Sunday, December 9, 2018

What Does Being Pro-Choice Really Mean?

I've been thinking a lot about choices, overcoming habits, accountability and responsibility recently. A really good friend of mine also recommended a talk by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the 70 that he gave at a BYU devotional last year titled Be 100 Percent Responsible. With all of that in my head, I feel a need to explain some of my thoughts on the subject, relating to - yes - abortion, but also other issues where people seek to avoid natural consequences.

For the most part, labeling people is dumb unless the label reflects our only constant, eternal and truthful identity as children of God. However, for the sake of properly portraying my perspective on this matter, I will at least go as far as to say that my views are, in the scriptural sense of the terms, both pro-choice and pro-life in the matter of abortion.  The reason for the pro-choice part is because I believe that main-stream media's use of the term "pro-choice" is a misnomer of gargantuan proportions.

God Himself sent us a Savior to atone for our sins knowing that many of His children would use the very agency He gave them to reject His gift of change, repentance and peace. He put forth this plan anyways because even though He knew many would choose to turn their backs on Him, He understood how precious the gift of agency/free will is. He knew that the eternal rewards He has in store for us are only justified if our receiving them is the consequence of our choices. The irony about such a gift is that, as the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet says, "While you are free to choose your course of action, you are not free to choose the consequences."

In a previous entry, I mentioned that there is a higher principle than truth. It is to edify (D&C 50:23). If the truth does not edify all parties involved then it needs to be either withheld or applied a different way. In the case of abortion, each of those babies is a child of God and each of those mothers is a child of God. Whatever choice a mother makes regarding the life of her baby, whether it was an intentional pregnancy or not (no matter what the cause), she needs to be sure that that choice will edify all parties involved, including her life, the lives of her family and friends and the life of the baby. Except for the extremely rare exception where a spirit son or daughter of God was so righteous in the pre-mortal life that all they needed to do was to have their spirit enter their body without actually living outside of their mother's womb, the only situation that might (a big "might"), just maybe justify - not excuse, but justify - an abortion is if the neither the mother or the baby will survive the birth and one must give it's life for the other to live and even then, it must be done in a way that is most edifying to all parties involved. That way, absolutely no one's agency is violated and the eternal laws of justice and mercy remained balanced.

Another angle to look at choice and responsibility is the way Elder Lynn G. Robbins discussed. He made a list of nineteen items on an "anti-responsibility" list. This list as follows:

1. Blaming others (1 Samuel 15:21)
2. Rationalizing or justifying: (1 Samuel 15:21; see also verse 22).
3. Making excuses: (1 Nephi 3:31).
4. Minimalizing or trivializing sin: (see Alma 1:3–4).
5. Hiding: (see Moses 4:14).
6. Covering up: (see 2 Samuel 12:9, 12).
7. Fleeing from responsibility: (see Jonah 1:3).
8. Abandoning responsibility: (see Alma 39:3).
9. Denying or lying: (1 Samuel 15:13–14).
10. Rebelling: (1 Samuel 15:23).
11. Complaining and murmuring: (Numbers 14:2).
12. Finding fault and getting angry: (1 Nephi 3:28).
13. Making demands and entitlements: (1 Nephi 18:10–11).
14. Doubting, losing hope, giving up, and quitting: (1 Nephi 17:17–18).
15. Indulging in self-pity and a victim ­mentality: (1 Nephi 17:21).
16. Being indecisive or being in a spiritual ­stupor: The irony with indecision is that if you don’t make a decision in time, time will make a decision for you.
17. Procrastinating: (Helaman 13:38).
18. Allowing fear to rule: (Matthew 25:25–26).
19. Enabling: (1 Samuel 2:29; see also verses 22–36).

One of the most important points of his address, I believe, was where he said that "going to the anti-responsibility list is counterproductive, even if you are right." (emphasis added)

In each of those cases on the list, even if you speak the truth, even if something isn't your fault or if unfavorable circumstances feel more forced upon you than as the consequence of your own actions, the Christ-like response is to take responsibility by...

1. Responding to circumstances out of our control with patience and, of our own accord, proactively seeking His guidance to change them.
2. Accepting the full and unfiltered consequences of trials we bring upon ourselves with meekness, humility, courage and yes, even gratitude.
3. Refusing to dwell on who is at fault for a sin or mistake, allowing God to execute mercy and justice as He sees fit and, instead, seeking to help rebuild or heal whatever or whoever was negatively affected by another's action.

Boy do I wish I was better at all of those things. The reason I bring that whole thing from his talk into this is because it re-emphasizes the fact that being pro-choice means, by default, that we accept the consequences of our actions and even the actions of others. Acceptance does not necessarily mean condoning or continuously allowing the harmful actions of others without proactively seeking the edification of all parties involved. It simply means we do not become bitter about it. Taking the life of an unborn child for the sake of emotional duress, convenience, financial instability, mental illness or any other number of problems caused by another person is actually very anti-choice because it is anti-consequence. It is irresponsible because it is an attempt make a choice but avoid the inescapable second part of the package deal, the consequence. In reality the pro-choice route means either confronting parenthood with faith and humility by using proper means to find help raising the child or finding someone else who can do so to take in the child.

Whether someone decides to perform or get an abortion or not, whether they face the negative consequences of such an action now or later, the eternal laws of justice and mercy will eventually catch up with them. As Mordo says in Dr. Strange, "the bill always comes due."

This also applies to retaliating or responding aggressively and tactlessly towards people who commit violence, oppress religious freedom, use religion to oppress others, deliberately slander, lie, abuse others, or otherwise injure and degrade us or those we love. Even when we have done nothing to justify mistreatment or injury, being pro-choice always means being pro-consequence.

-Remove yourself from that toxic relationship or seek to repair it, but don't blame others or victimize yourself.
-Be patient with weaknesses of others that hurt you, considering the difficulty they themselves may be facing and proactively make choices to alleviate their burden so the burden they have caused you can, therefore, be lifted.
-Refuse to wait for others to reach out and help you overcome a bad habit by making whatever sacrifice is necessary to break that bad habit that is dragging you and others around you down.
-Instead of blaming, make whatever preventative actions you must to prevent undesirable consequences of others actions on you.

Please don't misunderstand me here. Obviously women, especially women who are doing things right and not attracting pigs, are absolutely not responsible for the choices of the one who decides to abuse them. However, they are responsible for how they respond to that choice and the response that robs a child of his/her life is, probably 99.99999999% of the time, irresponsible.

If we don't like the consequences we face, we must change our choices. It's as simple as that.

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