“It’s my life and my choice to make” has become a rallying cry of our culture, and not just for hot-button social issues like abortion. Personal autonomy and the celebration of individual decision making form the bedcrock of most eductional efforts in this country. Students are bombarded with slogans like these: “Whatever path you choose is the right one for you”. “Be whoever and whatever you want to be.” “If you can dream it, you can be it” Even in the areas of morality, kids are taught that it is their job to establish by an act of their will a set of values that is “right for them.” Whatever they choose is just fine.(“values clarification” I believe is the educators term for it).
There are huge problems with this philosophy, the major of which is that it simply isn’t true. Our choices do not define who we are. You cannot be whatever you want to be and, as the few that actually succeed in fulfilling some of their dreams find out, every path is not equally great. All certinly not all moral choices are the right ones.
The nottom line is that we are not the masters of our fate and it is not our universe to control. We are the creatures, not the creator, although His is the position we want in our hearts. (See here, here and here for more discussion on this topic.)
Becasue it isn’t true, the results of trying to hold fast to this line of thinking are bizarre. Here is an exmple from Estrella Flores, an “activist” at the March for Murder last week in Washington, as quoted in a great column by Chuck Colson: “I think abortion is killing a life. [But] the person who is pregnant should decide whether to do it or not.” Colson points out that many people were brought to the march not so much to support abotion as to celebrate personal autonomy and the power to do whatever they chose.
According to the New York Times, “A selling point for Latinos was the idea that they would march, not just for abortion rights, but for a range of issues that affect immigrant women, including the need for better prenatal health care, medical insurance, and access to birth control. … ‘They’re not going to come to an abortion rally, but they are going to come to a rally that’s about taking control of your life,’ said Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, president of the Hispanic Federation.” And T-shirts read in Spanish: “Health. Dignity. Justice.”
Colson then asks us to “think about what “taking control of your life” actually means in this context.”
It brings us back to Estrella Flores’s ideas about abortion: that it’s wrong—in fact, that it’s “killing”—but that people should be able to do it anyway, because it’s their life to control. Ms. Flores’s attitude is deeply troubling, especially when you realize how widespread it is. Over and over again, people at the march made similar comments—the kind of comments that make your hair stand on end. The political debate is changing among activists on the ground. They’re now willing to admit that abortion is killing. But they’re arguing that their right to do what they want, without restraint, justifies that killing. What we are seeing, of course, is the logical consequences of the desire for personal autonomy in an era of moral relativism. People can say with a perfectly straight face and without a twinge of conscience, “Yeah, it is wrong. It is murder. But nobody is going to tell me I can’t do it.”
If this is really the position that the pro-abortion movement is taking, then we’re in a heap of trouble. If my neighbor thinks to himself, “I know stealing is wrong, but I don’t want anybody to tell me I can’t do it,” I’m going to start putting extra padlocks on my house and bars on my windows. If somebody says, “I know pedophilia is a bad thing, but I have the right to do what I want with my own body,” I am going to start keeping my grandkids locked in the house when they come to visit.