• Greg Smith

A Culture of Life? Or A Culture of Death?

The issue of abortion has been framed by the Left as one of choice. And that is accurate: it is an issue of choice. But not the choice that they suppose. It is not up to each of us to choose whether life is valuable, but we do get to choose whether to value life. Let me say that again: we cannot choose whether life is valuable (it is), but we must choose to value it.


And that choice is an ancient one. 3500 years ago, the prophet Moses set this choice before the people of Israel. In Book of Deuteronomy 30 he told them:

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction…This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…

Moses presented that choice nearly 3500 years ago. But it’s still the choice we face today.


On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case “Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.” A few days after the Dobbs decision was released, I was invited to speak at a pro-life conference. The other speakers were politicians, attorneys, activists, and pastors. The event and the attendees were predominantly Protestants. But I appreciated the organizers who asked me to share a Catholic perspective on what comes after Dobbs. So, I spoke on distinction that Pope John Paul II rather eloquently made between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death.


John Paul II said, the value of a human life is not defined by, or limited to, its earthly existence. But he not wrote and spoke about this, he gave us an object lesson in it. As he grew older and his Parkinson’s Disease became more profound, there were calls for him to step aside to let a younger, more vigorous, and telegenic leader step into his place. But the pope did not abdicate or retire, because he showed us that older people, even with tremors and a bent back and a shuffling walk, are still valuable. He taught us that human life is not to be unjustly taken. But that our moral actions are fruits of, or downstream from, our culture. And so, he said that to honor life, we must build a Culture of Life, not a Culture of Death.


So, the question that we face today is this: what is the default setting for the American way of life at the beginning of the 21st century? Do our beliefs and behaviors and social customs point to, and lead to, life, or to death? What path are we on?


And I thought that I would share what I said that day here with you on the podcast.


This morning I released a recording of my talk as Episode #28. You can find it at the link below, or on the Podcast page of this website, or at any of the major podcast platforms (Apple, Amazon, Spotify, iHeart Radio, etc.). Take a listen and let me know what you think.


Considering Catholicism Podcast Episode #28: A Culture of Life? Or a Culture of Death?