It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time . . .
Since Adam made the worst decision of his life in the Garden of Eden, every human being has struggled with choices. Some choices are simple and inconsequential; others have life-and-death implications, not always obvious at the time. One missed exit on the freeway can cause a missed appointment and that could mean a missed career opportunity. One careless experiment with drugs could lead to a short life, a ruined marriage, or a foreclosed mortgage.
The challenge of decision-making in a complex and fast-paced world is that of properly discerning the voices, or the influences that affect our judgment. Adam’s decision to eat the forbidden fruit was affected by the temptation to power, and the influence of his wife. He knew God’s command but yielded to other persuasive voices.
Scripture says, “There is a way that seems right to a man but, in the end, it leads to death.” (Prov. 14:12) The Bible is full of examples. The Israelites decided not to go into the promised land on God’s timetable. Consequently, they wandered in the desert for 40 years and almost all of them died in the wilderness. King David—in spite of his tender heart toward God—made a number of decisions in his life that cost him dearly. He committed adultery and murder. He tried to transport the ark of God on an oxcart. He numbered the children of Israel. Each of these sins led to death and suffering, but “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
No one can see exactly where a decision might lead. He or she hopes that the choice being made will result in pleasure or profit. Any decision made that is contrary to the revealed will of God can only result in disappointment, guilt and unhappiness. And sometimes death.
Today, in Canada, we are living with the consequences of bad decisions based on false assumptions, faulty logic, rejection of God’s clear commands and acceptance of persuasive but untrue statements.
A few examples:
In order to avoid long, acrimonious court battles, Canada adopted no-fault divorce in 1968 and further liberalized it in 1985. Divorce rates skyrocketed and the number of children impacted by divorce increased dramatically (PDF). That wasn’t the intent but it was the result. It’s well-known that children being raised without a father have a statistically higher likelihood of dropping out of school, using drugs, going to prison or living in poverty (PDF). Single mothers are statistically much more likely to live in poverty than their married counterparts. If this legislation was intended to improve life for Canadians, it has utterly failed. But, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Canada has long had a problem with illegal drugs. Addictions, overdoses, dependencies and dysfunction caused by drug abuse have taken thousands of lives and created a functionally-disabled cohort of our population unable to hold a steady job or feed a family. Mental illness and suicide arising from drug addiction or abuse have become widespread and are negatively affecting municipalities in their ability to maintain safe streets, reduce crime, and protect lives. While the solutions to these problems have never been simple, the choices made by government have not turned back the tide of suffering and death. Under pressure from advocates, a number of initiatives under the label of “harm reduction” have been put in place to provide “safe injection sites” in which to inject drugs or drug substitutes. Vancouver’s Insite is one of the first and better known of these. The actual number of drug-related deaths per year in Canada from opioids, fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and other street drugs is difficult to find, but all agree it is climbing. Between January 2016 and March of this year, there have been 22,828 opioid-related deaths in Canada.
Instead of recognizing their error, advocates are now calling for the complete legalization of all drugs, based on the assumption that we can never win the war on drugs, so we might as well stop trying and hope for the best. The increase in suicides and overdose deaths during the pandemic indicates to me that the provision of safe injection sites was never the way to reduce drug abuse. By the time everyone can see that this approach has failed, proponents will be left muttering, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Unplanned pregnancies have always been a difficult situation to deal with. They are less prevalent where abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage are taught. In our society, the trend away from committed marriage and toward casual sexual relationships has resulted in a dramatic increase in unplanned pregnancies. That trend could have been turned around by a consistent and faithful teaching of biblical values at home, at school, and in church. A profound respect for human life and our sacred duty to protect it should always be nurtured in our young people. Instead, activists clamouring for an easy, non-judgmental “solution” that would free young women (and the fathers of their unborn children) from any responsibility for their actions, sought government action to legalize abortion. In 1968, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill legalized abortion under certain circumstances. The Morgentaler decision of 1988 removed the remaining vestiges of restraint. The number of abortions skyrocketed. In 1988, there were 72,693 reported abortions, 111,526 in 1997—an increase of 53.4%. Choices have consequences and bad choices have bad consequences. Those who pushed for legalization, claiming that would make abortion “safe, legal, and rare” can only look at the statistics and say, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Today, we and the politicians we elect . . . and the judges they appoint . . . have many choices to make, many decisions to ponder. Carbon taxes, conversion therapy, national defence, pipelines, public health strategies and covid restrictions. We can continue to follow the pattern of doing what seems right to our selfish and feeble human reasoning, or we can look to God, look to His Word and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Word says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) We need to learn a few lessons from the past and determine that—for the good of our nation and the future for our children—we want to make decisions that are honouring to God and that He will bless. Without His blessing, our plans cannot succeed. At the end of our lives, we don’t want to look back and say, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
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Other Commentary by Rod Taylor: