Choice and consequence—and the divine, cosmic implications of the concept—is the central theme of my satirical novel, No Romance. I want to share the following moment with my blog readers.
At this point in the story, Jack, our hero, has been blessed with an extraordinary power. Golbez, his villainous, smuggling, wannabe-dictator of a father, tries to pressure him into using that power to elevate him (Golbez) to the status of a god, to heal his body of ailments that are a result of his own lifelong choices, and in effect allow him to do whatever he wants.
I heard his words across a far distance, trying to sort out the mixed feelings of queasiness and dread in my gut. About Annie. About rescuing this man from his sorrows and sins.
“You mean, uh, smuggle your chimneys and furnaces?” I said, grasping at straws just to be polite.
“I admit that hot air is everywhere these days and it’s all the harder to sell, given the bargain rates in the public markets,” Golbez said. “But we can adapt. Sell it internationally, get on this global warming train I’ve heard so much about. And at the end of things you can inherit all that I have!”
“If you never died, how could I inherit it?”
Golbez’s silence weighed heavily, just like the rest of him. Then he raised his finger triumphantly. “Ah, I bet I could write up a poppingly clever will. Navigate through the law.”
“Any lawyers around?”
“We will be our own lawyers! Our own lawgivers, too! Don’t you see that? With my political standing and your metaphysical prowess, we can recreate the world as we choose! You see, old boy, I fancy myself pro-choice. I am in favor of many choices, and also in favor of making them without pesky little things like guilt and consequences coming back to bite you in the arse. Imagine such a world! We could have a city of the gods! How would you like to be an equal partner in that, eh?”
I kept silent, trying to decide what to do, what to say, putting the pressure on him to fill the vacuum. Being who he was, he had no problem, even as he negotiated a few twists and turns in the jungle road with only one hand on the wheel.
“All I’m asking for, old boy, is a little mercy. And I’ll show this island mercy in return!”
Golbez wants mercy, as many of us do when faced with the prospect of answering for our mistakes/sins/crimes. But he is also unwilling to actually change his behavior to warrant that redemption. He wants to escape justice, not just so he can go on to live a good life that blesses others, but so as to continue on his life of crime and excess.
This passage sprang to mind while I read something my friend Liz Thompson posted regarding LDS views on abortion. The following quote is from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Some Latter-day Saints say they deplore abortion, but they give these exceptional circumstances as a basis for their pro-choice position that the law should allow abortion on demand in all circumstances. Such persons should face the reality that the circumstances described in these three exceptions are extremely rare. For example, conception by incest or rape—the circumstance most commonly cited by those who use exceptions to argue for abortion on demand—is involved in only a tiny minority of abortions. More than 95 percent of the millions of abortions performed each year extinguish the life of a fetus conceived by consensual relations. Thus the effect in over 95 percent of abortions is not to vindicate choice but to avoid its consequences. Using arguments of “choice” to try to justify altering the consequences of choice is a classic case of omitting what the Savior called “the weightier matters of the law…
If we say we are anti-abortion in our personal life but pro-choice in public policy, we are saying that we will not use our influence to establish public policies that encourage righteous choices on matters God’s servants have defined as serious sins. I urge Latter-day Saints who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled on by the law due to this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices. Should we decriminalize or lighten the legal consequences of child abuse? of cruelty to animals? of pollution? of fraud? of fathers who choose to abandon their families for greater freedom or convenience?
Similarly, some reach the pro-choice position by saying we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so that our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes”
The LDS Church and its faithful adherents are “pro-choice” in the strictest sense of the word—we believe that free will is the only possible way to grow in this life, and we celebrate our agency, our ability to choose good over evil—not the specious euphemism used to label pro-abortion activists. The ability to have consequence-free sex is not about choice at all. It is, as Elder Oaks puts it, about avoiding the natural results of your actions. In other words, it’s about annihilating choice.
Because with every choice must come accountability; with every right must come responsibility. To be truly “pro-choice” one must also be pro-consequence, else your supposed “choice” means absolutely nothing. You cannot otherwise be a free being, for destroying consequence destroys agency.
This concept has no more graphic and corporeal application than in the act of abortion. Using horribly violent means to destroy a helpless, growing life form that you just casually created with the miracle of procreation is exactly as ugly metaphysically as it is physically.
Though I personally am no longer a Republican (for what should be obvious reasons), I could likewise never be a Democrat because I refuse to ally myself with those who proudly “Shout [Their] Abortion.” As has been said by others before, I believe abortion will one day be looked upon by society the way we look at slavery today: horrid and nigh unspeakable.
Thanks, Liz, for posting so boldly on this topic. It’s a topic that needs boldness.