Our Artificial Controversies

Last week the baby formula shortage made the news, so of course social media was abuzz with the hot takes. Because I’m not very bright, I decided to wade in as well.

Now I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll tweet something that I know is controversial just to stir things up. But in this case I figured there were good people suffering due to the shortages, so I made what I thought was a pretty bland, non-controversial statement:

To me, what I said seems obvious. First, that we should have sympathy for those who are impacted by baby formula shortages, and second, that any shortage should be a call to more self-sufficiency. And I noted that women are literally designed to feed their young children.

I must have forgotten that we’re living in Bizarro-world. The tweet blew up. Many of my Catholic followers took exception to what I said, suggesting that I was condemning mothers who, for whatever reasons, could not breastfeed their children. Then the Pronoun Gang jumped in and all rational discourse soon evaporated. I was quickly ratioed, as everyone piled on to say how ignorant, unfeeling, and insensitive a person I was, which they could definitely divine from a single tweet.

The high (or low) point came when the New York Times said my take was “woefully ignorant.”

Two things strike me about this controversy. First, how artificial it is. Second, that many Catholics have joined our culture in being oversensitive and finding ways to be offended.

To say that “God literally designed mothers to feed their babies” is an objective fact. Just like He designed eyes to see, ears to hear, and idiots like me to tweet. The end—the purpose—of a woman’s breasts are to produce milk to feed her young children.

Does this mean that every single mother can breastfeed? Obviously not, just as some people are born blind or deaf. But those exceptions don’t invalidate the design, they just remind us that we live in a broken, fallen world that doesn’t always live up to God’s designs.

The Pronoun Crowd, however, will have none of such obvious obviousness. When you believe a man can breastfeed, then you can’t have someone saying that God designed anything. The irony that many were lambasting me for being ignorant of such things because I’m a man was evidently lost on them.

But we’ve come to expect the Pronoun Crowd to be post-logical and post-factual. It’s the response from many Catholics that was disappointing. Defending God’s design is important and necessary in today’s upside-down world. We shouldn’t let our personal disappointments and heartaches silence the proclamation of the truth.

It’s become the norm in our culture—including our Catholic culture—that we feel we must caveat and over-explain every single statement for fear of offending someone. It’s almost gotten to the point that we can’t praise a beautiful sunrise for fear of offending a blind person. But if we stop praising God’s designs out of fear of offending someone, then we will begin to forget those designs.

Breastfeeding is best for children. Mothers were designed to feed their children. These truths should be valued and cherished by every Catholic, even if through no fault of their own some aren’t able to breastfeed their children. Let’s not deny the beauty of God’s designs just because we sometimes fall short of them.

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