Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Monday, August 01, 2011

A Consistent Ethic of Life


The late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago was the first to publicly call for a “consistent ethic of life” in the late 1970s. He made it clear that until the church starts being honest and defending all life from beginning to end, it cannot call itself “pro-life.” Otherwise, the very moral principle falls apart. All policies that needlessly destroy life—abortion, war, capital punishment, euthanasia, and the selfish destruction of the earth and its creatures—are all anti-life and against the fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

As you can see, we have a lot of time to make up for, and a lot of moral maturing to do before we can match the clear nonviolent teaching and example of Jesus himself (see Matthew 5:38-48).

So we not only need to be consistent between individual morality and social morality, but we need to be consistent between all of the various life issues. It is a “seamless garment,” as Cardinal Bernardin brilliantly called it. Such a theology has teeth and real authority behind it and does not just pander to the cultural values of either the Left or the Right. Like the Gospel itself, it challenges both sides and pleases nobody.

(Adapted from Richard Rohr's Spiral of Violence: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil)