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Posted on: Sunday, January 27, 2019
Originally preached as one of Fr. Nagel's homilies.
Elise is a six-year old who lives with her grandmother, and whose mother had a baby with someone other than Elise’s father. ‘I hate it when my Mom comes home with her new baby and her new boyfriend. Why do I have to live with my grandma? Why doesn’t my mother love me? Why does that baby get to live with her, and I don’t?’ she asks.
Bethany’s husband Joe is a pornography addict. He lost interest in her and their children. He divorced her. He moved in with another woman and no longer has any interest in the faith she thought they shared. 'Earning a living and supporting and caring for the kids is tough,’ she said, 'I don’t know what I would do if my parents hadn’t moved closer to help me.'
Tom’s mother was married and divorced twice. Neither of these men was Tom’s father. Tom has one half-sister. Neither of his mother’s husbands was her father, either. Tom had never really had a relationship with his father. Tom married a woman named Genevieve, whose mother and her first husband adopted a child. Later they decided to have another child through anonymous donor conception. That was Genevieve. When Genevieve was eight, her mother and her husband divorced. The husband wanted shared custody of the adopted child but not of Genevieve.
Those are some scenarios from the beginning of Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s book, The Sexual State, about the costs and casualties of the Sexual Revolution. I thought about them this past Tuesday at the March for Life in Olympia. The marchers always walk to the steps of the capital by going past the supreme court. On the steps of the supreme court are the pro legal-abortion counter-protesters. As I walked, I thought, “Here is the existential experience of our society – the fundamental conflict buried beneath so many other tensions that undermine our peace. Only here it’s out in the open with all the shouting, bitterness, and anger, while most of the time the consequences of the Sexual Revolution are fiercely silenced or ignored. I felt compelled to preach about that situation today.
The world says the Sexual Revolution has been a great success because it has given all of us, especially women, more freedom, autonomy, and sexual pleasure. But there is another side to the story that is rarely heard or admitted. Elise, Bethany, Tom, Genevieve, and all their millions of companions, in addition to the aborted children, are the losers in all this supposed freedom and pleasure.
Roback Morse says the Sexual Revolution is built on three ideologies: First, The Contraception Ideology, which says we can separate sex from childbearing. This ideology claims that there’s no happy life without sex, so sexual activity without a baby resulting is an entitlement. Contraception insures this right is available. But since, in fact, we can’t actually have unlimited sexual activity over the long haul without babies resulting, every contraceptive culture must have legal abortion to protect the delusional promise of the ideology. They must, and always do, go together. That’s the hard truth Pro-Lifers need to grasp. It’s why there’s so little real movement on their cause.
The second ideology at the root of the Revolution is the No-Fault Divorce Ideology that separates sex and children from marriage. If people want to join these things together, great, but there is no expectation they should. Two unspoken assumptions with this ideology are, first, children don’t need steady relationships with their parents. The kids will be fine as long as their parents – or one parent -- is happy. Second, adults don’t have any serious responsibilities towards their children beyond doing them no physical harm. The emotional happiness of a parent trumps the emotional well-being of the child.
The third Ideology is the Gender Ideology that Pope Francis regularly attacks. This states that all differences we observe between men and women are socially constructed and we can deconstruct them without any social harm. In fact, if we don’t, it’s an injustice. This goes beyond the just demand for equal opportunity, dignity and respect for women to saying that men and women are interchangeable and sexual difference doesn’t matter because it doesn’t really exist.
The unifying principle of this revolution is that adults have the right to do anything they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. The problem is that all three ideologies are based on lies -- fantasies, that, in fact, do hurt others. Sex does produce babies. Children do need their parents in order to be healthy, men and women are different in important ways. But to protect these lies, our society does everything possible to silence or ignore the victims of the revolution because the Sexual Revolution is the core value of our society. The state reinforces the Sexual Revolution by its laws and the media with its films, songs, and shows. Just try publicly questioning any of these ideologies and see what happens. I get more nasty e-mails and letters when I give a homily questioning these ideologies than all the other homilies put together.
Given our fallen human nature there will always be suffering when it comes to creating children and families. No philosophy will be perfect, certainly the Christian culture the Church created wasn’t. But these days we only hear of its sufferings, not its virtues. And we hear little about the victims of the Sexual Revolution because it sort of works for the upper middle-class people with college degrees who run society.
But what about everybody else? Who listens to them? They’re often small, powerless, or poor. And I’m not only talking about the thousands of children who are aborted each day. I’m talking about Elise, Bethany, Tom and Genevieve. I’m talking about the children who are pawns of lawyers and who wonder if they’re responsible for their parents’ divorce, and the involuntarily divorced father driven from his home, who lives in a spartan apartment, seeing his kids every other weekend, and the woman who didn’t want an abortion, but was afraid her husband or boyfriend would leave her if she didn’t have it. They may not even know they’re victims of the Sexual Revolution. They’ve never heard of it. They just know they are hurting, but don’t know why and haven’t connected the dots: that the Christian Sexual Revolution of the first century AD accepted adult suffering for the sake of children, while the Secular Sexual Revolution of the 20th century requires that children suffer so the adults can be happy.
