Christianity,  Culture

Abortion and the Sexual Revolution

Dinesh D’Sousa argues that the pro-choice movement prevails—in spite of its bad arguments—because of its connection to the sexual revolution. Pro-choicers by and large are not concerned about the humanity of the unborn. Indeed, some will grant that the unborn are human beings, but they will not grant that the unborn have a fundamental right to life. Why? He answers:

‘I think it’s because abortion is the debris of the sexual revolution. We have seen a great shift in the sexual mores of Americans in the past half-century. Today a widespread social understanding persists that if there is going to be sex outside marriage, there will be a considerable number of unwanted pregnancies. Abortion is viewed as a necessary clean-up solution to this social reality.

‘In order to have a sexual revolution, women must have the same sexual autonomy as men. But the laws of biology contradict this ideology, so feminists who have championed the sexual revolution—Simone de Beauvoir, Gloria Steinem, Shulamith Firestone, among others—have found it necessary to denounce pregnancy as an invasion of the female body. The fetus becomes, in Firestone’s phrase, an “uninvited guest.” As long as the fetus occupies the mother’s womb, these activists argue, the mother should be able to keep it or get rid of it at her discretion. . .

‘If I’m on the right track, pro-life arguments are not likely to succeed by simply continuing to stress the humanity of the fetus. The opposition already knows this, as probably do most women who have an abortion. Rather, the pro-life movement must take into account the larger cultural context of the sexual revolution that invisibly but surely sustains the triumphant advocates of abortion.

‘It won’t be easy, but somehow the case against abortion must include a case against sexual libertinism. It is time to return to the drawing board.’

I am so very grateful for the pro-life movement and the gains it has made in winning hearts and minds. Indeed, the pro-life movement is at its best when it is confronting the culture of death with the humanity of the unborn. Consciences are still sensitive in many cases to that kind of argument.

Nevertheless, I agree with D’Sousa that confronting the culture of death must involve a confrontation with sexual libertinism. I don’t think, however, that the pro-life movement is equipped to change the culture on that question. The sexual revolution will not be turned back by “public square” arguments. Arguments can only do so much. Only the gospel can beat back the tide of immorality that rests so heavily on our culture. Thus, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ alone has the means to address what’s at the heart of all of this. I hope and pray that she will.


  • DennyReader

    Utter and complete bunk. If his argument were valid, we would expect to see millions of people killing their own born children.

    What is bunk? How do you get from Dinesh’s premise that abortion advocacy is linked to the sexual revolution to your conclusion that millions of people would be killing their own born children? This is a non sequitur. What is not debatable is the willingness of abortionists to kill the babies before they are born, eliminating the need to kill them afterward.

  • Derek Taylor

    I agree with Dinesh. Especially during election seasons, conservative Christians repeatedly engage in a full assault on abortion and open ourselves up to the natural critique that they show so much concern for one issue that other critical concerns and injustices get short shrift.
    There is actually some legitimacy to this argument. What if Dinesh is right, that abortion is the manifestation and fruit of a flawed worldview and belief system. Christians should condemn and speak out about abortion, but we must become more effective at articulating a comprehensive, Biblical perspective on all of life.

  • paul

    “It won’t be easy, but somehow the case against abortion must include a case against sexual libertinism.”

    While I whole-heartedly agree, all I can say is, “good luck, Dinesh.”

  • PT Money

    Good find, Denny. I like the point that Dinesh is making and it definitely gave me an “oh yeah” moment. But I think he’s partially right. I agree that the focus should shift a tad from the fetus discussions, but not abandon (pun) the idea completely. Dinesh, and most readers here all see it from an insiders view. We’re bombarded with the fetus argument because we’re educated Christians. We pay attention to the news, have well-thought out opinions, listened to the sermons. I would argue that the majority of women killing for convenience aren’t in our position. I think they are more ignorant than Dinish thinks.

  • paul

    “I would argue that the majority of women killing for convenience aren’t in our position. I think they are more ignorant than Dinish thinks.”

    I would argue that PT Money shouldn’t be the guy making the argument, that’s for sure.

    for one, calling it “killing for convenience” robs the discussion of any compassion for the woman contemplating the abortion. I don’t know your social circles, but the few women I know that have had abortions have never done so non-chalantly (sp?). You’d best figure that out quick.

    Secondly, I don’t think there’s a lot of “ignorance” going around in these discussions, except on possibly the front end of the chain of events that would lead to an abortion in the first place. But I’ve had that argument here before, and no one is going to change a mind. What there is, in abundance, is exactly what D’Souza is pointing out – a bevy of lifestyle issues and choices that are so deeply ingrained in American culture that a child can become an inconvenience, a choice or a burden. While I wasn’t around then, so I can’t be sure, I am told that this happened much less often when sex was not seen as a necessary part of the puzzle to achieve equality.

