Statement of Policy

Author: A.L.L.

**************************************************************************** American Life League Statement of Policy: Formation of Conscience & Education in Sexual Morality **************************************************************************** Teaching Our Young People for Life

American Life League's Mission Statement commits A.L.L. to "create a society in which all innocent human life is respected and protected." To accomplish this goal, A.L.L. pledges to "inform, inspire and educate Americans with the knowledge necessary to oppose the legalized killing of the innocent . . ." It is clear that a formidable obstacle to our efforts is the rhetoric of "choice"-the popular rationale for legalized abortion, euthanasia and related anti-life elements in our society. Pro-lifers know that this rhetoric is a manifestation of the prevailing cultural philosophy of "moral relativism." Simply stated, moral relativism views truth as subjective, determined by an individual's personal convictions, perspectives and circumstances.

In opposition to moral relativism is the belief that objective standards of truth and morality exist. That abortion and euthanasia are always and everywhere wrong is a guiding philosophy of the pro-life movement-a product of the absolute moral obligation established by the natural law and expressed in the Commandment "Thou shalt not kill."

A.L.L.'s mission, a "society in which all innocent human life is respected and protected," will never be achieved unless the American conscience sheds moral relativism and is re-formed in objective truth and morality. Unfortunately, the American conscience remains steadfastly unconverted as moral relativism continues to entrench itself more firmly in our society.1

Of particular concern, and the subject of this policy statement, is the growing acceptance of moral relativism among the youth of America.2 The most vulnerable among us are the unique charges of the pro-life movement, and there are no persons more susceptible to the wages of moral relativism than our youth. Without the safe and secure guidance of the truth, our young people become the easy victims of disease, despair and death of body and soul. Today, the casualties continue to mount.

The special place of young people as the future of the pro-life movement-indeed, of our nation-and the particularly tragic consequences of moral relativism's tightening grip on them have prompted American Life League to cast a critical eye on educational programs for our youth and to question whether they really do lead to properly formed and fortified consciences. Our examination has brought us to the inescapable conclusion that many of these programs are flawed in a number of significant respects. **************************************************************************** Policy Statement

American Life League adopts the following principles to guide all our future educational endeavors directed at young people.

1. American Life League will support only educational programs that unequivocally express the truth: there are absolute standards of right and wrong, and no one has the "right to choose" morality.

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The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men.3 [The] principal precepts [of the natural law] are expressed in the Decalogue.4

Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. . . . It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments.5

A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. . . . The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.6

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The prevailing model of modern education is to regard students as autonomous moral decision makers. Under this model, children are taught to make their own decisions about morality after discussion of what are claimed to be relevant considerations. In an effort to thwart the destructive influence of sex education courses that typify this model, a number of recent programs attempt to direct students toward making better moral decisions, often by noting the positive and negative consequences of the various alternatives.

Both of these approaches share a fundamental flaw: they assume the supremacy of individual choice with respect to morality.

The typical child, including the adolescent, does not have a mature, adult intelligence and is not capable of independently making proper decisions with respect to serious moral matters. Among other things, moreover, in the mind of a young person, bad consequences happen only to other people, and discussing alternatives to, in truth, moral absolutes, gives him a way to think about the unthinkable.

Much more important, morality cannot be decided by discussion or personal choice, regardless of how the discussion is conducted or the choice directed. Doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong are not mere "positive choices" or "better decisions," but absolute moral obligations.

Teaching children that they may not choose morality does not deny the existence of free will. Free will, of course, allows human beings to choose between good and evil. Properly formed with absolute moral standards, however, the child's authoritative conscience will tell him when he errs and provide him the opportunity to amend his life; improperly formed with the belief that he has the right to choose for himself what is right and what is wrong, the child's erroneous conscience will set him adrift in moral relativism.

2. American Life League will support only educational programs that teach sexual morality in the context of leading children toward the practice of virtue and that avoid examining the subject of sex in any concrete, detailed or descriptive way in the classroom or other public setting.

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The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue . . .7 A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself.8 * * * *

Education in virtue must begin at an early age and should persist for a lifetime. Starting and continuing in the home and supported by the school, children must be taught by word and above all by example what it means to live a virtuous life and how to achieve it.

Four virtues play a pivotal role in moral development-prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. Under temperance comes chastity, and it is on this virtue that much attention has focused in recent educational programs promoted in the pro-life community.

