Who Do You Trust?
If it wasn’t for him, guys like Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Fallon might still be working the comedy-club circuit. John William “Johnny” Carson was the undisputed king of light-night television. Show after show until his 4,531st in May 1992, Carson found ways to make America’s night owls and insomniacs laugh. As the Tonight Show host, Carson knew no peer.
Carson travelled a long road to stardom. At age 14 he earned money as a magician-The Great Carsoni. He did radio and early morning television. In 1957, Carson took over a game show, Who Do You Trust?, originally known as Do You Trust Your Wife? Carson would give a husband a category of questions and ask if he trusted his wife to answer them. The show gave Carson a stage to perfect his ad libs, and he soon became the hottest commodity on daytime television. In time he became even hotter at night.
Life would be a bowl of cherries if answering a few quiz-show questions for money were our biggest problem. But sometimes it’s just the pits. A worker is passed over for a promised job promotion in favor of the boss’s grandson. A wife finds her husband in bed with another woman. That shadow on a routine chest x-ray turns out to be a cancerous tumor. A home pregnancy test kit confirms what neither partner wants to hear. What do we do? We try our best to deal with the problem, knowing that there are limits. Using pistols at twenty paces to re-open that job slot is a big no-no. Neutering a cheating husband is strictly verboten. Kidnapping a healthy person for his lung is flat out against the rules.
But in 1973 the rules changed when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy was legally free to handle the situation however she chose, even if it meant taking the life of the human being growing within her. For some, Roe was like the answer to the $64,000 question. But for many others, having Roe was no answer at all. They still had to contend with the morality of abortion. For women contemplating an abortion, the process is often gut wrenching. For women having obtained an abortion, the mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering can be life-long. In 2007, the Supreme Court finally admitted the obvious: some women regret their decision to abort. “Severe depression and loss of self esteem” can follow from a “painful moral decision” mistakenly made. And that’s merely the short list.
When we come face to face with life’s moral dilemmas, the search for a solution can lead us in many directions. The popular culture is certainly willing to offer advice. But the culture has its best interests, not ours, at heart. Turning to friends and relatives may not help. That’s because we often discard the value of absolute truth in favor of a “truth” that we can manipulate to fit our needs. Everything becomes relative: cheating is wrong, for example, unless it helps us get a good job. In today’s world, a person either wanting to do the right thing or feeling uneasy about an action already taken is likely to hear: “It’s up to you” or “It’s whatever you think is right.” But if it were that easy, the person wouldn’t be searching for an answer nor would he have been worrying about what he did. So where do we turn for solid answers?
We turn to God. We can find Him in our consciences. It’s one of His greatest gifts, for our conscience is a sanctuary where God speaks to us. Deep in our hearts God has planted His law, the basic moral truths that we discern through observation and reason. Our conscience aids us applying those truths to the situations of our lives. Listening to God, we can choose what we should do or not do, or decide whether we have already done right or wrong. Each of us must build his conscience, but not as a storehouse for personal opinions or popular consensus. Conscience is meant to house God’s truths. And God’s truth is that taking innocent human life is morally wrong. Deep in our hearts, we all know it. It’s precisely why deciding whether to abort is so difficult, and why the suffering caused by the decision to abort can be so overwhelming.
Of course, it is one thing to hear God voice but quite another to obey. The pressure of a situation can cause us to doubt what we hear. In the end, it may come down to trust. Why should we trust God? Scholars answer that it because God is all-good, all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful. They’re all good reasons. Academic sounding, but good reasons.
There is another way of thinking about it. Maybe we should trust God because He trusted us first. He made us in His own image and likeness. He has given us abilities not possessed by any other creature. With our minds we can discover the wonders of the universe and ponder the answers to life’s greatest questions. With our free will we can do whatever we want. He never makes any decision for us. And with our conscience, we can make sound moral choices. He freely gave us these gifts, trusting that we will choose right over wrong, life over death. God has trusted us with these gifts, all that we may freely choose the better way, the loving way, the way back to Him. For He wants nothing more than our happiness.
Though we often fall so short, He continues to trust in us. He shows His trust through each new human life He creates, even a life threatened by abortion. God trusts that though frightened or burdened, new parents will see His Hand in their unborn baby. He trusts that they will want for their baby what He wants for them. And He trusts that we, the people to whom He has given so much, will help them in their struggles.
Our all-good, all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful God wants only the very best for us. That’s because He is also all-loving. All the time. Trusting in Him and His ways, even in our worst times, is the answer. The jackpot answer.
Paul Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, and have six kids.
© 2013 Paul V. Esposito. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Comments? Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/