Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian was once asked at the National Press Club about his philosophical beliefs. His response was telling, “Yeah, it’s quite simple: absolute personal autonomy. I’m an absolute autonomist. Do and say whatever you want to do and say at any time you want to do or say it, as long as you do not harm or threaten anybody else’s person or property.”
We live in a world where this philosophy is becoming more and more common. People make decisions based upon how they feel about a topic, as if their opinion is the be all and end all when it comes to ethical decisions. How many times have we heard people state that what they do in the privacy of their own home is their own concern? But, that’s not necessarily true. What if a person believes he can abuse his children or beat his wife because it is done in the privacy of his home?
Getting back to Dr. Kevorkian’s view that you should be able to do and say whatever you want as long as you don’t harm anyone else is based on a false premise. Who is to say what is right or wrong? Different people may have different views of what it means to hurt or harm someone else and if those views are warped, then people can be hurt.
We have sinful natures and we cannot be trusted to make right choices regarding how we treat others based solely on personal conjecture. The Old Testament book of Judges is summed up in a few simple words, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 Some day when you have some extra time, read through Judges and you will soon discover when everyone does what he thinks is right, without moral absolutes as guidelines, things get messy in a hurry.
In this age of relativism to say there are moral absolutes may sound quaint and out of touch, but that doesn’t mean they are not real. Everyone who has children knows there are absolutes and the parent institutes the rules to keep the child from hurting him or herself. They are not there to punish a child, but to save the child pain and hurt. We are reminded in the Bible to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourself. These are God’s absolutes for us. While people want to put their own wisdom and ideas as the basis of how to live their lives, God tells us to trust in His wisdom to direct us. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.” James 1: 5 James goes on to say, “ But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” James 3: 17 Contrast that with our own wisdom, “This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3: 15, 16
We may feel everything is permissible as long as we don’t harm someone else, but what about hurting ourselves. Jealousy, selfish ambition, cheating and lying all may not directly harm others but they devastate the integrity of the person practicing these characteristics. Paul writes, “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12: 18 Whoever did the bombing in Boston would have done well to live in harmony with Paul’s directive instead of following his own destructive inner voice.