest, or severely disabled babies? Here, a women’s voice sometimes can be more compelling, so I will quote Helen Alvaré, a law professor at George Mason University where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law, and is an advocate for the pro-life movement – “When you start to decide what life is worthy of protection, and what life is not, you have a problem. Our premise is that all life, no matter how it was conceived, or how severely disabled, is valuable and worthy of protection…Our position is consistent – we can only be pro-woman if we are pro-life.” Her point is that once you start deciding what life is worthy of protection, and which can be discarded, based on this or that condition, then no life is safe.
Kristi Burton Brown, a pro-life activist, pro-bono attorney for Life Legal Defense Fund, and a stay-at-home mom, suggests that one option of a crisis pregnancy is adoption: “I firmly believe that one of the best things the pro-life movement can do is promote adoption. We should stand behind any mother who desires to keep her child, but we should not demand this of all mothers. While the inability to care for a baby is no excuse to kill her – just as the inability to care for a five-year-old is no excuse to kill him – we should work harder to paint an accurate picture of adoption for pregnant mothers.”
Finally, the future of the pro-life movement will require a rediscovery of fatherhood and authentic masculinity where men take a proactive role in the protection of feminine purity and fertility. The rage in the pro-abortion movement, especially towards men, is legitimate when it comes to the failure of men to live out their vocation as faithful and chaste husbands, fathers, and sons of God by adoption. Often, behind every crisis pregnancy is a man who has radically chosen to act selfishly by not protecting the honor due to woman or acted selfishly in failing to provide for a woman and her baby. This failure is a grave violation of justice and justice demands that it be rectified. Here the example of St. Joseph, the great custodian of the Holy Family, is of value and importance.
In the end, no child is conceived without a man. This demands that man take full responsibility for his actions and revolt against the materialistic worldview that he is to fulfill his masculinity by indulging his passions and appetites contrary to his own dignity and that of woman. A new feminism will require a complementary new masculinity where a new generation of men awaken from the effects of the spiritual narcotic of sexual immorality and rise to the glory of biblical manhood in the key of Psalm 73: “I was stupid and ignorant, I was like a beast toward thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou dost hold my right hand. Thou dost guide me with thy counsel, and afterward thou wilt receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:22-24). The Church has a huge role to play here in the “new evangelization” as she walks with both men and women and helps them discover the mystery of the “theology of the body”.
I would like to personally thank all of those who came to Washington this past Wednesday to stand up for life and the unborn. I thank the women especially for what is beautiful and unique to them – for their “feminine genius.” I would like to dedicate to them the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II that are spoken in his Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women: “The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine “genius” which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.” To which I will add – Amen!