Two weeks ago, younger evangelical leaders gathered in Washington D.C. to reflect about the shape Christianity should take in the world. Q, the conference hosted by Gabe Lyons, is one of the more interesting spots in the evangelical landscape. Self-conscious in its cultural (which is to say, not political) orientation, conference attendees are an interesting cross-section of the evangelical world. Some might be emergent, others might be Reformed, but no one talks much about all that. It's concern about social issues, rather than distinctive theological ones, that attendees seem to gather around.
In a breathtaking moment of unity, however, conference attendees affirmed that churches should advocate for contraceptives for the single people in their midst. After a panel discussion on the best ways to reduce abortions in the church (tacit answer: contraception), an instant poll put the question to attendees: "Do you believe churches should advocate contraception for their single twentysomethings?" The question is ambiguously worded (Advocate how? From the pulpit? Which twentysomethings? All of them?). But even so, 70 percent of respondents understood enough to say "yes."
In other words, we can fix this problem by feeding another. Reduce abortions by reducing conceptions. The only problem with that is that we still have the casual sex culture that creates this need for contraception and this has become a mountain we cannot overcome. So we go around it and allow the mountain to stand. To be sure, reducing abortions is not some noble goal but the urgent cause for Christians of all stripes and persuasions. But that goal of reducing abortions will not be helped by the tacit approval of a hook up culture in which sex is seen as a God given right and a human drive that cannot be controlled. Until and unless we desire to address the root of this problem and its willingness to give in to desire and to find a way to take away the ordinary consequences of this desire, we will have simply traded one problem for another.
The casual sex culture has created ripple effects in which our distorted view of (and our belief in our right to) pleasure has given birth to broken hearts, broken marriages, broken children, and broken lives. This is the seed of which abortion is one fruit but it is not the only fruit of this poisoned tree.
We gain nothing by providing the best contraceptives money can buy so that the need for abortion will be reduced. In fact, some of those contraceptives are themselves abortifacients. No, the answer for abortion is not more and better contraception. It is the willingness to address the unrestrained power of desire within us -- and the name for that is sin.