Thomas Griffin 3/25/21 (For Crisis Magazine)
In a time when our nation, through the Equality Act, is attempting to redefine sex as a matter of thought, and when our culture states that empowered women are those that choose themselves over family or abortion over sacrifice, Mary stands as a witness to who women are called to be.
Every year, on March 25th, the Catholic Church celebrates the Annunciation of Mary. This feast remembers the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would become the mother of God (Luke 1:26-38). The Blessed Virgin Mary, this peasant girl from 2,000 years ago who grew up and lived a seemingly insignificant existence, made the most earth-shattering decision in human history when she said yes to bearing the God-child.
She was a young teenager married to Joseph, and her pregnancy was completely unplanned. Instead of denying the angel’s announcement and claiming that she never asked for this, she said “yes,” despite the unspeakable odds. This is not merely a women’s issue, but a humanity issue. When a society decides that individualism is the rule of the day, then sacrificial love and reverence for the other withers away.
The Blessed Mother is a threat to women’s “rights” in America because she stands for a womanhood that finds its meaning in submitting to the will of another, namely God. She does not become consumed by what her particular desires are at the moment; rather, she lives out Christian freedom: the ability to do the good. True liberty is not found in being chained to one’s wants, but in being at the service of others. Her “right” to say this does not come from being old-fashioned or ancient and out-of-touch, but from being chosen to be God’s mother.
Amid a crisis in values and virtues, true womanhood is being attacked as the Equality Act is passed by the House of Representatives, redefining sex and threatening women’s rights. If passed by the Senate, biological men who identify as women would have to be granted access to women’s restrooms and the ability to play women’s sports. Anyone claiming that this would not be a disadvantage for biological women does not follow the science of anatomy and physiology.
The absurdity of this new proposed law, that is championed as the epitome of American freedom, has its roots in the country’s past laws regarding abortion rights. The 1992 landmark Supreme Court case of Casey vs. Planned Parenthood ruled “the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, of the mystery of human life.” Therefore, a woman can decide her own reality (and reject the indisputable fact of science that human DNA is present from the moment of conception), all for the sake of one’s choice and the rampant fear that serving the other will lead to unfulfillment and lack of freedom.
The “rights” of the individual to determine their own concept of themselves and reality trumps all other rights, even religious freedom, according to the Equality Act. Religious institutions that do not provide abortifacients or transgender surgery as part of their healthcare can be sued or shutdown altogether. The truth of the child’s presence in the womb and of the fact that gender is determined by biology and not by thought are demolished by a nation that has decided that there is no overarching authority above the individual.
Mary stands in the background and calls us to humble obedience from the shadows of her profound fiat (Latin for “yes” or “affirming another’s authority over them”). Modern men and women today would never accept such an anthem as relying on the authority of God, or anyone for that matter. The rejection of authority lies in the dissolving of objective truth. If freedom lies in one’s ability to craft his or her own reality, then there is no such thing as a true reality.
Women have traditionally been called upon to be the one in the family that takes on the majority of caring for and providing for the needs of their children. This is not sexist language. It is a fact that is written into the very fabric of who we are. A mother’s care for her child is both powerful and needed.
Perhaps, the state of our society is the result of families that have forgotten that mothers are needed. Perhaps, this is why God’s decision for Mary to be the mother of God stands at the cliff of history, ushering us forth to not cling to what we desire, but to throw ourselves away in sacrifice for others, no matter the cost. Our culture, along with all women and men, can learn from her trusting obedience.
The restoration of the United States rests on the correct understanding and usage of our freedom. Let us say fiat like Mary, and be willing to place our liberty at the service of our children’s good and the good of our country. This will lead to a springtime filled with new life and imbued with living in the truth of a reality that is rich with men and women seeking the good and fighting the good fight.
Thomas Griffin teaches at a Catholic high school on Long Island and lives with his wife and son. He received a master’s degree in theology and is currently a master’s candidate in philosophy. He writes for several Catholic media outlets.
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