<< BreakPoint Daily Commentary

The Will to Disbelieve

In her important new book, Adam and Eve after the Pill, Mary Eberstadt writes, “As the celebrations of the [birth control] pill’s fiftieth anniversary went to show, the sexual revolution is now not only a fait accompli for the vast majority of modern men and women, it is also one that many people openly embrace.”

The liberationists have declared the sexual revolution an unmitigated success, and their version of the story has been widely declared the approved version. As Chuck Colson would have put it, they’ve created their own “spiral of silence” on this issue.

But Eberstadt tells us, their rendering is “critically incomplete.” They’re not telling the full story of the sexual revolution — and it’s a story that desperately needs to be told.

And that’s what Eberstadt does in her insightful book. She agrees with many prominent researchers and thinkers that the sexual revolution is the defining event of our time. But then she goes on to argue that the end result has not been the rosy picture that so many of them try to paint. She wants to show the often-ignored flip side of that picture.

Eberstadt compares the situation to the Cold War. That was another case, she explains, of intellectuals refusing to recognize what was right in front of their faces — in that instance, the devastating facts about Soviet communism. Those intellectuals had cultivated what she calls, quoting Jeane Kirkpatrick, “the will to disbelieve.” Because the facts did not fit their view of the world, they simply chose not to see them.

Many intellectuals of our time have done exactly the same thing with the sexual revolution. They don’t want to see that the fallout from that revolution has broken up families, ruined many lives and flooded the country with sexually transmitted diseases old and new. They resolutely shut their eyes to the way it has coarsened our culture and cheapened our relationships.

As Eberstadt wryly points out in one of the best chapters in the book, many Americans now have a far stricter conscience about food than they do about sex — by the way, a complete reversal of the view that their grandparents held.

I should mention that despite her book’s title, Eberstadt doesn’t spend a lot of time actually discussing birth control. Her main concern is with the sexual revolution. And while she’s correct that birth control helped start that revolution, she doesn’t dwell much on that aspect of it. That makes her book accessible to traditionalists with varying points of view on the birth control issue.

Nonetheless, Eberstadt’s understanding of that issue makes her book all the more relevant at a time when our government is trying to force religious employers to violate their consciences by covering contraception and abortion-inducing drugs as part of their employees’ insurance plans.

So how do we change things? Eberstadt recommends “never giving up on patiently discussing the actual record of the world as it is, no matter how resolutely the other side ignores or disdains you.”

That’s exactly what she does here, and that’s why I recommend her excellent book to anyone who cares about the major moral issue of our time. We have it for you at the BreakPoint online bookstore.

And while you’re at BreakPoint.org, check out our “Repairing Sexual Brokenness” teaching series, which contains John Stonestreet’s excellent "Two-Minute Warning" videos and a study guide by T.M. Moore. It’s great for individual or group study.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: August 13, 2012

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