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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Abortion and "You can't legislate morality"

The anniversary of Roe v Wade is upon us, and it often invites discussions with folks who disagree with the Catholic Church on her view of abortion.

An argument that is often promoted by the prochoice crowd is:  you can't legislate morality.  You can't force your view on me, because America is a democracy.

And that's frankly, gaga, lala nonsense.
It's something they've heard and accepted, blindly, without considering if it's actually true.

All laws are, essentially, nothing but "legislated morality". 

And what are civil rights except "legislated morality"? As Fr. Thomas Kocik says, "How are we to describe the civil rights laws of the 1960s, except as the codification of a moral imperative?"

He goes on to say, "And what are our various social welfare laws, if not expressions of a corporate responsibility for the poor, the old, and the sick among us? The question, then, is not whether but how we legislate morality."

Morality is legislated and "forced" on us every day.  To wit:  "You can't drive a car with your baby in the front seat."  And "You cannot refuse to serve a man in a restaurant because of the color of his skin".  And "If you draw a swastika on a piece of property, you will be punished".

So it's a peculiar argument to deny prolifers the right to also try to legislate their morality. If it's true that it should be illegal to kill an innocent human being, then why not extend this law to the most innocent, and most vulnerable human beings?

Now, it's correct to say that no one can be coerced into believing another person's morality.   As Catholic Apologist Mark Shea says, "What we really mean when we say you can't legislate morality is that the Law cannot put the things of the Spirit in the heart. It cannot instill love of neighbor, for instance. But it can and does punish those who can't even bring themselves to keep from harming their neighbor. It says, if you can't love your neighbor, at least don't beat him to death with a baseball bat or cheat him out of money. That's a really moral function. It's just not the highest moral function."

So when Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless" he meant this in the sense that morality, as a change of heart, can't be imposed upon society.  Not that we shouldn't legislate morality.

As a corollary, even though all law is legislated morality, we also don't want all morality to be legislated.

So, while adultery is immoral, it isn't necessary to legislate this into a crime.
And while everyone should be giving honor and glory to God, it's bad legislation and bad government to force this upon our citizens.

Laws are enacted which enforce the floor of human behavior, not the upper echelons of morality.

It is heroic virtue that can't be legislated...that is something that comes from the infusion of grace, not from the legal system.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bill Nye and "Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies?"

Bill Nye, "The Science Guy" posted a video on Youtube defending abortion.

Firstly, in response to the title "Stop telling women what to do with their bodies!" "It's a private matter!"--I think it's important to offer a parallel.  Prior to the 1960's, it was totally legal for a man to beat his wife in the privacy of his home, provided that he didn't leave a mark on her. In other words, the paradigm was:   "Stop telling men what they can do in the privacy of their own home!"

Of course, no morally sane person believes that a man can do whatever he wants in his own home, if it harms another human being.

Similarly, no morally sane person ought to believe that a woman can do whatever she wants with her own body, if it harms another human being.

Nye also states:

"I mean it’s hard not to get frustrated with this everybody. And I know nobody likes abortion, okay. But you can’t tell somebody what to do. I mean she has rights over this, especially if she doesn’t like the guy that got her pregnant. She doesn’t want anything to do with your genes; get over it, especially if she were raped and all this."

This prompts the question, "Why doesn't anybody like abortion?"

If it's nothing more than the extraction of a tissue from the body, why does nobody like abortion?

I never hear anyone say, "Nobody likes appendectomies!"
We simply view it as a necessary surgical procedure to remove an unwanted, diseased tissue.

The reason "nobody likes abortion" is because we all inherently understand that it's a human person that's being extracted.  Not a piece of tissue.

I think any time we're in a discussion with someone who is pro-choice and concedes, "Nobody likes abortion.  It should be safe, legal and rare"...we ought to ask why it is that nobody likes it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Do not add to this book" and Sola Scriptura

So one of the major divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism is that Catholicism rejects Sola Scriptura, or the idea that all of our (theological) beliefs must come from Scripture alone. 

Except, ironically, this belief in Sola Scriptura isn't found in the Sola Scriptura is a self-refuting principle.

There are some folks who will cite this verse in Revelation to prove Sola Sciptura:

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;--Revelation 22:18

That is, the Bible is complete--and "adding to" the Bible, like the Catholic Church has done, with her papal encyclicals, Church councils, infallible teachings, is condemned in the above verse.

Catholic response:
 if we take the above words from Revelation literally, and no one can add to that book, Revelation, then we wouldn't have the New Testament in its entirety.  
Revelation, even if it was placed at the end of the Bible, wasn't written last. All of the books written AFTER Revelation would then be considered "adding to" that book.  

Historians record Revelation to be written about 90 AD.  The Gospel of John, the epistles of John, Jude, Timothy, were all believed to have been written after that...that is, were ADDED after the inspired writing of Revelation.

Also, the Catholic Church hasn't "added to" anything.  The entirety of the kerygma, the gospel message, the good news, was given, once for all (Jude 1:3), to the Church.  In other words, the Catholic faith was whole and entire before a single word of the New Testament was ever put to writ. The Church received this good news 2000 years ago, and has proclaimed it for 2000 years.  Some of this good news was written down (Sacred Scripture) and some of it has been proclaimed orally (Sacred Tradition).  Papal encyclicals and other magisterial documents are NOT adding to the Faith--they are in-depth clarifications, insights and illuminations on what has already been professed.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Catholicism, Parenting, Branding and Brainwashing

So I saw this meme on Facebook recently:

Image result for we are all born atheist

IOW:  it's a cruel and abusive form of parenting to brand your child with a religious identity.
Just like no parent should tell a child, "No! You don't like latkes! Your favorite food is fish!" parent should tell a child, "You are a Christian!" That's a form of brainwashing, according to this meme.  Let him decide what religion he favors.

Catholic response: if religion were merely another opinion, or preference, or taste, OF COURSE we should let our children form their own thoughts!  It's absurd for a parent to dictate what her child's favorite color is, or if he wants ketchup with his fries, or whether she thinks modern dance is weird or beautiful (it's weird.  Definitely. *;) winking ).

However, would it be absurd for a parent to say: 
-no, you cannot declare that 5 is more than 60
-you shouldn't believe that white people are smarter than everyone else
-yes, a girl can be a pilot 
-no, you cannot run around this restaurant like you're in a park.  Sit here at this table and eat your dinner quietly
-no, you cannot decide that you don't want your MMR vaccination

Certainly not!  In fact, parents SHOULD be saying those things to their children.  

It's a peculiar double standard that atheists typically demonstrate when it comes to religion.  Most atheists accept and extol the truths of science.  They don't see the truths professed in the scientific world as "dogmas", nor do they see it as a form of brainwashing to tell their children:  "70% of the Earth's surface is covered in water".

No atheistic parent would tell her son:  "Yes, Damien, you can form your own opinion about whether $1 is equal to 100 pennies or equal to 50 pennies.  It's up to you!"

Yet, curiously, any truths of a religious nature are relegated to the arena of brainwashing and forcing one's opinion upon our children.

One has to wonder why this hypocrisy is permitted in their minds....

Finally, it should be noted that the meme itself seems to contradict its own message.  For is it not a form of brainwashing to tell people, "Let your children form their own damn opinions"?