Rod Dreher on the religious freedom vs. gay rights debate

Rod Dreher makes some interesting points about how pointless the debates have become on abortion and on religious freedom vs. gay rights.

He writes:

Aristotle taught that action begins with desire. Before you can do a thing, you have to want to do a thing. In that sense, to want to understand why orthodox Christians believe as we do about this issue, you have to genuinely want to understand. Not, I hasten to point out, want to agree, but want to understand, so you can know what, exactly, it is that you’re disagreeing with.

For example, it may be cruel and strange to you that Orthodox Jews look down so severely on intermarriage — that is, Jews marrying Gentiles. Who discriminates like that in the modern world? Isn’t that prejudiced? Yes, it is prejudiced, seen in a certain light. But if you look at it from the Orthodox Jewish point of view, it makes perfect sense. Here’s an argument from a Chabadnik. Aside from the matrilineal factor in Judaism, research shows that intermarriage usually occasions a falling-away from the faith. And this matters. It matters a lot. You may think that it is a welcome thing that people put aside an ancient faith that doesn’t fit easily in today’s world, but you should at least be honest about what your views cost these people.

Similarly with Christianity and its sexual ethic, both regarding homosexuality and heterosexuality. It is clear to me that almost nobody on the modernist side is interested in understanding why Christianity teaches what it does, and why it’s important to the orthodox to hold on to this.

Which is why I generally do not bother with debates on these matters.  I did not come to the positions I hold easily or quickly and I used to hold the prevailing liberal/progressive views.   The Catholic position on human sexuality and chastity is demanding, no doubt about it.   But it is not to make you miserable, it is to bring you to true human freedom, true flourishing and joy.

Everything changed for me when I discovered that yes, Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, He is alive, and His love is more wonderful than anything the world could ever possibly offer.

And this story I did on a talk given by Rachel’s Vineyard founder Theresa Burke reveals perhaps why some people cannot hear arguments concerning abortion—because of trauma.

Theresa Burke told the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) seminar March 20 she became active in the pro-life movement while in high school, first volunteering at a crisis pregnancy centre and running a youth group to educate them about pro-life issues. She got arrested with her one-month-old baby demonstrating against an abortion facility. That arrest prompted her husband to tell her to find a different way to express her concern for the unborn, she said.

She returned to school, working on degrees in counselling psychology, eventually obtaining a PhD. It’s during her training that she was assigned to the support group for women with anorexia, bulimia or compulsive over-eating.

On one particular evening, one of the participants shared how she was having nightmares and flashbacks. She mentioned her abortion and how her ex-husband would leave messaged on the answering machine calling her a murderer, Burke said. Her children would hear the messages and start crying. The woman explained that these events would make her so distraught she would slit her wrists.

Then another woman stood up, her arms flailing, swearing and yelling having an abortion was the best thing she had ever done, and insisted that it was a woman’s right.

A third woman fled the room “and you could hear her car screeching out of the parking lot.”

Burke was obliged to describe to her supervisor everything that happened in the support group. The supervisor “leaned forward,” and told her, “You have no business prying into other peoples’ abortions.”

The supervisor said abortion was “a private, personal thing,” and instructed her not to bring it up again.

Burke realized she was witnessing signs a trauma expressed differently by three women that night, which she described as flight, fight and fear. The fear mode was expressed by the first woman.

The flight mode was expressed by the “one who can’t bear to hear the word abortion,” Burke said. “They are sitting in our churches.”

The girl who stood up cursing and swearing represented the fight mode, she said, noting the fight response is exhibited in “pro-choicers who try to shut down prolife protests with a bullhorn.”

Burke mentioned other responses to trauma: the freeze mode that prompts women to stop developing emotionally. “They can’t talk about it,” she said. “You see them on retreats, still dressing the way they did in the 60s.”

Then there’s the “fawning mode” characterized by abuse victims “so afraid of a backlash” that they become “compliant, obedient and fawning over everyone,” and become “super people-pleasers who can’t say ‘no.'”

Burke eventually set up her first therapeutic support group for healing after abortion. “All my listening was wasn’t helping the program,” she said.


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