By now there are no easy answers. We’re so tangled up in these false ideologies and their fantasies that they now seem normal and living without them seems impossible. Our kids are increasingly fragile, anxious, and depressed. Partly this is due to all the screens, social media and internet. But it’s also due to the Sexual Revolution catching up with us. For the past few decades we’ve survived on the leftover social capital of the traditional era, but now marriage and families have reached the critical point. Things are starting to fall apart. Let’s have a conversation about what we’re doing – a conversation that admits the real costs of the Sexual Revolution and all the people who are destroyed or made miserable by it.
In the Gospel Jesus came to His home town and shocked them. He announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” And His own people grew angry when they learned he was talking about them and tried to throw Him off a cliff. In the face of our own suffering, Jesus, through His Church’s teachings, proclaims to us today the same liberty to the victims and captives of the Sexual Revolution. Is He the Messiah, or are we also going to try to throw Him off the cliff?
Posted on: Tuesday, January 16, 2018
by John Stossel; originally published at Creators.com on January 16, 2018.
Who will warn Americans about hate groups? The media know: the Southern Poverty Law Center.
SPLC, based in Alabama, calls itself "the premier" group monitoring hate. Give us money, they say, and they will "fight the hate that thrives in our country."
I once believed in the center's mission. Well-meaning people still do. Apple just gave them a million dollars. So did actor George Clooney.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in Somalia, where she suffered female genital mutilation. So now she speaks out against radical Islam. For that, SPLC put her on its list of dangerous "extremists."
Maajid Nawaz was once an Islamic extremist. Then he started criticizing the radicals. SPLC labels him an "anti-Muslim extremist," too.
While launching hateful smears like these, SPLC invites you to donate to them to "join the fight against hatred and bigotry."
SPLC once fought useful fights. They took on the Ku Klux Klan. But now they go after people on the right with whom they disagree.
They call the Family Research Council a hate group because it says gay men are more likely to sexually abuse children.
That's their belief. There is some evidence that supports it. Do they belong on a "hate map," like the Ku Klux Klan, because they believe that evidence and worry about it?
I often disagree with the council, but calling them a hate group is unfair. In my YouTube video this week, the group's vice president, Jerry Boykin, tells me, "I don't hate gay people. And I know gay people, and I have worked with gay people."
But once you're labeled a hate group, you are a target.
One man went to the Family Research Council headquarters to kill people, shooting a security guard in the arm before he was stopped.
The shooter told investigators that he attacked the FRC because he found them on SPLC's hate list.
Calling the council a "hate group" made its employees the target of real hate.
SPLC also smears the Ruth Institute, a Christian group that believes gays should not have an equal right to adopt children. The institute's president,
Jennifer Roback Morse, says they're not haters.
"I like gay people. I have no problem with gay people. That's not the issue. The issue is, what are we doing with kids and the definition of who counts as a parent."
The institute doesn't argue that gays should never adopt. "There could be cases where the best person for a particular child would be their Uncle Harry and his boyfriend," Morse told me. But the institute wants preference given to "a married mother and father."
For that, SPLC put the Ruth Institute on its hate map. That led the institute's credit card processor to stop working with them. In a letter to the institute, the processor company said that it had learned that the "Ruth Institute ... promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse."
"We went and checked our website," Morse told me, "and we were already down."
I suspect SPLC labels lots of groups "haters" because crying "hate" brings in money.
Years ago, Harper's Magazine reported that SPLC was "the wealthiest civil rights group in America, one that now spend most of its time — and money — on a fund-raising campaign." People in Montgomery, Alabama, where SPLC is based, call its elegant new headquarters "the Poverty Palace."
"Morris Dees' salary is more than my entire annual budget," says Morse. "Whatever they're doing, it pays."
Dees, SPLC's co-founder, promised to stop fundraising once his endowment hit $55 million. But when he reached $55 million, he upped the bar to $100 million, saying that would allow them "to cease costly fundraising."
But again, when they reached $100 million, they didn't stop. Now they have $320 million — a large chunk of which is kept in offshore accounts. Really. It's on their tax forms.
In return for those donations to SPLC, the world gets a group that now lists people like Ben Carson and Fox commentators Laura Ingraham, Judge Andrew Napolitano and Jeanine Pirro as extremists — but doesn't list the leftist militant hate groups known as antifa.
