A. N. Wilson has been there, seen that, believed this, and rejected
that. The British author, now in his sixties, has had an on, off, and on
again relationship with Christianity. As a young man, he pursued
theological training and potential ordination in the Church of England,
but by the late 1980s he was openly atheist, writing a 50-page
booklet, Against Religion
(1991), that complained of
the "intolerance", "authoritarianism" and
"spiritual bullying" of the papacy. (Many years ago, in the
1990s, I read his book on the Apostle Paul, and thought it was both
well-written and quite wrongheaded in many key respects.) But, after
three decades of skepticism, Wilson announced in 2009 that he had
returned to Christianity, a decision that he discussed at length in this essay
in The Mail.
For much of my life, I, too,
have been one of those who did not believe. It was in my young manhood
that I began to wonder how much of the Easter story I accepted, and in
my 30s I lost any religious belief whatsoever.
Like many people
who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been 'conned' by
such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book,
entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more
than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.
Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of
Like most educated people in Britain and Northern
Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is
overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities,
broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are
To my shame, I believe it was this that made
me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious.
With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral
level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing
This playground attitude accounts for much of the
attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the
alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or
Now, in a long essay, "I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in
sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appals
, published in The Mail
this past Friday,
Wilson takes up the topic of his youth once again as he tears into the
sexual revolution that began, as he marks it (fairly accurately, I
think), in 1963:
I was born in 1950, 28 years after
Larkin. And far from being ‘rather late for me’, the
revolutionary doctrines of the Sixties were all readily adopted by me
and countless others.
being schoolboys who read Lady Chatterley under the sheets, to teenagers
and young men who had the Rolling Stones reverberating in our ears, we
had no intention of being stuffy like our parents.
The arrival of a contraceptive pill for
women in 1961 appeared to signal the beginning of guilt-free,
pregnancy-free sex. We were saying goodbye to what Larkin (in that poem)
called ‘A shame that started at sixteen / And spread
But if the
propagators of the Sexual Revolution had been able to fast-forward 50
years, what would they have expected to see? Surely not the shocking
statistics about today’s sexual habits in the UK which are
available for all to study.
there were 189,931 abortions carried out, a small rise on the previous
year, and about seven per cent more than a decade ago.
Ninety-six per cent of these abortions were
funded by the NHS, i.e. by you and me, the taxpayer. One per cent of
these were performed because the would-be parents feared the child would
be born handicapped in some way. Forty-seven per cent were so-called
medical abortions, carried out because the health of mother and child
were at risk.
‘medical abortion’ is very widely applied and covers the
psychological ‘health’ of the patient.
But even if you concede that a little less
than half the abortions had some medical justification, this still tells
us that more than 90,000 foetuses are aborted every year in this country
simply as a means of lazy ‘birth control’. Ninety thousand
human lives are thrown away because their births are considered too
expensive or in some other way inconvenient.
The Pill, far from reducing the numbers of
unwanted pregnancies, actually led to more.
women neglected to take the Pill, there seemed all the more reason to
use abortion as a form of birth control.
Wilson goes on to discuss the importance of marriage and how the decline
of stable marriages (or any marriages at all) has caused more
unhappiness among Brits. He then takes on some of the architects of this
obvious breakdown in morals, marriage, and social order, writing,
"But the Sexual Revolution was not, of course, all accidental. Not
a bit of it. Many of the most influential opinion-formers of the age
were doing their best to undermine all traditional morality, and
especially the traditional morality of the Judaeo-Christian tradition,
which has always taught that marriage is for life."
Wilson's conclusion is simple and emphatic: his generation, he
emphasizes, was "wrong, wrong, wrong."Read his entire essay