Consumerism… Mall culture in Jakarta. By Jonathan McIntosh, 2004. via Wikimedia Commons
Whenever people ask me what I think the biggest challenge we face today in regards to abortion it can be tempting to think in terms that are far too narrow. For example, I could respond by saying that the seemingly continual attempts by our politicians to introduce more extreme abortion laws are a major issue.
I could talk about the fact that the pro-life movement has extremely limited funding, resources, and personal with which to try and carry out one of the most monumentally important works of justice in human history.
Or perhaps I could highlight the unrelenting push to reduce medical professionals to subservient technicians incapable of exercising true clinical judgement by denying them their vitally important right to freedom of conscience.
All of these things are very real and very serious, but at the same time they need to be properly understood as the symptoms of a much bigger crisis. The fact that we are now living in a culture where authentic community has all but been usurped by rampant individualism.
There are many causes of this crisis. One could even say that it is a perfect storm of factors that are coalescing with catastrophic results.
Unparalleled development and widespread embrace of technologies increase our connectivity at the cost of human community. The rise of nihilistic relativism results in the loss of a unifying vision of reality in the West. A culture of self-gratification, with no desire for self-regulation through virtue mstems from the false belief that individual choice is the same thing as freedom Rampant consumerism reduces profoundly important goods and even human persons to mere objects.
And there is an almost obsessive fixation on global “community,” even though forming community on such a scale is beyond any possibility. Just witness the ideologies which reduce and separate us based on individualistic identifying characteristics rather than our shared common humanity.
In a nutshell, we have made the technologically enhanced, individualistic, self-gratifying consumer the most important good in our society.
Sadly, not even Christianity has been immune to this. How often do we come to church now as individual consumers seeking out products (‘I’ll take one satisfying sermon and four rousing worship anthems thanks’) for our personal happiness?
How many people in our church do we know as more than a face at Sunday service? Are we genuinely invested in each other’s lives and wellbeing beyond a mere handshake? Or is community just a buzzword that looks great when it appears in front of our church name in the Sunday notices or on the billboard out front?
Aristotle once declared that the greatest and most important relationship we can form with another person is one where we seek their good and not our own personal happiness or material gain. Through such a relationship of self-giving love, not only does the recipient flourish and become more fully human, but so do we, the giver.
Tragically, in a misguided quest for human fulfilment, much of modern culture has inverted this important truth, and as a result a destructive and deadly anti culture has arisen.
Which brings me back to my original question about abortion.
It is my contention that the biggest challenge we face is about recognising that abortion isn’t simply a political or social issue. It is a symptom of this culture of death that has made the gratification of individuals more important than community, and the wants of the strong more important than the needs of the vulnerable.
In doing so, this culture is not only dehumanising us, but it is also making abortion increasingly more appealing. The more people find themselves living isolated from community, the more they find themselves without the most essential and empowering element to be able to choose life for their unborn children – the concern and care of others.
Worst of all, this culture of death is now actively trying to sell us the lie that abortion, and its inseparable culture of lonely consumerism, is the path to human fulfilment and flourishing that we should be demanding as a human right.
Yes, we must continue to be unflinching and courageous in telling the hard truths about abortion, but it is now more vitally important than ever before that we become people living a culture of life — the culture of intentional community and self-giving love for the other.
Brendan Malone is the founder and Director of LifeNET. He has been working in pro-life, marriage and family ministry in New Zealand and Australia for the last 14 years. He lives in Rangiora with his wife Katie and their 5 rambunctious kids. He can be found online at www.lifenet.org.nz Republished with permission from The Catholic Weekly, Sydney