Lately it’s been really, really hard to keep my chin up when I watch the news/read the paper/drive around town amidst a sea of Obama/Biden signs. The latest polls put Obama solidly – meaning ten-points-plus – ahead of McCain. I’m hoping that the Ace of Spades is right in his assessment; specifically, that “the polls are crap.” I’m praying for a miracle, and I’m very serious about spending the night of November 3rd -4th in a vigil before the Blessed Sacrament with other miracle hopers. However, I’m beginning to feel like an elephant is on my chest whenever I’m online. Whether it’s Facebook, hulu.com, or even Wotmania, election news and election advertising is everywhere, and it’s suffocating. I feel like we're at the part of the horror movie where the whole audience is screaming, “Don’t go in there!” but the characters succumb to the false sense of security in their surroundings and let their guard down. In this post about the current bishop's meeting, Karen over at Some Have Hats nicely summed up the reasons I'm truly scared- not just uneasy or annoyed - with a potential Obama presidency. FOCA pushed through. Marriage ripped apart. Catholic professionals denied legal protection if they refuse to cooperate in laws or actions contrary to their faith.
I'm not saying that John McCain is perfect. I know he's not the ideal candidate, either. I'm against the war, against more drilling, against driving the budget further in the hole with tax policy we can't afford. I know he supports ESCR. I'm not a Republican. Absolutely not. But I'll vote for Republican candidates if they're the only ones standing up for the rights of the unborn. Taxes, gas prices, war, welfare, and healthcare are all crucial issues. But there are more important ones at stake. Once it's no longer legal to murder babies because they've been inconveniently conceived we can talk about taxes and healthcare.
Last week I visited with some old friends from high school. Our visit was lovely and fun until the subject of The One came up. I expressed my disgust for many of his past policies and future promises, but was utterly and incredulously shot down. One of my friends used the old “personally opposed” standby, remarking that, “I would never have an abortion, of course, but the reasoning for that is because it’s in the Bible. It’s religious. You can’t force your religious views on other people. It’s a woman’s body, and it’s her right.” I gently responded that one can arrive at moral conclusions in the absence of religion via natural law; such as: stealing has never been deemed acceptable in any society that we know of. We know, using nothing more than our brains and experience, that taking something from someone else is not a good thing. Same with the inherent evil of murder, and abortion is murder. She hastily switched topics, and we spent the remainder of our time somewhat awkwardly chatting about the parallels between Twilight and Buffy.
I feel a big rant coming on, and since I haven’t ranted in a long time, it’s overdue.
I am so, so, so, so, disgustingly sick of people – especially women- telling me that abortion is a woman’s right. The phrase, “right to choose” was crafted with exceeding cleverness, because in three small words it implies that 1)killing a baby is a choice and 2)if you don’t approve of killing babies you’re against women’s rights and therefore 3)you’re some kind of nut. Well fabulous.
The crux of the situation, though, is not about killing babies or women's bodies. It's the argument over what a “right” is. A human person, no matter how many cells he or she might be composed of, has an immortal soul. A human person is made in the image and likeness of God. A human person, even pre-born, has the same rights and dignity of the other seven billion human people who happen to have made it out of the womb and into the world. However, pro-abortionists would have us believe that human people only acquire those rights if their mother decides that they deserve them. This makes humans the authors of life, which, sorry guys, just isn’t the case. Babies come from sex. These two things (sex and babies) are designed to go together. With the exceptions of rape or abuse, babies do not come into being without a man and a woman choosing to have sex.
Let’s chat for moment about what a “right” is. A right is something a person has regardless of circumstance. For example, racial minorities, as human beings made in the image and likeness of God, have the rights of life, security, safe work environments, legal protection, and civil participation. The tragedies of racism and the need for the Civil Rights movement were ordained because African Americans (and others, of course) already had those rights by virtue of being human beings. Because their inalienable rights were being suppressed by unjust laws, those unjust laws had to be changed.
Every conceived person- no matter the circumstances of his or her conception – has a right to live simply because he or she is a human being and human beings deserve life.
The list of inalienable rights includes life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and some others nicely articulated in both the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights and the Church’s beautiful Gaudium et Spes. Notice that list of human rights doesn’t include something big. Sex.
Sex is a privilege, not a right.
Take a minute to absorb that. Again, excepting cases of rape or abuse, babies that result from sex are not accidents. As Dr. Janet Smith is fond of saying, an accident it crashing your car into a tree or falling on the ice. Accidents are things that happen out of sync with what we’d expect. Babies, however, are a sign that something went right- sperm met egg and a new life resulted. This is a good thing, a sign of health. People don’t get pregnant by accident. Throughout all of history, pregnancy only results because someone made a choice. Even the Virgin Mary had a choice to say “no thanks” when Gabriel brought God's message to her. Had she not been obedient and trusted God implicitly, things might* have been different (*a theological argument far beyond the humble scope of this little blog).
