Jan 18, 2013
The disruptive results for individuals and society spawned by the revolution in attitudes and behavior regarding sex, marriage, family, and childbearing that erupted a half-century ago have become too obvious to ignore. These things were predictable--in fact, some people actually predicted them from the start--but by now their impact has grown so painfully apparent that even secular voices are being raised in alarm.
The problems are increasingly visible in the United States. They include an aging population with fewer young workers to support the elderly, along with a disturbingly high incidence of disabilities among children born to parents who put off having them until their 30s and 40s and then, in many instances, resorted to drugs or reproductive technologies to achieve pregnancy.
Between 2007 and 2010, the U.S. birthrate dropped 8 percent, to the lowest level since 1920, when reliable data first became available. The lifetime average of 1.9 children per woman is below the replacement rate of 2.1--the number of children needed to keep population level. Granted, some of this is due to the recession but some reflects longer-term trends.
Religious sources, some of them anyway, began warning about such things a long time ago. In his 1968 encyclical condemning contraception, Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI spoke of "insurmountable limits" to what people can rightly do to and with their bodies, and of the personal and social imperatives requiring that those limits be respected. The Pope was ignored when he wasn't laughed at. But he was right.