SPLC is now a hate group itself. It's a money-grabbing slander machine.
John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed."
Posted on: Wednesday, March 29, 2017
by Doug Mainwaring at publicdiscourse.com on March 2017.
This world does not need men to selfishly take whatever we want, especially if the price is the welfare of our children. Our children don’t need superheroes—just quiet, unsung, ordinary, everyday heroes who answer to the name “Daddy.”
When I was taking my first few steps out of the closet in the late 1990s, a guy who called himself Tex offered me a short version of his life story over drinks at a Dupont Circle bar. The conversation took an unanticipated turn: he explained that his current partner had moved halfway across the country, leaving behind an ex-wife and kids. Tex would sometimes answer the house phone (this was before cell phones) and would hear a small voice cautiously ask, “May I please speak to my Daddy?” This was his partner’s eight-year-old daughter calling from somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Tex said that it troubled him deeply that his partner’s daughter had to ask permission of a stranger in order to speak with her daddy.
When I think of this little girl, my thoughts drift to folks like Alana Newman and others who have anonymous sperm donors for fathers, many of whom have daily asked that same question in their hearts. May I please speak to my Daddy?
When I started speaking out about the dangers of same-sex marriage for children, I found it difficult to get proponents of genderless marriage to engage in intellectually honest one-on-one discussions. Then I realized: at least half the people who wanted to clobber me with bumper sticker slogans were products of broken marriages.
In early 2013, following my participation in a panel discussion, a young man accused me of being unfair to gays, lesbians, and their children. So I took a chance and asked him point blank: “Did your parents divorce when you were a child?”
He was a little stunned by the personal question, but he answered, “Yes.” The smugness left his face.
“Did you live with your mother?”
“Did you see much of your father?”
“No. I almost never saw him.”
“Did you miss him? Did you wish you could be around him more?”
“Yes. Of course,” he answered, with a bit of wistfulness.
“Did your parents’ divorce increase your happiness—or your sadness?”
“So your parents dismantled your home and set up two new structures that put their needs first, not yours. In fact, they were structures guaranteeing your continued unhappiness. You learned to live with it, because as a child you had no control whatsoever over their actions, but these new structures weren’t necessarily built with your best interest in mind.”
“Well, no. I didn’t get to vote on the matter. I was a kid.”
“Exactly. So why would it be different for children of gays and lesbians who are denied either their father or mother? Do you really think two moms or two dads is exactly the same as having both mom and dad around to love and care for you? Seriously? Would having an extra mom around the house really have satisfied you, or would you still have an unanswered yearning in your heart for your Dad?”
“Then why would you want to condemn other children to be fatherless? Or motherless?”
He got it. He didn’t like it, but he got it—and then he walked away. I have no idea if he changed his mind, but at least he had finally actually heard and listened to an opposing point of view—one that resonated with him.
As I walked away, I thought to myself, “To be intellectually honest, I can’t keep speaking publicly against the dangers of genderless marriage without also simultaneously speaking about the objective evil of divorce for kids.” Divorce is an exponentially larger, far more pervasive threat to children than the prospect of gays raising children without moms and lesbians raising children without dads. I sighed. There is a lot to undo and set straight.
The Prodigal Dad
After my wife and I had been divorced for a few years, it was not unusual for her to call and ask me to drive to her house because our youngest son was out of control. When I would arrive, I found turmoil. He had gotten angry about something, and that had triggered a rage completely disproportionate to the issue. He would yell and scream and kick, then isolate himself in his bedroom. No trespassers allowed. It was gut-wrenching to witness this. Thankfully, he would calm down after a while and return to normal.
His rage would, in turn, trigger discussions with my ex-wife. What were we going to do about his behavioral problem? Did he require medication? Did he need to be spanked? Did he need psychological help?
After this happened a few times it became abundantly clear to me exactly what he needed. Our son did not have a behavioral problem. He needed just one thing: he needed his parents to get back together and to love each other. The slicing and dicing of our family had thrust unbearable stress on this four-year-old’s tender psyche. His Dad and Mom were the culprits responsible for this, yet we were approaching this as if it were his problem.
Our little boy bore no blame, but I sure did.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 15, 2017
by Joseph Sunde ~ February 14, 2017
This article was first posted at the Acton Blog on February 14, 2017.
Despite the predictable flurry of sugary clichés and hedonistic consumerism, Valentine’s Day is as good an opportunity as any to reflect on the nature
of human love and consider how we might further it across society.
For those of us interested in the study of economics, or, if you prefer, the study of human action, what drives such action — love or otherwise —is the starting point for everything. For the Christian economist, such questions get a bit more complicated.