Driving a car isn’t a right, either. Giving the keys to someone who is unable to handle the responsibilities of driving is a recipe for disaster. The DMV knows this, and so there are all kinds of rules about who can drive and who can’t. My youngest sister is fourteen. She might want to drive. She might have the maturity and the dexterity and the judgment necessary to drive. But she’s fourteen years old. She hasn’t passed the driving test or learned how to drive safely. No matter how much she might want to drive, she can’t. Notice that she and her fourteen year old friends aren't holding rallies about it or begging their Congressmen for the "right to drive." Even as a teenager, she understands that driving is not a inalienable right, but rather a privilege.
Sex isn’t something people deserve because they’re over the age of majority. Sex isn’t something people deserve because they’re attracted to one another or because they love each other. Sex is a privilege. Something as powerful and holy as sex is not to be thrown about lightly, which is why the Church has always taught that it is only acceptable between men and women who are married. I am a single woman. Because I’m single, I’m not having sex. I might want to sometimes. Loving someone, being attracted to someone, or have the opportunity to have sex doesn’t change the simple fact that I am not married and therefore unable to participate in the privilege of having sex. Like the laws about driving age, the teachings of the Church about sex are for my own good and the general good of society. I'm not married, so it would be pretty darn tricky to raise a child all on my own. Some women are forced into such a situation and it's incredible how brave and strong they have to be. However, that's not the ideal situation for anyone- emotionally, economically, or otherwise. Even if I didn't become pregnant, the emotional upheaval of becoming one flesh with someone whom I might never see again would be an incredibly difficult burden to bear. Thus, for my own good and the good of others, I don't have the privilege to have sex.
Why is this such a big obstacle for people? I’ve been there. I’ve been in love and deeply attracted to someone. However, I do not have the right to have sex because I am not married. This shouldn’t be a difficult concept to grasp, but I think Christopher West hit the nail on the head. Our culture has taught us that we can’t control ourselves. We’ve (thankfully) defeated the heresy of angelism: thinking that our bodies (and therefore sex and sexuality) are bad or unclean. But the pendulum swung too far, to the heresy of animalism. Now we live a in a world that says that our impulses and instincts ought to rule us; that urges are natural and we should give in.
Paraphrasing Christopher West: If a dog walks into a room and sees a steak, he'll immediately run over and eat it. He won't stop to consider, "Well, I've already had three meals today and I'm not really hungry." Or, "maybe the next dog who comes in the room really needs to eat." Or, "This meat has been sitting out for a while; it might be rancid." Of course not. The dog is instinctual and designed to eat the steak. Cause, effect. Simple.
If we put ourselves in an analogous situation, we can either behave as humans or animals.
Scenario A: A young man and woman are in love and/or just be attracted to each other. They might have met earlier that evening or maybe they've been seeing each other for a while or may even be engaged. They really, really, really want to make love. Everything in their bodies is screaming "full steam ahead!" and so rather than deal with the uncomfortable idea of going home alone, they give in and make love. It might feel wonderful. It might be meaningful. But that doesn't change the reality that outside the confines of marriage vows their intimacy was wrong.
Scenario B: A young man and woman are in love and/or just be attracted to each other. They might have met earlier that evening or maybe they've been seeing each other for a while or may even be engaged. They really, really, really want to make love. Everything in their bodies is screaming "full steam ahead!" However, they know that they aren't married. They know the privilege of sex is denied to them. So with a sigh the separate, say goodnight, and go to bed alone. It might be frustrating. It might feel unfulfilling. But because they've honored each other and the specialness of sex, they'll be better off in the long run for their sacrifice.
Now, which couple is more like the dog with the steak- ruled solely by feelings and instincts - and which is embracing their own dignity and humanity by embracing the greater good by denying the here-and-now?
Postmodern culture sees nothing wrong with Scenario A. If if feels good, do it. And if the couple in Scenario A conceive a child, pro-abortionists see nothing wrong with the woman getting an abortion to rid herself of the inconvenience of a child- a child she said yes to when she and her partner had sex. This is part of a larger argument about why the Church opposes contraception, and I'll probably write about that in more detail someday. But the bottom line is that sex was designed for marriage, and marriage vows have four unbreakable parts: marriage is free, faithful, fruitful, and forever. Because God designed sex and marriage and babies to all go together, sex still plays by those rules even if marriage isn't part of the deal. Every act of sexual intimacy binds a couple into one flesh, sometimes through the conception of a new life. Even if sex doesn't produce a child, the couple has still given part of themselves to the other and that has its own set of consequences.
More central to the pro-life argument, however, is that sex is a privilege, not a right. Actions have consequences. If a couple chooses to have sex, they are choosing to deal with the consequences of sex. Sometimes those consequences include pregnancy. Pregnancy is meant to be a joyful thing: a new life has come into being because of love. A new soul has come into existence, and our human souls are immortal and will exist for the rest of eternity. This is big stuff!
Unlike having sex, having life is a right. Humans do not have the right to kill other humans (possible exceptions: self defense, just war. Again, both beyond the humble scope of my little blog). Sex is not a right. If you don't want to become pregnant, don't have sex. This is not rocket science. If A leads to B and B is an undesirable outcome for you, don't do A.
Rant over. Deep breaths.
I'm still going to be praying for a pro-life and pro-family presidency. Even if Obama wins, I'll pray that he does as little damage as possible. We won't know until November 4th (or 5th? Depending on when they finish counting?), but until then I won't abandon hope. Now that's audacity.