Of course it's absolutely true. No one asks to be born. It's a statement that seeks to challenge parental authority. The teenager wants to view that authority as arbitrarily and unfairly imposed in order to find his own way through the world. He didn't ask to be born, so therefore parental authority is not entirely valid in his eyes, especially at a time when he is aware that his existence is down to his parents and that he has a will separate from them. Nonetheless, it's there in Scripture: "Honour thy Father and thy Mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
How often, I wonder, do we say the same thing to God? If we do, do we say it in the same way as with our parents?
Thinking about it, the need to honour our parents is especially clear if we worship God. They are the instruments of our creation used by God for that very purpose. No matter who our parents are, what they've done to us, how they've messed us up, they are still nonetheless divine agents of Creation. Of course, this is a very hard thing for those who have suffered some kind of abuse from a parent. My prayers are with them that they see that they are loved more properly by a Divine Parent who is ultimately responsible for their existence, rather than just a product of sinful man for their own selfish and wicked purposes.
Our existence is due to God's will and God's purpose, so there is no way that we can ever ask whether or not to exist. So what can we mean if we say "I didn't ask to be born" to God?
Well, do we actually say it in the first place? Again, we have to look at the ideas that are around the conflict between parent and teenager (i.e. a child with some cognition of his state).
- The phrase challenges parental authority as being imposed regardless of any choice by the child.
- The phrase is an attempt to divert any personal responsibility from the teenager back to the parent.
- The phrase also can be construed as possessing a dissatisfaction with one's estate and being.
It's not so much Atheists who would say "I didn't ask to be born" to God but rather those who take issue with some Divine Ruling that to them seems arbitrary and contrary to their choice. The first being to say that to God would clearly be Lucifer himself, and in using that phrase he tries to demonstrate that being born at the whim of God is an undesirable state in which to live. For Lucifer it is because he can never escape God: Psalm cxxxviii is as true for him as it is true for any one of us.
The deception is clear - we are being presented with an assumption that being born under the Will of God is an undesirable concept. That we are born under His Will means we are put under His Authority is reasonable- the pot can't moan about how it has been made to its creator.
We must also not be fooled to think that we have no responsibility to God. The phrase speaks an antithesis to the notion of trusting our parents. If we see our existence as something immensely positive and realise that we are willed into existence by One who actually does love us and is trying to help us become what we choose to be as well, then we see that however much it hurts us, we are becoming the people who we want to be. Ironically, if we do not let God help us and play our part in helping us, then we simply do not become what we want to be.
This leads us smartly into the third situation. There is a distressing rate of suicide among young folk - usually young men. Their lives become so far from what they want to be through various factors (some actually very understandable) that the only way forward is the Exit. Everyone does entertain a thought of suicide at some point in their lives, yet I doubt that it is death that they are really seeking.
If we entertain thoughts of death, then I suspect that we are trying to express an extreme dissatisfaction with our lives. It is not death we want, it is transformation, an end to an existence which torments us and a possible movement into something better. To many, nothing seems literally better than their existence that they opt for nothing.
This is desperately sad, and something must be done to reach these folk and touch them with the love of God which we should be looking to bear in our lives. We have every right to be dissatisfied with our lives. We are broken in many ways by ourselves, by others, by our circumstances. It is this wretched existence that needs to be put to death.
But of course, it has been. In Baptism, we are killed. The sinful existence is condemned to death and summarily crucified. Baptism is the door to our transformation. In trusting God, we can live despite Life as we know it. We have to follow it through to the end so that God's process is complete in us.
Personally, I thank God for Purgatory because it really does provide me with a final and effective opportunity after I've made a big mess of this life to be transformed completely into what I am supposed to be. I don't expect purgation in this life or the next to be pleasant, but I trust God to make me what I am supposed to be.
No, I didn't ask to be born, but I trust that God has got it right and that whatever I really want to be that is what God has got for me.
This doesn't just hold for me - it isn't a personal salvation because I am nothing without the Church. Each one of us had to be born so that the Body of Christ could be what it is supposed to be. Our existence is so that others can exist so that the one person who asked to be born can be born. Life may be a means to an end, but it is also the end of the means!