Ben Johnson

Author: I was ‘blown away’ by Pope Paul VI’s accurate predictions about the sexual revolution

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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April 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Author Mary Eberstadt recently released her book Adam and Eve After the Pill, a study of the effects of the sexual revolution. LifeSiteNews recently spoke to Eberstadt about the book. You can also find a LifeSiteNews.com review of her book here.

BJ: Your book, Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, could not have come at a more opportune time. How did you manage to orchestrate the national debate on contraception to coincide with your book’s release?

EB: If it is timely, it is probably the only timely thing I’ve ever done, and it’s got nothing to do with my calculations. I’ve actually been working on the book on-and-off for four years, and I had no way of knowing it would coincide with a truly important moment in time.

BJ: It certainly underscored the importance of everything you’re talking about. Your book does not discuss health care but renders a more valuable service, which is to talk about the ramifications of widespread recreational sex and its effects. You pick up the baton from none other than Pope Paul VI, as you mention. You flesh out the predictions of his encyclical Humanae Vitae in your book’s last chapter very well. What did you find prophetic about it, and were you surprised it was as indicative as it turned out to be?

EB: I was indeed surprised. I did not read Humanae Vitae until just a few years ago, just a few years shy of its 40th anniversary, and when I finally read the document through I was just blown away by its understanding of what the world would look like if the sexual revolution proceeded.

The main thing that surprised me was its understanding of what would happen to the relation between the sexes. Humanae Vitae predicted that in a world of contraceptive sex, men and women would not get along as well, that once you sever procreation from recreational sex men would look down on women. He also advanced the idea that there would be a lowering of standards of conduct between the sexes. All of this, I argue, has come true, and yet the secular world has refused to acknowledge its truth. That to me is a paradox, because if you were to ask which document of modern times was the most unwanted and reviled document it would have be Humanae Vitae, right? Across the world, it is seen as a laughingstock in some places, as a profoundly undesired testament in others, yet this document contains more truth about the sexual revolution and the world it would usher in than any other document. We’re left here with a great paradox – I really believe that – that something that contains great truths has been almost universally reviled. And that in itself was justification enough to undertake this book.

BJ: Speaking of paradoxes, you point out in what I consider the most powerful two chapters of the book that we live in a world that is bathed in sexual images yet devoid of actual sex within marriages. What has ubiquitous porn use done to intimacy, particularly between married couples?

EB: This is a great paradox. In the chapter called “What is the Sexual Revolution Doing to Women?” In that chapter, I went through a bunch of sources in the secular world, primarily .... fashionable literature, much of it consumed by women and made for women. What I am pointing to in that chapter is the level of unhappiness that comes through these accounts. I have in mind several articles in The Atlantic magazine that are dissected in some detail, one article arguing that marriage is over, that it’s impossible to put the sexes back together again – a very sad piece by a very talented writer. What strikes me is that the women making these complaints seem never to connect the dots between our post-sexual liberation world and the unhappiness they describe.

What I’m arguing is that sexual liberation contributes to this unhappiness in several different ways. First of all, we live in a world where pornography is supposed to be off limits for discussion, at least in the secular world. Many people are laissez-faire about it. They don’t think there is any proof of negative consequences from it. I disagree with that for reasons cited in the book that have to do with social science studies. But pornography is obviously something that gets in the way of intimacy between the sexes. If you live in a world that says pornography is victimless and harmless, you then bring a great deal of confusion to the question, Why am I not happy in my relationship?

These are the kinds of paradoxes I’m trying to unearth in my book, because I think there’s a great deal of misunderstanding – including willful misunderstanding – about what the sexual revolution has wrought.

BJ: You also focus on what has happened to men, which I thought was an interesting coin-flip. I read recently from someone more on the Left that – with static wages that have not increased in real terms since 1972, men’s declining prospects both educationally and commercially in terms of their value in the workplace – the rootless lifestyle of someone who has children by several women but doesn’t support or live with any of them was a rational undertaking. If intimacy has broken down, men would not work to support a promiscuous woman he does not love. If sex is simply recreational, there is no need to engage in an extraordinary undertaking with his declining commercial value.

