GLEN COVE, NY — Uncontrolled ambition can lead
to “accommodation” (as
they now call compromise) with evil. Such accommodations with small
evils can hamper one’s ability to fight larger evils. In particular,
compromises with contraception can make it harder to fight abortion.
When James and John asked to sit at the right and left hands of Jesus,
the other 10 apostles became indignant. Scripture tells us this conversation,
not as an unimportant detail, but to let us know that no one is immune
from inappropriate ambition. We see in this and other episodes in
Scripture that such ambition is condemned. The apostles did not yet
understand that following Jesus meant being willing to lay down their
lives. Jesus asks James and John if they can drink from the chalice
from which He will drink.
Our politicians are not normally asked to lay down their lives for
the Truth, but they often have opportunities to lay down their political
careers for the Truth. Every time politicians say something they know
is not true to gain votes, they put ambition before Truth. Every time
politicians cling to a federal job too long, they place themselves
above their duty. Every time clergymen postpone preaching an unpopular
truth, they put ambition before Truth.
It is easy to give in on the little things without considering the
consequences. For example, for many years religious institutions
have treated couples considered married under civil law as married
for purposes of insurance and other benefits. The couples may have
had a long string of divorces or been in otherwise invalid marriages
in the eyes of the church sponsoring the institution. Now when governments
propose to require religious institutions to recognize homosexual “marriages,” the
position of the institutions is weakened by their past acquiescence
in invalid marriages.
Otherwise good people are particularly prone to compromises in the
area of contraception. Contraception was generally condemned by most
Christians until the 1930s. Then many Protestants began to embrace
it as a means of reducing the growth of the population of blacks and
other people not from Northern Europe. Ironically, it was Northern
Europeans who then embraced contraception. In the 1960s, some people
began to believe in good faith that the estrogen pill was not a contraceptive.
This led to confusion precisely when sexual morality was collapsing.
It became too easy to simply avoid talking about the immorality of
Among Catholics and others who share similar views about contraception,
the lack of good catechesis was a disaster. The Church’s teaching
looked more like a set of rules than an exposition of Natural Law.
The moral treatment of innocent potential or actual rape victims, women
with medical needs for estrogen, and persons licitly using natural
family planning were not rules but necessary interpretations of basic
A society was allowed to develop in which overt opposition to contraception
was completely marginalized. Most politicians were comfortable with
this development and did not feel compelled to take unpopular positions.
Open support for our permissive laws on abortion is not a political
winner. People have kept quiet about the evils of contraception,
and the administration now sees an opportunity to compel the unwilling
to cooperate in abortion by disguising the debate as one about contraception.
The current proposed federal regulations would require Catholic hospitals,
schools, and other institutions, as well as individual Catholic employers,
to participate in the provision of contraceptive and sterilization
services against their moral principles – in clear violation
of their Constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion.
Catholics and a large number of non-Catholics will have to cooperate
in providing medications and services that violate their beliefs against
killing innocent people.
One such medication is the “morning after pill” or Plan
B. This sometimes (perhaps usually) acts not as a contraceptive but
as an abortifacient. The other covered pill is worse because it is
an abortion pill.
The administration and the media have cleverly and dishonestly disguised
the debate as being about contraception rather than about religious
liberty, abortion, and sterilization. This tactic would not be successful
if so many people had not fled from discussing contraception and characterized
disapproval of it as eccentric.
We are seldom called to drink from the chalice from which Our Lord
drank, but we are all called to speak the truth, even if it costs us
an election, a federal appointment, or good attendance in our parishes.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2012
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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