I listened to a TED Radio Hour podcast while mowing the lawn the other day. In the show, one of the speakers interviews Edward Snowden. Snowden said something that got me thinking. He said “There is no consent without choice” He was using it in the context of using social media and the privacy (or lack there of) that is afforded by something like Facebook.

What Snowden was getting at is that some technology has become so intertwined with our lives that it is impossible to lead a normal life without it, so that we really don’t have a choice, thus we have no power to give consent for them to collect whatever data they are collecting about our lives. For example, what if your work place said we are going to do all official business with this new app that will be on this work phone we are giving you. Sure, you have a choice to not use the phone, and quit your job. Unless you have a highly sought after skill, you are not going to quit your job, you have no choice, and you can’t give consent to whatever data the app will be collecting about you.

I wonder where the line is with moral choices, and where we draw the line. Lets say you are captured, and forced by gun point to do something against your moral values. For this examples, lets say you are LDS, and you are being forced at gunpoint to drink a glass of beer. You would probably drink the beer rather than be shot in the head with a gun. What about if they threatened to break your arm? Still drink the beer? What about a punch in the nose? Give you a nasty hit on the arm? Call you a bad name?

You see where I’m going with this. Where is the line where choice begins? Sure, you still have a choice to drink the beer, or get shot in the head. But realistically you don’t really have a choice.

So what about in the church. We hear time and again that we made a choice to be baptized, made a choice to go to BYU, made a choice to take on the obligations in the endowment. But do we really have a choice? Does an eight year old have a choice to get baptized, growing up in a very orthodox family?

I was explicit given a choice as part of the endowment ceremony to withdraw on my own free will and choice. As a just turned 19 year old kid, sitting next to my father, and having multiple family members in attendance, did I really have a choice? Could I give consent to make covenants in the temple, knowing that if I did stand up and walk out when given the opportunity, that I would embarrass my parents, my family, and would not be able to go on a mission in two weeks?

Where does family, peer, or church pressure become so high that you don’t have a choice, and thus can’t give consent? What examples do you see in church that take away our ability to chose by removing our (informed) consent, and ultimately our free agency? Do you find it ironic that a religion that is so enamored with free agency as a God given right could in fact be taking away our agency due to lack of choice, thus removing our consent?