EB: That’s very well put, and that is an insight that I think was overlooked by our intellectuals and social scientists for the most part. There were a few exceptions. There were a couple of people who early on predicted if the sexual revolution took hold, what would happen was that men would be marginalized from family life. If you give women full reproductive power, the result will be that men – who are generally speaking less attached to the domestic unit than women are – would become even more so. They would become marginalized, and their interest in providing a home or their stake in keeping a family going would be commensurately less. George Gilder said this, and the sociologist Lionel Tiger said this. Most of conventional social thinkers and social scientists did not take them up on this challenge. Again we live in a world where, for the most part in the secular realm, the sexual revolution is seen as beyond criticism. But I think Gilder and Tiger and some other people I mention in the book, who are perfectly secular social thinkers, were perfectly right as Humanae Vitaewas right about what would happen in the world once contraception was the coin of the realm. Those consequences, some of them, have been pretty dark, and I think it’s time we turn our attention to that side of the record, as well.

BJ: In researching Adam and Eve After the Pill, you encountered some hopeless-looking data. I know this can be a challenge, because we deal with similar material at LifeSiteNews. Are you tempted to despair or are you driven more to find a solution?

EB: No, I think there are grounds for hope. First of all, let’s put this in historical perspective. The sexual revolution when put against the sweep of human history has not been with us very long. It’s been 50-plus years into this experiment, and the fallout is only just beginning to be assessed. I wanted to write this book because I wanted to be part of that assessment. I wanted to push the idea that we need to assess this fallout going forward. But once people see and understand better the consequences of this social experiment, I think they are more likely to take a different view, a dimmer view of what sexual revolution has done to the world.

I’ll give you an example, Ben, not from the religious world at all but from the point of view of demography. We all know that in Western Europe today, especially if we read the financial pages, there’s a crisis –  it’s a crisis of employment and it’s a crisis of the welfare states, which are vast and can’t be supported by the younger workers. Why? Because of the sexual revolution. Because there aren’t enough younger workers to support the older workers. Now I’m not saying people should have babies to support the advanced Western welfare state. But what I am saying is that in Western Europe you see on a very grand scale – financially, socially, and otherwise – what has happened because of the sexual revolution.  It’s entirely thinkable that down the road Europeans will go back to the family unit, as the welfare state’s inability to replace the family unit becomes more and more evident. So that’s a reason why knowing what’s going on out there I think points toward an ultimate diagnosis for hope and not despair.

BJ: You also deal in your chapter entitled “Toxic U” about what’s going on on college campuses. Anyone who has not spent time on campus does not understand these are centers of the revolution broadly speaking – not simply the sexual revolution but also the left-wing revolution, the identity politics revolution, and so on. To the extent anyone is going to have an identity as someone on the Left, or a raging secularist, this is where one is going to develop it. You go through the initiation rituals that one can slip into and, with great practice, slip out of, that permanently scar young people (binge drinking, STDs, etc.). If someone were going to college, what is the best way he or she could avoid falling into these pitfalls?

EB: Usually I get questions regarding the parents, what would you tell the parents? But I think directly addressing the young people involved is probably a better idea.

I think if I were a young person going to college now, I’d want to know what’s going on with sexual assault on campus and I devote several pages of the book to looking at studies discussing that topic. I think the problem is there has been a tendency to dismiss it and to say it’s just a matter of sowing wild oats: Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. What do you expect? But actually the Department of Justice commissioned a study of many thousands of college women, and one in five claims to have been sexually assaulted on campus. As you would expect, usually alcohol or drugs are involved. It usually takes place at night between people who know each other. There’s a lot of gray area in encounters like that, obviously. To me the meaningful statistic is that number, one in five, which is horrendous if you think about it. Even if everybody does not completely agree about what you mean when you say “sexual assault,” it means there’s a whole lot of unwanted or retrospectively unwanted sexual activity going on that people regret and would take back if they could.

What would I want to know if I were going to college? I’d want to know that almost everyone who says something like that happened to them say that it happened in their freshman or at the latest their sophomore year. Which is to say that they have to be extra vigilant during the first year of college. I think that’s important statistical information to have. It was amassed by secular social researchers.  Again, we’re talking about the fact that secular social science confirms and validates and confirms things that people in the Judeo-Christian tradition have been saying for many years.

I hope that’s what’s new about this book: that it brings social science research to bear on all these questions, so the questions get taken out of this realm in which it’s just religious folks talking to religious folks, and we finally have a way of translating them to the public square for everybody to debate.

BJ: What has happened since the book’s publication that you feel has most vindicated or authenticated your book? What has given you the greatest sense of happiness for having written it?

