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What a rise in vasectomies reveals about our culture’s attitude toward children

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August 18, 2022

We’re beginning to see the refugees of the sexual revolution, yet some don’t even know they’ve been harmed. For 50 years, women have been told that they have ultimate control over their bodies and can abort a living child inside them. That kind of generational messaging will take years to overcome and correct, similar to those who suffer from substance abuse addictions or have fallen prey to the predations of a sexual abuser. But just as it has affected women, the sexual revolution has been disastrous for men.

How abortion has deceived men

For the same length of time (and arguably a decade longer with the introduction of the pill in the 1960s), men have been given the chance to indulge their sexual desires without the responsibility that comes from exercising it correctly. And there are a number of men who have been just as deceived as women. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning the precedent of Roe and returning the responsibility of legislation to the states, doctors are noting an increase in the number of men who are seeking vasectomies. The change from previous trends is that these are not middle-aged, married dads with multiple children, but rather young, unmarried guys with no children. Some urologists are reporting a doubling of the number of patients seeking vasectomies who meet these requirements. When asked why now, they have responded by saying that the Dobbs decision caused them to get off the fence and make this decision.

Some will look at this and see a generation of men who are not content to let women shoulder the burden of sex and pregnancy, who are being responsible. And yet, when judged by some other trends, there is an obvious self-interest in the procedure. On one dating app, mentions of vasectomies in the profiles of men have increased five-fold in the last year. While some of these men may be declaring that they are unable to have children so future partners know, it boggles the mind to think that the young men on the site are not proclaiming that they pose no danger of unintentionally impregnating someone. Once again, the sexual revolution has convinced an entire generation that they have ultimate control over their bodies (a reality possible now through medical and technological advancement), and they are free to indulge any desire they have without the consequences. 

A commitment to sexual freedom rather than responsibility

This is not to say that vasectomies and permanent procedures of birth control are sinful. Evangelicals have consistently upheld that these can be undertaken, though often with the acknowledgement that it is necessary to inquire to the motivations for the decision to determine whether it is permissible or not. 

However, the uptick in men seeking vasectomies after Dobbs reveals that their ultimate allegiance was to their own convenience, not responsibility to their sexual partner. Prior to the court’s decision, these men could rely on the woman to either prevent pregnancy or seek an abortion. Once the sexual act was done, so was their responsibility. However, in many states that is no longer an option, meaning they must take additional steps to prevent their connection to a child. The commitment to sex without restrictions is clear here. Rather than abstain from sex, they would prefer to have a medical procedure to permanently prevent children (procedures for reversal are not always successful). This is the logical next step in a culture which sees children as a problem to be avoided rather than a blessing from God

One of the most revolutionary things that Christians can do in our current cultural moment is to have children, love them, and show the world that they are a gift rather than a problem. There is a reason that those who struggle with infertility speak of the deep longing that lies unfulfilled. Part of what it means to fulfill the mandate given to humanity in the Garden is to “multiply” and fill the Earth with those made in God’s image. In contrast to a culture that sees children as only a burden, Christians must offer another word.

The decadence of our culture would have us believe that instant gratification freed from responsibility and limits is the ultimate desire. However, even the secular world is recognizing the limits of such a sexual ethic. If consent and a positive attitude toward sexuality without restrictions are all that are required for fulfillment, then this should be one of the most sexually-satisfied ages in human history. And yet, pornography usage stands at all-time highs, showing that men and women would rather seek pleasure alone and in a fantasy world than with another real person. And even when they do engage in sexual activity with others, the sense that something is missing is often noted by even the most committed sexual libertine. 

There will be a flood of refugees from the sexual revolution in the coming years, and many more who are so deceived that they don’t even realize what has gone wrong. Christians must offer a hope that the restrictions created by God are not for our displeasure, but rather are protections, and that the pleasure that comes from sexual activity is also tied to good of procreation and children. To attempt to achieve one without the other is to sunder what God has joined together. The post-Roe world offers Christians the chance to say that not only in how we care for the babies born because their mothers have chosen life, but also in how we approach the topic of children generally. If we see them as a burden to be avoided, we are no different from those who would see them as a burden to be eliminated. 

Alex Ward

Alex Ward serves as Lead Researcher for the ERLC. He assists with the oversight of the Research Institute under the leadership of the Director of Research. Additionally, he serves as an Associate Editor for the organization. Alex is currently pursuing a PhD in History at the University of Mississippi studying … Read More