Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oprah's Teen Pregnancy Confession -- Wisdom or Rationalization?



 Just days before the March for Life, Oprah Winfrey spoke about her teen pregnancy on CNN's new show, Piers Morgan Tonight. Oprah's matter-of-fact description of herself as an  out of control teen is one of the saddest things I've heard in a long time. She doesn't offer too much about her family -- she mentions abuse, lack of boundaries, independence when guidance was necessary and that's about it. When sent to her father in Maryland -- I suppose to get some structure -- she describes him as harsh and insensitive, a man of rules who made her consider taking her own life.

Oprah had a difficult upbringing, one that might cause emotions to swell. But in describing for  Morgan the circumstances of her teen pregnancy, she provides the calculated delivery of a news commentator -- which she was before becoming a megastar. You can almost see her carefully lifting the lid on the box in her psyche where she has safely stowed this part of her life. She offers only enough to make an impact; only enough to show the audience that she has enough personal experience to have an opinion; only enough to say it without feeling it.

Perhaps that is why Oprah admits to having "no attachment" to her baby.  The only feeling she expresses is one of relief when the baby died and "never came home from the hospital." Imagine what she might have felt, what she might have experienced if she were supported by a loving family. Oprah can't ignore the fact that her past has shaped and formed her opinions now. What she offers as the wisdom of experience sounds very much like denial, stoic acceptance and rationalization. She has allowed millions of viewers to watch her struggle to find herself; her need for a psychotherapist; her ever morphing belief system in her search for truth and love. It all seems so sad. There is no objective truth to which she is anchored, no all knowing deity, no family, nothing; she is free-floating guided by a continuing barrage of "the wisdom of what's popular now". Yes, she is rich and famous -- all temporary. What will she have in the end when material riches and popularity no longer matter? Will she be left lonely and empty as a result of her search for the elusive humanist answer?

Oprah rightly maintains that today's world is different -- unwed pregnancies don't carry the same stigma, and that is a tragedy or sorts. Does this mean that unwed mothers have it better; don't see a future of sacrifice and hardship because of a moral mistake; don't consider it better to take their own lives, don't have their babies in toilets at rest stops, leave them at Church doorsteps, or worse, have them aborted? No, these things happen, nothing has gotten better, in fact  because of "freedom of choice" things have gotten worse. Young girls have been tricked into thinking that the use of their body for pleasure will not have any consequences, that they won't hurt from throwing away the gift of their virginity for a moment of eroticism, and that there is always a way out that preserves their ability to have it all. The culture has so persuaded young women that the choices they make about sexual activity don't require consultation, prayer, or self-control.

Yes, Oprah, the stigma may have diminished, but the pain and the consequences remain -- 3000 babies lost to abortion every day and millions of women tortured and confused by the lie they have been told about their bodies, their behaviors and their "freedom to choose."



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