Santa Clarita Signal • Ethically Speaking • For April 1 weekender, 2017
Actions and Consequences
David W. Hegg
Every parent says it. Actions have consequences. If you act foolishly, or wantonly, or illegally, or in any other manner that poses a risk, don’t act surprised if the adverse consequences of those actions come back to bite you. It is the nature of things, at least it used to be.
As I was watching the Senate confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch I was fascinated with the exchange between the judge and Senator Dianne Feinstein from California. For several minutes she pressed him on the issue of abortion. What struck me was her primary argument had everything to do with preserving the ability of a woman - she frequently mentioned her own daughters – to make her own choices regarding her body, especially in the situation of an unwanted pregnancy. I’ve heard this argument before but this time I realized what was really going on. The issue isn’t choice. It is consequences.
While I am certain there are some exceptions such as rape, everyone agrees in the vast majority of situations, sexual intimacy is an activity of choice on the part of those participating. Additionally, the use of some manner of birth control is also a choice that can be made. Lastly, the frequency of sexual intimacy is also a choice, and it pertains here given our subject is pregnancy. While it is possible to get pregnant from one’s first sexual experience, it is rare. The choice to have multiple sexual episodes certainly plays into the consideration of the choices being made that may lead to pregnancy.
What Senator Feinstein is arguing for is clear. She wants to do away with the consequences of the choices a man and a woman make in having sex. She wants to erase the great consequence of sexual intimacy which is the fertilization of an egg by a sperm producing life.
She, and all those who champion choice in the arena of reproductive rights, are really championing an abandonment of consequence. And, tragically, the consequence they are so quick to remove has a beating heart, and cells in the process of dividing. Deep in the woman’s womb there is a circulatory system already pulsing blood, eyes forming, and nerve endings able to respond to stimuli such as pain and prodding. How tragic that a living little boy or girl has been reduced to a mere undesirable consequence that can be easily flushed away.
I am all for choice, and even more for making sure we can deal with the consequences of our choices. What I am not for is the ability to do the deed and then escape the consequences through immoral means.
In the past years we’ve seen the consequences for poor money management, poor reporting, poor judgment, and poor public decorum become almost invisible. Apparently, lying publicly and persistently has no consequence any more, along with abuse of power, underhanded business deals, and immoral behavior on the part of leaders. The things people do and say, and get away with today would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago.
And that’s the problem. The natural connection between actions and consequences has been so pervasively eroded by the steady rain of self-centered pragmatism we almost can’t remember when wrong was wrong and the consequences kept us from it.
Has abortion helped our society have a better, wiser, and more healthy view of sexual intimacy? The answer is a resounding no. The removal of consequence has only made the emotional and physical consequences of random, casual, and illegal sexual activity into a plague on our society.
The Apostle Paul got it right when, in addressing the Galatians, he reminded them it was folly to mock the standards God himself had set for life. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, forwhatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Consequences are threaded into the very fabric of life, and those who attempt to eliminate them are walking with smiles toward their own destruction.