On Society & The Dangerous “No Pain is Gain” Philosophy
by Kaitlyn Mason
Fr. Patrick Winslow recently wrote an excellent, timely article titled The Greatest Lie. In it, he explains that “the greatest lies always possess an aspect of truth.”
He goes on to define the greatest lie as “the new social doctrine that the greatest commandment is to love thy neighbor.” In actuality, the greatest commandment is to first and foremost love the Lord God with all your mind, heart, and soul. Fr. Winslow explains this beautifully and you can read the full article here.
The lie that we are to put love for our neighbor before love for God can mean ignoring or blocking out God and His divine plans.
I’d like to expand on this concept for a moment. But first, we need to be aware of how this lie has crept into our culture, and how it has permeated so many minds and hearts.
This lie pertains to promotion of homosexuality, pornography, abortion, euthanasia (also alarmingly called “mercy killing”), assisted-suicide, and even widespread use of birth control.
Over time, I’ve come to realize one way in which this lie is taking hold in our society. It is taking hold in our society through one small, seemingly harmless seed that germinates and spreads into a tangled garden of weeds.
That small seed is the dangerous “no pain is gain” philosophy. According to this philosophy, we all can do whatever we want – and we have a right to do whatever we want – so long as we aren’t hurting anyone else in the process.
I’d like to first examine applications of this philosophy. Then I’ll take a closer look at the ensuing dangers of this fashionable mindset.
- Let’s start with the alphabet soup of gender orientation and sexual expression options now being promoted as healthy options for individuals to discern.
Does it physically hurt anyone if any two mutually consenting individuals are intimate? Even if the intimacy is not between a married man and woman? Perhaps not physically. Does it physically hurt anyone if a man decides to identify as a woman, or if a woman decides to identify as a man? Perhaps not. But does this mean that promoting this behavior is a gain for society? I understand that we shouldn’t cast stones at people when every single one of us is a sinner. But is promotion of these behaviors really a step forward?
According to the “no pain is gain” philosophy, yes, promoting gender orientation and sexual expression options for youth and adults is seen as progress. According to the “no pain is gain” philosophy, acting according to your own personal perception of gender and sexual identity is progress.
Interestingly, many seem to cite a widespread anti-bullying initiative toward those with non-traditional gender orientations and non-traditional sexual preferences as the progress that’s being made here… Bullying should never be tolerated! The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that our role is to be respectful, compassionate, and sensitive toward individuals who identify as homosexual (see CCC 2358). We are called to love them just as we are called to love every person.
But we can oppose bullying and love the person who identifies as homosexual without seeing normalizing of non-traditional gender orientations and sexual preferences as progress. We can be loving toward homosexual individuals and point them toward the truth proclaimed by the Catholic Church – that they are called to chastity (see CCC 2359). Actually, we are ALL called to chastity in ways that correspond to our state in life! (see CCC 2348-2356)
- What about pornography?
Someone agrees to share intimate pictures and theoretically no one is physically hurt. Does this mean that the presence or promotion of pornography is a gain for society? Is this really progressive? Is this really a step forward?
According to the “no pain is gain” philosophy, yes, the presence and promotion of pornography and promiscuity is progress for society, as long as individuals are consenting to involvement and as long as no one gets hurt. If people become obsessed with fantasies and resort to violence as a result of a pornography addiction, well sure, we can all agree that’s bad. But that’s not the fault of the woman… According to the “no pain is gain” philosophy, unhealthy addictions don’t negate the concept that women have a right to do what they want and to dress how they want. After all, people are continually advocating that women have a right to do whatever they want with their bodies.
- Then there’s abortion.
Some people say that a child in his or her Mother’s womb is just a clump of cells that eventually becomes a human. Some people say that a child in his or her Mother’s womb is not a child at all, but merely a part of the Mother’s body until birth. Perhaps sometimes people want to believe that their pregnancy is not yet a human child. Perhaps it’s easier to believe this lie sometimes than to accept the truth.
But regardless, some people do acknowledge that there is a baby within a Mother’s womb during pregnancy. And despite this fact, some still say that it doesn’t really matter if we kill a child in his or her Mother’s womb, as long as we do so early enough that the child will not feel pain.
Some also say that even if the child can feel pain as it is being killed, it will not remember the pain. These people feel that it’s better for the child to suffer and die without memory of pain than for the Mother to suffer through childbirth and Motherhood experiences that she didn’t want to experience. This is terrifying. What’s to prevent this mentality from spreading into infanticide, or the killing of small children, or the killing of others who won’t remember their suffering?
According to the “no pain is gain” philosophy, an unwanted child that is killed in a Mother’s womb can be a gain if the Mother is in crisis. Furthermore, according to this philosophy, pain can be relative. The suffering of a fully developed, fully cognizant Mother can trump that of a vulnerable child who will not remember his or her death.
- Consider euthanasia.
If “no pain is gain,” then getting people out of pain should be a no-brainer. And so we run into justification of euthanasia – so called “painless” killing of individuals as an effort to relieve their suffering. Who determines when and how individuals are killed in these instances? Who can ever ensure that something is “painless” anyways? This is terrifying. The ways in which this could spiral out of control are innumerable.
- Consider assisted-suicide.
This is easy to justify with the “no pain is gain” philosophy – as long as someone’s death is not going to cause anyone significant pain, mourning, and suffering, then people feel that suicidal individuals should have the right to die when and how they choose. This is absolutely terrifying.
Some people will acknowledge that a person should have a healthy, clear mind when making the decision to end his or her life. But how in the world can a person in significant mental or physical pain ever definitively have a healthy, clear mind?
For that matter, does anyone who is suicidal really have a healthy, clear mind? The very concept of being suicidal is an indication that something is awry in a person’s thinking – which could be the result of a chemical or hormonal imbalance, faulty wiring in the brain, etc. Suicidal thoughts are a warning sign. Suicidal tendencies and actions are a blaring siren that a person needs help.
- And finally, what about birth control?
Well if people don’t want children, they may feel that children would be a painful addition to their life. How might children be painful to these people? Perhaps they are considering the pains and sacrifices of pregnancy and childbirth. Perhaps they are considering the financial responsibilities that invariably accompany raising a child. Perhaps they are considering their own current state in life and are closed to the idea of adoption.
Regardless, the “no pain is gain” philosophy can be used to rationalize use of birth control. If people feel that children cause pain, and if people feel they have a right to avoid pain, then birth control can be viewed as a gain for society.
All of these applications of the “no pain is gain” philosophy are extremely dangerous. This mentality can easily barricade God’s will for our lives.
We are not doing anyone any favors by tolerating and propagating behaviors that block God’s will and go against God’s plans for humanity.
Progress and gain are words often associated with moving forward in the right direction. But not all things that are progressive move us forward. Progress simply means we are moving toward a destination. But if our progress is based on lies, I’m afraid we may miss our target. As Fr. Winslow articulated in his article The Greatest Lie, falling into lies brings us right back into the Garden of Eden.
It is our responsibility to recognize the lies permeating society. It is our responsibility to spot the ancient serpent in our modern world.
I recently read an excellent article that can help us recognize satan’s lies in our society today. It is written by writer and speaker Matt Walsh, and you can read it here. “If we cannot drive the devil out of this country, at least we can strip off his mask,” says Walsh. (I have edited his words to remove the uppercase letter on the word “devil.” I have decided I will not be capitalizing the words “satan” or “devil” in my writing, and if there were a way to make a letter even less important than lowercase, I would gladly do so.)
But God is just waiting for us to come to Him! Jesus is waiting on the cross for us to ask forgiveness! He is desperately thirsting for our communion with Him!
We are all sinners desperately in need of Christ’s Divine Mercy!
Yet unfortunately, many are not convinced of God’s loving presence in their lives. They have not experienced His Divine Mercy & Divine Providence. Or perhaps they’ve experienced these things unknowingly. For those who are not convinced that God exists and has a plan for our lives, this “no pain is gain” philosophy can be exceptionally enticing.
Jesus and Paul speak contrary to the “no pain is gain” philosophy with diamond-cut precision. Here are their words for further reflection:
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith… (Philippians 1:21-25)
It is not lack of pain that brings gain. Rather, making sacrifices for others and carrying out God’s will for our lives are ways in which we truly gain.
To carry out God’s will for our lives, we must first pray to know His will. Then we must listen and carefully discern His will. Then we must pray for strength and courage to carry it out!
For those of us who have experienced God’s Divine Mercy & Providence – those of us who are absolutely convinced that God exists – well… to whom much is given much is expected.
Much has been given to me and for that I am grateful, but I am therefore also compelled to share what I know is true. So I continue to write.
We are all called as Christians to proclaim the Gospel and to share what we have witnessed. We are called to share what we have learned, and received, and heard, and seen.
How are you being called to proclaim Christ’s Divine Mercy in our society? How are you being called to be merciful today?
P.S. God loves you and He is merciful! Pass it on…
Copyright 2016 Kaitlyn Mason