Untying the Pharisaism: Example #1

Love one another. (John 15:17)

us_supreme_courtGod’s message to us.

Find a way, My children, to stretch out your mind, your imagination, and your heart to someone other than yourself. Think not of your comfort, pleasure, satisfaction, or contentment. Think of the other person. Think of his or her prospects, hopes, grand and beautiful plans.

Then say to yourself, I will serve! I will assist humbly in the fulfillment of the dreams of this other precious person!

I think we can say: Finding ourselves moved in this way with respect to the stranger, the alien, the enemy—that requires an extraordinary amount of heavenly grace.

But does not Mother Nature herself move us in this way—to have these kinds of feelings and make these kinds of resolutions–with respect to our own children? Maybe sometimes parents fail in following through on their desires to help their children. But it comes pretty naturally to us human beings to identify with our children, to sympathize, and to make serious sacrifices for their good.

Am I right? I think so.

This is why I, for one, do not understand at all one particular moral crisis of our age.

Indulge me for a moment, and let’s leave a number of moral crises off to the side. In-vitro fertilization involving only the man and the woman who intend to raise the child: let’s leave that to the side. Two men or two women wanting to “marry” each other: let’s leave that to the side, too. Truth is, the idea of two men or two women wanting to marry each other is a red herring, when it comes to genuine moral analysis here. Children with one or both parents who have abandoned them, who need foster care or adoption: let’s leave that to the side.

Let’s just focus on one single thing: in-vitro fertilization involving a third-party donor.

My question is: How is it possible that any human being cannot see how colossally wrong that is? Something that involves the intentional denial to the child of what almost all of us totally take for granted—namely, knowing who my parents are.

How could any rational human being claim to ‘love’ a child to whom you intentionally deny the right to know who his or her parents are? How can anyone not see how unjust, how oppressive, how truly cruel that is? So cruel and so unjust that nothing could justify it. From the beginning, the relationship between the child and the adults who brought about the situation would be totally backwards. The child would serve the interests of the adults, the desires of the adults. But that is exactly backwards from what love really demands.

unbornNext question: How could the justices of our Supreme Court not see that this question is the crucial question of justice in the case before them, involving ‘same-sex marriage?’

Just to engage in a little hyperbole here: If third-party-donor in-vitro fertilization were illegal, which it ought to be, and the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage throughout the whole country, I would not get all that agitated. I would be like, okay, fine. Whatever.

If two men or two women invited me to their ‘marriage,’ but I knew for a fact that no innocent child would ever be conceived in a petri dish and doomed never to know his or her real parents—if I knew that for a fact, would I go to the party, have a glass of champagne, dance the night away?

No, I wouldn’t. But I would stay calm. I would not thunder in anger. I would just try to find a quiet and polite way out of the situation.

But none of that is really the issue. The issue is: children conceived in such a way that they are chattel slaves–separated from parents, heritage, birthright, identity—from their birth.

That is as wrong as wrong can get, my friends. I truly do not understand how a nation of supposedly rational people cannot see that.

Just read…

one of the most wonderfully lucid expositions of the state of the pro-life question which I think I have ever read.

Everything Mr. Gray has written illuminates. I beg you, dear reader, to click through and read.

Mr. Gray simply neglects one fundamental aspect of the question:

Can “science” answer the queston of when human life begins? Depends on what you mean by “science.” The question of when human life begins must necessarily have recourse to the science of metaphysics, because a human body is animated by an immaterial, rational soul.

Taking as a premise the fact that an immaterial, rational soul animates the human body, the question then has to be: when does the soul begin to animate the body?

The study of fetal development could conceivably indicate some point at which this might occur. The fact is that such study does not indicate any such point, other than the beginning, i.e. fertilization.

Mr. Gray claims that a zygote must not be a living organism because the zygote does not respond to outside stimuli. For one thing, this statement itself cannot be admitted as fact. We do not know this; we merely surmise it, based on observation under circumstances other than the norm. Under normal circumstances, the zygote is not observed, and its interactions with its environment are certainly infinitely more complex than we can claim to know.

