The Sexual Revolution’s Legacy of Chaos and Misery

BOOK PICK: ‘Adam and Eve After the Pill, Revisited’

‘Adam and Eve After the Pill, Revisited’
‘Adam and Eve After the Pill, Revisited’ (photo: Ignatius Press / Ignatius Press)


By Mary Eberstadt

Ignatius Press, 2023

199 pages, $19.95

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Nothing has caused more confusion and chaos in contemporary times than the sexual revolution. In her series of essays, Adam and Eve After the Pill, Revisited, Mary Eberstadt seeks to orient us in the midst of the chaos around us.  

Seeing the sexual revolution not simply as an enemy of Christian values but a rival religion to Christianity, she makes a strong case for her argument that the sexual revolution has led not to liberation and freedom, but to catastrophe — and it has even infiltrated the Catholic Church.

Yet she writes, “To throw up one’s hands before the world is a dodge — especially for Catholics, especially now, in a moment when many are tempted for more reasons than one to do just that. Believers are called to read the signs of the times, not to whine about them.”

Citing many social-science studies to support her claims, Eberstadt documents the reality that the sexual revolution has gone hand-in-hand with: the breakdown of relationships between men and women, the collapse of the family, violent rage among the fatherless, the transgender movement, the “new intolerance” (or what has been called “cancel culture”), a loss of church attendance, and many divisive battles over sexuality even within the Church herself.  

Describing sexual revolution as an integrated socio-political-religious movement that has abandoned God, Eberstadt suggests that if Christians allow ourselves to be intimidated and silenced by this atheistic worldview in an attempt to be “nice,” the revolution’s false ideology will continue to spread, wreaking havoc in the lives of the most vulnerable among us, including unborn babies.   

Likening Eberstadt’s perceptions to those of George Weigel, Father Raymond de Souza, Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher, the late Cardinal George Pell (who wrote the book’s foreword), states, “In addition to family chaos, psychic chaos, anthropological chaos, and intellectual chaos, she finds her final example of contemporary chaos in the Catholic Church in the Western world, among those who want to transform Catholic teaching and are often hostile toward those who hold and teach the tradition.”

Pointing out the suffering and all-too-often misdiagnosed wounds the sexual revolution has inflicted, Eberstadt writes, “There is a common denominator beneath the bizarre rituals occurring on campuses and elsewhere, beneath an increasingly punitive social media, beneath the performance rage of BLM [Black Lives Matter] — indeed, beneath the cancel culture itself. It is anguish.” 

Bringing the hidden premises of the sexual revolution’s secular faith to light (one of those premises being the need to destroy the family in order for men and women to be “free”), Eberstadt writes that “when people say they hope the Church changes its position on marriage or birth control, they are not talking about one religious faith — i.e., the Christian one. What they really mean is that they hope the church will suborn or replace its own theology with the new church of secularism.” 

Because of the pain and suffering unbridled sexual expressiveness has caused, Eberstadt observes that, “without doubt, society is closer to giving liberationism a second look than at any moment since the 1960s. For this reason, thinkers inside and outside of Catholic circles who long to soften up Christianity by deep-sixing certain [sexual] teachings could not have chosen a worse time than now to press their case. Why support the revolution’s infiltration of the Church at exactly the moment when a rising chorus of voices from all over are beginning to question its toxic fruits and to seek alternatives outside today’s disorder?”

“What sunders Christians today,” Eberstadt observes, “is not science. It is not the desire of traditionalists to worship in Latin. It is not even the self-inflicted wounds of clerical sex scandals, grave though these are. No. The religious divide of our time is between those who think they can compromise with the sexual revolution without compromising their faith and those who are awakening to the fact that this experiment has been tried and has failed.” 

So is the sexual revolution an inevitable and irreversible process in history? 

To this question, Eberstadt responds with an emphatic, “No.” Noting that ever since the 1960s, liberationists have anchored their successes to the supposed “inevitability of history,” she suggests that the sociopolitical changes spawned by the sexual revolution “could be subject like any other social phenomenon to scrutiny and revision.”  

In fact, Eberstadt writes, “The revolution’s toxic legacy itself amounts to tacit vindication of [the Church’s] long-standing teaching concerning sex and marriage — whether or not that vindication is widely understood.”

In her epilogue titled, “What Are Believers to Do? The Cross Amid the Chaos,” Eberstadt quotes Evelyn Waugh, who, in a 1930 newspaper interview, revealed why he had converted to Catholicism. He said, “In the present phase of European history, the essential issue is no longer between Catholicism, on the one side, and Protestantism, on the other, but between Christianity and Chaos.” 

Eberstadt sees the same choice before us in America today. 

Sue Ellen Browder, a Catholic convert, is author of Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement.