And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."
We humans usually don't know what's good for us. Jesus addressed the City of Peace and said that its inhabitants would not know the things that belonged unto their peace.
It is often said by conservatives, and rightly, that ideology is a great danger. The ideologue gets hold of one truth and makes it into the only truth, the only thing that matters. He sacrifices all else to that one thing. That one ideal might be equality, beauty, health, or love, but when one makes second things first, the second things always turn vicious, and horrors follow.
But there is another point, compatible with that point, that must be made too: When second things are made first, they destroy themselves. The ideologue does not even know what is best for the ideal he professes.
Take love, for instance. It's been said times without number that the sexual revolution wasn't really about love. But there were people who thought it was. If you had told them that the revolution they were founding would ultimately destroy love, even romantic love, even sexual love, they would not have listened. They would not have believed. Yet it was true, as numerous broken-hearted, broken-bodied men and women, men and women who have tried sex without honor can attest.
And now, in this our day, health is another god, another second thing made first. In the name of health we harvest the dead, we destroy embryos, our scientists promise us cures of all diseases if only we will dispense with ethical limitations on research. They are wrong, of course, and much of the promise is hype. But beyond that, we are in the process of losing all sense of what actually constitutes health. Doctors are under pressure to cooperate in the destruction of unborn infants as part of their profession. How is that serving health? Suicide on demand, for any reason whatsoever, assisted by doctors, is all the rage. What does that have to do with the medical profession's job of helping people to be healthy? Yet restless people whose relatives have had trouble finding people to cooperate in their suicide would actually like writing suicide prescriptions to be mandatory upon doctors. Bodily mutilation of healthy limbs is being considered as a "treatment." This is not serving bodily health and integrity.
In other words, the utilitarian attempt to elevate health as a good above innocent human life and above all ethical restraints has turned out to be profoundly anti-human and, consequently, is undermining the medical profession and the very notion of health itself.
If human beings knew the things that belong to their peace, then their perception of some good--love, health, beauty--would guide them to do the right thing. But they don't. They never seem to see it coming--the self-destructiveness of topsy-turvy priorities. They never seem to realize that when second things are made first, you end up with nothing, not even the second things.
It is time to ask ourselves what things belong to our peace. If we believe in healthy bodies, love, beauty, and human joy, we cannot serve these things best by treating the human body as mere matter. We will lose it all, and our house will be left unto us desolate.