  • Kelly

    speaking from a pro choice position that is different from that of most posting here, and I should mention I am no fan of Mr. D’Souza, I must say I agree with him.

    I agree with Paul that I have never known a female who had an abortion non-chalantly. But, abortion is a valuable service that serves as a fall back for when birth controll fails is is forgotten, and people are NOT going to go back to a lifestyle of always monogomous lifelong marriages where people want 9 (or 5 or 3)kids. It is just not going to happen. Even most conservative denominations are in numeric decline now, and the liberal ones are outright pro choice. Then there is the rest of society, which is comfortable by ad large with the status quo. People often say they do not like abortion….but, they usually don’t want to make it illegal to get one. They or their daughter might, in unlikely but not that rare circumstances, need one after all.

    As long as people are sexually liberated, there will be a need for abortion. And people will remain sexually liberated. I don’t see any going back to how things were. People pressed for a change to that way of life for a reason, after all. The current way is easier and more liberating, the old way harder, and less liberating. And the benefits of the old way make little sense to a people who do not even understand it, nor care to do so.

    Can individual hearts and minds be changed by a conservative Christian message (crisis pregnancy counseling, etc)? I think yes. Their is evidence of this all around. But changing a whole sexual ethic of the majority of society that has no interest in making such a change? Won’t happen. The church itself is divided on the issue, and even if it spoke with one voice, most outside the sanctuary no longer give said voice much weight.

  • Brian Krieger


    Even from your secular position, I think that abortion merely fuels the fire of the sexual liberation. If there was actually an acceptance of responsibility and consequences, I imagine we would likely see a drop in that sexual liberality.

    From a Christian perspective, I would also say that overwhelmingly Christians (even if taken at the face value of someone claiming the name while living a life devoid of evidence) at most see destroying a fetus as only in dire circumstances as opposed to the at-will option championed now.

    I agree with Clay that the transforming of lives by the power of God is the only way. But we work and finish the race. We don’t throw up our hands and say, “wow, this is tough, oh, well, just go with the flow.” Taking that attitude (as many in the church have) and we find ourselves in the mish-mash of Corinth.

  • Larry S

    Brian wrote: “I agree with Clay that the transforming of lives by the power of God is the only way.”

    I think you are overstating things. Many persons from other faiths have highly moral lives – even (gasp) people with no religious/spiritual faith.

    Are you arguing or wishing for a theocratic state – where ‘Christian values’ are imposed on the general populace?

  • Clay


    No! Not in the least. In fact, a theocratic state is a sure way to snuff out the power of the Gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ sets us free. It is only evidence of our depravity that we then take such a gift, and turn it around to oppress others. A theocratic state is not a Christian one.

    As for people of other faiths, I would accept your argument that many–with or without faith–live disciplined, moral lives. However, having done so myself, I can tell you that–no matter how much I discipline my behavior–my heart is resistant to change. It is stubborn, angry, lustful, greedy, and selfish. Without the transforming grace of Jesus Christ, I would be unable to do a thing about my corrupt heart.

    As such, when I try to control my behavior by myself, I feel trapped by the “rules” of the Christian faith. There is cognitive dissonance, as the apostle Paul wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Many people encounter this and feel burdened by Jesus, rather than set free. But Paul responds a few verses later, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    There is freedom in Jesus, freedom from the depravity of ourselves. And it is only in our submission to Christ that he begins to transform us, and to set us free. I do not believe that there is another power that can do what he does. So I simply shudder to think of addressing the moral perils of our country without crying out to Jesus–the one who can save us–for his help.

    Peace and grace,

  • Larry S


    I’m not ‘arguing’ that people other than Christians can have moral lives. I’m stating something that to me anyway is quite obvious and something many fundamentalist Christians appear to overlook when talking about these matters.

    You mention the need for ‘revival’ and Brian made his transformed lives by the power of God statement. I suppose you both could be referring to the folks who claim to be Jesus followers but whose lives do not reflect the same. 🙂

    One way to communicate in the public square (i.e. when arguing for say: monogomous hetrosexual marriage) would be to provide nonfaith based rationale to support your contention that sexual liberation (to use Kelly’s term) is not in the long-run satisfying or in the individuals/general publics best interest.

  • ex-preacher

    So how do you explain the fact that the abortion rate, teen pregnancy rate, divorce rate and crime rate are all higher in overwhelmingly Christian America than in overwhelmingly secular Europe, Australia and Japan?

  • Denny Burk


    Two answers to your question:

    1. If you define Christian as those who are born-again disciples of Jesus, then America is not a Christian nation–not by a long shot.

    2. America has some of the most liberal abortion laws that the world has ever seen. It’s legal in the U.S. to kill unborn babies any time from conception until delivery (0-9months). Even more secularized nations like Great Britain have some restrictions on late abortions. America does not have those.


  • Sue

    The teen pregnancy rate, and teen abortion rate is many times higher in the United States than in Western Europe.

    However, I understand that both of these rates are now falling, so perhaps it might be better to focus on what is causing the pregnancy and abortion rate to fall, and then try to maximize that success.

  • ex-preacher


    However you want to define Christian, the U.S. has many more of them than Europe, Japan and Australia.

    88% of abortions in the U.S. occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, 10% in weeks 13-20, and only 1.3% in week 21 or later. In Great Britain, abortions are legal until week 24.

    Whatever the reason that abortion rates are lower in Europe, it surely cannot be because “the gospel [has] beat back the tide of immorality that rests so heavily on [their] culture.” Do you think Europeans are less sexually libertine than Americans?

    Abortions can best be prevented by preventing unwanted pregnancies. If evangelicals are serious about wanting to lower the abortion rate, they will follow the example of Europe and advocate for comprehensive sex education and cheap birth control.

    You didn’t address the other items I mentioned including the lower crime rate and divorce rate in Europe. If the only hope for “beating back immorality” is the gospel, how do you account for Europe’s relative success?

    Your argument is even further weakened when one looks at such statistics on a state by state basis and compares them with the number of “born again Christians.” It turns out that the worst divorce rates, teenage preganncy rates and crime rates are in the “Bible Belt” and that the best rates are in New England and the Northwest, which happen to be the most secular parts of the country.

  • ex-preacher

    Seriously, DennyReader? You need proof that Europe and Australia are largely secular? Look at any poll on the subject, my friend.

    Would you believe it if Albert Mohler said it? Here he is from his blog on Nov. 6, 2007:

    “Europe may be overwhelmingly secular, but Americans are still a deeply religious people . . .”

  • DennyReader

    Abortions can best be prevented by preventing unwanted pregnancies. If evangelicals are serious about wanting to lower the abortion rate, they will follow the example of Europe and advocate for comprehensive sex education and cheap birth control.

    Please do you really believe that people don’t know about birth control? My guess is the average teenager knows more about sex than many of the older generations, thanks to our wonderful secular education system. And that I think is a much greater contributing factor to the promiscuity of our youth.

    While we all love surveys and statistics, in this case almost all of the surveys do not take many other variables into account. e.g. How prevalent is the morning-after pill used? How much peer pressure does a teen experience to be promiscuous while they are growing up? Do their schools waste as much time on indoctrinating our kids to be politically correct rather than academic excellence? What is the violence rate in their schools? There are myriads of variables that could affect these statistics.

    “the gospel [has] beat back the tide of immorality that rests so heavily on [their] culture.”

    This is a misquote. I believe Burk wrote this.

    Only the gospel can beat back the tide of immorality that rests so heavily on our culture.

    Can does not mean has. The significance is that only the gospel is capable of changing a person’s heart and their moral worldview. D’Sousa have some merit in suggesting for a change in focus for arguing against abortion, but winning an argument does not change a person’s worldview. Only the gospel can do that. But that is not the same as saying the gospel has change the hearts and minds of Europe or anyone here in the U.S. You used to be a professor, don’t you know the Bible? Remember Jn 3:19-21
    “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

    Yes, only the gospel can change a person but alas many love darkness more than light.

  • DennyReader

    And yes I do need prove that Europe and Australia is secular. At least as far as their affiliation and profession is concerned, since you don’t seem to care about what constitute as real Christianity as Dr. Burk has defined it.

    From wikipedia, Europe and Australia

  • Brian Krieger


    (In a huge paraphrase) You state that conservative Christians still sin. I’m sorry, but Paul beat you to that argument.

    Regardless of what happens, we are called to a standard of righteousness that is unmovable. We strive to affirm what God affirms and decry what God has decried. We do not call evil good or dark light.

    And, to answer the other question by Larry, no, we don’t vie for a theocratic state. But we should uphold what God upholds in any way we possibly can. With abortion, we uphold the dignity of human life, the highest of God’s creation, in His own image. That is why it is so important to those who are of Christ.

