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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Monday, October 24, 2016
by Marcia Segelstein
One of the first sermons I heard at the Catholic parish where I would eventually be received into the Church was on the subject of marriage. The priest spoke about the relationship between a husband and wife as being indissoluble. Like siblings or parents and children, he told us, spouses formed a different, but equally permanent, bond with each other. It was as though a light bulb went on for me. “Of course,” I thought. “That makes perfect sense!” It was, simply put, the Catholic definition of marriage.
So while I firmly believe that commitment is the most critical ingredient for a marriage as it’s meant to be, choosing the right partner is pretty important, too.
Jennifer Roback Morse and her colleague at the Ruth Institute, Betsy Kerekes, have just released a new book called 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do. It’s an easy read chock full of great advice.
I’ve narrowed their tips down to my top ten favorites, in some cases combining a few.
1) Pray. Pray for encouragement, guidance, and consolation. Pray that you find your future spouse. Pray for him or her. And, as Morse and Kerekes put it, “If you have no prayer life, get one. Right away. For real. You think life is tough now, searching for the right person? Wait until you have to put up with each other – and kids.”
2) Be friends first. My husband started out as my best friend, so I can attest to the wisdom of this advice. It is, as the book says, “an excellent, no-pressure way of getting to know each other without stress or expectations.” It’s also a great way to avoid the pitfalls of the hook-up culture, where physical intimacy comes first, and emotional intimacy not so much.
3) Keep your expectations real. Fight the inclination to expect fairy-tale romance or love at first sight. Or, as Morse and Kerekes write, “This is real life. Your Prince (or Princess) Charming will not magically appear as you sing to the wildlife in the forest.” Nor will your perfect soul mate magically bump into you at Starbucks. You might find your future spouse there. But there’s no such thing as a perfect soul mate.
4) Don’t waste your time. It’s OK to want commitment. If the person you’ve been dating for months doesn’t exclusively want to be with you, ask yourself if he or she is worth it.
5) Try to imagine the future. Specifically, try to imagine the person you’re dating as the parent of your children. Ask yourself if you can picture him or her as a role model for them. “If not,” say Morse and Kerekes, “move on.”
6) Picture introducing your potential future spouse to friends and family. Would you be proud? Or would you find yourself embarrassed or ashamed of some aspect of his or her character? If so, some reevaluating is in order.
7) Take parents into consideration. Or, as the book suggests, “Evaluate your significant other’s relationship with his or her parents as well as your relationship with your own parents.” Most people have some unresolved issues with their parents. Try to determine if you’re ready to live with the consequences of your loved one’s, and take a hard look at your own.
8) Stay chaste. Sexual activity releases hormones that cause feelings of bonding, especially in women. Your ability to think clearly and rationally about what may be the most important decision of your life will be clouded by a hormonal fog otherwise.
9) Don’t live together. Study after study has shown that cohabitating before marriage is not a good idea. The authors put it bluntly: “Ignore the hype from popular culture: couples who live together prior to marriage are more likely to divorce than those who don’t.”
10) When the time comes, focus on the marriage, not the wedding. Keep Bridezilla in check and take this advice from Morse and Kerekes: “Take a deep breath, relax and go with the flow. This one day, though extremely important, is not as important as the rest of your lives.”
Posted on: Monday, October 24, 2016
by Terri Kimmel
This article was first published on October 24, 2016, at CatholicLane.com.
In today’s electronic world of tweets and status updates, communicating with brevity is everything. 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do by the Ruth Institute’s Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes speaks to the internet generation in a language and format that keeps up with the frenetic pace.
Being in my mid-40’s I don’t consider myself technically (pun intended) part of the internet generation. Still, even my middle-aged brain has become accustomed to absorbing information in short spurts. 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person conveys timeless wisdom to a time-crunched world. I loved this about the book. It is ultra-concentrated, but penetrates and enriches in a way that is fresh, relevant, and relatively effortless for the reader. It also has a wonderful list of additional resources at the back for those who would like to delve deeper into a subject.
The objective of the book is (from the book’s cover) “Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do.” Written as a kind of prequel to an earlier book by the same authors, 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person impresses me most by the way it fearlessly goes into the dark places that our culture takes single people and meets them there with light, truth, and tenderness.
I am a child of divorced parents. I remember how my past created anxiety for me when I was preparing to get married. Jennifer and Betsy, the authors, tackle this issue head on. “The long-term effects of divorce crescendo in young adulthood. . . . Don’t be discouraged if either of you is a child of divorce. Instead, give this risk factor the seriousness it deserves. Get some help for whatever issues you may have.” Such candor and clarity would have been a comfort to me as I was preparing to get married.
Boldly addressing topics that our politically-correct culture often overlooks or ignores, the authors meet the reader where he/she is on the issue, explain the pitfall, and give friendly and easy-to-understand advice. There is no hesitation to “go there” on the tough questions. They even acknowledge that men and women are different! Scandalous, right? Who does that anymore? Tip #82 in the book says, “Be aware that a long-term cohabiting situation often puts women at a disadvantage compared to men.”
It’s a fascinating read even for someone like me who has been married almost a quarter century. Having read the book I feel better equipped to mentor the people who frequently ask me questions about marriage and/or parenting. (Having nine kids makes me a default resource in the minds of a lot of people.)
