Warning: If you are a pro-life or pro-traditional marriage, don’t take my sarcasm too seriously. This is just a proposal, not an attack.
For some reason, I can’t help but scoff at the drivers whose bumpers bear stickers that rally for the Pro-Life cause. Am I supposed to be convinced that babies in wombs shouldn’t be killed, just because you put a cute bumper sticker with little imprints of baby feet, surrounded by “babies in the womb feel pain #LikeUandMe” written in Comic Sans? Am I supposed to go and vote for all pro-life political candidates now so that Roe v Wade can finally be overturned? And once it is overturned, will all citizens recognize the value of human life as a gratuitous gift rather than being a self-determined construct? Join the pro-life cause! Walk in a protest with us carrying signs with pictures of fetuses and bible verses on them! It will bring about an intensified awareness of the what gives meaning to the complexities and dramas that constitute human life!
The same mentality seems to go for those who defend other “traditional values” like heterosexual marriage. By barring people from getting their sodomitic unions legally recognize by the government as marriages, we will prove to people the meaning of conjugal love and the sanctity of matrimony. By shouting at the two men holding hands as they walk down the street that it takes one man and one women-that it always has and always will, they will surely understand that their yearning to express their love for each other is not fulfilled through sodomy, but through self-sacrificial charity. Right?
Does it matter that abortion and same sex marriage are legal now? Will standing up for our “Christian values” by trying to illegalize those practices actually allow for people to grow in sanctity and pursue redemption? I’m in the camp that opines “no.” Yes, throw a quote from the Catechism or Aquinas at me about the civil law. But what’s most important to me, above any law, argument, or culture war, is the salvation of man. Sometimes our ideologies need to take a back seat to this question: what will help people live more human lives? In other words, what will save them?
We often act as if the truth is an idea that we can simply codify into law. What makes the truth the truth is that it transcends our earthly categories: idea, law, definition. Fr. Julian Carron writes, “Truth is not a definition, nor is it a doctrine that, simply because I affirm it, commands another’s freedom.” The truth is something to be discovered, or encountered: “If a definition is not something one has acquired in experience … then it is a schematic imposition, a formality; even a correct definition, if it is not understood in one’s experience, will easily be viewed as an imposition, and people will rebel against it.”
If Christians didn’t have such a reactionary presence in the public sphere, perhaps people would be more open to pursuing the fulfillment of their desire and redemption of their sinful nature in the Church. It takes a witness, someone who accompanies the other as they look at their every day experiences and search for the ultimate meaning and purpose of it all, to see the truth.
What actually matters to us: ideas or the truth? A culture war or a spiritual battle for the soul? If we took a second to stop sipping on the conservative culture warrior Kool Aid, we may actually see that few people are convinced by the efforts to make the government stand for Christian values. When abortion is made illegal, will a woman in a crisis pregnancy automatically understand the value of the life of her baby? When same-sex marriages are made illegal, will the young queer man who is in love with his best friend realize that sodomy is not an authentic expression of conjugal love? I don’t know…why don’t you go and ask them? Better yet, why don’t you accompany them as they try to sort through the questions that arise in their lives?
If trying to get the government to stand by Christian values is more important to you than the work of evangelization, you may want to check out Matthew 5:13-16 and 22:15-22. Reforming the civil law does indeed play a role in the work of evangelization, but it hardly constitutes the crux of it. The starting point of the work of evangelization is as simple as looking at our own hearts and experiences. Let’s ask ourselves what truly liberates us and allows us to live our desires freely: is it a codified civil law, or an encounter with a person? I only understand the value of human life because someone showed it to me through the way they treated me. I only understand what true love (caritas) is because I’ve been embraced by it. I only understand what a sacramental marriage is because I have seen people live it. Perhaps we can put more emphasis on showing than on talking. People talk too much nowadays. Just ask this guy.