Exploring Choice from a Christian Perspective

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I have less interest in watching the Golden Globe Awards than I do in watching paint dry. Were it not for the podcast The Briefing by Albert Mohler, I would not have a clue who Michelle Williams is or what she said recently at that event. However, having read her speech, I recognize its value in demonstrating the great worldview divide between Christianity and our increasingly secular culture. Her thoughts on choice are a prime example.

Choice: the Illusion of Autonomy

One key theme of Ms. Williams’ speech was that of a woman’s choice and particularly her choices: 

I’m also grateful to have lived at a moment in our society where choice exists…
And I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose. To choose when to have my children and with whom. 

The word choice has become a euphemism for abortion. Framing the moral issues in terms of freedom to choose has been an effective political strategy. However, even Williams must admit certain limitations.

We live in a world so obsessed with autonomy that it denies even biological facts. So at the risk of sounding crass, I must point out what should be obvious. In order for her claims about having a baby to hold true, they must also hold true for engaging in sex. In effect, Williams is saying she can choose when and with whom she has sex. Christians understand that these choices should remain in the bonds of marriage (Gen. 2:24). It is clear she differs in her beliefs, yet we assume she is not the female version of Harvey Weinstein or Jeffrey Epstein. She is talking about “consensual sex.” So, here she has just introduced the choice of another (and biology demands that the other be male).

Williams evidently decided when and with whom she would “have” a child. It is a plain biological fact that a woman cannot will herself pregnant. Even when finding the right partner and trying to get pregnant, the choice stops there. Involuntary biological processes take over that may or may not result in pregnancy. Most people hearing her speech would understand that having meant choosing to carry the baby that she conceived with her partner.

Choice: To “Have” and to Hold

Interestingly, she did not use the word abortion. A decision must be questionable if you need to hide the true nature of it. She was alluding to a woman’s choice whether to give birth to her child or to abort it. 

The question is whether the choice to have an abortion is acceptable or inherently evil. Having chosen to engage in activity that could and did result in the conception of a new human life, does the mother have the right to destroy that life? 

The marvel of one human being living and growing inside another has no equal in nature. It has the potential to forever change a woman’s life. It can also create the greatest possible conflict of interest. The pro-abortion side will not admit that the pre-born child has an interest in the choices of his or her mother. 

The Christian understands that every human life has value and dignity because it bears the image of God (Gen. 1:27). We could imagine a number of situations where someone’s life might depend on us, and we would have the moral responsibility to care for them. Certainly, this is even clearer if it was our own action that placed the person in the position of vulnerability and dependence on us. 

If while driving drunk, I injure someone and cause them to be unable to work, I can be sued to provide for the victim’s future support. It does not matter whether I intended to rob them of their means of support. Nor does it matter whether I chose to get drunk. My intentions do not negate the rights of the person affected by the unintended consequences of my actions. So neither the woman nor the man who chose to engage in sex have the right to take the life of the child who is the unintended consequence of their actions.

The Crushing Weight of Choice

Seldom is the decision to abort so trivialized as it was in Williams’ speech. I would like to think that most women agonize over it. She presents it as a career move. If she had not made that choice, she may not have received the Golden Globe award. Really

Michelle Williams along with hundreds of thousands of other men and women are choosing to suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18). Some have deceived themselves into thinking that they can indulge in sex outside of marriage without consequences. Some out of fear and shame, some out of continued self-deception resort to abortion to escape those consequences. Once that step is taken, it becomes a self-perpetuating, desperate attempt to erect a barrier of falsehood to withstand the crushing weight of its alternative. How do you face the killing of your own child? No man or woman can withstand the weight of that guilt. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can bear that weight.

The Choice to Crush

We, who have seen ourselves in light of God’s holiness, know something of the crushing weight of guilt. But it has been lifted because God chose to crush another in our place. The gospel declares that God has provided his Son, Jesus Christ, to bear our guilt: 

Surely he has borne our griefs
  and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
  smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
  he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
  and with his wounds we are healed. 

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
  he has put him to grief. (Isaiah 53:4–5, 10) 

Jesus can rescue those caught in the death spiral. The gospel provides hope to those who face the shame and rejection that often accompany pregnancy outside of marriage. It comes alongside the believing man or woman with the promise that Christ has born their shame and God accepts them as his son or daughter. For those who have blood guilt on their hands, the gospel alone offers cleansing, hope, and peace. 

For the Christian, being pro-life is not a political position but a life of faith and obedience to God. To be pro-life is to honor the Creator who gives life and to hope in the Redeemer who gives it more abundantly (John 10:10).

See related: R-rated Christianity