I believe that it is important not to live in an echo chamber. That is to say, I believe that it is important to spend some time reading and otherwise being exposed to thoughts other than my own. For this reason, I have recently added the blog of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler to my regular readings. Dr. Mohler is a well-known leader among conservatives, and although I find that I regularly disagree with him, he seems to be making an effort towards reasoned thought, as opposed to simply making knee-jerk reactions to everything conservatives find bad about the world (at least, some of the time...).
Recently, Dr. Mohler commented on a situation in China, whereby the combination of a 25-year old "one child per family" rule (an effort to fight a massive overpopulation problem in that country) and a cultural preference for male children has created a huge gender imbalance.
Now, it is well known that part of the reason for this imbalance is the willingness of Chinese parents to abort female babies, and I agree with Dr. Mohler in finding the practice reprehensible. I think even most members of the "pro-choice" movement would agree that this practice of aborting babies because they are not the "right" gender is barbaric.
What surprised me about Dr. Mohler's comments is a statement he makes after observing that "it is estimated that as many as 40 million of its young men could spend their lives as bachelors." He called this situation a "recipe for disaster" asking, "Where are these young men to turn for wives?"
Now, undoubtedly, a lot of these men will indeed want to marry, and will have difficulty in doing so. But Mohler seems not to consider the possibility that, if a lot of these men don't ever marry, that's not necessarily, in and of itself, so terrible. It might even hasten China's efforts to curb the overpopulation problem. Where did we pick up the assumption that all, or nearly all, people must find a mate? For Mohler, this assumption is never challenged.
I certainly don't wish to argue that the sexual drive is not very strong, and I can see someone arguing that so many sexually frustrated men may turn to prositution or rape to fill their assumed sexual needs. But Mohler never suggests this, and I'm fully aware that rape (at least) is less a crime perpetrated to fulfill one's sexual drives, and more one perpetrated to exercise control over another person. So perhaps even by suggesting it, I'm suggesting a problem where none exists.
But that's rather the point. Mohler seems to assume something that isn't challenged here: that 40 million men who can't find wives is a "recipe for disaster." Just what "disaster" does Mohler foresee? He never says. He spends the rest of his commentary noting how frequent and convenient abortion has become in China. Ironically, in his more recent comments, where Mohler worries about the collaspsing birthrate in Europe (a problem China would no doubt love to have), he heavily criticizes the "modern lifestyle" in which "[h]aving children just doesn't seem to fit," yet never mentions whether or not abortion is one of the ways that Europeans are keeping birthrates low. Perhaps I'm adding two-and-two and coming up with five, but this seems to indicate that Mohler is simply operating from an assumption that says that something must be wrong with people who don't have kids.
I would have preferred that Mohler spend less of his time in the article on China harping on abortion (which nearly all of his readers likely already agree with him on anyway), and more time discussing what problems he sees for China's future. Perhaps then we could have a real discussion. Perhaps I might find that my own assumptions (about Mohler's assumptions) are incorrect, and I might even agree with him. As it is, I don't know.
More on Mohler tomorrow....