Friday, August 31, 2012

Two reviews of "Adam and Eve after the Pill"

Mary Eberstadt's book, Adam and Eve after the Pill, published this spring by Ignatius Press, has been on my list of things to read.  It's also been making serious inroads into the Evangelical communities, many of whom are in the process of rediscovering Tradition.  Here's a review of the book from a Catholic source, which says obvious sorts of things about its content and Catholic teaching; but also notes that non-Catholics (specifically, Evangelicals) are also thinking hard about this book and this teaching.  Thus, here's a review from Christianity Today, which is also a very good review and says surprisingly positive things about the traditional teaching against contraception:

As Eberstadt sees it, the contraceptive pill has launched us into a new age in which responsibility has been divorced from sex. And while it is easy to point fingers at the secular world for embracing this reproductive technology, Christians are complicit in its hold on our culture. Most Christians do not want to be told what to do with their bodies any more than non-Christians, and the Pill has made that freedom possible.

Undeniable Data

Eberstadt's final chapter sheds a different kind of light on current evangelical conversations about sex. As often as these discussions are taking place, and as important as it is to affirm sex in marriage, there is a distinctly individualistic flavor to these teachings. While church leaders should encourage marital intimacy in the bedroom, married sex (and the teachings behind it) can still have negative social ramifications. Using contraception is not a private act, nor is it a neutral one. Eberstadt's book is Exhibit A of this reality.

Knowing this, pastors cannot address the widespread sexual brokenness in our culture simply by encouraging married sex. They must also address the ideology and theology behind the brokenness, and contraception is Ground Zero for those discussions.

One should recall (as this review does) that all Christian denominations held this teaching up until 1930.  All those denominations which have rejected this teaching have done so only in the last 80 years.  So I am greatly encouraged by Evangelicals reconsidering this rejection (brief round up in this article), and the possibility of their reclaiming this part of the apostolic deposit of faith.

There's a further ramification to this, of course.  The more the biblical and apostolic rejection of contraception is shared by Christian denominations, the more obvious it is that the HHS mandate is not merely an unconstitutional violation of religious liberty on its face, but also it, and the Affordable Care Act that it derives from, promote active harm for women, and families, and the common good.

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