There is a remarkable article on Insider.com which features a series of comments from young people who belong to “Generation Z.” Sometimes described as “Zoomers,” GenZ are those who were born after 1996. The article purports to reflect the fears of Generation Z about sex after the end of Roe v. Wade.
The Strange New (To Zoomers) Post-Roe World
Like many writing on this question, neither the author of the article nor those interviewed seemed to understand the legal ramifications of the end of the Roe/Doe legal regime imposed on the country for nearly 50 years in 1973. The Roe, Doe, and Casey decisions by the Supreme Court stole the debate over the legal status of abortion and the legal status of unborn humans from the state and federal legislative bodies. It pre-empted the debate through an untenable and even bizarre interpretation of the Constitution.
Legal scholars and Supreme Court justices (e.g., Ruth Bader-Ginsburg) have long recognized that Roe was badly decided. In Casey, the court tried to save Roe but Casey would not hold. In Dobbs, the court repudiated both the conclusions of Roe, Doe, and Casey but also its earlier approach to Constitutional interpretation.
In Dobbs, the court returned the debate to the legislative bodies in America, where the elected representatives of the people can address the issue state by state. Both the author and the Zoomers interviewed seem to assume that the end of Roe means the impossibility of obtaining an abortion. This is a false premise, a false conclusion, and quite at odds with the facts. Even as the Dobbs ruling was being announced corporations such Patagonia were announcing that they would pay the bail of those of their employees who were arrested for breaking the law while protesting Dobbs. Several other corporations pledged either to move their employees to a blue state where abortions will continue to be performed on demand, for any reason and presumably at any point in the pregnancy. This means that GenZers need only to cross state lines to continue to have access to abortions for the purposes of birth control. It was fascinating to see the author and the interviewees casually admit that the abortions they envisioned getting (or not being able to obtain) were entirely for the sake of convenience and career. Of course, to those who have been paying attention this is no surprise. The two groups shouting the loudest to preserve the Roe regime were professional (mostly white) women, whose careers might be interrupted or even ended by bringing another human safely into the world, and their boyfriends/lovers/husbands who also benefit personally from sex without responsibility.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the article, however, is that no one, not the author nor the interviewees, seemed able to imagine a world where a single seventeen-year old was not having sex. That someone should be able to have pre-marital sex without consequence is regarded in the article as an unquestioned truth. Were this lot to write the Declaration of Independence it might say, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that everyone is entitled to sex whenever, with whomever, without consequence.”
Of course, nature, from which GenZers might be the most insulated of any generation in human history, does not work that way. When two humans have sex, pregnancy is a very real possibility. You see, sex is how humans procreate (have babies). Further, that which is conceived within the womb of the female of the species is also demonstrably human. The human zygote has human DNA. The human embryo (Greek for infant) develops human features. The human foetus (Latin for infant) is a human. Tiny humans in utero in the womb are humans. Each one of us, those of us who were born before Roe and those born after, were once tiny humans in the womb. We did not become humans when we were born. No physician conferred humanity upon us. The attending physician or doula or nurse merely recognized the reality present to their senses: “You have a boy” or “You have a girl.”
In an age when so many have been shouting, “Believe the science,” it is remarkable to see GenZers and others living in such a magical world. Science tells us that sex produces babies and that babies, at whatever stage of development, are human and that procreation is a biological necessity. If humans do not procreate, the human race will become extinct. At least some of the GenZers interviewed for this story, however, seem determined to foreswear sex altogether. If they may not easily murder the human conceived by free sex, then they just will not have any. Perhaps. Human biology is a reality. So is human psychology and the need for family and community.
Shine, Christian, Shine
In our dark, post-Roe, post-sanity world, Christians have an opportunity to shine like bright, sane lights.
The first way we may so shine is for Christian parents to ground their covenant children in reality as God has described it in his Word. Marriage is an honorable estate, established by God in creation.
Scripture relates the institution of marriage, in creation, in Genesis 2. Scripture says:
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Gen 2:18–25; NASB95).
