I don’t know about you, but I am concerned about the upcoming elections. Opportunity seems to be staring us in the face — a real chance to move forward to restore a culture of life — but yet many Catholics just don’t seem to get it. And this gets me frustrated — but not discouraged! God is in control, and He does have a plan. But that plan involves you and me. We have got to do our part.
What is Our Part?
The Vatican II document on the laity clearly emphasizes the task and responsibility at hand. It tells us our duty and obligation is to “restore the temporal order.” Simply stated, this means we are called to use the full weight of our influence to bring the mind of Christ (read: the mind of the Church) to bear upon the culture of our day and to all the institutions that comprise it.
We have been anesthesized, our minds numbed, by the false notion that our Catholic faith has little to do with public policies, initiatives, political platforms, and the general worldview of candidates and their proposals. But, nothing could be further from the truth! This is the very stuff our Catholic faith is meant to inform. It is the very stuff that is meant to reflect the mind of Christ and His Church.
Church and State
Based on our call and mission to “restore the temporal order,” we Catholics have to overcome the deleterious myth of “separation of church and state,” a concept first used during the French Revolution to expunge the influence of God from the affairs of the government. This is a dangerous position to hold because it posits man’s freedom not on “inalienable rights” bestowed on us by God Himself, but rather on the whim of the state subject to the benign or malignant whims of a leader.
Only by following the will of God given to us through Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church can we begin to be about the business of real change, real reform, real restoration. It is only then we can hope to experience a way of life that brings peace, unity, hope and joy.
Moral Absolutes, Prudential Judgments, and Decision Making
It seems to me we have forgotten, or simply dismissed, the fundamental principle upon which we evaluate the worth or morality of a perspective. Every position, point of view, initiative, policy, decision must be weighed in light of its compliance — or lack of it — with a “moral absolute.”
A moral absolute is something that is non-negotiable. If it is in the negative, then it is always wrong. Note the emphasis — always wrong. This means nothing can make it right — absolutely nothing. It is always wrong because it is an intrinsic evil — rotten to the core.
Therefore, a moral absolute requires our full submission (read: obedience) to the mind of Christ and His Church regarding it. It is not up for discussion; it is not up for debate; it is not one issue among many; in the affairs of man it takes the superior position — all else gives way to it. A moral absolute requires our full assent and an untiring willingness to work for it.
If an issue does not involve a moral absolute, however, that issue leaves open the possibility for more than one response to it. Even though some aspects of it may be regrettable and therefore a negative, it is not intrinsically evil. Therefore, discussion, debate, differences of opinion, and a number of potential solutions can all be part of the consideration. In cases such as these, the issue bows to a “prudential judgment” — a careful, thoughtful reflection yielding a sound decision in full compliance with moral absolutes.
Moral Absolutes Today
The moral absolutes facing our culture today are these: Abortion, Euthanasia, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Cloning, Same Sex Unions. They are intrinsic evils.
These moral absolutes are non-negotiables and, as Catholics, we are called to full submission to the teachings of Sacred Scripture and Holy Mother Church with regard to them. In these areas, our opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is our obedience.
We cannot, therefore, vote for any policy, platform, or representative who supports any of these non-negotiables when there is an alternative. To do so involves us in the evil they perpetrate. Morally, we become culpable. And frankly, it’s that simple.
The issues facing us today that require prudential judgment are these: economics, health care reform, taxation, the war in Iraq and other military actions, caring for the poor. Provided all decisions regarding these issues comply with the moral absolutes, discussion, debate, and opinion may flourish regarding them. We can “have at it.”
But, because the moral absolutes hold the superior position, issues involving them must be morally satisfied before we are morally free to consider those issues involving prudential judgment. Currently, we are not morally free to consider the issues requiring prudential judgment.
What Are We Thinking? Are We Thinking?
Let’s bring another angle into this discussion. What about critical thinking and simple logic?
