Lately I have been doing a lot of reading. As I devour book after book, some on Kindle for Mac, some in hard cover, I am beginning to sense a sort of theme – a commonality among some of the most recent titles I have read. I began with Abby Johnson’s Unplanned, then I read Shelley Lubben’s The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn, and now I am plowing (once again) through George Weigel’s Biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope. At first glance it may appear that these titles have nothing to do with one another. I mean seriously what do abortion, pornography and a Pope have at all in common?
Lately abortion and sex trafficking have been getting a lot of attention in the media – especially in the more conservative media circles. It’s hard for me to check my email or hop on Facebook without reading a headline from one group or another decrying the latest Planned Parenthood Scandal, or the newest Abortion Industry outrage. While keeping myself informed and engaged in the new momentum that is sweeping the Pro-Life Movement, I have been continuing to follow the work of an amazing group of Modern Day Missionaries – The Pink Cross Foundation. Pink Cross is dedicated to rescuing men and women both from the porn industry and porn addiction. It was founded by Shelley Lubben, a zealous Christian whose past includes acting in porn films – in other words, she is a former porn star who also “worked” turning tricks and dancing in other areas of the “adult world.” Now though, she is on fire for Christ, and for exposing the real Truth about pornography and the industry that creates it. Her book, The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn rips off the facade of sexy glamour and seduction, and shows the ugly, awful Truth about pornography. I’ve also become even more impressed with the expanding (with a newly updated) The King’s Men – a men’s ministry whose website describes its Mission as “Under Christ the King’s universal call to serve, we as men, pledge to unite and build up other men in the mold of leader, protector, and provider through education, formation and action.” A large component of the King’s Men Ministry is combating pornography, the “adult” industry and lust. Through The King’s Men, men are finding freedom and Truth.
*A reclamation of feminine dignity, finding freedom from a pornified culture, and discovering that one CAN be happy and whole despite a loved one’s addiction are some aspects of the Daughters of the Heavenly King Ministry that I feel called to really grow and develop. I ask for your prayers as I seek to follow God’s Will in this.*
But back to our question: what do abortion, pornography, and a Pope all have in common?
Human Dignity. The answer to the question, “What are we as humans worth? And why?”
It struck me as I was reading Witness to Hope. Weigel explains that as a humanist, and as a phenomenologist whose Catholic Faith infused Truth into every aspect of his life and philosophy, Pope John Paul II identified the great danger facing our world not as one single issue but as a crisis of ideas. In other (more simple) words (the late Holy Father was incredibly profound and deep!) instead of identifying one issue as the most pressing or horrible, or naming one crisis as the most important to face, John Paul II believed that the crisis and question facing humanity at this point in history is one of ideas. One of understanding. Get it wrong, and everything else falls apart too. The beginning of all problems, crises, and controversial issues is at its root – an idea – either a faulty idea and understanding , or one rightly based in God’s Truth.
This is what abortion and pornography have in common. A faulty idea. An idea that is corroding our very
culture. The idea that some human lives do not have dignity. That some humans are expendable – that they can be discarded or objectified. That people can be murdered, degraded, made to suffer and even die to serve the whims and pleasures of others. It’s the same faulty idea that made slavery a booming business. It’s the same faulty idea that fuels the human trafficking (modern-day slavery) black market. It’s the false idea that allows a mother to convince herself that she has a right to kill her child, and pornographers to exploit the women and men they’ve coerced into “working” for them. It’s the false idea about just what the worth of a human person is. What the dignity of the human person is.
Pope John Paul II tirelessly proclaimed that each and every human person has a worth and a dignity that is completely independent of utility. He declared that a person has an intrinsic worth simply because they are a person – created by God. What a bold declaration in this day and age; especially coming from a man who grew up behind the “Iron Curtain.” Yet, it is this idea that John Paul II so desperately wanted to communicate to us! Why? Because John Paul II was a man of Hope! What gives us hope? The idea that God loved us so much that He created us in HIS OWN Image, and sent to us His Incarnated Son! John Paul II had this to say about hope to the United Nations, “Hope and trust are the premise of responsible activity and are nurtured in that inner sanctuary of conscience where “man is alone with God” and thus perceives that he is not alone amid the enigmas of existence, for he is surrounded by the love of the Creator!” How do we know that he is indeed surrounded by the love of the creator? Because that creator loved man enough to stamp on him His Own image. This act of creating man in His Image is what, according to the late Holy Father, infuses man with a dignity that is independent of anything else.
The theme of individual dignity runs through much of what John Paul II preached and wrote about. One of the greatest works to consider the God-given dignity of the human person is his Theology of the Body. Originally a series of talks given at his general audiences, the Theology of the Body is a compilation of the late Pope’s thoughts on his exegesis of Genesis 1:27, God created man in his Image, in the Divine Image He created him; male and female He created them.
It is this declaration that answers the great question at the root of our discussion. What do abortion, pornography, and a Pope have in common? The pope understood that the foundational idea behind abortion and pornography is the same. They are two manifestations of the same warped concept of human dignity. They illustrate that on some level there is a social acceptance of the idea that some humans can be used or discarded at the whim of others.
This dangerous thought process is seen in play in the debates revolving around euthanasia, eugenics, and the infamous “death panel” discussion. Most recently we saw this mentality being challenged by the story of Baby Joseph, and we were reminded of Terri Schiavo’s terrible ordeal and death at the hands of her husband just last week, as the anniversary of her passing was remembered.
Every year 1.2 million children are trafficked around the globe – most of them into the sex industry. Pornography continues to net more profit than the combined revenues of all the major sports franchises, and abortion is Planned Parenthood’s most profitable revenue source. Why? Because there is a great disparity between the dignity a person has, and whether or not that dignity is regarded as being intrinsic to their very being.
So what do we do with this information? What do we, what can we, as women, do? How do you stop abortion, pornography, and all the other atrocities committed against the very dignity of our fellow men? We must change the idea. We must challenge the very understanding that has been born of the faulty idea that all persons do not have an intrinsic, God-given dignity, as such. Then we must replace this very misled understanding with the Truth. God’s Truth. We do this one person at a time, starting with ourselves. THAT is the mission of Daughters of the Heavenly King. To reclaim the dignity we have as God’s Daughters. The dignity we have as females, created in the Image and Likeness of our loving Father of Lights. Once we have truly reclaimed our dignity for ourselves, we can reclaim and reshape the entire culture! Our witness alone sheds light on the areas of the cultural understanding that need to be infused with God’s Truth. By building up one another, by encouraging one another, and by challenging head-on the evil ideas that have created the injustices of abortion, pornography, human trafficking, euthanasia…we create a new community that will discard the old and evil ideas and replace them with the Love and Truth of God’s plan for us as His people. John Paul II had such hope! He knew that as our understanding of our true dignity as persons, created in God’s Own Image, grew, that the Truth could not be contained, and the very culture of the world could be transformed! It is up to you and I to accomplish this. It is our prayer-filled example, our boldness in proclaiming the Truth, our fearless witness to the true dignity of all persons that will bring about this transformation. As John Paul II so often proclaimed, “Do not be afraid!” Your beautiful, strong, tender, feminine hearts are more than up to the task! The Truth is already on our side! John Paul II, pray for us!
This Post is dedicated in Memory of John Paul II, in honor of his Beatification which will take place on
May 1, 2011.