Contra our Gnostic, post-Christian, pagan neighbors, pre- or extra-marital sex is not an unalienable right. Sex is a creational good given to humans as image bearers by which males and females become “one flesh.” It is intended by God to be exercised within the bounds of marriage. Same-sex marriage is oxymoronic by definition.
The second way Christians may shine, in this dark, Narcissistic culture, is to teach their children that, for Christians, sex within the confines of heterosexual marriage is a picture of the gracious relationship between Christ and his church. Paul details this in Ephesians 5:25–32:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church (NASB95).
The neo-pagan picture of sex and marriage is entirely different. It is entirely self-oriented. Zoomers are bewildered about how or whether to begin a relationship because the Boomers, Xers, and Millennials before them have progressively turned sex and marriage on its head. It became a means to self-fulfillment. We see this in the divorce culture developed by the Boomers in the mid-70s. They demanded no-fault divorce and divorces spiked. “Irreconcilable differences” became a film and a byword in the culture. It was code for “my needs are no longer being met.” “What about my needs?” became the dominant ethos.
As the last light of Christendom flickered and was extinguished at the end of the 20th century, the cultural memory of the significance of marriage and sex also faded. For Christians, however, sex is not about “my needs.” It is fundamentally other-centered. For the neo-pagans, sex is about self but for the Christian, sex is a way of giving up one’s self in the interest of the other as Christ gave himself for us. Marriage is a picture of that other-focused, self-denying relationship.
We Christians have an opportunity to shine simply by being radically different from the bewildered GenZers and Millennials around us. They will not understand us but perhaps they will be intrigued. “Why do you have so many children?” “Why is your family so different?” “Why are your children so (relatively) well-behaved and well-spoken?” “Where do you go every Sunday morning and evening?” These are good questions and opportunities to give witness to our pagan neighbors about the God who created us and his moral law and our sinful nature and about the God who redeemed us and his grace toward sinners.
We have before us an opportunity to model sanity, grounded in creation, and graciousness, grounded in Christ’s grace toward us. May Christ give us grace to be graciously peculiar to a panicked post-Christian culture.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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“ They will not understand us but perhaps they will be intrigued.”
This has been true in my own life. As a young man in the military I was not a believer. A military barracks is less than a highly-moral setting in terms of the crudity of language and lifestyle. I was subtly impressed by a barracks-mate who was different. He was a bit of country bumpkin from Indiana, complete with a banjo. And he was distinctly different in other ways—always cheerful and never a raw word from his lips, regardless of the setting. He never engaged in our frat-house pranks or obscene humor. I came to learn that he was a “Jesus freak” as we called such people in 1975. Later, when I was struggling with the meaning of life, I remembered his simple testimonies about Christ. I wanted what he possessed.
“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
I can empathize completely. I remember living the “military life” and knowing that it was more empty than life should be.
It was always the men and women grounded in their faith whose lives seemed to shout peace in my direction without them saying word. Then, when they did speak of their faith, they often had my undivided attention.
This last paragraph says it all.
“We have before us an opportunity to model sanity, grounded in creation, and graciousness, grounded in Christ’s grace toward us. May Christ give us grace to be graciously peculiar to a panicked post-Christian culture.”
Amen and amen.
Dad was a Sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy in WW2, fighting German U-Boats. He was a Christian raised in a Presbyterian Church in Toronto. Decades later (about 4 decades later), Dad attended a ministerial gathering in Toronto. A man came up to Dad and said, “Don, do you remember me?” (Dad’s name was Donald Lyman Veitch.) The two reacquainted themselves with one another. The man went on, “Don, I wasn’t a Christian back then, but I watched you closely. Later, I became a Christian, went on to seminary and now serve at _______.” Forget the name of the church now. Of course, Dad was stunned by this testimony from a fellow Sailor. It was stunning, also, when told to his Son. “Salt and light” said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, all day long and every day, today, tomorrow and forever, world without end.