As we were about to board the buses headed for the March for Life one of the leaders got all of the kid’s attention by starting the official chant for our trip. “What do we want?” they asked. “A culture of life!” was the response. “How do we get it?” they asked again. “Prayer and sacrifice!” With that we received instructions and took off. The chant was repeated several times throughout the trip and I couldn’t help but wonder: “What is a culture of life anyway?” I thought I knew, but as the trip went on and as the march crept closer I realized that what I thought a “culture of life” was and what we were praying for were two different things.
If you would have asked me before the march what we mean when we say “culture of life,” I would have said that it was mostly about policy and laws. How do we know that we live in a culture of life? Well, because abortion would be illegal, and so would the death penalty and euthanasia. I thought this was a good enough definition and a noble enough cause to march for- but still, I always did have a few questions.
While I have never been “Pro-Choice” since my conversion in college I have always wondered about the point of policy change. One of the girls on our bus brought up this exact question during our way back from the march. She asked: “What would stop a woman from getting an abortion if we did make it illegal. If she really wanted one then she could find one and it would probably be more dangerous to her to do it in an unsafe environment. Abortion could be illegal but people would still want abortions. What is the point of changing policy if we can’t change hearts?” Then it hit me. We are supposed to change hearts.
That’s what we mean when we say we want a culture of life. We want to live in a world where life is valued and seen as the most precious gift that no one would even think about getting an abortion; we want to live in a world where killing someone because they’re old or a criminal or unborn is not tolerated. If we can do that-- if we can change the way people look at human life, then it would not necessarily matter what the laws of the country are, because we would be following the Law of God that is in our hearts. Don’t get me wrong, policy change is important and necessary, but our primary goal should be changing people’s hearts.
So, how do we live in a culture of life? Prayer and sacrifice? Definitely. But, we also need to change the way we act. We as Christians need to show others the joy that comes from knowing Christ and show them the love they deserve, because their life is valuable. If we say we value life then we have to show it every day, at home and at school, to our friends and especially our enemies. It might take a while, and it might seem impossible, but it is worth doing!
In the Acts of the Apostles chapter seventeen, Paul and Silas are referred to as, “These men who have turned the world upside down,” by a group of people who were upset at their preaching. It was as fitting a title for them as it is for us. We want a culture of life, we want to turn the world “upside down.”
Written by: Trey Chapa, seminarian of the Diocese of Austin