Pope Francis has offered counsel over the last week that culturally adrift Protestants and Evangelicals especially should heed the timeless truths regarding human life intrinsic to Christian faith and organic to nature itself, not based on Christian scripture exclusively but available to all creation.
Yesterday November 17, the Pope, at an interfaith convo at the Vatican on the family called “Humanum,” robustly affirmed the divinely created “complementarity” of male and female, the unchanging definition of natural marriage, the family as an “anthropological fact,” and the “right” of children to “grow up in a family with a father and mother.”
Criticizing the growing “culture of the temporary,” the Pope noted: “This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.” He warned: “Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”
And the Pope concluded:
Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact — a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history. We can’t think of conservative or progressive notions. Family is a family. It can’t be qualified by ideological notions. Family is per se. It is a strength per se. I pray that your colloquium will be an inspiration to all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.
On Saturday, November 15, speaking to Italian doctors, the Pope, in a similarly counter-cultural tone, criticized abortion and euthanasia.
We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad experiment. Making children rather than accepting them as a gift, as I said. Playing with life. Be careful, because this is a sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, who created things this way. When so many times in my life as a priest I have heard objections: “But tell me, why the Church is opposed to abortion, for example? Is it a religious problem?” No, no. It is not a religious problem. “Is it a philosophical problem?” No, it is not a philosophical problem. It’s a scientific problem, because there is a human life there, and it is not lawful to take out a human life to solve a problem. “But no, modern thought…” But, listen, in ancient thought and modern thought, the word “kill” means the same thing. The same evaluation applies to euthanasia: we all know that with so many old people, in this culture of waste, there is this hidden euthanasia. But there is also the other. And this is to say to God, “No, I will accomplish the end of life, as I will.” A sin against God the Creator! Think hard about this.
Think hard indeed. The Pope’s remarks on marriage, family, gender, abortion and euthanasia were not only Catholic but universally Christian and rooted in natural law, accessible to all humanity, religiously or philosophically.
These truths about human identity organic to creation are of course under assault by secularism accompanied by its allies in liberal religion. In the culturally compromised precincts of Protestantism and Evangelicalism particularly, it is asserted the church must abandon its universal teaching in favor of supposedly more appealing and relevant fads.
The Pope responds to these cultural crosswinds by imploring: “Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion” or “ideological notion.” And he encouraged: “Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”
What the Pope commends, as all Christians, traditionalists, and realists should, is a certain modesty against the widely asserted contemporary claims that human and natural reality can be reinvented to align with newly constructed ideological assertions. Instead, contra post-modernity, male is male and female is female, marriage is marriage, family is family, and all human life is sacred.
These plain assertions remarkably have become controversial, even risqué, to elite Western secularists, who demand conformity with the transient and “temporary” under threat of banishment from meaningful public life. What the Pope proposes is that we all make a great scandal by challenging banal and destructive anti-life Western secularist assumptions, which are typically rooted far more in arrogance rather than rationality.
Let the scandal begin!