    I read this earlier this morning and thought of the discussion going on here (and the other ice cream one and tree thing as well). Hebrews 4:

    For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

    Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

  • Kelly

    No Brian, I am not saying that…I am saying that the area where conservative Christians are dominant have higher rates of the things you claim you have the “cure” for, and that your own rates of these behaviors, like divorce, are pathetic in light of the “we have the answers!” attitude that RADIATES from most conservative churches. Most directly, I was pointing out the humor of a dean of a theological institution making his uncouth statements about THIS issue when the denomination he is a leader of (by teaching) has such stunning stats itself, and the region it most heavily influences has the worst stats on social problems in the country…but hey! A company in a liberal state with low divorce rates/teen pregnancy rates and other good social stats had the AUDACITY to take note that two people in love can now have that union recognized and live their lives together. Oh WOW, talk about straining for gnats! It would be funny if it were not so unkind, and if such attitudes did not hurt people I am related to and love.

    THAT is what I pointed out. Not that conservative (and liberal) Christians sin. I was raised a conservative…trust me, I know that they sin.

  • Kelly

    Denny Reader, if you do not know that the Europeans are more secular (and I suspect you do and are being argumenative), a simple search of your own denominations (assuming you are Baptist) will confirm it.

  • Kelly

    Please note: I was reading both this post and the one concerning B
    &J’s ice cream. By accident, I responded on this blog line to that one. Mea Culpa.

  • Brian Krieger

    Actually, Kelly, you are saying exactly what Paul says. We are not perfected in the flesh. Far from it. Even Paul had his “thorns”. We are all fallen. Because we sin simply means that we sin, not that God’s word isn’t true. We are measured by God, not in relation to one another (which should strike deep reverential fear in each and every one of us).

    I was listening to Begg today. He spoke of expectations. The struggle for a Christian is just what you highlight, Kelly. We cannot expect those outside of Christ to live a life as though they are in Christ. For instance, I think you have a couple of letters wrong. It’s not that abortion is necessary, but it is necessarily a result of the sexually immoral. Destroying a human life is (as unpopular as this will be), at its heart, self serving. It’s not necessary, it’s necessarily a product of turning away from God. For some, it’s a rebellious action. For others it’s a life of rebellion. So, as Christians, we strive to uphold God’s word. Sometimes we have the ability to politically affect this. But as some have rightly pointed out here, we don’t trust in horses and chariots. We should strive to preach the message of Christ crucified above all other things to help liberate those who are in a life of theft. To free those in sexual sin of the chains of their own sinful choices. To bring the forgiveness bought on Calvary to those who daily deny God’s grace. In response to much of what you (and ep) have said, I, for one, am severely deficient in that I don’t weep enough for those who are perishing. I am too often happy to be where I am and never give it a thought. I appreciate the stoke.

  • ex-preacher

    The article you linked to confirms what I was saying, DennyReader. West Europeans will say they believe in God and are Christian, but it turns out that is a very lightly held belief and affiliation. When asked deeper questions, the matter becomes more clear. The article you linked to had this:

    When asked “Does religion occupy an important place in your life?” the following percentage of people answered “No.”

    Sweden 83%
    Denmark 80%
    Norway 78%
    Czech Rep. 74%
    France 73%
    UK 71%
    Finland 69%
    Netherlands 66%
    Belgium 61%
    Spain 59%
    Germany 57%
    Switzerland 56%

    A measure of actual behavior reveals the following percentages claim to attend church weekly: (all statistics below from nationmastercom)

    Japan 2%
    Iceland 4%
    Finland 4%
    Sweden 4%
    Norway 5%
    Denmark 5%
    Czech Rep. 14%
    Australia 16%
    Switzerland 16%
    France 21%
    Spain 25%
    UK 27%
    Netherlands 35%
    U.S. 44%

    Here’s the abortion rate – per 1,000 people

    Sweden 4.2
    U.S. 4.1
    Norway 3
    Iceland 2.7
    Japan 2.7
    France 2.7
    Finland 1.9
    Germany 1.2

    Below is the births to teens per 1 million people

    U.S. 1,671
    Iceland 890
    Australia 590
    Czech Rep. 589
    Germany 351
    Norway 350
    France 297
    Belgium 287
    Finland 284
    Spain 279
    Denmark 213
    Sweden 178
    Netherlands 172
    Switzerland 146
    Japan 137

    And finally, murders per 100,000 people

    U.S. 4.3
    Finland 2.8
    France 1.7
    Czech Rep. 1.7
    Iceland 1.7
    Australia 1.5
    UK 1.4
    Spain 1.2
    Germany 1.2
    Netherlands 1.1
    Denmark 1.1
    Norway 1.1
    Switzerland .9
    Japan .5

  • DennyReader

    Kelly, no I am not trying to be argumentive. I am trying to be precise. ex-preacher said that European and Australia is “overwhelmingly secular”, that is completely false.

