Monday, May 6, 2013
But the tears came from other quarters, surprisingly enough.
My wife admitted to me that she was not crying so much for the babies lost, although their short lives are more than irreplaceable. No, it was for Gosnell's soul that she was sorry, terrified that he would follow the path of the obstinate and never repent of his wretched sins. God's judgment is far worse than man's, we were reminded, and heaven help him if he does not repent.
There were actually two reasons tears had come to both our eyes speaking of this wretched man, however. One was the aforementioned. But the second reason was even closer to home. It was due to the fact that all of the past week my wife and I had been discussing what it'd be like to have another child, wondering with excitement if we might want to try to get pregnant again this year. Talk of babies and their tremendous beauty and fragility, and their ability to wrench love out of us humans. And then this story. A story of abject disregard for human life, a story of a man and a culture that don't give a damn about women or their unborn children, a story of subhuman acts of cold-blooded violence for financial gain. It is a story repeated again and again in America, a story of lies and hatred and fear. It all hit like a punch to the gut for us as a couple who have never even touched chemical contraception.
How did the family move from being such a revered unit of society to being the butt of every joke on network television? When did such a profound societal selfishness settle in that women are routinely taken advantage of by men, and are then encouraged or forced to abort the consequences? When did the great lie finally take so profound a root in our nation's heart, the lie that having a family is a millstone around one's neck and that the child is a weird leftover fluke of an act that evolution meant to be a mere pleasurable pastime?
All of these are grievously important questions to ask, to be sure, but the more important thing is that I do not ask them rhetorically. I am not whining for a bygone era supposedly drowning in innocence and charm. I am also not asking these questions in a state of shocked disbelief, in order to demand that standards be raised or some other such woefully inadequate response. I have seen evil before, and it does not shock me. I am asking these questions in order to dig to the heart of the whole big festering ugly problem and find an answer. An antidote.
Many have written and spoken of the corruption and demise of Western civilization and its corresponding values, including me, and it is not really my purpose here to rehash all of those arguments. My purpose here is to look at all those previously thrashed out 'why' arguments and formulate a simple 'how to' antidote. Because I firmly believe that there is a simple solution to this problem, a solution so simple it may be regarded as naive and even irresponsible by many. We suffer from a stream of consciousness culture that has no clue what a family is supposed to be, no hint of what real love looks like, and no idea what happiness is. So what's the antidote?
Get married and have kids. Lots of kids. And bring them with you everywhere.
It is simple, and also frustratingly difficult. C. S. Lewis once remarked that the really important and difficult concepts in our language are summed up in short, simple words: love, hate, heaven, hell. He couldn't have been more correct. I am the second son in a family of ten children, and so I was keenly aware of society's mockery long before I ever had a wife or children of my own.
Getting married is the first huge step. So many people, especially younger people, simply choose to live together without marriage. No vows, no commitment, just simple cohabitation centered around the convenience principle. There is no real love in this arrangement, because there has been no act of will, just a simple change of location. The 'union', if it could ever be called that, exists on the very thin ice of mutual selfishness. Marriage remedies this by destroying the blasé of convenience, of creating a relationship that exists on purpose and for a purpose.
Having kids is somehow an amusingly huge leap of logic for many even after they get married. One would think the knowledge that sex is how babies are made would be enough to make this clear but it is sadly not so. The mere act of having more than one or two kids nowadays is an act of revolt against the established order. So revolt away and have many children. Demonstrate to the world that your empowerment comes from the fact that by a simple act of physical union with your spouse you can help create another completely unique and irreplaceable person. Demonstrate that your fulfillment comes in serving those new persons and providing for their welfare, and that your reward is their little grateful smiles and enthusiastic attitudes.
And finally, bring them out in public. Everywhere. Church, restaurant, park, you name it. There is so much negativity about large families in large part because people don't see enough of them. So show your kids off, let them be kids in public. Let them be the ones to demonstrate to the world how badly it needs love. Children do not judge, are trusting, vivacious, energetic, bold, brash, and funny. They will make the world less judgmental, more energetic, bolder, and will ensure that it laughs more.
I am issuing a challenge of sorts to all those who balk at new life, who claim it is too expensive, too draining, too much work, or who like Gosnell think it is just plain worthless or toxic. As you debate abortion policy, assist in the indefensible slaughter of our nation's children, or just plain decide not to have any children, my wife and I will be busily making our own. Not because we have no self control, as is so often suggested to those who decide not to load their bodies with toxic contraceptive chemicals, but because we are fulfilling a mandate. We were told to be fruitful and multiply, to fill this earth and subdue it. Every time we decide to have another child we are rewarded beyond our wildest expectations. Having children is work, but a work of joy.
Our society needs to relearn how to be normal, how to see the truth about itself and to not shy away in fear when presented with the difficult choices. And what better way than for us to lead by example? We need to see love, see it as normal, and see it as desirable. Only then will the world be rid of the likes of Kermit Gosnell.
God forgive them all, for they know not what they do.
Photo by Ernest F., Courtesy of Wikipedia.