The Abolition of Fatherhood

COMMENTARY: If there is no father, whether Divine or human, there is no creation.

“Original sin attempts to abolish fatherhood, destroying its rays which permeate the created world, placing in doubt the truth of God who is Love and leaving man only with a sense of the master-slave relationship.”
“Original sin attempts to abolish fatherhood, destroying its rays which permeate the created world, placing in doubt the truth of God who is Love and leaving man only with a sense of the master-slave relationship.” (photo: Vadym Sh / Shutterstock)

The prevailing belief is that abortion is a woman’s issue. After all, she is the one who conceives and then decides on whether to carry her pregnancy to term or have an abortion. 

The fierce reaction to the overturning of Roe v. Wade comes almost exclusively from women. It is “our body, our uterus, and our choice,” according to the well-publicized mantra.

On the other hand, the father seems to be out of the picture. We do not hear men demanding their choice. Men, in fact, do not have a right to veto their mate’s decision to abort, even though that act might cost them their last chance to be a biological father. The male side appears to be entirely irrelevant to the abortion issue. Or does this placing fathers on the sideline represent an egregious oversight?

It is the man who initiates the pregnancy. This is far more significant than most people realize. If we widen the abortion issue so that it includes God, we begin to see the primary importance of initiating life. God the Creator is called “Father” precisely because he initiated creation. If there is no Father, there is no creation. A rejection of the creative act of God the Father, is also a rejection of the created order, and therefore, the moral law. In this regard, the whole of creation would, in effect, be aborted.

The father has two primary roles. The first is to initiate life. The second is to provide care for it. Now it is only too well known that earthly fathers have been woefully derelict, generally speaking, in fulfilling the second role. A woman loses respect for the man whose sole interest in her is in an act that initiates new life. “I will not bear your child,” is her frequent response.

She rejects the child because she has already. Rejected the man. This rejection of the father made its first appearance on the world stage when our primal parents rejected the fatherhood of God. Adam and Eve could not reject the life-initiating act of God the Father, but they could reject his fatherly care. In this way they could set out on their own, completely reliant on themselves.

Pope St. John Paul II, in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, makes a most profound statement concerning this rejection:

“Original sin attempts to abolish fatherhood, destroying its rays which permeate the created world, placing in doubt the truth of God who is Love and leaving man only with a sense of the master-slave relationship.”

The pride of our first parents led them to believe that they did not need God’s fatherly care. In rejecting him, they rejected the loving care he, as Love, was prepared to provide for them. But without this care and guidance, human beings turn to a mockery of God’s care, replacing it with a master-slave relationship. Human rule is an inadequate substitute for divine rule. Without a relationship with God, humans rule with power, as amply attested throughout history.

Jacques Maritain, in his book, True Humanism, makes the claim that “Anthropocentric Humanism” merits the name of inhuman humanism, and its dialectic must needs be regarded as the tragedy of humanism.” In his classic study of various atheists who chose to rule without God, The Drama of Atheist Humanism, Henri de Lubac concludes that “man cannot organize the world for himself without God; without God he can organize the world against man. Exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism.”

God the Father is the principal role model for human fathers. Accordingly, man, who becomes a father by initiating life sexually, must combine that act with loving care for the life he has initiated. Therefore, the role of the father is critical in its relationship with abortion. The absentee father has little or no regard for his offspring. He leaves the woman he fertilizes in a dilemma.

Overturning Roe v. Wade must be proceeded by overturning abortion. But this second overturning is, to a great extent, reliant on men overturning their lust while choosing an authentic fatherhood which combines initiating life with a loving commitment to care for it.

Consequently, abortion is not simply a woman’s issue. At root, it is very much a man’s issue, in particular, concerning the man who refuses to be a complete father. This is also to say that the rejection of God the Father and its consequent attempt to abolish fatherhood is also a rejection of the moral order as established by God and celebrated in all religions.

In their book, The Lessons of History, Will and Ariel Durant observe that “there is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”

Abortion reform will commence when men reform their lives so that they regard fatherhood as both a great privilege as well as a great responsibility. In looking to God as the pre-eminent role model for fatherhood, they will resist the original sin that is the attempt to abolish fatherhood and embrace the fullness of fatherhood which combines the initiation of new life with a life-long stewardship.

Pope Francis (R) embraces new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich after he appointed him during an Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new cardinals on October 5, 2019 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Pope Francis vs. Cardinal Hollerich

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