Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Has the sexual revolution been good for women? Myth # 2-- birth control

Mary Eberstadt's second myth about the sexual revolution and women:

Myth No. 2: If it weren't for the Catholic Church, no one would be talking about contraception anyway.

It is not only a series of popes but also a number of prominent secular thinkers who believe that the birth-control pill has been one of the major milestones in human history—a diverse group that runs from public intellectuals of a previous generation like Walter Lippmann to such contemporary scholars as Francis Fukuyama and Robert Putnam. As many pundits had occasion to observe in 2010, the 50th anniversary of the pill, it is hard to think of anything else that has changed life so quickly and dramatically for so many.

In other words, this isn't just a Catholic thing. In severing sex from procreation, humankind set into motion forces that have by now shaped and reshaped almost every aspect of life in the Western world. Families are smaller, birthrates have dropped, divorce and out-of-wedlock births have soared. Demography has now even started to work against the modern welfare state, which has become harder to sustain as fewer children have been produced to replace aging parents.

The sexual revolution has transformed economics, culture and law. Witness this week's Supreme Court case, in which the question at hand is whether an individual's Social Security survivor benefits belong to children conceived with his sperm months after he died.
Even on the religious playing field, this isn't just a Catholic thing. Christian teaching against artificial contraception dates back to the earliest Church fathers confronting pagan Rome. Christians remained united on that teaching until relatively recently—1930, to be exact, which is the year that the Anglican Communion made its first, carefully circumscribed exceptions to the rule. Orthodox Jews, Mormons and some traditionalist Protestants have also pondered the issue and ended up proscribing or limiting contraception in different circumstances.

The birth control pill is the most consequential event in the 20th century, and one of the most important events in human history.

Perhaps you think I exaggerate. All of the other events in recent history-- wars and genocides and science and politics-- have been variations on the ancient ebb and flow of human affairs. Some events have been horrendous-- the World Wars, the Holocaust, the atom bomb-- and some have been a blessing-- modern medicine, the spread of democracy and human rights. But they have all been variations on ancient human themes-- war and killing and science and politics.

Birth control is a new theme, essentially without precedent in human history. Never before has mankind uncoupled sex and procreation. This is a radical transformation-- a rupture-- in the most fundamental acts that make us human.

Even now, when the results are just becoming evident, we see how it has transformed us. Many will argue that the transformation has been largely for the better. I disagree.

We have accepted this detonation of human bonds-- this uncoupling of sex and love and family-- with astonishingly little serious thought.

We will pay a high price for it.

1 comment:

  1. "Christian teaching against artificial contraception dates back to the earliest Church fathers confronting pagan Rome"...

    No, earliest Church was against contraception, abortion and killing baby soon after birth...
    Recently we have seen someone favorable to all these showing that it is ethically impossible to distinguish between the three.