Thursday, December 31, 2009

Should Pro-Lifers Be Political?

I just finished reading a book by Charles Colson and Harold Fickett, called The Faith, Given Once, For All (Jude 3). Chuck Colson is best remembered for his part in the Watergate scandal during Nixon's presidency. For his part in that episode, Colson went to jail. Just prior to his incarceration, he became a Christian and his jail term served to form him for the prison ministry that he began once he was released.

He is a good writer, the prose is fluid and it keeps one's attention; he is also well-informed on many issues and his desire to unite Catholics and Protestants on issues of faith is well known. In fact, I find what he writes on that score to be the best ecumenical effort that I have read.

I heard about this book on a Focus on the Family broadcast, when James Dobson was interviewing Colson about it. Colson wrote the book because he had become aware that Christians were unsure of what they believed, and they were reticent to spread the Gospel in the current atmosphere of cultural relativism. Even students in evangelical Bible colleges felt that there was no such thing as absolute truth and that they could not impose their beliefs on anyone else. This is hardly fulfilling the Great Commission when Jesus commanded his apostles to go and make disciples of all nations.

Colson makes the point that western civilization owes everything to Christianity: from our democratic form of government (first practised in the monasteries when they elected their abbots), to the scientific revolution ("science itself might never have been invented if not for Christianity's belief that all the world could be explored for God's glory, thus initiating the inductive methods essential to scientific advance"), to the establishment of the first universities and the public education system (fueled by the Christian belief in equality of persons), to the sanctity of life since every person is made in the image of God Himself.

With regards to the abortion issue, I found Colson's remarks clear and lucid. He sees without any doubt that Christians must engage in the political process when it comes to human rights.

The Church's passionate engagement in politics in defense of life is not due to the emergence of the "big bad religious right," as Christianity's detractors might say (and many Christians mistakenly believe as well). It was the early Church that consistently challenged the state, describing abortion and infanticide in terms that would be politically incorrect today... Many Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox have argued that we are in a great struggle that pits a culture of life against a culture of death. This is, in fact, the preeminent form that the battle of good versus evil has taken in our day - as it did in the early days of the Church. This may sound inflammatory and extreme to some, but what could be more crucial than whether the worth of a life comes from being created in the image of God or from its usefulness to society?

Like so many others, Colson talks of William Wilberforce as one of the great Christian defenders of human rights. What I found of particular interest was the fact that Wilberforce spent three hours each day in prayer.

Wilberforce argues for the holy, righteous life to be lived out in society. Along with other members of Wilberforces' intentional community, the "Clapham sect," Wilberforce modeled it, praying for three hours a day that justice would reign in Britain.
Early in his efforts, Wilberforce wrote in his diary that "God has laid before me two great objectives: the abolition of the slave trade, and the reformation of manners." By the latter he meant the morals of the British people. And throughout his career he pursued both goals simultaneously. He realized that he needed not only to end the slave trade by law but to lead a spiritual renewal that would counter the sin motivating it.

Isn't this the same problem with abortion today? Abortion is a grave evil that must be abolished, but our society also needs a spiritual renewal so that sexual promiscuity, which creates the demand for abortion, can be overcome.

For your own reading:
The Faith, Given Once, For All, by Charles Colson and Harold Fickett
Real Christianity, by William Wilberforce (full title is A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country Contrasted with Real Christianity)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Want to Save Your Kids?

Turn off the television

Last night, my husband said to me the most important thing any parent can do for their children is to switch off the television. Perhaps even get rid of it entirely.

As Senator Santorum said:

Virtues that we all as Americans honor, like integrity, honesty, courage, perseverance, these are great messages. But they're no longer being passed on in the stories told on the front porch. They're being told by other people coming into your home, who you wouldn't let walk in the front door if they knocked, but you let them in every single day when you turn on that television, when you press that button to turn the computer on. these are people you wouldn't allow in your house if they knocked on the door, but they come in with the turn of a knob.
LifeSiteNews, Dec 4, 2009

The recent explicit show of Adam Lambert performing at the American Music Awards is a prime example of what comes in on the television without warning. How many young minds are exposed to such viewing and what lasting impressions are made on those minds? Yet parents choose to ignore this and pretend it isn't so, all because they are too busy with their own lives to oversee what is happening to their children's lives. But the cost is enormous.

Television and the internet is where most children are exposed to pornography; this is an obvious evil of modern media. What is not so obvious is that the media is also forming the values of the next generation.

