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

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 the research associate and project manager for the ERLC’s research initiatives. He manages long term research projects for the organization under the leadership of the director of research. Alex is currently pursuing a PhD in History at the University of Mississippi studying evangelical political activity in … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24