Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Traditional Morals, Liberal Politics

I am known among friends as the traditional Catholic. I do attend Mass every Sunday and holy day, I pray, I consider my faith a huge priority in my life, and find it does drive me to be better. This also carries into my romantic life, as I still have not engaged in sexual contact and have become more firm in my belief to wait till marriage (though there were questions and are still struggles). At the same time, politically, I am pretty liberal when it comes to issues of gay marriage and abortion rights. To some, this may seem a huge contradiction and others may even question my validity as a Catholic (of course for those, I was baptized and confirmed a Catholic so I am one till I die, regardless of any sin I commit). So, why the contradiction?

Let me start out by saying that my morals are a choice. That's right. I chose them. No one, certainly not any man, influenced my choice (in fact, my male relatives think I'm too conservative!). And let me say, it's a hard one. Now that I do have a companion, I do understand why people don't wait, but it is out of respect for him (as he and I are on the same page) and myself that I wait. I do encourage others in this, as it takes a lot of strength. But, because it requires strength, I have to understand that not everyone agrees. Especially as I live in a country where people are of different faiths and no faith, I do not believe I can impose my moral choices on someone else. As for the sexuality angle, I have questioned my own extensively and knew how difficult that was. To be honest, I'd rather that two consenting adults commit to each other and run their own families than encourage a culture of promiscuity among all, heterosexual or not. I think sexuality is more of a cultural thing and would find it not only intrusive but dangerous if Congress started legislating our bedrooms (except for needed consent laws).

Now, for the abortion issue, it's been well established that I do not like abortion. I think it is a tragedy but I also understand that most women are not running to the clinic in happiness, getting abortions as they do haircuts. Most are very torn, especially because we all KNOW it's a baby. At the same time, there are many circumstances surrounding it and, as our government and economy fail to recognize that maybe fairer policies toward mothers (you know, paid maternity leave and daycare benefits) could actually help those falling through the cracks, it's no wonder women may need to buy some time. Do I think these women, who are desperate to NOT be pregnant, should be throwing themselves down stairs, perforating their cervices, or taking harmful drugs? No, but that's what does happen when it's illegal. After living in Kenya and learning what happens to women in a country where it is illegal, I could never again believe it should be illegal. If I don't believe in a death penalty, why would I institute one? While I do believe we need to make changes, a lot of them will take a long time. I don't believe we should see the deaths of countless women and girls in the meantime.

I believe that God alone judges human beings for their actions. While there are certain aspects of morality the government should legislate on (not just to prevent corruption, murder, and theft, but to ensure people can make a living and have their freedoms protected), these are not those aspects. I would hate to see my country become a theocracy. I want people to love God on their own, not because the alternative is death or social ostracism. Further, I believe there are other moral problems (like corporate strangleholds and environmental degradation) that all of us of all faiths and no faiths can conquer. Let's direct our fire to making a true change in our society.

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