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Taking People Out of Our Lives: The Damage of the Sexual Revolution

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
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May 8, 2023 8:56 am

Taking People Out of Our Lives: The Damage of the Sexual Revolution

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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May 8, 2023 8:56 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Mary Eberstadt, Author and Senior Research Fellow at the Faith & Reason Institute, to discuss the damage that is still being done as a result of the sexual revolution, and how the church can work to combat it.


Welcome to Family Policy Matters, an engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Hi, this is John Rustin, president of NC Family, and we're grateful to have you with us for this week's program. It's our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged, and inspired by what you hear on Family Policy Matters, and that you will feel better about your work. You are equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state, and nation. And now here is our host of Family Policy Matters, Tracey Devitt-Griggs. Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. How many of us look at our culture today and think, has everyone completely lost their minds?

And more importantly, is there any hope of walking back all of this craziness? Well, Mary Eberstadt is a senior research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute, and she provides some hope for how we might find our way out of this mess. Eberstadt has been studying the roots of the extremism that has gripped our country in the past decade and argues that the sexual revolution is largely responsible and has been one of the most devastating milestones for our culture, the church, and families in human history and been most destructive to women. Mary Eberstadt, welcome back to Family Policy Matters.

Thank you for having me, Tracey. For those of us who may have missed this one, explain what you mean by the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution begins in the 1960s with the technological shock of the birth control pill. And very quickly, contraception is embraced on a scale never before seen by most of the advanced world, and it becomes the norm. Now, in the beginning, people thought this would be a good thing.

They thought it would give women control over their fertility and strengthen families, etc. But over time, it became clear that exactly the opposite happened. And so what I've been trying to do in my work is document the negative fallout of the sexual revolution that started in the 60s.

All right, well, give us some details on that negative fallout. What's a quick synopsis of some of the results that we've been seeing from the sexual revolution? Contrary to what people thought would happen in the 60s, instead, we saw record rates of abortion, fatherless homes, divorce, and lack of family formation. Now, how was it that the sexual revolution led to these outcomes? That's part of what I explained in the book with the work of perfectly secular economists talking about these things.

Basically, the sexual revolution flooded the marketplace with potentially available partners, and that reduced the incentive for individuals, especially men, to settle down with any given one. And that's what's happened. You have written a new book about this. Now, you wrote one back in 2012, entitled Adam and Eve After the Pill. This one is named that same title Revisited, but you say it's actually a part two and not a revision. Tell us about the new book.

Thank you. Well, the new book is all new work. The first book looked at the effects of the sexual revolution on individuals, on men, women, children and families. It was what I called a microscopic look at this phenomenon.

And the new book instead takes what I call a macroscopic approach. We are talking here about the effects of the revolution on three broad areas, one, politics, to society, and three, Christianity itself. What about divisive identity politics? You see a connection between all of that that's going on in our culture today and the sexual revolution. Why do you think there's a connection there?

Well, that's a great question, Tracy. So identity politics, the very phrase does not arise until 1977, which is as the first generation born into the sexual revolution is coming of age. And the phrase comes out of a document where a bunch of radical feminists banded together and wrote a manifesto saying basically that they had given up on the men in their lives, they had given up on the other people in their lives.

They were banding together with people who were victims just like they were as they saw it. This is the beginning of identity politics. And what I argue in the new book is that identity politics is functioning as a kind of substitute family at a time when the actual family is in disarray all around the country and indeed all around the Western world. So part of the divisiveness that we're seeing is that people relate to these groups with tribal familial loyalty. And it's why there is no compromise with these groups, whether they're based on ethnicity or race or erotic inclinations, whatever their common denominator might be, these groups are serving as absolutist touchstones for the people who are part of them.

Wow. And it has, as you mentioned, not been good for the family. I noticed when I was reading some of the articles surrounding the release of this new book, that there was an opinion piece by Austin Roos, and it was entitled The Rage of Feral Children.

And he's talking about your book. Talk about that. What's going on with our young people now as a result of the sexual revolution? We have to understand what's happened to the family, the institution on which everybody has relied from time immemorial.

We've made radical changes to it since the 1960s. Families are smaller. Families are weaker. Families are often broken. They're often not two biological parents in the home. Families have also been riven by abortion. If you look at those phenomena, Tracy, what you see is that they have something in common. Every one of them takes people out of other people's lives.

Every one of them is what I call an act of human subtraction. So when we look at the problems among the young today, when we look at the spike in psychiatric diagnoses, for example, or we look at the kind of acting out in the streets that we are seeing, whether it's street gangs or riots and protests or seemingly bizarre activities on campus, I think what we are seeing is that more and more young people, without having that protective family rubric, are turning increasingly enraged. They're increasingly enraged and taking their personal dramas into the streets.

You know, I've recently seen that women talking publicly about choosing to prioritize nurturing their families over their jobs being ridiculed. Is this a new and commonplace thing that you're seeing? I think what's happening is that people who lack these things that we took for granted, like strong communities, strong families, robust church lives, that more and more people don't have those things, and not having them turns them resentful against the people who do. I think we saw this, for example, during the protests in the summer of 2020, about which I have a whole chapter in the book, because as people will remember, there were some 10,000 incidents of unrest in the streets of America during that summer.

And again, what were we seeing there? We were seeing people sometimes harassing people dining outdoors, for example, shining flashlights into people's homes at night to wake them up. What we were seeing, I theorize, is that people disconnected from family were harassing people who were connected that way. And this is a very new development, Tracy, and it's something that I think is troubling our politics and our society on a very subterranean level, that more and more people who don't have those guardrails, as the Wall Street Journal once called them, of strong institutions in their lives, strong families in particular, have been cut loose and really don't know how to socialize in a productive way in society. And I think this is our biggest problem right now.

Talk a little more about what you see as the underlying issues there. It is a well-known fact, for example, about street gangs. To start with one example of political collectives that are destructive, boys in street gangs are almost invariably coming out of fatherless homes. And the same was true, say, in Portland, Oregon, during the summer of 2020. If you look at the biographies of most of the leading actors in those protests and riots, most of them turn out to be, again, the product of broken homes.

Now, this doesn't mean that every time there's a broken home, somebody's going to turn to the streets and commit damage, but it does mean that there's a common denominator here. And the fact that it's not spoken of openly does not make it any less real. You mentioned the despair, the hopelessness, the rage. You also mentioned in your book this elusiveness of joy, which seems to definitely tie into this. As Christians, we understand why joy is such an important part of life.

We're actually commanded to be joyful. But why has the sexual revolution made joy such a difficult thing to find? Because it's ended up in a world where there are fewer people to love any given individual. This is what the shrinking of the family really comes down to.

And I'm glad you asked that question about joy, Tracy, because I think it's important to understand that what everybody is looking for is love in this situation. And that includes the very angry groups of identitarians, left, right, center, whatever. It includes the people who are shouting in the streets. And what I'm trying to do with my work is shine a light on what it is that they want, what it is that they are missing.

And if you look at the numbers on, say, church attendance, which has fallen, especially among the young, you can see that that's a community that doesn't exist for some of these people anymore. And again, the family has been under severe pressure. So what I'm trying to say, including to those people, is you are suffering.

There is something authentic happening here. But the name of your suffering isn't what you think it is. The name of your suffering is something that started in the 1960s that has gone on to affect and rock the whole world, which is that we have transformed the family. There are fewer people in it. There are fewer people to have your back. And so in this way, I think instead of dismissing these kinds of protests and riots and other expressions as simply negative stuff, I think if we dig deeper and acknowledge the authenticity of the suffering beneath it, we can get somewhere, get to a better place, including in the country.

How do we go about healing? Well, we have to start by understanding the problem, which is what I'm trying to do in these two books. But quite beyond that, Tracy, I see other reasons for hope out there. Ten years ago, when the first book appeared, it was out of the question to be skeptical about the sexual revolution, unless you were in religious orbits. Christians talked this way among themselves.

But out there in the public square, there was no questioning the sexual revolution. It was supposed to be an unalloyed good. Well, that is changing over the past couple of years. As I discuss in the new book, several authors have arisen from non religious places to write books, asking what's gone wrong out there? What's gone wrong between men and women? What has gone wrong with our families? Why are people so unhappy? Why, despite our material prosperity, do so many people seem sunk into depression and drugs, etc?

So this questioning is a very healthy thing. And I think we are going to see a society wide reevaluation of the sexual revolution at some point. And once we can understand the origins of these very contemporary woes, I think we can get somewhere and the churches will play an essential role in that because to the people who are broken today to the people who didn't know what it was like to have a family, the churches always have offered their own answer to that, which is join our family and the children of God. Do you think churches need to change some of the ways that they're speaking to the culture to be able to address some of the hurt that you're seeing? I think there's a great danger in the churches capitulating to modernity itself this way. I think that's a real problem. It's a temptation because of course, everybody wants to be liked. And these days to be the cool kid, you're supposed to wave certain flags and change certain Christian teachings that have been there since the very beginning.

I do not think that's the way to go. And part of the reason I reject it is that I often see young Christian converts in my rounds of life. And almost always, Tracy, they are coming into the churches because they are looking for that more ennobling message about why they're here and what they're supposed to do. And they are not rejecting the Christian moral code. On the contrary, for people who have never heard of it, actually finding it and understanding it and understanding that it was meant to be the basis for family life, these people are transformed. So what I'm saying is, the last thing the churches should be doing right now is trying to make themselves more relevant by caving into the demands of the sexual revolution.

They need to stand as a sign of contradiction so that the people out there who are damaged by the revolution have someplace else to go. All right, well, we're just about out of time for this week. Before we go, Mary Eberstadt, where can our listeners go to follow your very good work and also, of course, get a copy of your book, Adam and Eve After the Pill Revisited? Well, thank you, Tracy. To follow all of my work, they can go to my website,, and the new book is available at Amazon, at Ignatius Press, and I hope in bookstores across the land.

Right. And of course, Eberstadt is E-B-E-R-S-T-A-D-T. Thank you so much, Mary Eberstadt, for being with us today on Family Policy Matters. You've been listening to Family Policy Matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plan to tune in again next week. To listen to this show online and to learn more about NC Family's work to inform, encourage, and inspire families across North Carolina, go to our website at That's Thanks again for listening, and may God bless you and your family.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-08 11:03:26 / 2023-05-08 11:09:13 / 6

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