EB: Happiness is too strong a word. I don’t attach any feeling of happiness to this book. It is not altogether a dark book, but but a lot of it deals with difficult stuff. But that said the fact that we’re having this ongoing discussion about the HHS mandate is itself a kind of vindication of the book’s thesis.

The book’s thesis is that the legacy of the sexual revolution, contrary to what secular thinkers say, is not settled in the mind of the West. We have not reached some kind of consensus about this. It’s still on the table. The question of whether it’s been good for society or bad for society is still up for grabs. I think the fact that we’re having a national argument about funding birth control goes to show that we haven’t settled this question at all.

To the extent that the book means to put that question about the sexual revolution and its legacy back on the public table, I think this is a good moment to do it and that the HHS debate goes to show as much.

BJ: I’m certainly grateful someone has marshaled the data and made such a compelling case, as you have in this book. Thank you for your outstanding work. I hope it continues to be successful.

EB: Thank you very much, and best with your own very important work. I know LifeSiteNews, and it’s great.

BJ: Thank you. We’ll see one another out on the front lines.

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

French preemie dies naturally after parents’ demand doctors allow him to die

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

A premature baby born at the end of August died Friday after having been at the center of media controversy over his parents’ request that he should receive be allowed to die because they feared raising a handicapped child. Titouan, a little boy, was born at 22 weeks gestation, in the “danger zone” where survival is possible but frequently associated with handicaps and brain damage related to the child’s insufficient development at birth.

As medical science and practice progress, premature babies are increasingly being saved from the certain death that awaited them not so long ago, but this has brought with it new problems and ethical questions: how far should medical teams go when there is no hope at all for anything but a heavily handicapped existence, when death would almost certainly ensue if no invasive means were used?

In most cases – and they are not infrequent in French hospitals where neonatal teams usually do the utmost to save a premature baby at birth – the child’s family and the medical team will find an answer together: either to go on with the resuscitating techniques, or to abstain from these therapeutic acts.

In the case of Titouan, the parents, Mélanie and Aurélien, both in their thirties, went public about their opposition to the doctors’ decision to “save” their little boy despite the fact that they had clearly stated that they did not want a handicapped child. “Who wants their son to live the life of a handicapped person? Perhaps some families want this, but we don’t,” they said during emotional interviews that were given wide coverage.

They also pleaded for the doctors to “put an end to his suffering,” claiming that their baby was experiencing pain and discomfort because of the treatment he was receiving in the neonatal intensive care unit. “They couldn’t care less about his pain,” said Melanie, tearfully.

The press was quick to link the story to the ongoing euthanasia debate in France, which is expected to come to a head before the end of the year when the socialist government will present a new “End of Life Act.”

At the Poitiers University hospital where Titouan was born, the medical team refused to “unplug” him as long as there was no certainty about the way he was responding to treatment. He was not under “invasive” treatment, they said: the little boy was being “accompanied.” Having consulted together and with an outside expert as the law requires, they underscored that there was no reason to make a hasty decision. A neonatologist from Bordeaux, Dr Christophe Elleau, went so far as to say: “Sometimes it is urgent to do nothing. It is never urgent to kill, especially since it’s irreversible.”

This comment added substance to the idea that the only options in Titouan’s case were to keep him alive using exaggerated means or actively to make him die. So is that what doctors are doing every time they do not use every possible technique to keep a premature baby alive, at any cost?

When the little boy’s parents went to the media about their son’s case, a week before his death, Titouan had experienced brain hemorrhage which might leave him partially paralyzed, according to the parents who accused the medical team of “lying” about the gravity of his potential handicaps in order to force them into accepting that he should live.

Thursday evening, a week later, in the face of his actual condition, which had “worsened” considerably in a few hours, the medical team at Poitiers decided that continuing treatment would now constitute “unreasonable obstinacy” as the law puts it, and in accordance with Titouan’s parents, they were prepared to “accompany” his end of life.

While no details were given about the way things went, this would probably mean stopping artificial ventilation at a point where most probably the boy would not start breathing on his own, while giving him palliative care to avoid suffering.

This is not euthanasia: there is no question of positively provoking the death of the little patient, but of letting nature take its course. Should he have lived despite the medical abstention, his life could have been respected and he would have received treatment.

Dr. Alain de Broca, a pediatric neurologist and a specialist in medical ethics and palliative care at the University Hospital of Amiens, told LifeSiteNews that in cases like Titouan’s, it is important to stress that “it is not the doctors who put an end to life, it is the condition or the illness” itself. The question is not, for instance, of withholding food and fluids in order to obtain death.

