The best of Fred Hutchison
The link between abortion and divorce
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
July 25, 2013

Originally published May 8, 2007

Is a married couple who aborts their child more likely to divorce? If so, is there a direct relationship between high abortion rates and high divorce rates? Theologian Diertrich Bonhoeffer hinted that this might be the case.

In his book Ethics, written in a Nazi prison in 1943, Bonhoeffer wrote, "Marriage involves an acknowledgment of the right of life that is to come into being, a right which is not subject to disposal by the married couple. Unless this right is acknowledged as a matter of principle, marriage ceases to be marriage and becomes a mere liaison."

The Bible tells us that man and wife become "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). This mysterious union is an act of God. It is God's plan to bring forth children through this united entity of God, husband, and wife. The fabric of the marriage is woven into this design.

Tampering with the design

Any human attempt to change the nature of marriage has harmful consequences for the family. An amateur handyman cannot change the structural design of a skyscraper after it is built without damaging the building. Tampering with the foundation or the main structural supports could cause the building to collapse.

Man has the choice of honoring God's design for marriage or destroying marriage. There is no moderate alternative way involving a compromise between man's way and God's way. Women who fight their husband because they want to replace him as "head of the house," for instance – and women who insist upon the right to abort their babies – are tampering with the divine design. They are effectively choosing to destroy the marriage rather than to honor God's design.

The rending of the fabric of marriage

If a couple aborts their child, it is a sin against God, against each other, against their child, and against human society. They have rent the fabric of their marriage. Their marriage has been wounded. Their state of being one flesh has become disjointed, like a bone torn out of its socket. The man can no longer say, "This in now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" as Adam said about Eve (Genesis 2:23).

The couple might now feel somewhat more like two single people together and less than one united being. The uncompromising Bonhoeffer said that such a marriage "ceases to be marriage and becomes a mere liaison."

The couple who aborts their baby has taken a step away from the marriage union and a step towards lawless singleness, that is to say, they can become like single people who are having a sexual liaison. Holy singleness is celibate, but lawless singleness is sexually active with illegitimate liaisons, as when a man lives with his girlfriend. It is possible for a married couple whose marriage has been wounded to behave like lawless singles in their bedroom. These are the inescapable implications of Bonhoeffer's axiom.

A person in a marriage devastated by abortion is more likely to commit adultery – because he or she might feel like a lawless single person. Adultery would be a second great wound to the marriage, of course. Even if they do not commit adultery, they may begin to feel like their own sexual liaisons are somehow lawless – that is to say, they might sometimes feel like two lawless single people coming together for illegitimate purposes. Their marriage is no longer holy because it was defiled by the abortion. They no longer enjoy safety or blessedness on the marriage bed.

Separation of sex from marriage

Those who prefer lawless singleness to marriage, or a lawless state within marriage – because of distorted lusts and abnormal appetites – are very likely to argue that a woman has "the right to choose" to abort her baby. They are also likely to be in favor of easy divorce. Their concept of "falling in love" is likely to be alien to the nature of married love.

European countries who have gone further than America in separating marriage from procreation have lower marriage rates and higher divorce rates.

Healing the marriage

Can a marriage which has been wounded because of an abortion be healed? Of course it can. It might never be exactly like it was before the abortion, but healing is possible. God, who created the marriage fabric, can weave it together again after it has been rent. However, God remembers His little child who was murdered and His precious marriage fabric which has been torn.

Repentance of the crime of abortion is indispensable to forgiveness and healing of the wounded marriage fabric. Why should God heal the marriage if He knows that the couple does not regret their transgression and intends to tear the fabric again if the circumstances suit them? If they will not repent, they must suffer the agony of the wound they inflicted upon themselves.

The unraveling of society

As the fabric of marriage is unraveled, the social fabric of society also is unraveled and civilization begins to fail. There can be no reweaving of the social fabric until abortion becomes illegal once more.

Those who are lawless in their attitudes towards sex will fight against the legal proscription of abortion with great fury. A law which prohibits abortion condemns their lawlessness. They will fight against that public condemnation because they do not want to repent of their sin. They do not want to give up their deluded self-righteousness.

A great conviction of sin and a deep repentance must sweep through this society before it can be healed. Repentance of abortion is the first order of business for both national and person repentance.

Holy vows

A failing civilization must be saved one marriage at a time. The traditional marriage vows, which are promises to God, include a promise of fidelity, which is a promise not to commit adultery. According to Bonhoeffer, fidelity implies that the couple will cherish the fruit of the womb which combines the life of the father and the life of the mother.

I propose that the promise not to commit abortion be added to the marriage vows. After all, the traditional vows of a new doctor include the promise to perform no abortion. After the [forty] years of the holocaust of abortion, and the disintegration of marriage and the family, every married couple ought to promise to God and confess before men, "We shall not kill our child in the womb."

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31