    To ex-preacher, the fact to the matter is that you were wrong to make that claim. Even in your qualifier, you can only claim that for Europe but not Australia. As for the question itself “Does religion occupy an important place in your life?” What does that actually mean? Does that mean that they reject all Christian ethics which they claim affiliation to and adopt only atheistic ethics? Isn’t it a leap for you to assume from that response to a single question that secularism is better than Christianity?

    Here is the second problem with your argument. When you realized that you were wrong about your blanket assertion that secularism is better than Christianity, in the context of this discussion. You begin to qualify what people mean when they say they are Christians. You begin to switch your argument and say that they claim to be Christian but they aren’t really Christians, implying that they are more secularists. Well, didn’t you understand that was what Dr. Burk and I have been telling you? Who are the real Christians? As you have finally realized after you’ve been proven wrong, that it is not about what one profess as their faith but rather how important is that faith in a person’s life. You ought to know; didn’t you used to be one of those who profess to be a Christian?

    You also go back to that fallacy of equating pregnancy, crime, and divorce rates with Christian principles. Even among those professing Christians, didn’t you say that they don’t use birth control? Teen pregnancy is the symptoms of the problem of a sinful nature to engage in intimate relationships outside the bounds of marriage. I suspect the pregnancy rate is not indicative of the higher immorality rate in the more secular states. Divorce rate also does not take into account the immoral actions of the more secular states where couples chooses to live together instead of getting married. It also does not take into account the gay couples rate either does it? Less marriages therefore less divorce. Finally can you show me the statistic that links crime rate to professing Christians? The bottom line is that these social problems are the result of those who reject Christian ethics for a secular lifestyle, regardless if they are professing Christians or secularists.

  • DennyReader

    Cross posting.

    Earlier I’ve made this comment, “there is no guarantee that we will escape the problems you’ve raised but I believe the percentages would be much lower than secularists (confirmed by survey).”
    Here’s the article ‘Evangelical Girls Are Easy’

    * But these numbers shift when controlled for religious intensity. For those who attend church often, sexual activity is delayed until nearly 17, while nominal evangelicals begin at 16.2 years, earlier than the national average.

    * Only 1 percent of conservative Protestants who attend church weekly cohabit, compared to 10 percent of all adults. (On this statistic, nominal evangelicals almost exactly mirror the nation.)

    * Twelve percent of churchgoing evangelicals have children out of wedlock, compared to 33 percent of all mothers.

  • ex-preacher

    So, church-going conservative evangelicals delay sexual activity until “nearly 17, while nominal evangelicals begin at 16.2 years.” Wow, a whole .8 of a year!

    I don’t think we’re making any progress here, DennyReader, so I expect this to be my last response to you.

    Yes, Europe AND Australia AND Japan (and I’ll throw in New Zealand) are all overwhelmingly secular. This is simply not a matter of disagreement.

    Also beyond debate is the fact that almost all measurable indicators of well-being are higher in secular Western Europe, Australia, Japan and New Zealand than in the U.S.

    Finally, within the U.S., statistics consistently show higher indicators of well-being in the most secular states (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, Washington and Oregon), while the most religious states (Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia and North Carolina) hover near the bottom of such indicators.

    Let me emphasize that this doesn’t prove that religiosity causes murder, divorce, obesity and teen pregnancy. I do think there is a clear connection between poverty (which does cause lots of bad things) and religiosity. That is, poor people are more likely to be religious and poor people are more likely to engage in socially negative behavior. People in Mississippi probably pray and worship and believe at a higher rate than the people in any other state, and yet they’re stuck at the bottom of almost every list. If the gospel could beat back Mississippi’s problems, you’d think it would have worked by now.

  • DennyReader

    Wow, a whole .8 of a year!

    ex-preacher you have a real bad habit of misquoting and leaving things out don’t you? According to the article when “religious intensity” are factored in, evangelical teens actually stay chaste longer than the secular teen. b>It means that you were wrong to claim that secularism is better for teens than Christianity.

    Europe AND Australia AND Japan (and I’ll throw in New Zealand) are all overwhelmingly secular.

    I disagree with you and the facts disagree with you. Unless you want to parse the data which would make the U.S. also overwhelmingly secular, but that would mean that you are again wrong about secularism and Christianity. The only way that you can come out ahead is to use secular ethics and apply different measuring standards to different groups to tailor the outcome to fit your bias.

    Your problem is that you’ve created a fixed set of reality in your own mind and you propensity to allow only data in that fit your fictitious reality. But please don’t expect others to think your wild assertions are logically defensible.

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