"I have to take the demanding job because I have to keep paying my house mortgage."
"She had no choice but to put her mother in a nursing home."
"Due to the budget deficit the government has no option but to cut education spending".
"We have to stop terrorism. Australia had no choice. We had to join the USA in the Iraq war."
I often hear statements such as these on topics ranging from personal finances to government policies. I find them disappointing and at times irritating. We always have a choice. I certainly acknowledge that most important decisions are complex and made difficult by prior commitments, competing interests, and personal pressures. Yet I think claiming there is "no choice" is problematic for several reasons.
It can be an attempt, sometimes sub-conscious, to avoid responsibility and accountability.
It cuts off discussion and debate, particularly about pre-suppositions.
It undermines our humanity. One of the beautiful things about our creatureliness is that God has given us freedom. Our freedom reflects the freedom of God. Karl Barth writes beautifully about this. We exercise this freedom in our choices.
In the context of war and violence, Rowan Williams has a nice discussion of this issue in his book The Truce of God .