Just Dining-Room Talk?

I ran across a story yesterday that I think illustrates the struggle of many Christians today. Ten years ago, a University of Notre Dame senior named Lacy Dodd found herself in a situation that she would never have imagined. Only weeks away from her graduation, she found herself pregnant. The nurse at the clinic confirmed the pregnancy and then told her not to worry because she had “other options.” That is not the message she wanted to hear.

Dodd’s boyfriend also tried to pressure her into getting an abortion. When she pointed to the teaching of her church and responsibility of her faith, he said, “All that talk about abortion is just dining-room talk.” All the pious and moralistic talk was fine for banter around the dining table, but in real life you have do what is best for yourself. Fortunately, Ms. Dodd did not listen to such reason, and today she is the single mother of a ten-year old daughter named Mary.

Why is it that Christians are overwhelmingly opposed to divorce but continue to get divorced at a rate higher than the national average? Why are Evangelical Christians almost 100% against abortion while 18% of Evangelical women had abortions (Barna Research)? Why have the social mores and moral choices of our culture become in large part the social mores and moral choices of Christians as well? Do we see the Bible’s call to a personal holiness that reflects the holiness of God in an unholy world “just dining-room talk?” Or maybe “just Sunday School talk?”

The story I read was reporting on an essay written by Lacy Dodd (the mother in the story above) entitled “Notre Dame, My Mother” timed to be released at Mother’s Day to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Notre Dame. President Obama, of course, has long been an opponent of any restrictions on abortion rights. Some, including Ms. Dodd, wonder at the mixed-message sent by the President speaking at commencement and receiving an honorary degree from a Catholic university opposed to the practice of abortion. Dodd ends her essay--

“Who draws support from your decision to honor President Obama — the young, pregnant Notre Dame woman sitting in that graduating class who wants desperately to keep her baby, or the Notre Dame man who believes that the Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is just dining-room talk?”

Good question. The more Christians look like the world around us in the moral decisions we make, the less of a message we will have for the world. If Christianity really is “just dining-room talk,” then maybe we just need to shut up.