Thursday, October 23, 2008

Teaching Respect for Life

I would like you to take a moment and consider something Congressman Ron Paul wrote about abortion.

Let us remember, though, that the law can do only so much. The law isn’t what allowed abortion; abortions where already being done in the 1960s against the law. The courts came along and conformed to the social and moral changes that were taking place in society. Law reflects the morality of the people. Ultimately, law or no law, it is going to be up to us as parents, as clergy, and as citizens—in the way we raise our children, how we interact and talk with our friends and neighbors, and the good example we give—to bring about changes to our culture toward greater respect for life. (Ron Paul, The Revolution, p. 61)

Dr. Paul tells us that law reflects the morality of the people. If that is true then what is most important: changing the law or changing the culture? I think we need to remember that law has its limits, because if we don’t then law become an unbearable tyrant that is ineffective. You cannot pass enough laws to change the morality of people. That change is a personal choice.

So one limit of law is that it will not change people. It might reduce the behavior, but the heart of the person is the same. Those willing to end a life because of convenience will still do so if given the opportunity. Their heart isn’t changed because of the law, they have to be persuaded that life matters. The Church has a responsibility of letting people know that human life is to be respected, regardless if abortion is legal or illegal.

A second limit of law is that law doesn’t put an end to illegal behaviors. What law does do is that it criminalizes certain behavior, it takes away public monetary support, and it makes access to certain things more difficult. Even though these things are illegal there is still the opportunity out there to do them. This is plainly seen with illegal drugs. It is a criminalized behavior, that is not supported by our tax money, but people still know how to get a hold of them.

What I want to do is to remind us that what is most important is not the law, but the message that we have to take to the world. As the Church is able to influence and impact the world the number of abortions will decrease, even if it is never again made illegal. We should never see this as just a political fight, but we should recognize it as part of making disciples and teaching people the love God has for people, all people, even those yet to be born.

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