Dinesh D’Souza’s words at the CareNet banquet

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of attending CareNet’s annual fund-raising banquet at which Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza spoke.  Dinesh D’Souza is a talented speaker – engaging, compelling, lucid, intelligent, at times very funny.  (The talks that he gave last year at Wheaton College on the new atheism are available here.)  I’ll do my best summarize what he said at the banquet here, which will mean a longer email than usual.

Regarding the abortion issue, Dinesh D’Souza pointed out, that, as we well know, the side that is clearly in the right has been having a tough time of it.  The strategy of the movement has been to provide people with the information regarding abortion, believing that once they know the reality, the debate is over.  And it’s true, that eyes have been opened and lives changed on an individual level.  However, there has been resistance on the cultural level.

The question the pro-life must ask is, “What if it is actually the case that most people do know what’s going on in an abortion?  Why do they tenaciously hold onto this so called ‘right?'”  D’Souza suggests that there may be a dim recognition that abortion is debris of the sexual revolution.  As the expression goes, “If you wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs.”

The sexual revolution began in tiny sectors of society, but over time that Bohemian lifestyle of a few has become mainstream.  How that happened is a clue to understanding the “moral engine” that keeps abortion going.  The debate isn’t just our morals versus their convenience.  They have a rival “moral ethic.”  (Though, in fact, their conscience is on our side.)

Before World War II, there was a consensus across US society that there is an external moral order that makes a claim on us.  Our job is to live up to its edicts.  Any debate centered around what was actually in the moral code.  D’Souza says that society hasn’t abandoned morality.  Instead, what we are seeing is the emergence of a new morality.  The source of that morality comes from within the individual.  In effect, you look to yourself to see how you should act.

In America, we exalt a “moral freedom” – freedom for self-realization ultimately, the right to self-determination and autonomy.  This has legitimized a way of life that has considered external morality a burden.  This cultural war is a part of the great abortion debate.  Both sides are appealing to two completely different moral codes.

D’Souza pointed to a second factor to explain why the pro-life cause is struggling.  This is that our society has rapidly become more secular.  It is in a Christian society that something like abortion becomes controversial.  D’Souza says, “The fate of the abortion debate is intrinsically tied to America’s fate as a Christian nation.”  The idea that life is sacred came into our culture because of Christianity.  (Recall from last week’s post that even the great philosophers saw nothing wrong with infanticide.)

This is sobering business.  D’Souza, who is from India, brought up an Indian expression, “After crossing the mountains. . . more mountains.”  But he had encouragement for those pro-life supporters at the CareNet banquet too.  CareNet, he said, is in the trenches, tackling the issue in a comprehensive way.  For many, many years there was no debate about slavery.  It was only when small groups of Christians joined together and pressed forward that massive change could happen.  We may not know it, but the tide may be shifting underneath us.  Perhaps some day abortion too will be unthinkable.  Be realistic, but but press forward til that day.

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