It seems they are have become vestiges of a past day and time. Our fast-paced and technologically -driven culture has caused us to reduce our deliberations to a 30 second sound bite, a marketing campaign, and the underdeveloped opinions of pundits who jackhammer their ideologies into our heads through rapid and repeated rantings.
We have got to begin to use the intellect God has entrusted to us and follow some of the arguments to their logical conclusions.
One basic principle of logic that can help us is the truth that a faulty premise leads to a faulty conclusion. You just can’t make it right. And when this faulty premise violates a moral absolute, we find ourselves in serious jeapordy.
Here’s a little example from everyday life that highlights the difficulty of a faulty premise:
If we determine to drive to the store and it is east of our location, driving west isn’t going to get us there. It doesn’t matter how long we drive, how far we drive, or how well we drive. We started off with the faulty premise that the store is west of us and we were wrong. We are not going to arrive at our destination. Our only hope is to go back to the beginning and change our direction, or be rescued and have our direction changed for us.
Here’s another everyday example: basic computation. Let’s multiply 125 by 25. Let’s suppose we arrive at the sum of 525 on our first line of multiplication instead of 625. Now, even though we accurately compute the second sum to be 250, we are still going to come up with a wrong answer. Our solution to the problem is incorrect because we erred in our thinking at the beginning.
Abortion and the Faulty Premise
Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church tell us that abortion is intrinsically evil. This is a moral absolute. Therefore, any opinion or position that holds to abortion’s legitimacy is a fundamentally flawed opinion or position. It is always evil and always wrong.
Abortion is a denial of the dignity and sanctity of human life. Because it encompasses a denigrated view of the human person, it poses a threat to human life at all stages and at all ages. This is the “slippery slope” of the life issue.
A contemporary illustration makes the point well.
One of our candidates is the only senator who voted (four times, by the way) against a bill that would aid the life of a child born alive from a botched abortion. Note the word “only.”
If you start off with the fautly premise that life is disposable in the womb of the mother (abortion) or as it is being birthed (partial birth abortion) — which this candidate does — then it is a not a big leap to state that a child who was meant to be aborted can be killed, or left to die, after it is born. Abortion now leads to infanticide.
And what does infanticide lead to? Could it lead to more? What about legitimating euthanizing a child whose birth defect didn’t show up until it was one, or maybe two years of age? Five or six? Outlandish, you say? Think again. There are those proposing exactly that.
Could all of these things portend even more codification of imposed death? Perhaps? I say, likely.
How could we be guaranteed that a governmentally sponsored health care program would not require amniocentesis of every pregnant woman who would then need to make a decision to abort her birth-defected child or risk losing all coverage for that child? Outlandish, you say. Think again. This was part of at least one contemporary solution to health care reform.
Or, how could we be guaranteed that wholesale euthanasia would not be codified for the “sake of the economy” — especially as those boomers enter their twilight (and poor-health ridden) years? Outlandish, you say. Think again. Remember Terry Schiavo?
And on the issue of another moral absolute — how could we be certain that the legalization of same sex unions (already so in three states) would not lead to bigomy, polyandry, and a host of other aberrant life styles? Outlandish, you say. Think again. It is legal in Holland for three people of any gender combination to marry.
But we need not despair.
Made For Today
Our God has given us life in this our day and time. And His selection of us for this time is not capricious. He has endowed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, every gift and talent, every personality trait and temperment to meet the challenges of our day and time with faith, with hope, with courage.
If we pledge obedience to the will of God as given to us in Sacred Scripture and through the teachings of Holy Mother Church, if we acknowledge those teachings in our thoughts, words and deeds, if we use every available opportunity and means at our disposal to express our acknowledgment, we CAN do much to restore this culture to a culture of life. We CAN do much to build a civilization of love. We CAN restore the temporal order and achieve our mission.
Let us not fall victim to voices that “tickle our ears.” Let us not succumb to the “specious arguments” of pundits and politicians. Let us, rather, seek first the kingdom of God and every good thing will be given to us.
November 4 will be here soon. Let us make it a day for LIFE.