I’m writing this at 5am, how frustrating. My last post somewhat wondered off topic from the Church to gnostic heresy probably because I finished writing it around 3am… somewhere in me the sleeping cog is broken.
Anyway I woke at 3 am and was unable to get back to sleep, my mind racing. Thinking about a fair few things.
The last of which was a conversation I had on Saturday.
I’d gone for a boozy lunch with my good atheist friend, and we had a great time, he is such good company that sometimes I forget that I’m not amongst Catholics.
One topic we brushed up against somehow was that of abortion. He told me a mutual acquaintance of ours, is pregnant, I was first surprised and taken-aback. Part of me does indeed know that these things happen, part of me also finds the whole notion of sex outside marriage incredulous. I might be as red blooded a man as any other but still it just seems so base to do the crime without being willing to do the time… loveless sex is just so grim.
I find it even more incredulous that if you are going to ignore God on the count of chastity, Atheists go on and on about the importance of contraception, then remarkably sometimes don’t use it.
So anyway, the obvious next question is; well, is she keeping the baby? Answer in this case, we suspect, yes. How very remarkable. I can easily understand the desire to procreate so having a child out of wedlock is easily forgiven, even if it does mean added hardship to the never easy task of raising children. Indeed its not a sin to have a child outside of marriage at all, only to fornicate, and the two are not necessarily 100% correlated. (I had to give that a bit of thought myself)
But all children bring meaning and love to life and that is what we are all looking for so it will still probably be a good thing in the grand scheme of things and hopefully particularly for the girl involved.
One of the problems with boozy lunches is that perhaps the ability to perfectly recall them later is impinged upon. My friend said something and indeed he may well correct me, but I think the gist was “well I can’t see what is so wrong with abortion, its just a bunch of cells anyway”.
Firstly I’m not sure non Catholics realise how very shocking a thing that is to say, indeed it was actually disgusting to hear, it makes a bad taste come to the mouth and the bile duct rage. I’m not sure I was able to look him in the eye for at least five seconds.
And thus I wake at 3 am three and a half days later with the sickening feeling that because I was so taken aback, and because the lunch had been particularly boozy, well to be fair it had somewhat turned into a moderate pub crawl by this stage, I did not give a good rebuttal.
So first and foremost I would like to say that I hope he doesn’t think whatever I stammered out at that stage was the best the Catholic Church has got to give on the subject.
We could go down the route of me pointing out that actually unborn babies very quickly gain recognisable anatomical features and probably have done so by the time the vast majority of abortions have taken place. Its not something I have researched so I can’t give accurate stats in terms of weeks of pregnancy and development off the top of my head but there are plenty of pro-life websites that I’m sure can.
But that is also skirting the moral issue, the philosophical imbroglio is ignored, the real howler, the tragedy, the crux of the problem is sidestepped rather conveniently by this side argument.
What I should have riposted with is “well you are just a big sac of cells, what makes you think you are so important?”, is it the intelligence of man that means he has a soul? would a woman still have a right to choose if her baby was already quoting Shakespeare in utero?
Newborn babies are just giant information sponges, sucking in every minute detail of the world in glorious Technicolor with those beautiful wide eyes of theirs. How intelligent are they? well they are still as totally reliant on others as they are on their mother when they are in the womb.
This mad idea of intelligence for human value was brought to its grim peak by the Nazis who killed people with learning difficulties, along with everyone else they found a remote dislike for.
So I got to thinking what it is about this sac of cells or even just a fertilised egg that the Catholic Church believes so passionately should be protected as sacred. The idea that human life is sacred is still just about pervasive enough for me to take that as a given, even when it is under attack in this culture of death.
Life begins at conception, that is a scientific and theological fact. As soon as the egg is fertilised it is a new life form. What is more it is human, that is a scientific fact too. This moral question is often fought via small but important proxy wars in the realm of terminology, so I’d like to say why is it that atheists somehow convince themselves that a foetus is ok to kill but a baby isn’t? A sac of cells is a paltry, not a human life? I think the terminology has been coined specifically to avoid the philosophical truth, the horror of abortion.
Just because a human being may only be comprised of a few cells doesn’t mean they do not have value, we all were comprised of a few cells at one point, but we grow. That is in a way why it is more tragic if a young person dies, they never lived their full potential in this life. All death is tragic in the Catholic view because God created us to be immortal but original sin brought death into the world, but still it is especially tragic for the young.
From the fertilised egg all the life of humanity exists in a state of potential. It is only when we run out of potential that we die, and even then we will continue our spiritual potential for all eternity, depending on our choice of direction in life, either going through purgatory to the ever deepening appreciation of the beatific vision, or going to the depths and plumbing our ever deepening potential for depravity in the bowels of hell.
So again why is abortion so horrifying? It is the taking of human life, and as such it is an affront to God. All killing is lamented by the Church, even if it is done in self defense it is never to be rejoiced in. The idea that thou shalt not kill is better translated as thou shalt not murder, is actually not really in keeping with the spirit of the Catholic faith.
The Catholic church always taught that killing, full-stop, was wrong. Constantine was baptised on his deathbed because he did not want the stain of things he had to do in the normal course of office as the Emperor to tarnish his baptised soul. Like capital punishment and war. The necessity of soldiers was accepted, but still killing was wrong and to be repented of.
The death penalty is only permitted if there is no other choice, and in the modern world there is always another solution, indeed it is cheaper to enforce life imprisonment, the death penalty should never become acceptable or be approved of like it has in in certain parts of the world.
But the killing of babies, by their mothers, and society being tricked by the devil into demanding it as a right, that is truly horrific, it is the greatest evil the devil has tempted, lied and confused the secular western world to accept. Perhaps it is the most twisted thing the devil has ever accomplished and perhaps it makes him laugh a rage filled laugh at the evil he has encouraged us to perform of our own free will.
To ban abortion, now that the cat is out of the box, putting it back in again will be difficult, it is to tell something for what it is, an evil, and that people who willfully engaged in it were in sin. A nigh on impossible task for a secular society.
The Church realises that women are often pressurised into abortion so has a great deal of sympathy for women as victims of abortion, and indeed if you do not know something is a sin, even if it is of grave matter, it is not mortal sin and people seem incredibly confounded when it comes to abortion. But I think there is an inkling in everyone, especially in women, that abortion is a sin, because that life is inside them.
Abortion when it comes to rape and incest is often the horrific argument brought to test the Church’s resolve that life is sacred, but yes it is even wrong then. It is not the child’s crime, why should it be murdered for the evils of of its father? In this case adoption is the answer but there are amazing stories out there of women who have loved children conceived due to rape and that is an even more powerful sign of the incredible power, value and sanctity of life. Nobody is saying this is an easy truth, it will by terrifyingly hard, but since when was doing the right thing easy?