Does God Want You to Move to a Pro-Life State?
DIFFICULT MORAL QUESTIONS: What does a morally upright person do when faced with living in an abortion-friendly state?
Q. My home state of Minnesota is setting itself up to be an abortion destination or safe haven. Taxpayers pay for something like half of the surgical abortions here. What is my family to do when living in a state that promotes opposing views on an issue such as this? On one hand, it seems that we can stay and push back against it by voting, writing our representative, praying, etc. On the other, we can move to a state that is better at supporting our beliefs. What is a good Catholic to do in this situation? — Tony, Minnesota
A. This is a question of personal vocation. Does Jesus want me to relocate? That might sound like a spiritually highfalutin question, but it is actually the most basic question a Christian can ask: What is God’s will for my life? I’m not talking about priestly or religious vocation. I’m talking about personal vocation — that unrepeatable plan that God has for all my life, including where I live.
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, committed defenders of abortion have mobilized for a full-frontal attack. The most obvious example is the walloping Republicans took at the midterm elections. Abortion-motivated voters got out the vote.
Not just you, but every morally upright person should be asking how God wants them to respond to the problem of evil around us. Beyond abortion, how should we respond to the degradation of U.S. culture more generally, particularly in the areas of sex, gender and race? How to respond to the virulent and public LGBT agenda, the sexualization of our children, the transgender attack on masculinity and femininity, the dissemination of Marxist critical race theory, and the suppression of the voice of Christians and other social conservatives?
You ask in particular whether you should move to a more family-friendly place or stay and fight in Minnesota. This an important question. Over the next decades our country — which has increasingly become two opposing cultures — will inevitably self-segregate. Cultural conservatives will move to Texas, North Dakota and Florida, and progressives to New Jersey, New York and California (and Minnesota). My wife and I recently moved to Front Royal, Virginia, an especially Catholic town, to find a culturally more amiable living situation for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. So, I am sympathetic to your question. But it’s not for me to answer it for you. I can only help you answer it.
Discerning My Personal Vocation
In the first place you need to ask whether you can fulfill well the duties you already have while taking on the serious duties and costs associated with relocation. To answer this, you need to consider the needs — spiritual, psychological, physical, financial — of all those for whom you have responsibility.
Are you married? If so, how’s your relationship with your wife? Moving is enormously draining. (I should know. My wife and I have moved 18 times in 30 years of marriage.) How does your wife feel about moving? How would it affect her mental health? How would it affect your relationship?
Do you have children? How old? Since children through adolescence are more vulnerable, their welfare should be given special consideration in your discernment. Are your boys attracted to girls and your girls to boys? Don’t snigger at this question. Few events in life are more stressful than moving. This can deeply impact a child’s development, including psychosexual development. If any child is already struggling with same-sex attraction or the beginnings of gender dysphoria, take that extremely seriously.
Are your children in a good school situation? If they are, that’s a strike against moving. If they are in a school infected by “woke” ideology, then getting them to a safer place is a reason to move. If they are homeschooled, your situation is more flexible.
Do you, your wife or children suffer from a chronic illness or struggle with social anxiety, addictions, eating disorders, depression or bipolar disorder? Your answers to these questions will provide reasons for (or against) moving. No question that bears upon the welfare of members of your household is irrelevant.
Are you in a spiritually supportive parish? Do you have a courageous orthodox priest or a craven gutless accommodator? Is your parish church an ugly barn-like structure or beautiful soul-elevating architecture? Does your music facilitate prayer or dull and crush the spirit? Are homilies orthodox and inspiring, or are they narcissistic, unfaithful and insipid?
What are your opportunities in Minnesota for helping the unborn? Certainly, your presence in a pro-abortion state should benefit the unborn, at very least by being a perspicuous witness to the godlike dignity of fetal human life. Are you involved in any apostolates? Are they fruitful or stagnant? Have you been considering starting one but are unsure whether to proceed? Do you know places in the country where you and your family can be more apostolically fruitful?
Do you currently have good Catholic friends, a network of support that you’d be leaving? Are you near family? Would moving leave you isolated from family and friends?
Wherever you consider moving, be sure to take the cultural temperature of the local parishes, neighborhoods and towns. Obviously, quality Catholic education for your children is of the utmost importance, but also important are the quality of medical care, job opportunities and cost of housing.
These questions might seem obvious, but the noise outside the home that’s caused by the outrageous attacks on Christian morals can drown our ability to hear the real needs of those inside our home.
Ask each member of your household to pray about this question, perhaps during Lent. Help them do this. Teach your family about vocational discernment. Then in the Easter season come together and listen to each other. The Holy Spirit can speak through everyone.
Finally, consult your emotions. Since they can be changeable, they’re not the first avenue of recourse. We first look to answers to the questions posed above, answers which provide reasons for or against moving. But after we’ve considered these reasons, if the answer is still not obvious — which it might be if any member of the family would be greatly advantaged or disadvantaged by staying or leaving — we turn to our feelings.
Turn not to our superficial emotions — the kind that register attraction and repugnance at the flip of a coin. Go beneath these to deeper feelings that correspond more to our Christian self. When we think about staying and remaining in Minnesota, do we feel purposeful and secure, motivated to continue apostolic work in defense of the unborn? Or do we feel uncertain and doubtful, alone, dull and fearful? Bring these emotions before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and ask him how to interpret them.
In the end, when your questions are answered and your emotions consulted, ask yourself: Do I feel like God is inviting me to stay and fight the good fight in Minnesota, or to move to greener pastures?
Come to a provisional conclusion with your wife and family, in consultation with those you spiritually trust. Sit with the decision for a few months. If your confidence deepens, you can take the conclusion to be God’s will. If other competing reasons present themselves, e.g., mortgage rates are skyrocketing and buying at the present time would be financially burdensome, factor them in. Trust that God will guide your decision making.