Sunday, October 5, 2014

Make Babies

This post links to Convert Journal
Yes, that is a Platytera. It's OK to laugh.

6th-grade catechism class naturally covers a lot of Catholic themes during its year-long trip through the Bible. One of them is marriage and children. I don't ever stand in front of the kids and say, "marriage and babies are good, and divorce and abortion are bad," I let them figure it out as we go, helped along with personal testimony from me. I don't form consciences so much as create the opportunity for the kids to form their own consciences themselves.

Here's a list of Bible bits that the kids learn about and discuss, my intent being to help them develop a Catholic worldview without being didactic about it:

1. Creation. God's last and greatest creation is a man and a woman together, creating babies. But not just any man and woman, a husband and wife, a marriage: one man, one rib, one woman, one flesh.

2. After all, the first commandment is to "be fruitful and multiply," more pithily expressed in class as "make babies."

3. The Flood. As soon as Noah steps out of the Ark, God reminds him and his family of the first commandment: "Be fruitful and multiply."

4. Abraham and Sarah become the parents of a nation.

5. To accomplish #4, Abraham and Sarah have a miraculous pregnancy. They're so happy that their love has at last made a baby that they name him Laughter.

6. Pagan peoples living around Abraham kill their own firstborn children and offer them to strange gods, but God doesn't require that of Abraham right off. But when God does ask for Isaac's sacrifice, Abraham must feel as though he's been asked to kill all the laughter and joy in his life.

7. Isaac and Rebecca have a miraculous pregnancy, and Rebecca bears Esau and Jacob.

8. Jacob and Rachel have a miraculous pregnancy, and Rachel bears Joseph.

9. Manoah and his wife have a miraculous pregnancy, and she bears Samson.

10. Elkhanah and Hannah have a miraculous pregnancy, and Hannah bears Samuel.

11. Psalm 78 says God "appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children; 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God." So even kids not yet born or even conceived still matter to God.

12. In Psalm 128, David reflects on the joy of family: "Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table."

13. Israel falls on hard times, and some parents kill their babies to appease Molech: "Are you not children of transgression, the offspring of deceit, you who burn with lust among the oaks, under every green tree; who slay your children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks?"

14. But God still loves his children in both fatherly and motherly ways: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands."

15. God knew Jeremiah, and had a job for him before his mom was even pregnant: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

16. Baby-killing continues in Jeremiah's day: "Stand in the gate of the LORD's house, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,"I will let you dwell in this place if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt. The people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by burning incense in it to other gods; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal." The kids figure out on their own how such passages relate to abortion.

17. Zechariah and Elizabeth have a miraculous pregnancy, and Elizabeth bears John.

18. Mary has the most miraculous pregnancy, and bears Jesus.

This is not an exhaustive list, just the things we have time for in catechism class. By the time we get to Mary, the children can place her at the end of a line of mothers that stretches all the way back to Eve; and have acquired a holistic Scriptural basis for a pro-life conscience.