Just look at how many television dramas and sitcoms feature homosexuals as the main characters. Are they portrayed in a favourable light? you bet they are. This was the purpose of Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, authors of After The Ball, a book in which they proposed tactics to get the homosexual agenda throughout North America.
First, they proposed homosexuals and their liberal allies should desensitize heterosexuals by getting homosexuality talked about as much as possible in the straight world. Their tactic consisted of using "the very processes that made America hate us, to turn their hatred into warm regard -- whether they like it or not". Have they succeeded? It certainly looks as if they have.

In fact, in Canada, one can even be dragged before the Human Rights Commission for being "homophobic", if one makes any disparaging remarks about homosexuals. One such person was Pastor Stephen Boissoin, whom I wrote about previously. Last week, Stephen was exonerated by an Alberta court of the very hate speech that he was accused of seven years previously by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. What a great relief to Pastor Boissoin; unfortunately he has not been reimbursed any of the costs that he had to pay nor has he been given back all that time that was wasted fighting this battle.

Homosexuality is just one issue that is marketed by the mass media; promiscuous heterosexuality and the sexualization of our youth is promoted in the vast majority of television shows. The mantra that one's values are decided by one's self, and that there are no absolute rights and wrongs is constantly stated, either overtly or implicitly.

So what does this do to the younger generation? It indoctrinates them to believe that they cannot hold anything to be true and that they cannot impose their beliefs on anyone else. This is extremely dangerous territory, because without a strong sense of objective right and wrong, we become a society of relativism and ethics becomes a game of your turn, my turn. No one ever holds the truth. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

People long for truth. And not just because they want stability and a sense of safety. They long for it because they were made for truth. We recognize it when we meet people of greatness, people who were willing to sacrifice themselves, and sometimes even their lives, for what they believed in. This is the stuff of heroes. No relativistic television personality is ever going to be considered a real hero; they will pass forgotten in short time no matter how much attention they garnered during their public life.

I recall one mother discussing how she and her husband were going to buy their children television sets for their bedrooms; the only stipulation was that the child had to be eight years old and they had to save up half the money for it themselves. Now one could wonder how a child of seven could save up that kind of money (it can only come as gifts from adults, so what lesson does that teach them?) but more alarming, was the fact that these children would then have free reign to watch whatever they wanted by themselves. "Don't worry," said Sherry, "they won't have cable." Oh great, no problem then. Has she even seen an episode of Degrassi Junior High?

So turn off the television set, and introduce your children to reading. Their minds will be sharper, they will not have that dull look in their eyes, as they are sedated by the television rays. And they will be forced to do something creative with their time, even if it means making you get more involved with them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When It's Legal, It's Accepted

Most pro-life people will admit that the subject of abortion is not one that is easily talked about by anyone other than themselves. In fact, in our country of Canada, abortion is almost "taboo".

Not so the topic of euthanasia .... yet. It is still alright to bring up the subject of euthanasia and assisted suicide without fearing recriminations from anyone. Certainly not outright opposition. But that may change. In fact, one man says that it will.

Lionel Roosemont is a Belgian whose wife was expecting a child who had hydrocephalus. They were encouraged to abort Tikvah, who is now 13 years old. Contrary to medical forecasts, Tikvah has proved capable of movement, sight and hearing. The Roosemonts' decision to have Tikvah was a battle against the medical establishment and that battle continues to this day.

Belgium is a country in which euthanasia has been legalized since 2002 if requested by the patient who is suffering constant and/or unbearable pain. Depression falls into that category. And one doctor has euthanasized several patients against the law and has been acquitted, proving that breaking the law has no consequences in Belgium.

At one hospital, the administration has administered lethal drugs to elderly patients in a "weekend cleanup" campaign. And the reaction of the general public? indifference for the most part.

At the moment, the subject of abortion is taboo in our country. And that is because it is legal and therefore accepted. No one wants to disturb the status quo. Once euthanasia goes down the same legal path as abortion, it too will become a taboo subject.

As Roosemont says:
"The subject is taboo in Belgium. Main reason: the law has been voted [upon]. So many people have become accomplices of killing, or helping, at least approving, so you don't talk about that - and the moment someone starts talking about that, most people start to protect themselves."

As for their daughter Tikvah, "Life is more and more losing its value," said Roosemont. "Can you understand why our daughter is never left alone in a hospital?"

So this explains why pastors might be much more willing to discuss euthanasia from the pulpit than abortion; but given time, we can expect silence on that too.

