Thomas Griffin 6/12/22 (For Crisis Magazine)
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Practically speaking, American politics is a mess. Policies that impact the wallets of Americans and the fabric of society in concrete ways often have philosophically flawed roots. Investigating the “why” of our current climate is essential, and it ultimately comes down to two realities: truth and power; two things Jesus was fascinated by. As abortion debates face a tipping point, we need His words more than ever.
So many are convinced that the “story” of Jesus is irrelevant to the modern age. His life and example belong in the realm of abstract spirituality. What our culture often neglects is the overwhelming evidence for the historical nature of Christianity, as well as the logically-based teachings it promotes.
A recently published article for The Federalist, called “Jesus Christ’s Resurrection is Probably the Best-Documented Historical Event Ever,” clarified that there is more historical evidence for Jesus as a real person and for His Resurrection than for most other figures and events from the past. Yes, politics is the “real world,” but apparently so are Jesus and the Faith that He started.
Jesus abolished the warped understanding of politics and religion in His day by laying down His life on the Cross. He dismantled the concept of a military and politically-powerful insurrection against the Romans through His sacrificial love. That sounds all nice and pious, but the last day of His life actually had large political ramifications as well.
In front of Pilate, Jesus acknowledged that He was a king, but He clarified that His power is not worldly—it is based on the truth. Truth is the correct correlation between one’s mind and reality. What an interesting concept to build religion, society, and politics on. The further a culture moves from truth, the more problems arise.
We can easily view how American politics is concerned with power rather than truth. There are two extremely important, but skewed, ways that power runs the show in American politics. First, there is the understanding that those in power determine the truth. So many politicians are involved with governance because they crave to be the ones to determine reality rather than the ones who conform reality to what is true. This can be seen in countless ways.
Those who champion abortion while stating that life does not begin at conception, despite the clear biological evidence, decide to determine their own truth. Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, has even neglected to enforce a federal ban on partial-birth abortions (procedures that kill infants when they are half-inside and half-outside of the mother’s womb). Having power means these individuals believe they can determine what is true.
Second, the power of the individual to determine his or her own truth has become the number one “right” of the American. Now we are seeing that advocates for abortion rights are (seemingly) preparing to commit violence to protect the “right” of Americans to kill babies. With the leaked news of how the Supreme Court is leaning to overturn Roe v. Wade, we can see that power through the lens of individualism is what so many are consumed by.
Throughout the halls of history (all the way back to Jesus’ trial) we see the same thing occur—on the altar of individual autonomy, truth is sacrificed. Case and point are the words of President Biden back in September: “I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception. I don’t agree, but I respect that.” Even though Biden respects them, he concluded saying that, “I’m not going to impose that on people.”
Translation: he will give people the freedom to say their opinion on when life begins, but that scientific truth will not be imposed on others. That would be an egregious violation of individualism, according to Biden.
Recently, the president said: “Roe says what all basic mainstream religions have historically concluded, that the existence of a human life and being is a question.” Biden even referenced St. Thomas Aquinas as being in agreement with him (despite the fact that Aquinas clearly rejected abortion). In the same interview, Biden later appears disjointed on the issue because he refers to what is being aborted as a “child.”
Deep down, probably not even that deep, the president knows what science tells us: that from the moment of conception there is a human life. Unfortunately for him and so many others, since that truth does not line up with the power and unhindered liberty that abortion provides, the truth must be crucified once again.
In order to deflate political arguments, perhaps our nation would be best served by actually diving into the logical and biological truths behind all the issues in our country, not just the ones named above. Doing so would be heeding the words of Jesus to Pilate: power and truth must always work in unison.
As we continue to navigate the raging political waters of our time, let us remain rooted in reality so that we can live as men and women who never substitute power for the truth—especially when we are defending the lives of the most helpless and vulnerable.
Thomas Griffin teaches in the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island where he lives with his wife and son.
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