Some pro-lifers that will arrive in Washington D.C. on January 22 for the March for Life, don’t understand that in spite of their passion for the unborn, they are part of the culture that brings us the tragedy of abortion. Hundreds of thousands will come to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that has led to the average loss of 1.2 million American babies to abortion each year. But many have not fully made the connection between our bodies and our souls; between actions that lead the culture to abortion and those in union with life.
“Abortion is a cause of so much evil in the world, but it’s also an effect,” Emily Stimpson, author of These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body, explained during an interview. “It’s what happens when we fail to see life as a gift, to see man as the image of God, and to have hope in Him and his plan.” She said that abortion happens when we don’t know who we are or what it means to love. “If we don’t know our own dignity–our own value–how can we see beauty and meaning in the life of our children?” Stimpson asked. According to her, “Abortion is ultimately the hallmark of a culture in despair—of a culture that values the material over the spiritual, the temporal over the eternal, our plan over God’s plan.”
A Culture Off Track
In her book, Stimpson examined the cultural road that led us astray. From God-centered and supportive of a sacramental worldview, Stimpson explained that modernism took us to a place where now we deny all that is not measurable. “Because the modernists dismissed the possibility of transcendent truth and divine authority, man became the default arbiter of what was true, right, and good.”
Since man does not always see eye to eye, right and wrong became an individual judgment or choice. Through this lens of relativism, pro-choice—the legal right to end the life of unborn babies—seems like the only fair way to run a society.
Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, was an attempt to get us back on the right path. He warned us that one of the consequences of artificial contraception would be abortion. Pope John Paul II reintroduced those truths to the world in his Theology of the Body given in small pieces during his weekly Wednesday audiences at the Vatican.
In These Beautiful Bones, Stimpson examines JPII’s teaching that our bodies are not separate from our souls. “Accordingly, what we do to and with our bodies affects our souls,” she wrote. Simpson explained that men and women were made for union in communion with God and one another. “…when they come together in the right times and ways, a third person comes into being. New life is created. The love of man and woman, and only man and woman is fruitful. It’s life giving.”
When sin entered the world, our original harmony with God and with each other was fractured, yet we are called through his grace, to use our bodies as a perpetual witness. “The Fall of Man explains why loving as we’re called to love is difficult,” Stimpson stated. “It’s why we give ourselves when we shouldn’t and in ways we shouldn’t, damaging our bodies and our souls. ‘
Stimpson described contraception as an enabler. “It enables men to use women and women to use men,” she said. “It enables people to treat each other as objects to be enjoyed rather than persons to be loved. It enables couples to think of sexual intimacy as purely a recreational activity, not an act of total gift and trust that contains within it the potential to create new life. It also enables to think of parenthood as a choice, as something we control, and not as a holy vocation and divine gift.”
Through all this enabling of mistreatment of humans beings, Stimpson said we enable abortion. “It creates a culture in which abortion becomes a “necessary” Plan B.,” she said.
Rather than enabling sin and destruction we are called to be a gift to God by giving ourselves in love to friends and loved ones, co-workers, and even strangers and enemies. “Nevertheless, spousal love possesses a certain fullness,” Stimpson wrote. “It is an embodied sign of what the human person is called to do—give himself away in creative, life-giving love—and of who God is—a life-giving communion of Three Persons or again, a family.”
Stimpson acknowledged that people are at different stages of understanding God, faith, and life itself. “Unfortunately,” she said, “that means some of us are contributing to a culture of death in ways we don’t realize—through how we talk or dress or treat others at work, as well as through how we love.”
Stimpson said it is her hope, that the March for Life in which she will be participate, will be an occasion for grace. “I hope it will be an opportunity to grow in our understanding of what it means to be truly pro-life,” she said, “and then start living that understanding in the midst of our everyday lives.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared that January 22 will be observed as a day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.
Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. She has appeared on TV and radio stations across the country. Her latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and children’s book, Dear God, I Don’t Get It are both available now.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Patti’s speaker page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
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