Several weeks ago, Barack Obama gave a speech that contained a controversial phrase:
I’ve been in a discussion over here on my friend’s blog, where a recent post about an anti-Clinton group evolved into a discussion on Barack Obama’s controversial statements. Ignoring that he analogizes a baby with a sexually transmitted disease, when he makes statements like “I don’t want my daughters punished with a baby,” his supporters give him a pass because he simply used the wrong words.
So let’s assume that he should have used better words, replacing “punished with” with “suffer the consequences of.” It would read like this: “If my daughters make the mistake [of having unprotected sex], I don’t want them to suffer the consequences of a baby or an STD.” How is this any better? In reality all he is saying is that we should not be responsible for our mistakes if we don’t like the consequences. One could argue that this makes the statement even worse!
The discussion evolved far enough for somebody to say that pro-lifers would be controlling the fate of a pregnant woman who wishes to have an abortion. This is simply twisted reasoning.
Here’s how I get there:
When I read the apostle Paul, I read illustrations about sowing and reaping (Galatians 6). It is a farming analogy, used to illustrate a pattern of life. When a person chooses to sow a vegetable seed into the ground, he does not expect to reap fruit from that same soil. The same applies to our actions. To state it in contemporary language, “What goes around comes around.” And while it does not always appear that life occurs in cause-effect patterns (because “bad things happen to good people”), things that are within our control (such as what we eat, whether we exercise, whether we smoke, etc.) have clearly defined risks associated with them. Eat too much, you might gain weight. Exercise enough, you’ll be relatively fit. Smoke, and you might get lung cancer.
There are, of course, some things that are out of our control. I can’t control the drunk driver who smashes into my car. I can’t keep an economy from crashing. I can’t keep Al Gore from lying to us in a “movie.” But it is a simple fact of life that I am in control of my actions, and that I am responsible for their consequences.
Since I am the one who is responsible for my actions, I must be prepared for consequences that I may dislike, or for which I did not plan. It is how we respond to these situations that makes the difference in our hearts. We can choose to allow them to make us better, or we can allow ourselves to become bitter.
Back to controlling fate. The bottom line is that our actions have consequences, whether we like those consequences or not. It is simply illogical to say that somebody else controls my fate when I’ve reaped consequences I don’t like because of actions nobody forced me to commit. At this point, the argument becomes about escaping consequences we don’t like. But how far are we going to push this? If we are allowed to avoid unwanted consequences, what else are we allowed to do in the name of “choice”?