For further reading
"The Weekend Cleanup": The Gruesome Aftermath of Legalized Euthanasia in Belgium

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Slippery Slope

Having Alex Scadenberg here last weekend helped me to join more dots in my thinking. When I began this blog, it was really begun in response to a young woman who emailed me because she was upset with 40 Days for Life here in Halifax. We had several exchanges spanning the course of a few weeks, then she wrote that she would no longer read any emails from me, that she had studying to do, that she no longer wished to discuss abortion with me. I think she came to the conclusion that she could not budge me from my position and she had set out to show me that I was tearing down what she and other women had worked so many years to obtain, i.e. sexual freedom and their choice as to when they would reproduce, if at all.

During that exchange, I pointed out that acceptance of abortion would inevitably lead to acceptance of euthanasia and she claimed that it would not. Yet here we are, 40 years after the legalization of abortion in Canada, and early in February, Parliament will debate Bill C-384 to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Schadenberg assured us that this bill will not pass; he has met with scores of politicians in Ottawa and knows that there is a substantial majority who will vote against the bill. However, it will most likely go the same way as abortion; abortion was not passed by Parliament; it was legalized through the courts when Morgentaler challenged the existing access to abortion. And Jocelyn Downie, an ethics professor at Dalhousie University, is ready to take this to court as soon as she finds an appropriate victim, er I mean client.

No resting on any laurels here; we are in a culture war, one that centers upon the dignity of the human person. What our country (as well as many other countries) has done is to exchange the intrinsic value of the human person for the utilitarian value of life. Is this life worth living becomes the question? Is this life wanted? Instead of does this person have a right to exist, merely on the basis of being a member of the human race?

The book Abortion: the Silent Holocaust by John Powell, S.J. was recommended to me by a leader of the pro-life movement here in Nova Scotia. Although it was written in 1981, the book is still very relevant to today's discussion of abortion, as the basic tenets of the pro-life movement have not changed. Strategy may change, and it has to, but the beliefs do not.

Father Powell's life was dramatically changed by his being present at a birth; this sowed the seeds of the wonder of life and they began to grow. He then spent some time studying in Germany and visited Dachau. He was also profoundly influenced by a meeting with a German nun who was part of a group of nuns who provided a home for retarded and handicapped children. She was witness to these children being removed and taken to "killing centers". She informed Father Powell that the German people had been well prepared to accept this action years before through propaganda in the educational and judicial systems.

She explained that in the early 1930's, a determined group of opinion makers in Germany propagandized a new ethic, the pragmatic morality of Hegel, the German philosopher. In summary, this ethic maintains: Whatever solves a problem on the practical level must be considered as moral. No action is right or wrong in itself. If a given action results in a desirable effect, it is ethically acceptable. - Abortion: the Silent Holocaust, p. 26

Writing in the early 80's, Powell sees that America has moved in exactly the same directly as pre-Nazi Germany. Nick Thimmesch, a journalist, writing in Newsweek magazine, July 9, 1973 says:

The utilitarian ethic is also common in the arguments of euthanasia advocates at work in six state legislatures. Their euphemisms drip like honey (should say, cyanide) just as they did in Germany - "death with dignity," the "good death." Their legal arguments fog the mind. Their mentality shakes me ... It bothers me that eugenicists in Germany organized the mass destruction of mental patients, and in the United States pro-abortionists now also serve in pro-euthanasia organizations. Sorry, but I see a pattern.

For many, the subject of abortion seems closed. They say "well it has been legalized, there is nothing we can do about it now", but we cannot accept that position of defeat. I fear that many clergy have accepted that position and that is the reason for their silence. But as long as we have breath, we must speak what we know to be true.

Bernard Nathanson, the doctor who helped to legalize abortion in New York City and ran the largest abortion clinic in America, is a man whom I would think has the most reason to feel desperate and helpless in the face of his conversion to pro-life. He himself says that knowing that he oversaw the deaths of 60,000 person is a heavy burden to carry into the next world. Yet he continues, even at his advanced age (mid-80's) to speak and fight for the rights of the unborn.

What is our task? To make this country a place for decent people to live in! What is our end? To call an immediate halt to the senseless destruction of our greatest natural resource, our children! In closing, let me leave you with this admonition, again spoken in the words of the great Edmund Burke, but still as relevant and as important as it was two hundred years ago, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." _ Bernard Nathanson, address to the National Right to Life Convention 1980