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Lost in the Woods

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June 2011

The Boy Scouts of America has recently completed its centennial year celebration.  Since 1910, the BSA has been helping boys grow to Godly manhood.  Men in all walks of life look back at their Scout years with pride and joy.  Scouts live by a law that calls them to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  Would that we all lived by the same law.

Done right, a Scout troop is boy-led. Adults are only there to provide safety and basic structure.  Putting boys in the lead can make things rather interesting, especially on camp-outs.  Boy Scouts are usually no more interested in reading maps than are their dads. They have that innate male sense that they know where they’re going: “Maps? We don’ need no stinkin’ maps!” Once a Scout had us hiking an extra three miles. We realized that we were off the trail when we finally figured out that we were hiking a dry creek bed.

Our culture sees abortion as a women’s issue, one about the right to control their bodies. Years after Roe v. Wade was decided, authoring justice Harry Blackmun claimed it was about the emancipation of women. But the involvement of men in the abortion tragedy has been significant. Those nine justices deciding Roe were all men. And legal abortion still exists largely because of men. More precisely, it still exists largely because men got lost.

God has given men instincts and drives. Men are dreamers, and they are driven to achieve their dreams. Those dreams often involve others. Just as God knew that it was not good for man to be alone, men instinctively seek companionship. They desire wives. Men have an instinctive desire to create, and that includes the creation of family. They take great pride in knowing that their wives are with child. And that triggers two drives. Men will provide mother and child with all that they can. They work harder and longer. They sacrifice more. And they protect. Men stand in the way of all that might harm their families. Done right, the drives to create, provide, and protect fill men with great pleasure. As did their own Creator, men can look back at what they have done and say that it is very good.

Men are instinctively pro-life. Ted Kennedy once wrote, ” . . . the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.” He believed that children must be protected “from the very moment of conception.” But by his death Kennedy was a pro-abortion lion who even opposed laws that would outlaw partial-birth abortions. He was not the only man who did. Why did men abandon what came so naturally to them?

In part, it’s because many men have chosen what is easy over what is right. Rather than creating life in the proper context of marriage and family, men bought into the contraceptive mentality of the sexual revolution. They could have the pleasure they sought without the responsibility that should come along with it.  Why buy a cow when milk is so cheap?  Lacking any lasting commitment to the women they unexpectedly impregnated, many men abandoned them. Many other men participated in decisions to abort their children. In both cases, men overrode their basic instincts to create, provide, and protect.

And men abandoned their instincts for another reason: power. A man’s instinct to protect requires him to hold power over others. Once gained, power is not readily surrendered, and that often leads to abuse. When the Supreme Court authorized abortion on demand, the men in power knew that the decision was morally and legally wrong. But they saw a way to turn abortion to their own advantage. They backed a woman’s so-called right to “choose,” even though it really meant a right to kill, in exchange for the support of the women’s voting block. Today, legal abortion is the elephant in the closet of national politics. Supreme Court justices are selected not because of legal ability but because of their stand on abortion. And although men have retained political power, in the process they institutionalized evil.

Ironically, men have become victims of the immoral acts they have perpetuated. Many post-abortive men carry deep-seated anger over their involvement in abortions.  For some, the anger comes from the guilt of encouraging women to abort. Guilt can be enormous when it involves a decision to kill a man’s own child. For others, it comes from the inability to change a woman’s decision to abort. Under our legal system a man’s desires are irrelevant, which leaves him full of anger over his inability to reach a better outcome.

Problems follow under either scenario. The rock group Aerosmith’s book Walk This Way recounts Steven Tyler’s experience. Tyler reflects, “You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch.  And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated.  In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done.” Tyler turned to alcohol and barbiturates to dull the pain. Many others have done likewise. Relationships with the women shatter, as was true with Tyler. Some become workaholics hoping to bury their mistake. Others cannot hold a job. They distrust women, suffer sexual dysfunctions, and turn to pornography or masturbation. They live with nightmares and panic attacks. They are deeply troubled.

As any Scout knows, camping can be terribly unforgiving.  Make a mistake, and a high price often must be paid. So it is with legal abortion. Like women, men are paying a tremendous price for ignoring what God has placed inside them. For the good of all, males must become the men God calls them to be. Night is falling.

And that’s a very bad time to be lost in the woods.
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 are raising their six kids.

© Paul V. Esposito 2011.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Comments? Visit us at

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