“Very premature babies’ brains are like parchment,” he said. “As they mature, the very process provokes hemorrhages that can be of varying degrees of gravity. In many cases they will be resorbed and the baby will recover to become a healthy, normal, mischievous child. In others, the brain will suffer severe or very severe damage. Then extreme techniques will bring no benefit. It is not so much a question of stopping treatments that arises, as that of taking the decision not to put them in place. In fact, in these situations, it is every day, as they evolve, that doctors will decide in accordance with the parents to ‘reiterate’ a resuscitation treatment or no. We must come to terms with the fact that we do not have therapeutic omnipotence.”

He added that it is important for parents to be closely associated with the decisions that are made, and that they should be helped to understand that at a certain stage heavy treatment would only artificially prolong life. In other cases the same treatment sustains life. But in all cases decisions cannot be made “without the parents” who must realize that the child is in no sense being put to death. De Broca made clear that abstention from “obstinate means” in the case of very premature babies is in no way comparable to neonatal euthanasia as exists in the Netherlands, either by direct killing or withdrawal of food and fluids.

The debate is in fact not about euthanasia but about overaggressive medical treatment, which is not required when a patient is in very bad shape and would die because of his condition if sophisticated techniques were not used, as in the case of a cancer patient who can legitimately refuse heavy chemotherapy that would make him suffer with little hope of betterment. Not, however, before the disproportion of the treatment is clearly evidenced.

Unfortunately this is not the way the debate has been presented in the French media.

Alain de Broca made clear that respect for a premature or very ill baby’s life, until the very end, is very important for all those who are affected by the tragedy of his short existence. He stressed that the decision to deliberately shorten such a life has dire consequences for the baby’s near ones. “A few extra days of life can mean a lot, allowing parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents to come and see the child, fondle it, let it find its place in the family history,” he said. That will make healthy mourning possible: it is easier to come to terms with bereavement when a dying child has been surrounded, accompanied and cared for. “It is not possible to say goodbye properly to a child who has not been properly welcomed,” de Broca said. “When that is not the case, mourning will most often be pathological.”

“Each day of the child’s life is important,” he concluded. “I have accompanied many cases: very often, the child dies in the parents’ arms. And that helps them come to terms with the folly of its death.”

All this does leave a paradox unexplained: while in France, neonatologists will frequently use extraordinary means to try to save the lives of the tiniest of babies – Titouan weighed under two pounds – “medical abortion” is permitted and performed up to the very end of pregnancy for much lighter handicaps than those premature babies are exposed to.

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Gabriele Kuby

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Genderism – a new ideology destroying the family

Gabriele Kuby
By Gabriele Kuby

Editor’s Note: The following address by German author and social commentator Gabriele Kuby was delivered earlier this month in Moscow at the International Forum on Large Families and the Future of Humanity.

We are witnessing an astonishing historical shift.

More than a hundred years ago, Marxism declared the relationship of man and woman in monogamous marriage as “the first class antagonism” in history. This “class-conflict” had to be overcome by destroying marriage and the family. So in 1917, Alexandra Kollontai, the first woman commissar of the Bolshevik Central Committee, set out to put this into practise through the exercise of revolutionary power:

  1. A law for the dissolution of marriage
  2. Legalization of abortion
  3. Sexual freedom for youth
  4. Legalization of homosexuality
  5. Integration of women into the production process, and
  6. Bringing up children in collective state institutions.

But even Lenin soon realized that this was creating social chaos. And he repealed some of these revolutionary measures.

Yet the same agenda eventually migrated to the West. It had its breakthrough with the student rebellion of the 1960s, which swept through European countries with slogans like these:

Battle the bourgeois nuclear family!

If you sleep with the same one twice, you’re a slave of bourgeois vice!

Make love not war!

This movement was fuelled by Marxist philosophers, particularly of the Frankfurt School in Germany. In their view, sexuality was to be liberated from restrictive morality – even from the taboo of incest. Sex between children, as well as sex with children, was to be allowed in order to create a “society without oppression”.

During the 1970s, marriage laws and sexual criminal laws were revised in Western countries. Pornography, abortion, and homosexuality – in this sequence – were legalized, and obligatory sexual education was introduced in schools. And during the last decade, the collectivization of bringing up small children – formerly seen as a communist aberration – has been imposed on families by EU measures. This destroys the very source of human love, which is the relationship between mother and child.

