Abortion and “winking” at promiscuity

February 26, 2011

For my sermon series on the Ten Commandments, which resumes tomorrow with Number Seven, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” I’ve been reading a provocative book called The Truth About God: The Ten Commandments in Christian Life, by fellow United Methodists Hauerwas and Willimon. They make the following point, which is obviously true but not said often enough—especially to those of us who endorse our Book of Discipline‘s opposition to abortion as a means of birth control:

There is no way to separate our ethics of abortion from the way we live our lives sexually. We cannot give a wink about promiscuity and at the same time vigorously prohibit abortion. If abortion is wrong, and ought to be prohibited among Christians, that presupposes a community whereby we are given the resources not to commit the violence that abortion names.1

Our culture tells us that sex has no consequences; that we should have as much sex with whomever we want, whenever we want; and that if we don’t, something is wrong with us, and we’ll probably die. (Is that really much of an exaggeration?) Too often we Christians endorse this message through our own attitudes and actions. Unintended pregnancy is the most conspicuous reminder that we are lying to ourselves.

If we prohibit abortion as birth control (as I would argue that we should), let’s be clear that we are, in part, asking women to be sacrificial lambs in a sexually confused culture for which we are partially responsible.

1. Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, The Truth About God: The Ten Commandments in Christian Life (Nashville: Abingdon, 1999), 96.

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