By Tom Quiner
What separates us from the animals?
It is man’s ability to love that makes us unique. When I say love, I mean love in all of its multi-faceted and wonderful complexity.
When I say love, I don’t mean sex. When I say love, I’m talking about self-giving.
The culture’s notion of love is warped. Our politics accelerate the corruption of love.
No where is this seen more than in the abortion debate. The premise is simple: if a life is inconvenient, end it.
Self-love trumps sacrificial love, even if it is at the cost of a human life.
How can a civilized society allow this? It is not easy, because it necessitates de-humanizing the human being in the womb. One common approach is to insist upon viability before bestowing human rights upon these people.
Viability is the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb. It suggests that our humanity, our very notion of human rights, is somehow linked to some subjective level of independent living.
This is dangerous.
A baby is not viable when it is born. It will die unless it is fed and nurtured by another human being.
The baby is still not viable at one year of age, or two, or three.
My late grandmother wasn’t viable. She was a diabetic dependent upon insulin to keep her alive.
My twenty-something nephew, Danny, who has Downs Syndrome isn’t viable.
Have you ever met someone with Alzheimer’s disease? I’m thinking of a very sweet man I knew named Maury who died a few years ago. Maury was reduced to the level of a child due to the ravages of this disease.
I pray it never happens to me for my wife’s sake. I pray it never happens to my beautiful wife.
And yet I witnessed something beautiful with Maury. His wife, Mary, modeled the highest form of love for her family, her friends, and her church community all to witness. It is called “agape” love, which is a sacrificial love.
Mary treated her husband with dignity even though his life was no longer “viable.” Nothing changed. She loved Maury. She didn’t complain. And her life wasn’t easy. In fact, one dark night, she was put to a severe test. As she helped Maury, she fell and broke her neck. She laid on her bathroom floor all night long, unable to move, as Maury roamed the house in childlike terror.
Love isn’t easy, is it? Why did Mary sacrifice so much for Maury even though his life was no longer viable?
It all goes back to what I shall witness tonight. This is Holy Thursday, also knows as Maundy Thursday. The Church commemorates Jesus’ extraordinary acts of agape’ love.
Do you know what Jesus did? He washed his disciples feet. The Master washed the disciples’ feet! Jesus calls on us to do the same for our friends, our families, and our community. I shall get on my knees tonight to wash someone’s feet. They shall do the same for me.
Jesus called on us to be servants, because the idea of agape love is the essence of being fully human, fully alive.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. This is the day Jesus was condemned to death and executed. He died for our sins, so we might live.
The single biggest event in the history of the world was an act of agape love.
That single act of agape love has spawned two-thousand years of sacrificial love. Without it, the world would have self-destructed long ago.
This brings me back to the issue of abortion. Unfettered abortion is doing damage we can’t see, and damage we can see.
We can’t see the psychic damage, the moral wounds, to women who have had abortions. The culture can tell them that the human fetus in their womb is simply a clump of cells. But they know. They know what they have done. And it scars.
Many women experience the same phenomenon, moral injuries, as returning soldiers who have killed in war. They are told that what they did was right and just, and yet a significant percentage can’t heal from the moral trauma.
We can’t see the psychic damage to men who have fathered a child that was aborted. Some are scarred through their ignorance and apathy. They are left with the impression that sex is about their own gratification, that there are no consequences to their actions. Others know what they have done and loathe themselves for taking the easy way out, or worse, pressuring their wife or girl friend into an abortion.
There is no upside to abortion. It is a path of destruction for every party involved.
Mankind travels a rocky road in its quest to become more civilized. By some yardsticks we’ve made progress. By others, we haven’t.
Abortion is an area where we haven’t. If the ability to love separates us from the animals, then abortion makes us less than an animal.
At least animals take care of their own.