Blog Post

Agape vs. Eros: March for Life vs. the Women’s March

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

The March for Life has been a regular occurrence for 45 years and yet the Women’s March, which is only three-years-old, is already floundering with a record number of marches being cancelled across the country. What’s behind the staying power of one march and the rapid fizzling of the other? Perhaps a look at the motivations behind these divergent marches will give us a few clues.

Lifezette is reporting on the numerous cancellations that are plaguing this year’s Women’s March. In New Orleans, the march was cancelled for “several reasons” and the Eureka, California march ended because the event was deemed “too white.”

The national march is in no better shape. March founder Theresa Shook is calling upon her co-founders Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez to step down due to their connection to the anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ Louis Farrakhan. Their refusal to do so has caused even the National Organization of Women to say they will withhold direct financial support until “current questions regarding leadership are resolved.” It has also caused marches in Texas,Washington DC, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Illinois to sever ties with the national organization.

Their mission statement claims to be all about building “inclusive structures guided by self-determination” which sounds great on paper; but in real life, those “inclusive structures” have been known to be quite exclusive by refusing admittance any organizations that don't tow the liberal line. And their “reproductive rights” platform reveals the truth about their profession of self-determination, which translates into taking control of their own life even when it costs the life of another.

One glance at the signage at these rallies – many of which are so vulgar they can’t be repeated here – it’s plain to see that their famous motto of “hate has no home here” is actually quite at home there.

And then there’s the March for Life. It was founded in 1974 by Nellie Gray, who served in the Women’s Army in World War II and whose one guiding principle in life was that every life, born and preborn, young or old, should be cherished and protected. A year after Roe v. Wade became law, Nellie organized the first March which was never intended to become an annual event. But thousands of people showed up, and thousands more wanted to become involved in defending the defenseless. It now draws hundreds of thousands of people every year and has been doing so for four decades in spite of the fact that the March gets barely any news coverage.

As for how inclusive it is, I have personally marched and witnessed the way pro-abortion people are treated at the March – with respect and a listening ear. In all of these years of marching, I have never heard of anyone being turned away because they weren’t pro-life. Instead, the people who attend this march, which always takes place in the brutal cold of January, don’t come there to demand rights for themselves, but for the unborn who are unable to do so themselves.

Their vision is to create a world where the beauty and dignity of every human life is valued and protected. The mission of the march could hardly be more simple: to end the slaughter of the unborn by “united, educating and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.”

Although both marches claim to be motivated by love for mankind, it’s obvious that they’re not talking about the same kind of love. One is focused inward on the “self” and other is focused outward on the “other.” In the language of love, this is known as agape vs. eros.

For example, the “me” march is all about eros, which is the “warm and fuzzy” love that permeates our culture. Eros is all about “passionate love” or romantic love. It has its place, but it’s only a natural love and because of this, it has its limitations.

“Selfishness can always creep into a purely natural love. It makes its appearance as soon as one yields to the temptation of ruthlessly sacrificing the legitimate good of another person for the sake of one's own interest. Our wounded nature always tempts us to put our advantage above others, and it does not hesitate to trample upon another's rights in order to satisfy its cravings,” writes Alice von Hildebrand.

Agape, on the other hand, is supernatural love. It is the conscious act of sacrificing one’s own desires, comfort, and even well-being for the sake of another. It is the love that sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8). And the love that led God to send Him (John 3:16). The greatest fulfillment of this love is to sacrifice one’s life for another (John 15:13).

“Supernatural love of neighbor excludes selfishness under any form,” von Hildebrand writes.

One love is strong, faithful, steadfast, and long-suffering. The other is weak, impulsive, inconsistent, and ephemeral.

When we apply these rules of love to the marches, we see that the one based in agape has lasted more than 40 years. The other, taking its fuel from eros, is barely three-years-old and is already floundering.

There is a very important lesson to be learned from this comparison - motives matter, because only the strong survive.

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