Regaining our moral vocabulary [VIDEO]

If human nature is not much more than modeling clay, and no permanent human nature exists by the hand of the Creator, then natural, unalienable rights can’t exist. And no human “rights” can finally claim priority over the interests of the state. – Archbishop Charles Chaput

The clip below shows a Planned Parent advocate unwilling to state that a living, breathing baby on a physician’s table has no right to be saved. The heartlessness on display is jarring. But also striking is the inability of the Florida legislators doing the questioning to articulate the source of their disgust.

We are a nation founded on the basis of inalienable rights with which we are endowed by our Creator, yet we’ve now handicapped our moral vocabulary to the point of speechlessness. A woman claims that a child laying on an operating table, begging for life with its cries, should have no expectation of being saved by those who could. Silence fills the room. The questioners have presumably made the determination that appealing to the Creator is off limits, and an argument derived from reason and natural law would lose the audience. So what’s left? Hoping the awkward silence will give those watching enough time to process the image and be shocked by the grotesque reality of it. But all they end up doing is giving their audience enough time to come up with a self-serving rationalization as to why letting that baby die is a necessary evil. In the face of moral monstrosity, dumbfounded looks have never sufficed.

Was that child not created equal? What of his inalienable rights? Has the woman pondered what she’ll say the day she meets God, and has to explain that she defended the convenience of a doctor over the life of a baby, the least of His people? We never get to find out.

“But you can’t legislate morality!” they’ll cry. Oh no? If not morality, then what shall we legislate?  Morality is simply a set of beliefs about right conduct, and we will inevitably choose some belief system, or combination of them, around which to organize our society. Radical feminism, environmentalism, sexual freedom, and humanism deserve a place in that courtroom, but Christianity’s arguments must be thrown out?

To paraphrase a recent observation of EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo: “We complain that the HHS contraception and abortifacient mandate, and by extension the Obama administration, wants to confine our faith to the four walls of the church. But haven’t we done that to ourselves?”

Inside the four walls every Sunday, we claim that we’ve found the Truth, but as soon as we walk outside we act as if that very Truth is tainted evidence.

But to focus on the legislative aspect misses the point. The comical parade of Democrats flipping their support to same-sex marriage shows us that if a battle is won in the culture, politicians will follow suit. But any cause is hopeless if we’re afraid to make the argument. There are countless Facebook profiles currently showing a red equal sign in support of gay marriage, yet only a relative handful of people highlighting the horrific mass murder of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

Not that evangelization should or even could start with a blunt conversation about abortion. First, we must be exceptional in all aspects of our lives – socially, in our careers, through our charity, in our communities. Make the argument by personal example, wait for the culture to be ready to listen, and then follow the Bible’s command to “always be ready to give an account for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and reverence.”

During the recent campaign, President Obama proclaimed the importance of “Winning the Future”. At the risk of taking an incredibly vapid campaign slogan at face value, it’s helpful to consider what type of society is more likely to do so. A society who believes we are no more than modeling clay whose self-worth is derived from economic comfort and the ability to make choices that satiate our desires will never achieve greatness. But a culture that celebrates the inherent dignity in each human life, takes seriously the responsibility to protect that dignity, and believes in a Creator who has instilled a purpose in each of us?  It has a fighting chance.

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