Although love is clearly at the center, our understanding of what that looks like is interconnected with and interdependent on the love of God, which persistently yanks our typical economist sensibilities about “prosperity,” “happiness,” and “quality of life” into transcendent territory (never mind those convenient buckets of “self-interest” and “sacrifice”). The marketplace is flooded with worldly spin-offs, as plenty of cockeyed V-Day ditties and run-of-the-mill romantic comedies are quick to demonstrate. At a time when libertine, self-centered approaches appear to be the routine winners in everything from consumerism to self-help to sex, we should be especially careful that our economic thinking doesn’t also fall prey to such distortions.
In her book Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, Jennifer Roback Morse cautions against such tendencies, pointing us in the right direction and challenging us to reconsider our basic views about human needs and human potential.
Morse begins with a critique of homo economicus (economic man), the understanding of man as Supreme Calculator, capable of number-crunching his way to happiness and fulfillment on the basis of cut-and-dry cost/benefit analysis. Such a view ignores the social and spiritual side of the human person, excusing away our thoughts and affections at the mercy of of a cold, limiting, earthbound order. As Rev. Robert Sirico puts it, “Any man who was only economic man would be a lost soul. And any civilization that produced only homines economici to fill its markets, courts, legislative bodies, and other institutions would soon enough be a lost civilization.”
To demonstrate the inadequacy of the common caricature, Morse points us to human infanthood, a uniquely universal human experience in supreme dependency and irrationality. “We are not born as rational, choosing agents, able to defend ourselves and our property, able to negotiate contracts and exchanges,” she writes. “We are born as dependent babies, utterly incapable of meeting our own needs—or even of knowing what our needs are. As infants, we do not know what is good or safe. We even resist sleep in spite of being so exhausted we cannot hold our heads up. We are completely dependent on others for our very survival.”
As Morse goes on to remind us, the other side of this dependence — a nurturing family environment — is not an automatic given, and our response (or non-response) proves the economic man hypothesis to be dangerously incomplete (while also countering Rousseau’s view of the “state of nature”).
To demonstrate her case, she looks to extreme situations wherein the family has been entirely removed, focusing specifically on child abandonment and the attachment disorder that so often follows:
The classic case of attachment disorder is a child who does not care what anyone thinks of him. The disapproval of others does not deter this child from bad behavior because no other person, even someone who loves him very much, matters to the child. He responds only to physical punishment and to the suspension of privileges. The child does whatever he thinks he can get away with, no matter the cost to others. He does not monitor his own behavior, so authority figures must constantly be wary of him and watch him. He lies if he thinks it is advantageous to life. He steals if he can get away with it. He may go through the motions of offering affection, but people who live with him sense in him a kind of phoniness. He shows no regret at hurting another person, though he may offer perfunctory apologies.
Here we find a peculiar integration of economic man and noble savage, a child “untouched by corrupting adult influences” who seeks only to meet his own temporal human needs, regardless of the social costs. As Morse summarizes, to avoid a society filled with such disorder, we must ground ourselves in something far more powerful and grounded and transcendent than self-centered individualism. “The desperate condition of the abandoned child shows us that we have, all along, been counting on something to hold society together, something more than the mutual interests of autonomous individuals,” she writes. “We have taken that something else for granted, and hence, overlooked it, even though it has been under our noses all along. That missing element is none other than love.”
Thus, before we get too deep into all the important Hayekian questions about knowledge and decision-making, proceeding to dichotomize between a centralized governmental Mother Brain and “better,” “morerational” individualistic mini-brains, we should pause and remember that without love properly defined and vigorously pursued, human holes will surely remain.
Whatever form of magical super-rationalism we humans might be able to concoct, whether through governments or markets or otherwise, without the love of God and the corresponding building blocks of relationship and family and community, our stomachs will continue to growl and the social stew will continue to fester. Without transcendent obedience and a willingness to sacrifice our own convenience and temporal, transactional notions about prosperity, happiness, and human fulfillment, society at large will slowly yield to false caricatures about human needs and the corresponding solutions.
“Love is from God,” writes the Apostle John, “and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” This is what we should strive for: to be born of God and to know God, from the way we respond to a baby’s first breath to the way we cultivate our families and communities to the way we conduct ourselves in our daily work across the economic order.
This Valentine’s Day, let us remember that love is much more than the sentimentality and self-gratification that consumes our culture. Love is what holds society together, and that means fewer self-centered sonnets to faux self-empowerment, and more covenantal worship and service across society. Whether as spouses or parents, neighbors or strangers, we remain children of the King, created in the image of a God who so loved that he gave.
Joseph Sunde is a writer and project coordinator for the Acton Institute, serving as editor of the Letters to the Exiles blog and content manager of the Oikonomia channel atPatheos.com. He is the founder of Remnant Culture and was a longtime contributor to AEI's Values & Capitalism project. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Charisma News, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Mission:Work, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.