Sex, Life, and Death

November 4, 2009 | by | Topic: GeneralPrint Print

Two summers ago, while passing through an airport, I caught a TV news story: double homicide in Ohio. The victims were a young woman and the nine-month-old fetus she was carrying. The murderer was her lover, the unborn baby’s father.

I was stunned, bewildered, grieved. Who could do such a thing?

Apparently, this particular crime is not rare. One expert interviewed for the report I saw averred that homicide is the second-most common cause of death for pregnant women in America.

I’ve thought about this heinous crime repeatedly during the past two years. Here are some thoughts that have occurred to me:

The perpetrators of this crime tend to be men rejecting the responsibilities of parenthood and marriage. Both child and mother are viewed as burdens to be disposed of. How dare the woman carry the baby to term and ruin a convenient, nonbinding sexual relationship!

These double murders don’t occur in a void, but in a social context against the cultural backdrop formed by our values. Please don’t construe what follows as suggesting collective guilt. What I will suggest is that men murdering their lovers and children is the most extreme manifestation of thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that tend toward death and away from life. The perpetrators are responsible for their crimes. Let’s look around us to see if there are trends in thought in our society that are nourishing a cultural ethos that depreciates the value of individual lives.

The increasing incidence of men killing their pregnant lovers coincides over the last 36 years with abortion having received legal sanction as a legitimate form of birth control. Legalizing the killing of unwanted babies was our first repudiation of the principle of the sanctity of life, a rejection of God’s plan. “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord” (Isaiah, 66:9).

A next step after abortion on the slippery slope toward death is the killing of women bearing unwanted babies. (A quick aside here: The pro-abortion assertion that a fetus is just a growth inside a woman’s body, not a life, receives a strong rebuke when our laws treat the murder of a pregnant woman as a double homicide.)

Roughly coinciding with the period of legalized abortion has been the insidious error, propagated by pagan environmentalism, that there are too many people, that having children is irresponsible, that a human being is just another mouth to feed, rather than an intelligent, creative, productive being whose life can glorify the Creator of the universe. God’s first command to man—“be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis. 1:28)—was contradicted by green theologians who proclaimed procreation a sin against mother earth.

Also feeding an anti-life culture has been the common “baby boomer” desire to remain young and carefree for as long as possible. Raising kids is hard work and ties one down, right? True, but millions of us who have opted for parenthood have found raising children to be the greatest joy in this world. But the fact remains that many boomers have preferred consumption to investment, immediate gratification to long-term, greater rewards. We’d rather partake of the pleasures of this world (exotic vacations, fancy cars, luxury goods) than sacrifice some of our immediate wants for the long-run benefit of our familial and societal posterity.

Another powerful anti-life undertow was generated by the “sexual revolution.” For many, the Judeo-Christian concept of sex for procreation was eclipsed by the philosophy of sex as recreation. Procreation or recreation: Is sex about creating life or having fun? Is it about giving life and love, or is it about taking pleasure—a self-indulgence so devoid of love that in extreme cases it culminates in murder. Is it life-affirming or life-destroying?

To the extent that sex as fun has eclipsed sex for life, we have trivialized sex and devalued life. The result: Soaring divorce rates, the emotional trauma of broken families, and even men murdering their lovers and unborn children. Clearly, being “liberated” from traditional sexual mores isn’t as progressive—individually or socially—as the proponents of sexual “liberation” promised.

Here is some historical trivia, which I know will sound like raving right-wing paranoia to those who never studied the subject: communists insidiously worked to encourage sexual license and subvert sexual morality in America. It’s all there in black and white, dating back to Beria, the leader of Lenin’s vile secret police. Communists understood that a demoralized population is far easier to enslave than a morally upright people. They delighted in the Vietnam-era countercultural mottoes, “Make love, not war” and “If it feels good, do it,” because they understood that a society filled with people who value self-indulgence above heroism and sacrifice lacks the backbone to resist the encroachments of tyranny.

Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of a more demoralized society and one riper for the loss of self-government than one in which men choose to kill their pregnant lovers and wives.

As is always the case with life’s great issues, the Bible provides the best guidance: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3) and “choose life that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Mark W. Hendrickson

Mark W. Hendrickson

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

High resolution photos»

Donate to The Center for Vision and Values