Supporting cultivation of the virtue of chastity is clearly a valid and immediate pro-life endeavor. At the root of abortion and euthanasia is the "contraceptive mentality." A particular manifestation of moral relativism, the contraceptive mentality purports to confer on man the divine prerogative of deciding whether and when life shall begin and by extension, when it shall end.9

Thus, an absolute respect for God's gifts of human life and sexuality and the virtues needed to properly cherish these gifts are the foundation of any strong, lifelong pro-life conviction. Key to maintaining the integrity of God's gifts of life and love are the virtue of chastity and its twin, purity, which order sexual passions and appetites toward God and His plan and require training in self-mastery.

We recognize a danger, however, in isolating chastity in educational programs. Chastity does not exist in a vacuum. A person does not become sexually moral, for example, without possessing other essential virtues such as fortitude, which "strengthens the resolve to resist temptations."10 Focusing solely on chastity risks leaving out other important aspects of promoting an integrated life of virtue.

Potentially more serious, isolating chastity invites an unhealthy preoccupation with sex. Any instruction in the virtue of chastity must be coupled with extreme care not to violate the natural latency period or a child's natural sense of modesty, chastity's guardian. It is clear that concrete, detailed or descriptive discussion of sex in the classroom setting violates modesty and creates the occasion of sin, among other problems; it should be equally clear that to prompt such details in the mind of a child risks violating modesty and leading to sin as well.

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3. American Life League will support only educational programs that recognize, respect and support the primary role of parents in the moral formation of their children and their prerogative to impart any information beyond the abstract on the subject of sex privately, delicately and at the appropriate stage of development for the individual child.

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery-the preconditions of all true freedom.11

Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness.12

Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. . . . It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.13

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Faced with negative cultural influences on their children, many parents today are pressured into believing that they are inadequate in the duty of morally forming their children, especially in the area of sexual morality. It is also true that many parents are themselves products-indeed victims-of moral relativism.

Educational programs directed at parents and designed to help them properly re-form their own consciences and/or confidently articulate correct morality to their children provide much help in solving this problem. Schools play an important role supporting the work of parents and cultivating virtue in line with the principles stated above. Parochial schools have the advantage of being able to help lead children to virtue through the Faith-instruction in the reality of original sin, the wisdom of Holy Scripture, obedience to the Commandments, fidelity to prayer and all the means for obtaining grace and living virtuous lives, among other things.

In light of what has already been said, the solution is not educational programs directed at children that undermine the proper formation of conscience with moral relativism. Likewise, the solution is not educational programs directed at children that compromise virtue and its development with concrete, detailed or descriptive public sex discussion, regardless of how well-intentioned such programs may be.

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American Life League is committed to working with our fellow pro-life Americans to convert the conscience of our nation, and particularly our nation's future, to the truth that morality is not a matter of personal preference. In pursuit of our mission to create a society in which all innocent human life is respected and protected, we have no choice but to proclaim and act on the truth. *************************************************************************** Notes

1. Opinion polls describe the sad reality. According to one poll, 72% of adults surveyed in 1993 agreed that there is no such thing as absolute truth, up from 67% just a few years earlier. G. Barna, The Barna Report 1994-95: Virtual America: What Every Christian Needs to Know About Ministering in an Age of Spiritual, Cultural and Technological Revolution 81-83, 161, 163 (1994). Among these figures, even sadder is the proportion of "born-again Christians"-52% reported in 1991 and 62% reported in 1994-who sided with the national majority in accepting moral relativism. Id. at 83-84. 2. In the 1993 poll described in note 1, supra, a whopping 80% of 18- to 28-year-olds agreed that there are no absolute standards for morals and ethics. Id. at 17, 86. Among younger Americans (11- to 18-year-olds, more than 80% of whom attended an evangelical church weekly), 57% of those surveyed in 1994 said that no objective standard of truth exists. McDowell & Hostetler, Help Your Teen Make the Right Choice, Focus on the Family with Dr. James C. Dobson, Nov. 1994, at 2, 3.

3. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1956, at 475 (1994) (emphasis added).

4. Id. No. 1955, at 474.

5. Id. No. 1777, at 438 (footnote omitted) (emphasis added).

6. Id. No. 1783, at 440 (emphasis added).

7. Id. No. 1784, at 440 (emphasis added).

8. Id. No. 1803, at 443 (emphasis added).

9. See C. Rice, Fifty Questions on Abortion, Euthanasia and Related Issues 9 (1986).

10. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1808, at 444 (1994).

11. Id. No. 2223, at 537.

12. Id. No. 2521, at 604.

13. Id. No. 2522. **************************************************************************** American Life League Copyright 1995 ****************************************************************************