Crickets and Conscience
You may remember the March for Women’s Lives, where thousands demanded that abortion be kept legal and unrestricted. With coat hanger held high, actress Whoopi Goldberg shouted, “Never again!” The rally cry was “freedom of choice,” a freedom she said came right from the Top. “Even God gave you freedom of choice!”
God gives us a mind and a free, and with them ordinary people have done wonderful works, things barely imaginable. But with those gifts two ordinary Chicagoans, Richard Speck and John Wayne Gacy, did the not-so-wonderful. Between them, they killed 39 women and boys. That, too, was barely imaginable.
What distinguish us from the animals are a mind and a free will. What keeps us from becoming animals is a different gift ⎯ conscience. Our understanding of conscience has become muddled over the years, particularly when it comes to abortion. So what is conscience?
For Walt Disney, it was a cricket. Before the wooden Pinocchio could become a real boy, he had to prove himself virtuous, brave, honest, and selfless. That was no easy task. Prowling around were foxy tricksters likes Honest John and unscrupulous profiteers like Stromboli? There was a pleasure island where bloated boys turned into, well, jackasses cast into slavery. Pinocchio was no match for this world.
Enter Jiminy, appointed to counsel Pinocchio against temptation and guide him along the straight path. Jiminy was the voice that Pinnochio needed to hear. Jiminy taught Pinocchio about temptation, the wrong thing that seems right at the time. Jiminy stayed on the job even when Pinocchio refused to listen. He guided Pinocchio the narrow path, which eventually helped Pinocchio be that real boy he wanted to be.
Disney’s depiction of conscience was right on the mark. We also hear a voice in our hearts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of it this way:
Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid
upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to
do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds at his heart at the right
moment. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary.
There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths. (1776)
Our conscience is our guide and guard, helping us avoid temptation and walk on the straight path. What we hear is not a cricket but the Voice of God deep within us.
A well-formed conscience is critical to our journey Home. They must be trained to hear God’s Word, the objective Truth from which all goodness flows. Aided by the Holy Spirit, our consciences must be constantly attuned to His Voice, whether through the Bible, authoritative Church teachings, or the counsel of Godly people.
But much like Pinocchio, we listen to the wrong voices. We hear society putting self before God and others. We hear our own desires, fears, and weaknesses disguised as conscience. They are not the Voice of God. When was the last time you heard the Voice of God saying, “Cheat on your wife; she’s boring”? Or “Lie to get that promotion. You deserve the job”? The answer is never. God never tells us to do evil to get good.
Which brings us back to that coat hanger. Whoopi was not demanding the end of abortion, only an upgrading of its tools. The tools of legalized abortion are scissors and saline solutions, killer-pill RU 486, and even vacuums. They are every bit as deadly and brutal as any coat hanger. Since 1973, legalized abortion has killed over 48,500,000 unborn and about 480 women and teens. Doesn’t sound safe, does it? The survivors have been forced to live in spiritual, physical, and emotional slavery, some for the rest of their lives. Can anyone seriously believe that God wants us to walk this path?
Whoopi was right. God gives us freedom of choice. But like any loving father, He is not indifferent to our choices. In fact, He has been rather outspoken. And what He told the Israelites He still tells us:
I call Heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before
you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and
Your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding His
Voice, and holding fast to him. (Deut. 30: 19-20).
For the 1950’s price of a movie ticket, a cricket gave us sage advice ⎯ “always let your conscience be your guide.” Our conscience is God’s Voice speaking to our hearts. With the gift of a well-formed conscience, may we do what He begs of us:
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, where they raise their six kids.
© Paul V. Esposito 2007. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Visit us on the web at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/