Gun Control: Pro-Life or Anti-Suffering?

I know the shooting at Roseburg happened weeks ago, and is “old news” in the media world, but those wounds never go away. As such, it has taken me weeks to work through these thoughts and type them out. So, here goes:

I was disheartened by the news of the shooting in Roseburg. So much more tragedy, senseless shootings, and death.

I was also surprised about how many people voiced up about needing more gun control laws, people who are also for abortion and for assisted suicide. I was confused on how one could be upset about the loss of life in a mass shooting at a college (which I am, too), but actively support the loss of life in the womb, in sickness, and in the elderly.

I realized it comes from a false sense of compassion. We as a society hate suffering. I think for some it is the ultimate goal in life: to not suffer. A child in the womb who is going to have a disability or disease? Doctors advise mothers to end the life before it really begins. Or, who was unintentionally conceived and has the potential to be “unloved?” It’s a mother’s choice, apparently. A terminally ill patient? Assisted suicide, because suffering is the worst thing that can befall a person. An elderly person who can hardly get around? We find them to be a burden on society, not considering what they’ve given in their lifetime or the wisdom they’ve amassed.

But then there is a shooting on a college campus. Teenagers, barely adults. In the prime of their life, having done nothing to deserve death, studying to get an education to be tax-payers and maybe parents someday. That’s when people get vocal about morality. Somehow, these lives are more valuable? I guess to some, shootings are the real tragedy because ending the lives of the suffering doesn’t matter?

Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” doesn’t get it. “Should abortion be equated with gun violence?” she asks. Well, the bottom line is yes, because a life is intentionally being ended.

To me, and to the Church, they are all the same. They are all tragedies, because life has been taken. It is not our place to play God and to decide who lives or dies based on how much they are suffering or how much we think they will suffer. Perhaps some of these mass murderers have thought they are ending other people’s suffering? As confusing as it is, deciding the value of life based on suffering is a slippery slope.

This is not a political blog. To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is to the violence besieging our country. I do suspect that it is a combination of laws, mental health, and moral reform. I don’t think one reform independent of the others will be enough. The fact that the Roseburg shooter asked victim’s religion is also disturbing, considering that the current cultural climate is so hostile to faith.

As Pope Francis has so deftly demonstrated, respect for life does not fit neatly into left or right, liberal or conservative. Undocumented workers’ lives are worth respect. Unborn life is worth respect. Muslim refugees’ lives are worth respect. The handicapped, the elderly, the patient with cancer or a brain tumor – their lives are worth respect. Criminals in prison – even on death row- their lives are worth respect. The Church has always faithfully taught that every life is precious.

So what are our families to do? How can our families promote respect for all life? First of all, this quote:

mother teresa quote

Also, I think we must teach our kids to respect all life by our witness. By donating food to soup kitchens, praying for the imprisoned, visiting a nursing home. To do anything and everything to cultivate the conviction that life is worth respect, at any stage and for everyone.

As Christians, we also need to struggle to understand the value of suffering, so we can be convicted of its purpose. To the goal of life is not to avoid suffering, it’s to accept suffering as our path to heaven. It’s not an easy topic, and may take a lifetime to grasp. But here is could good place to start: Peter Kreeft on God’s Answer to Suffering:

A personal letter to women considering abortion

We dated for about nine months before we got engaged. Our engagement was nine months long and then, on our honeymoon, we got pregnant. Thus, nine months later our son entered the world.  When he was nine months old, we got pregnant again.

When I took the pregnancy test to confirm my suspicions about being pregnant the second time around, there was a moment of elation, followed by a moment of terror, and then sunk in the depression.  We had a nine month old who had barely learned to crawl, was hardly eating solids, and definitely not sleeping through the night. Now we have to do it all over again?  I was just starting to lose my pregnancy weight and would have to pull out the maternity clothes again. We had had people living with us for the last six months, I was working part time, and my husband had started his own business. How was this going to work?

So I cried and I prayed, “Lord, I would be ok if I had a miscarriage.”  That is not to make light of anyone who has miscarried, it’s to show how dark this time was for me.  And then I got angry, telling God all the reasons why now was not a good time to have another baby.  I cried some more, saying “I don’t want this baby.”

If I wasn’t a woman of faith, I don’t know what I would have done.  But my body was obviously designed to create, grow, and give life, so I just let my body do its thing. When our daughter was born, it was a beautiful moment kind of like out of a movie. Our time in the hospital was magic. But when we got home, the struggles were difficult and I sank into post-partum depression.  I found out another friend had miscarried, and my first thought was that she could have my daughter.  I was in a lot of pain from thrush and nursing problems and I was angry that my baby was hurting me. But slowly, we started to get better. And then during her baptism, I heard a voice inside me say, “There’s a reason she was born. I have a special plan for her.” The Lord was telling me that this little girl had a reason to live, a purpose, a bright future full of hope. And from there the depression and the pain started to fade away, and I was able to really start loving this child that God had given to me.

Lily is 7 months old now. I love her to pieces! Yes, she shrieks and cries and drives me crazy sometimes, but her smiles make my day, and I cry now writing this at the thought that there was a time that I didn’t want her. I can’t even imagine anymore what life would be like without her:

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Dear mother considering an abortion:

That’s what you already are: a mother! I don’t judge you for whatever feelings you are having because I have been there. You are not an evil baby-killer; you are scared and overwhelmed at the thought of raising another human being. I too have felt that way! But do you really want to live life without knowing the color of your baby’s eyes or if they have curly hair, or a temperament like yours? What he or she will be when they grow up? Who they will marry?

There are not only physical, but many psychological and emotional side effects to having an abortion that no one really talks about. There is anxiety, depression, and guilt for going against your body’s design to give life. Whether you agree that abortion is killing a baby (which I do), there are still other consequences to you, the woman that can last a lifetime. And I don’t want you to have to go through that.

I knew a girl in college who had had an abortion. She hadn’t told anyone, and ended up coming to get prayer for the guilt she felt, and that’s how we met.  She had started to pray and to heal emotionally, when her ex-boyfriend found her and raped her. She got pregnant, had another abortion, and left school.  She was so depressed- it scared me how unreachable she became. She ended up getting back together with that guy and moving back to her hometown, although her family would not take her in because of all her choices. Long story short, she got pregnant again, but this time she decided to keep the baby. She dumped the guy, reunited and reconciled with her family, and had a beautiful baby boy. She has been working and going to school and raising her son, but she does it all for love of him, and she is happy to do so. That doesn’t mean life has been easy and it has required a lot of sacrifices, but so what? We only live once, and what better way to live than to share it with our own flesh and blood.

Dear woman considering an abortion:

It can seem like there are all these so-called “good” reasons to “terminate” your pregnancy. But to what end? Underneath all the sleepless nights and ear-piercing shrieking, there is joy. Unspeakable joy that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I beg you to see that abortion is never the answer. Not for the baby OR for the mother! So my heart goes out to you, dear mother considering an abortion, and to all women who have had an abortion and the burden they now carry. I will offer up my struggles today for you!

A fellow mother

p.s.- If you still can’t imagine raising your baby, please consider adoption. I know women out there who want children so badly but can’t on their own. You could make a miracle possible for some family out there.