Ironically, the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were, so to speak, “protected” by communist dictatorship from the implementation of these ideas, which had originated in Marxist ideology.

Today things have shifted even further: The radical feminist movement and the homosexual movement merged and gave birth to the gender ideology. One of its trailblazers is the philosopher Judith Butler, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and a proclaimed lesbian, who in 1990 published the book, Gender Trouble – Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

Gender theory proclaims that our “social gender” is independent of our biological sex, so that we can “choose” whether we want to be a man or a woman.

At the policy level, this ideology becomes “Gender Mainstreaming,” which promotes:

  • Subversion of the identity of man and woman by destroying “gender-stereotypes” – beginning in kindergarten; and
  • Deregulation of normative standards of sexuality: Any kind of sexual practice – be it lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) – has to be accepted by society as equivalent to heterosexuality. And this must be taught to children in school.

It has taken only 20 years for gender theory to become the ruling ideology of the West. At most universities, the new field of “gender studies” has been firmly established. In my native Germany, we have almost 200 women professors in that new field of so-called “science” – which really is nothing more than the ideological agenda of radical feminism and the homosexual movement combined. And students now must adhere to this ideology – just as their predecessors had to adhere to Marxist ideology under communism.

What Alexandra Kollontai could not achieve under a communist dictatorship has now become the global policy of the United Nations and the European Union. But the underlying agenda is disguised with words that abuse the great values of Christian culture: freedom, justice, tolerance, and human rights.

Central and Eastern European nations have now begun to realize that membership in the European Union has its costs. It not only brings them new economic possibilities but also the enforced destruction of their own value system – which, for many centuries, has served as the foundation of marriage and family.

In pursuit of their agenda, the UN and the EU work with an international network of political stakeholders, billionaire foundations, the mainstream media, and global NGOs like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and ILGA, the homosexual umbrella organization. They seek to impose the feminist and homosexual agenda on every nation around the world through the policy of gender mainstreaming and LGBT-rights.

Dear friends, we are indeed facing a global ‘anthropological revolution’, as Pope Benedict XVI termed it – one which attacks the very roots of human existence. This revolution has five political cornerstones:

  1. Elimination of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Deprivation of the material basis of the family
  3. Legalization of abortion
  4. Homosexual “marriage,” including adoption and artificial child production
  5. Sexualization of children through obligatory comprehensive sexual education.

All this requires a response. In fact, faced with the demographic crisis in the West, and the moral and social breakdown of the family, we need a global movement that creates conditions under which the deepest longings of the human heart can be fulfilled. Such a movement should include:

  1. Re-awakening to the sanctity of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Provision of the material basis of the family
  3. Protection of life – from conception to natural death
  4. Legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman
  5. Education of children and youth for marriage and family

As far as I can see, Russia is today the only country where there may be the possibility for church and state to rebuild the foundations of the family.

This International Forum could have a significant role in the global battle for a culture of life and the defence of marriage and family. May our political leaders be guided by wisdom and a commitment to the common good of humanity in the present political situation.

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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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New Zealand’s pro-euthanasia MP fails to re-enter Parliament

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Staunch euthanasia and assisted suicide advocate, Maryan Street, has failed to make it back into Parliament after New Zealand’s general election on Saturday.

Street, a Labour candidate who has been an MP since 2005, had placed the End of Life Choice Bill into the Member’s Ballot in July 2012. 

Late last year, Street came under pressure from her party to remove the Bill as it was deemed too controversial a subject to be debating in an election year.

Street withdrew the Bill from the Ballot, vowing to reintroduce it after the election.  However, once again she failed to win the electorate seat of Nelson.  Her position on Labour’s List should have seen her re-enter Parliament for another term, but their support has deteriorated to its lowest since 1922 and they did not gain enough seats for Street to be selected.

Considered by many to be filled with loopholes, the End of Life Choice Bill, if passed, would have legalized physician assisted suicide for those who were suffering from an “irreversible physical or mental medical condition” who were experiencing “unbearable” pain. 

Doctors who object to euthanasia and assisted suicide would have been obliged to refer patients to other practitioners who could carry out their wishes.

Most concerning to those against the Bill was the clause granting immunity from civil and criminal liability for any person acting in good faith who failed through act or omission to follow the law.

There are still 300,000 special votes to be counted which could potentially change the situation. However, it is unlikely that Labour will gain another seat, bringing Street back into Parliament.

The possibility that another MP will take up the cause cannot be ruled out either. 

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