But even if we grant this assertion of Mr. Gray’s, it cannot establish that a zygote does not have a soul. Do people in comas not have souls?

It seems to me that the key fact here is this: Human beings certainly have souls; babies when they are born show solid evidence that they have souls; and once we reach the age of reason we give incontrovertible proof that we are not merely material beings.

The burden of proof, therefore, when it comes to embryology establishing that a zygote is not a human being, must lie on the side of disproving that the zygote has a soul. Granted, it would not be possible for observations to disprove it altogether, but a solid indication would have to be found.

In other words, observation of the stages of development would have to discover a turning point that indicates a transition from pre-human to human. Every attempt that has been made by embryology to establish evidence for such a transition has been disproved by the discovery of further evidence.

Absent such a solid indication of a stage of development where a zygote or blastocyst undergoes a transition to “humanity,” the reasonable person concludes that the organism has been human from the moment of conception.

Mr. Gray’s argument about organizational complexity simply begs the question: If the zygote were not adequately complex itself, then how could it develop into a blastocyst? There would have to be evidence of the introduction of some other factor into the original cell, which added to the zygote’s complexity, allowing it to develop. But science actually holds the opposite thesis: Namely, that the DNA present in the zygote possesses all the complexity necessary for the zygote to develop into a 5-foot+, strapping dude or dudette.

All of the consequences which Mr. Gray so lucidly presents do, then, in fact, follow. A reasonable and decent human being cannot have anything to do with abortion, artificial contraception, or in vitro fertilization. All of these involve (at least in many, or most, if not all, instances) killing a person with a soul.

Hidden in the Womb

The Basilica of the Visitation

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb. –Luke 1:41

We all started off our lives in our mothers’ wombs. We were hidden from the eyes of men, but we were very much alive.

When St. John the Baptist was in St. Elizabeth’s womb, he realized that the Son of God had come to his house. In other words, St. John exercised his mission as a prophet even before he was born.

Christ Himself also exercised His mission before birth. At the moment the Lord Jesus was conceived, God first lived with a human soul. At that moment, Christ made an act of submission to the Father. The act is perfectly expressed in the words of the fortieth Psalm:

I waited, waited for the LORD, who bent down and heard my cry, drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp, set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps, and put a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God.

Happy those whose trust is the LORD, who turn not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood…

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, “Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll. To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!”

Our lives begin at the moment of conception. Life begins to unfold in the womb. St. John’s mission in life was to point out the Lamb of God. He began to fulfill this mission even before he was born. The Lord Jesus’ mission was to offer Himself completely to the Father, to sacrifice Himself for the redemption of the world. Christ accomplished His self-offering perfectly even while He was still hidden in Mary’s womb. His 33 years on earth were simply a matter of living out what He had already resolved to do.

Continue reading “Hidden in the Womb”

Reason Not the Need

learKing Lear divided his kingdom between his two daughters and decided to retire.

He retained only his faithful knights and the title of king.

His daughters Regan and Goneril conspired against him. Lear traveled between his two daughters’ castles to live a month at a time. The daughters decided not to accommodate the King’s full retinue of knights.

GONERIL Hear me, my lord;
What need you five and twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?

REGAN What need one?

KING LEAR O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need,–
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!

Here is James Earl Jones doing this scene. It is worth watching all ten minutes. Your spine will tingle at the end.

Anyway, I thought of “Reason not the need!” when I read section IIB of the Draft NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research, which reads:

Human embryonic stem cells may be used in research using NIH funds, if the cells were derived from human embryos that were created for reproductive purposes, were no longer needed for this purpose…

Needed? Like you need some ball-bearings to fix your dishwasher?

When you and I were embryos, who debated about whether we were ‘needed’?

Elena Dementieva

The most inhuman slavemasters have talked about ‘needing’ their human chattel. But civilized people do not reason the need for human beings.

None of us are needed. Our Creator does not need us human beings any more than He needs a pedicure.

He wants us. He freely wills us into existence–every last one of us, no matter how small.

Click here for a thorough commentary on the Draft NIH Guidelines.

…Serena almost lost her Wimbledon semifinal. Elena Dementieva played with so much heart, I almost started rooting for her. (Please do not tell my beloved Serena.)

The Russian had a match point after two hours and fifteen minutes. She did not capitalize. Serena finally dispatched her at 2:49. Unforgettable match.

Meanwhile, Venus won in 51 minutes. So the Williams sisters will meet again in the Final.


Good People Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

The United States Catholic Conference prepared an excellent Q&A on this subject. I am not trying to re-invent the wheel.

Nonetheless, I would like to tackle the problem from the point-of-view of: What should good people do about this?

So here are some indisputable answers to some crucial questions. (I would be very glad for your comments and additions.)

Vademecum on the right to “same-sex Marriage”

scales_of_justice1. What are the duties of a good person who fights for justice?

All good Christians must love everyone, and all people are bound to be just. No one has a right to impede the legitimate freedoms of another without good reason. Christians are bound to will the good of others and to do everything possible to help other people get to heaven.

2. Is there an individual right to marriage?

No one has an absolute right to marriage, because it is impossible to marry without a consenting partner. The freedom to marry is NOT, therefore, an individual right. An unmarried man and an unmarried woman–who are not related–are free to marry.

3. In order for all people to be truly free, must we permit anyone who is not married to marry anyone he or she wants to marry, regardless of sex?

Entering into marriage involves a renunciation of freedom. Married people are not free to marry, and they have obligations to their spouse and children. The vows of marriage explicitly renounce freedoms; in other words, they impose duties.

dag-blondIt makes no sense to speak of the right to marry as a “freedom.” It makes more sense to think of marriage as a solemn duty undertaken for the good of others.

4. Is sex good or evil?

The conjugal union of husband and wife is beautiful, albeit fraught with pitfalls because of human weakness.

Sodomy is inherently ugly. Sodomy is itself a pitfall for people suffering with same-sex attraction.

Sex outside of marriage is selfish. It is not an option for good people.

5. Who has the authority to make laws about marriage, and where does the authority come from?

Civil laws have binding force insofar as they harmonize with the law of God. The state, which enacts and enforces civil laws, arises because of marriages and families.

In other words, marriage is an institution more fundamental than the state. The state has no prerogative to govern marriage. The Church alone has the prerogative to do so.

The Church may concede to the state some practical aspects of marriage law. But no authority can change the constitution of marriage, because marriage is marriage because of the way God made things.

6. Why can’t a man marry a man or a woman marry a woman?

A couple is not married until the marriage is consummated. Acts of sodomy cannot consummate marriage.

7. What is wrong with a man attempting–even though it is futile–to marry a man or a woman attempting to marry a woman?

Such a ceremony would make a mockery of a beautiful and sacred thing. The marriage of baptized Christians is a sacrament of the love of Christ for His Church. An attempted ‘gay marriage’ is therefore a sacrilege, an injustice to all married people, and a crass charade unworthy of any self-respecting civilized society.

…Now, because discerning minds recognize that confusion about marriage has arisen because of two widespread evils, here is a short appendix:

no-divorce18. Can married couples get divorced?

Wedding vows include promises for life. The commitment of marriage terminates only with death, as the vows themselves say.

Bad circumstances can arise which require spouses to separate–even for indefinite periods of time–but divorce is impossible.

9. Can people have babies in any way other than the old-fashioned way?

For a child to be conceived in any way other than through sex between husband and wife is unjust to the child. Everyone has a right to be conceived in his or her mother’s womb, as the result of his parents’ loving embrace. In disputed cases, the rights of children always trump. In vitro fertilization is therefore unjust, and all good people must oppose it.