Is your conscience formed by Jesus Christ, or is your conscience formed by the world?
October 3, 2020
I’ve heard – and read – plenty in the past week thanks to that Trump post that went viral (should I refrain from pointing out that Trump, also, went viral? Alas, I cannot. The puns live loudly within me.) about how Christians of good will can “agree to disagree” on the fundamental issues at stake in this election. That it’s possible, according to some voting guide coughed up by some totally disinterested and nonpartisan organization, I’m certain, to tally up the pro life stats of Biden and compare them with the cumulative pro life stats of Trump and bring oneself to the fantastical conclusion that Biden, is, in fact the more pro life of the two candidates.
I suppose it is also possible, along those lines, to compare the number of hit singles and dollars earned between Mozart and Tswift and reach the conclusion that Taylor Swift is, in fact, the more masterful musician of the two.
But is it true?
And in the case of the example above, are the metrics equitably weighted?
When I skimmed a “pro life” voting guide last month that suggested Biden outweighed Trump by double digit numbers because his stance on the environment and racism and immigration gave him a higher cumulative score than the incumbent who has busied himself about appointing solid judges, defunding Planned Parenthood, stripping funding for abortion from international aid, and finally, has put forth THE MOST CRITICALLY IMPORTANT SUPREME COURT NOMINEE TO EVER BE RAISED TO THE HIGH COURT WHO COULD ACTUALLY HELP TO OVERTURN ROE V WADE, I wanted to simultaneously laugh and cry.
Are we this foolish, my fellow Americans?
And are we this poorly formed in our consciences and our capacity to reason, my fellow Christians?
The media is very pleased indeed when the talking points go out across the digital echo chambers proclaiming environmentalism as a core “life issue,” just as much as abortion, and inviting believers to fall all over one another to signal their wokeness on social media by solemnly nodding in virtual agreement that of course, of course immigration and green energy laws are on equal footing with the willful destruction of a human being – OF COURSE THOSE ARE EQUIVALENT ISSUES. It’s not the dark ages, after all. Everyone knows to be truly pro life you have to also be very concerned with gender equality, the wage gap, and carbon footprints.
My friends, this is bullshit. And I invite you to search your hearts and discover if, in fact, deep down you already know that it is.
Out of an abundance of false piety, held aloft to distract from truly crucial moral issues, tepid Christians and milquetoast Catholics trumpet about being “consistent” and not getting pegged as a Single Issue Voter. Because what could be more dreadful than that?
How about death? Could death be more dreadful than that?
Could Planned Parenthood, the single greatest perpetrator of racism in the 21st century, be more dreadful than that?
Could 125,000 deaths every single day of the year be more dreadful than that?*
How about racism? But then, you have to be alive to be a victim or a perpetrator of racial discrimination, bias, or violence.
Perhaps immigration? Then again, dead people cannot escape violence and famine by fleeing their homelands.
It is particularly trendy to claim climate change as The Issue of the day, but again, you need living people to both care for our common home and craft just and prudent legislation for her care.
Are you seeing a theme here? Because I am. And it’s this: maybe the culture – and I’m including everything from Teen Vogue to your social studies class in high school to social media to the trash we watch on tv – maybe it’s beating you over the head with the concept that one mustn’t be a Single Issue Voter, that there is truly no greater sin. That one must diversify one’s focus when it comes to being “truly” pro life, and to not get myopic over abortion as if it were some greater sin against life than All The Other Issues.
But what if they’re wrong?
And what if the culture does not find its true north in the Word of God, in the teaching authority of the Church?
What if the culture values things that are very much in tension with what we profess as believers of Jesus Christ to be the highest good?
If so, would it not appear that your conscience, properly formed in submission to the mind of Christ, would it not appear that your conscience was in fact permanently at odds with the prevailing sentiment of the age?
Christians, we are responsible for forming our consciences and for following them – but forming our consciences means we are pressing them against a form, holding them up to a template and pushing, stretching, continually pursuing the perfection we are called to emulate.
And if your conscience tells you abortion and the right to live, to breathe, and to exist on planet earth is on equal footing with carbon emissions or racism or prison reform, then your conscience is wrong.
Consciences can be improperly formed, after all. And the formation is the work of a lifetime. And – here’s the really, really humbling and tough to swallow part – when our consciences and the Church come to an impasse over an issue, when there is a rebellion in the soul, well, let me break it to you gently: it’s not the Church who is in error; it’s me.
When our consciences lead us astray from the moral order, from the natural law which is written on and discoverable by every human heart, than our consciences are wrong.
And however you might want to parse things out otherwise, this election, because of this Supreme Court vacancy and because of the laundry list of other pro life accomplishments I listed in last week’s post, this election truly does come down to a single issue.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
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*According to WHO, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day.
In the USA, where nearly half of pregnancies are unintended and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion  , there are over 3,000 abortions per day. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies in the USA (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion. https://www.worldometers.info/abortions/