culture of life

How to Respond to People Entitled to Give Their Opinions

Quite often, when people see that I’m young, married and pregnant, their eyes flicker over my rounded form with incredulity, followed by a succession of questions and opinions.

 

 

“So…was this planned? I can’t believe that you’re already married and having kids so soon. You’re so young. Wow. I don’t think I’d ever be ready to have kids. I don’t get along with kids.”

 

“Oh, you’re religious? You must be crazy and intolerant.”

 

At first, I was baffled when I received these strong, unsolicited opinions out of the blue; then I began to feel indignant.  Why did people feel the need to show their disapproval, or ask extremely personal questions, when my life in no way interfered with theirs? It’s not like I was pushing my personal “agenda” onto them. They were the ones with the unsolicited comments and questions.  I would come home and rant to my husband, only to find out that he had similar experiences with his own friends and coworkers he barely knew.

 

What I hated the most were the assumptions that because I’m a young Christian living in an “outdated” manner, and because I’m open to life, that I’m going to fail. That I’m going to end up miserable, unfulfilled and dissatisfied because of my life views. That because we chose to get married and have a child young, I’m giving up on having a career, on being successful, on doing “more.”

 

I had always realized that our society views life, love, commitment and religion in a negative light, but I had never received backlash for it in my own life and wasn’t sure how to respond. Should I be defensive? Sarcastic? Ask an impertinent or intimate question on their family planning myself? I began to feel embarrassed when people looked at me, and dreaded their questions. And I hated that I felt that way. And the fact that I was shying away, and letting the opinions of others get to me made me feel even worse.

 

One day, I was working on a project with a coworker I had just met from a different department. Like the others, he glanced at my protruding belly. As he began asking me the questions about my family planning, my plans after having the baby and why I decided to get married after college, I suddenly felt calmness and security spread over me. I realized that the best way to answer these questions was joyfully, with calmness and honesty. I realized that my life was a model for Christ, and the way that I respond should reflect peace, joy and deliberation. We are the hands and feet of Christ in the world; we are His face that people see, and we need to be living examples of Him.

 

I answered my coworker honestly, with short reasons why I did what I did. My husband and I are open to life, which is why we are having a baby so “early” in our marriage. We fell in love with each other and wanted to commit to each other, which is why we got married. No, I don’t think children will ruin my life and I’m going to do my best to keep working on myself as well as raise our child well.

 

A few weeks later, I opened my Bible and found the following verse from Apostle Peter: “Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ my themselves be put to shame (1 Peter 3:13-16).”

 

As Christians, the way that we live our lives is really shocking to the outside world. Society views us as anomalies bound to fail, and members of society feel entitled to ask us questions on why we live our lives so differently. When faced with incredulity and criticism, it’s easy to withdraw; to become bitter, shy and elusive. I realized that as a Christian, it’s important to never shy away from giving answers to what and why we believe in our faith, even if we’re considered the biggest fools in the world.  And if, Lord willing, I managed to succeed in my life, I can be a living example that faith, love and commitment are not cruel, binding farces, and that there’s something more than a self-centered, secular, road to success.

 

At the Heart of Assisted Suicide

    Colorado will vote on Proposition 106 in November. Prop 106 is modeled after the Oregon law that began permitting assisted suicide in the 90s. Colorado Public Radio reported that the Archdiocese of Denver put forward $1,000,000.00 to defeat Prop 106. Though I don’t relish the task of voting on it or writing about it, it ought to be defeated.

    The principal opposition bases its message on flaws in the text itself, hanging its hat on practical arguments against the law. Such flaws being highlighted include a lack of required mental health exams for those wishing to take their lives, the risk of doctors making mistakes about whether patients are terminally ill and may thus take their own lives, and the risk that patients will make a mistake when administering the life-ending “medication” to themselves.

    These are real flaws leading to real concerns. I understand that polling was conducted and found that concerns such as the above resonate with voters. As a result, the primary public message of the opposition including, to my understanding and experience, that opposition being put forward by the Archdiocese, is that the text is flawed.

    This is a mistake. Support for assisted suicide comes from a moral position toward suffering, life, and freedom. Only a moral position toward the same can counter it.

    The heart of this law is a judgment that some lives are not worth living, much less protecting or elevating. This law presumes that someone of sound mind could choose freely to pursue suicide despite our natural tendency toward survival. This law implicitly accepts that it is better for some human burdens on society or families to be eliminated than loved. Above all, the law spurns, or at least distorts, love that bears all things, hopes all things.

    The truth that can resonate with voters is one that cuts through the practical bologna and asks them to affirm the goodness of something, the goodness of life. Without that affirmation, the practical arguments aren’t terribly important. Without value for my life, I don’t care about various practical arguments in support of it, such as those telling me to exercise or avoid carbs. The heart must be spoken to.

    Flawed text arguments also set up a problem when the flaws are resolved. If Prop 106 is defeated, you can bet something similar will be on the ballot again. And if it was defeated because of poor drafting, you can also bet that the drafting errors will be corrected. What will we say then, after all of our stated concerns are answered and more “safeguards” are included?

    I do not oppose Prop 106 because of poor drafting. I oppose Prop106 because I value my suffering neighbor’s life, because I love my neighbor. This is enough. This truth is enough. If it’s not enough, then this truth is the starting point and practical this and that can serve an ancillary role. An appeal to love, which requires more than our words, isn’t as easy as a pragmatic approach, so it probably doesn’t poll well. But it is more effective when dealing with humans.

    When my friends and colleagues ask me about Prop 106, I will start with love.