Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.
Writing about the movie Juno in a recent column in the New York Times, author Caitlin Flanagan laments the plight of a pregnant teenage girl. Flanagan proclaims what she says is the "bitterly unfair truth of sexuality: Female desire can bring with it a form of punishment no man can begin to imagine"-and that is pregnancy.
Flanagan is right, of course, that becoming pregnant will forever alter the life of a teenage girl. Whether she keeps the baby, puts it up for adoption, or, tragically, decides to abort, the teenage girl will carry the consequences of her actions throughout her life.
And Flanagan is right that "pregnancy robs a teenager of her girlhood." But Flanagan's prescription for preserving that girlhood misses the mark. Feminists, Flanagan writes, have a "deep commitment to girls." But their commitment, she writes, does not center on protecting the chastity of girls. Instead, they focus on freeing girls to compete with boys. And that depends on their being "sexually liberated." And being sexually liberated depends on diminishing "among the very young the trauma of pregnancy."
But what is really a "terrible fact" is that our young girls are being lied to and told that their happiness depends upon being sexually liberated. That is the wrong message for young women, for young men-and for adults, too.
Flanagan is genuinely interested in keeping teenage girls from the difficulties created by pre-marital sex. But instead of lighting a candle, she curses the darkness she perceives. She decries nature itself for making women women. I also think it is telling that while Flanagan uses a lot of hard words to describe teen pregnancy, not once in her column does she mention the word marriage.
The hard truth is that teenage pregnancy is a very foreseeable consequence of removing God's standards from the arena of sexuality and replacing them with self-gratification. That is what tarnishes young souls-not the design of biology. The result is a murky morality that bows to self.
And it is exactly this murky morality that has helped build the culture of death in America, the crowning achievement of which is the Roe v. Wade decision handed down 35 years ago. If nature does not allow for consequence-free sex, then why not bend nature and erase the consequences?
But God is the Author of nature. He created our sexuality to bless us, not to curse us. He created it for the mutual joy and self-giving of man and woman within the haven of marriage. And He made it for the procreation of children within the natural family.
So you see, the answer to teen pregnancy does not lie in sexual liberation. No, the answer is to liberate our young women from the false idea that nature dealt them an unfair hand and that they are nothing more than the sum total of their impulses and desires. Doesn't it make more sense to help them see that they are wonderfully made-and that by living according to God's good plan for them, their deepest longings can be fulfilled?