Battling for the Unborn and Unborn-again

In the most recent Christianity Today (“Sex, Lies, and Abortion,” Sept. 2009, p. 78) Dinesh D’Souza explains why pro-life arguments for the humanity of the unborn don’t carry the day.

Why then, in the face of its bad arguments, does the pro-choice movement continue to prevail legally and politically?

I think it's because abortion is the debris of the sexual revolution. . . .

In order to have a sexual revolution, women must have the same sexual autonomy as man. But the laws of biology contradict this ideology, so feminists who have championed the sexual revolution . . . have found it necessary to denounce pregnancy as an invasion of the female body. . .

No one in the pro-choice camp, of course, wants to admit any of this. It's not only politically embarrassing, it's also painful to one's self-image to acknowledge a willingness to sustain permissive sexual values by killing the unborn.

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.

Two further observations.

Somebody with my view would call the abortion position “fornication management”—like “damage control.” Jesus (Matthew 15:19) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6:18) forbid fornication. But from the other side it’s called “justice.” If a man can have free sex with no pregnancy consequences, then justice demands that the woman have the same “right.” So as long as sexual intercourse is perceived as a given—a kind of visceral “right” (part of what it means to be a sexual being)—then abortion will be a demanded “right” to give parity to male and female.

The other observation is that the upshot of D’Souza’s article is that a “case against sexual libertinism” is good, but by itself powerless. “Cases” don’t affect hormones and passions very much. But there is a power to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). His name is the Holy Spirit. And he moves through faith by making Jesus Christ the supreme treasure of life—including sexual life.

So, at bottom, the battle for the life of the unborn is the same as the battle for the life of the un-born-again.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.