Sunday, April 11, 2010

Defenders of Dignity

I once heard the argument that God must exist because there is no rational explanation for people of extreme sanctity such as Pope John Paul II or Mother Theresa. There would be no reason for them to make such sacrifices to help the human race, to reach out to the poor, to forgive their attackers, unless, of course, they knew there was something more than this life.

It’s an interesting argument, and a pretty good one I might add. If you ever read the writings of Mother Theresa, you wonder how a woman could go through such suffering, such darkness of the heart, and still carry on the way she did. That is not a human thing to do. No atheist can explain it. No psychologist can explain it. Only God can explain it.

Today in Mass I was listening to (and singing!) the song “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” and it made me think of this argument. We, as Christians, should be the ones who love the fullest, who care the most, who reach out to others no matter what the cost is to ourselves. Others, who have no faith in the afterlife, see everything as here and now—I will help you if you help me. Or, perhaps, “I do good because I know it will benefit society. It will make the world a better place. But as soon as my good-doing starts hurting me, I’ll quit.” But we know it is not just the world we are talking about. It’s much, much more.

This same song, I believe, called Christians the defenders of dignity. That’s an incredible title. We defend the dignity of all human beings. What a responsibility! If you think about it, in our society today, we are the ones who stand up for the elderly, for the mentally handicapped, for the unborn. No one else is going to do it. It’s our job as Christians.

It’s ironic, if you think about it, Atheists and Agnostics tend to have this idea that we don’t need a God; we don’t need forgiveness, we are all just fine the way we are doing whatever makes us happy (whether it be having sex outside marriage, living a gay lifestyle, choosing to end our lives early because we are suffering, etc.). Even so called Christians sometimes feel this way, saying what is right for you is right for you, and what is right for me is what is right for me—we are all entitled to our own beliefs. Yet these people who seem to think each individual is perfect just the way he or she is in their own beliefs are the ones who tend to forget about the personhood of the unborn, the humanity of the severely mentally handicapped, the dignity of men and women in their sexuality. These people act like they are caring about the individuality of women who deserve choice, persons who should be free to explore their sexuality, men and women who are in extreme suffering. But they don’t understand that these ideas do not preserve dignity—they destroy it. These relativistic ideas undermine Truth and prevent people from having access to it. When people can’t see the Truth, they live in lies, and their dignity is lost. They are left with terrible suffering—babies torn apart limb from limb, empty relationships that end in pain, people treated as objects instead of persons, lost lives, meaningless lives.

We are the ones who are meant to preserve dignity. We, as Christians have an important job to do—to stand up for the Truth.

Thank God we have His grace to help us. Thank God we have examples like Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II.

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