Tuesday, May 28, 2013

If you won't lie to save babies

Then your next step should be to sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus in the manner of St. Francis.  Oh wait, you say.  The Church has made it clear that Jesus didn't say we all have to do that (even though the early Church described in Acts appeared to take it literally).  I'm not saying he did.  I'm saying that as the 'should we lie to save babies' debate rages, somewhat inconsistently, across the Catholic Blogosphere, there are many who stand with pride on their willingness to say all lying is really the same, it's all intrinsically evil (which has some basis to it based on current Church teaching), and it doesn't matter why, I wouldn't lie once even if it meant saving a baby from certain death.

OK.  Fair enough.  You're probably a better man than I am.  But my colleagues and I used to have a little thing we did in my ministry days.  Sometimes, in casual conversation or counseling, a believer would wonder if they had what it took to be a martyr.  To really take a bullet for the faith.  We said if you have a hard time getting up and going to church on Sunday, or taking part in things, or even reading your Bible or praying regularly, probably not.  If you do all those things and still wonder, then sell all you have and live a life of poverty.  Because in the real world, it's easier to sell everything than die for the faith.  Of course you don't have to in order to die for it.  People have probably died for the faith, when push came to shove, in opulent mansions and luxury homes.  But it is a good test when things are slow.

Same here.  If you boast of your willingness to let the innocent die rather than tell even the whitest lie to save them, I suggest selling everything and living in poverty first.  And if you can't do that, but are still willing to let the innocent die rather than tell even the whitest lie to save them, then it might be time to rethink your pilgrim walk.  I'm not saying lying is right, or we should lie to do good.  It looks complex, and it looks like that part of the Catholic faith that wants to embrace the inner Amish - you don't do anything but prepare for the next life.

But it is tough, because it wants, on one hand, Catholics to be prepared for the ultimate sacrifice.  More so, it wants Catholics to be prepared to let others be sacrificed rather than do evil to save them.  And yet, unlike the Amish or other such stringent faith traditions, it stops short on depriving us of the luxuries and pleasures of a worldly life.  And therein lies the possibility that Catholics could begin to imagine that martyrdom is just how many innocent people I'm willing to let die for my righteousness, all the while laughing on my way to the bank.  A dangerous trend, and one that sets up a level of spiritualism that seems hell and gone from that traditionally understood or biblically expounded.


  1. Hope you don't mind, I'm just going to repost what I wrote here:

    Mark is also wrong wanting to play a semantics game that as long as you don't "technically" say anything incorrect, you're not sinning.

    In other words, he's played the clever 'trick' where while "lusting" in the heart is wrong - even if you technically don't do anything with the object of your lust, "deception" in the heart is ok as long as you are technically saying true things.

    Sorry, this protestant heathen says deception is deception is deception.

    I'm with Mark on this one. The end never justifies the means.

    Never? That sounds rather like the Pharisees taking Jesus to task for healing on the sabbath. After all, they were technically correct that He shouldn't be doing it. Which leads us to...

    Even the smallest sin damages the soul and separates us from the Lord.

    If I may mangle a quote: "Your difficulty is that you don't believe in a no-sin scenario." Or you seem to not believe that if you define sin so broadly, there could ever be a situation where you can't take any action that wouldn't be a sin. And if you want to say "then the proper action is to take no action", let me remind you of the parable of the sheep & goats where the goats' wrong doing was precisely that they DIDN'T take any action.

    So let us return to LA...

    If the subject enters and is not pregnant, they are guilty of lying.
    If the subject enters and is pregnant, they are guilty of temptation.
    If the subject never enters, then they are guilty of being complacent in the act at worst. Violating their conscience if said conscience is demanding action at the least.
    Then there's the more extreme possibilities like out and out warfare which we'll set aside as not even worth considering.

    So, a new trilemma appears. By the established metrics, the subject in question cannot do anything and not "sin". So what to do? I believe the first option is the best as the amount of time the subject takes up is time the doctor cannot be killing (and if something is to go wrong and she's forcibly aborted - like what happened with Gosnell, then nobody actually dies and the subject has again prevented someone else from sinning).

    Call me a consequentialist or whatever, but seems to me that until you have a better sorting routine, that's the only option available. Though I will freely admit that consequentialism should be an consideration of last resort (what programmers might call a "tie-breaker") and never the option of first resort.

    Do we really need these videos to know that abortion and the people providing them are utterly evil? Have these videos added anything to our understanding of what goes on on these places? Is there anything new here worth committing sin, venial or otherwise, for?

    For those in a pro-life echo chamber - no, there is not. Unfortunately, we're not quite numerous enough. It's the great middle that has to be persuaded for any goal to work. The "center of gravity" in the body politic as some pundits say. Gosnell's trial has done a lot to shift that gravity in a direction we want. And if we stop helping the enemy crucify LA, it might get shifted even more.

    TLDR edition: Deception is deception is deception. Unfortunately, sometimes the only choices we have are really bad ones. When that arises, the only logical action to take is to utilize consequentialism as a tie breaker.

  2. The lying argument is one that has exposed the problems of the blogosphere, IMHO. It began when Dawn Eden basically wrote a piece saying why look at the horrors of PP uncovered when we can focus on the sins of Live Action. This isn't to say I agree with Live Action's tactics, or that I say lying is good or that there aren't better ways. But so many of the arguments attacking any lying while allowing dishonesty verge on attitudes that make a pharisee look open by comparison, and worse (to me) play into the old stereotype of Catholicism as all about legalism, and not really about all that heart and soul of the Gospel stuff.

    I posted a thought close to this on Mark's latest, and so far got one thumbs down and nothing else.


Let me know your thoughts