by Matthew Warner
From National Catholic Register
Culturally, it’s getting easier for people to be pro-life. There are four key reasons for this:
(*While being pro-life includes many things, here I’m mostly referring to life in the womb.)
1) The science: Science has clearly confirmed that a new, individual, self-directing human life is created at the moment of fertilization (i.e. conception). There is no point after that where this life magically becomes human or deserves to live, etc. It’s quite obviously a precious human life from that first moment. Just add food, water and proper shelter and eventually you get a bigger human being. People increasingly get that. And it takes really convoluted, non-rational squirming to try and say otherwise.
2) The socially defensible position: The socially convenient pro-life maxims are winners. “It’s a baby, not a choice.” “Why can’t we love both the mother AND the baby?” “What excuse possibly justifies the killing of an innocent baby in the womb?” It’s hard to argue with these.
3) The most compassionate thing: Being pro-life is easily seen as the “most loving” thing to be. When you see a struggling mother, the compassionate thing is to help her – not to help her kill her baby. When you see a sonogram of a baby, the compassionate thing is protect the baby. To justify killing the baby either takes an increasingly vincible ignorance that the baby is not really a human life, or really complex, strange-sounding psycho-babble that could basically be used to justify the killing of any human life – born or unborn.
4) Consistency: The pro-life movement is largely consistent – at least on the issue of abortion. We do a pretty good job of not trying to justify weird exceptions that make us appear hypocritical. We accept that a new human life is created at fertilization and we accept all of the consequences that come with that logic, no matter how difficult they may be, extreme they may seem, or what utilitarian “advancement in science” we may forego in the process.
To sum it up, the pro-life argument is a winner (and ultimately true). And, more importantly, it’s pretty easy to understand and defend in social circles. So it’s gradually winning out. Great news.
Marriage, on the other hand, is not.
We are losing the Marriage battle. Even among ardent, pro-life Christians, it’s easy to find many of them silent on Marriage or silently indifferent to our Marriage laws, gay “marriage”, etc. This is a tragedy. But here’s a few reasons why it’s happening:
1) The science: While there is a lot of science that supports all the benefits of true, sacramental Marriage, it’s a more complex issue to analyze and make conclusions about – especially in a society full of broken and “modern” families. There are also lots of other “studies” out there done with their own bias that muddy the water for people. So the perception is that the science is inconclusive and people can largely grab whatever stats they want to make their own case. Further, because it’s harder to make sense of it all, people resort to their own anecdotal evidence. “I know a gay couple who would make much better parents than half the parents I know.”
2) The socially defensible position: Being pro-marriage is hard in public. And if you can’t defend traditional marriage without referring to the Bible, God or Natural Law, then you’ve already lost the argument (because people immediately stop listening or have trouble grasping what things like the “Natural Law” is and why it matters). Also ineffective is saying “this is the way we’ve done it for thousands of years.” Not gonna fly. On the other hand, it’s much easier in our culture to just say, “How is their relationship hurting you?” “They love each other and just want to not be treated as second class citizens.”
Today, those arguments win hands-down in a sound-bite culture with a short attention span and an unappreciation for the democracy of the dead. If we can’t distill down the profound and beautiful theological and sociological arguments we have for true Marriage into equally convincing sound-bites of our own, we won’t be heard.
3) The most compassionate thing: You’ll hear things like…“I’m good friends with a wonderful gay couple. They are in love just like you and me. Why would you want to keep them apart? Who cares what gender they happen to be. They’ve been bullied and cast out their entire life by bigoted people [which is often very true] and pushed to the edge of suicide. Just let them have a life together with the person they love. They aren’t hurting you. That’s what makes them happy.”
If we can’t inject some more truth into such illogical implications, while acknowledging that the argument resonates with some truth, and then make the much harder case that the compassionate thing to do is actually to help those with same-sex attraction to pursue a higher calling and a still more beautiful plan for their lives, then we’ll continue to lose here, too.
4) Consistency: This part hurts the most. We’ve redefined marriage over and over again ourselves already. It no longer lasts until death. It no longer has to be open to life. Sex no longer has to be contained within it. We’ve completely separated marriage from procreation from sex. Culturally, we’ve reduced Marriage to just a loving relationship between two people. So of course it appears unfair to start getting all specific now about what a true marriage really is. Through all of our selfish shenanigans we’ve almost completely neutered our argument for what makes Marriage between a man and a woman so unique and special to human society. We’ve made it very difficult on ourselves.
The Church has the most beautiful, true and ultimately most fulfilling teaching on Marriage. We have a duty to share that truth and to fight for it for the sake of all people – including those with same-sex attraction. But until we do better on these four points (which is a very challenging task), nobody else will know it.