One of the sections is a list of “Do Not’s” followed by a brief explanation. Here’s a sampling of topics: “Ladies, Do Not: Dress like a floozy”; “Do Not: Date Someone Just to Annoy Your Parents”; “Do Not: Agree to marry someone because it’s expected.” It’s the kind of book that I could pick up, browse through for just a few minutes, learn something valuable, and then put down until later. I think this format will appeal to those in marriage preparation ministry, both priests and lay people. It’s the most user friendly marriage prep book I’ve ever seen.
The book is divided into several sections, starting with tips on finding the right person. It moves through discerning while dating/courting, into considerations about cohabitating, followed by a section on what to do if you’re already cohabitating. It ends with questions to ask yourself right up to the wedding. “Ask yourself one last time: Do I feel at peace with my decision to marry this person?” Every step provides insight based on the combined wisdom and experience of forty-five years of marriage of the authors who represent two generations and two very different sets of life experiences.
Jennifer Roback Morse, the founder of the Ruth Institute, has a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and taught economics at the university level. She tells us in the book that she cohabitated with her husband before marriage saying, “Not all my expertise in this area is book learning. I can attest that the research I report in this book is true.”
Betsy Kerekes is a homeschooling mom of three young children, a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the editor and director for online publications at the Ruth Institute. The two very diverse points of view, joined by fidelity to truth and the common objective of mentoring those seeking a strong marriage, combine to create a depth of strength and wisdom that is valuable to anyone seeking a long-lasting, holy, happy marriage.
I truly loved everything about this book. I plan to recommend it to my pastor and the director of family life in our diocese. It’s also now on my list of books to give engaged couples, along with books by Christopher West, Gregory Popcak, and Natural Family Planning information. If you know of a couple wherein one or both do not like to read self-help books, this book is exceptionally easy to read and stuffed with good information. I think it’s an appropriate alternative resource to longer, more involved reads.
My favorite thing about 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person is that it is thorough without being tedious. My daughter married two years ago. I remember her telling me that she was disappointed with marriage preparation. She wanted topics to talk about. She also told me that she felt the priest who was leading her preparation was at a loss because my daughter and her fiancé were chaste and not already living together. The priest told her she and her fiancé were anomalies. The beauty of 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person is that it covers all the bases. My daughter would have found it useful.
I highly and enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone interested in helping marriages succeed.
Posted on: Monday, October 24, 2016
by Crystal Stevenson / American Press
This article was first published October 21, 2016, at AmericanPress.com.
How to heal after the breakdown of one’s family unit will be the topic of the San Diego-based Ruth Institute’s inaugural Louisiana event.
The “Healing Family Breakdown” retreat will be 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven’s family center, 3939 Kingston St.
The retreat will include short talks, guided meditation and small group discussions, said Ruth Institute founder and retreat organizer Jennifer Roback Morse.
“Pretty much every family is affected by it in some way or another, if not your immediate family then in the extended family,” Morse said. “We realized based on our scientific research that there is an enormous amount of pain associated with it. Just looking around the culture you can see that people are suffering, but they don’t know what to do about it.”
Morse describes the forms of a family breakdown as adults divorced against their will — such as in cases of adultery or desertion; children who experience the divorce of their parents; children born to unmarried parents; and fostered, adopted or donor-conceived people who don’t know their biological parents.
“A lot of times people feel it’s their fault and there’s something wrong with them, but really we have a lot of structural problems causing this,” she said. “So we wanted to put together something that would help people deal with it in their own lives and also have a bigger picture of why it’s so troubling, and that’s what the retreat is designed to do.”
Morse said the retreat will focus on the child’s perspective.
“Our philosophy is that every child is entitled to a relationship with both of their parents unless some unavoidable tragedy takes place to prevent that, and of course that does happen,” she said.
“From the child’s perspective, anything that involves them not being in a day-to-day relationship with both parents, that’s a breakdown. If you look at it from a child’s perspective, sometimes the family is broken down even before it starts.”
Too many families are suffering alone and in silence, Morse said.
“It’s possible to have some healing. The feelings you have of maybe longing for the missing parent or longing for the relationship to somehow be restored, that’s a perfectly valid feeling,” she said.
“It might not happen; you might not be able to control whether it happens or not. But we want people to feel affirmed that at least it’s OK to have that desire.”
Morse said the conference is open to people ages 15 and older. Cost is $30 per person and $50 per family; attendance is free for members of the clergy. To register, visit www.olqh.org.
Posted on: Saturday, October 15, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
Originally published at The Blaze on October 14, 2016.
Dear Social Justice Warriors,
In some circles, the term “Social Justice Warrior” is a slur: an overly sensitive, obliviously privileged college student in a continual uproar over trivia.
I don’t agree with this caricature. I agree with you that social justice is real and worth fighting for. I admire young people who want to do something noble and good with their lives.
I have the perfect cause for you. This is a cause where you can do something constructive for the poor and marginalized. This cause demands something of you, rather than you demanding something of others. Are you ready for my challenge?In Portland Oregon, 2-year-old, Zackariah Luda Daugherty was murdered by a 20-year-old man. In West Virginia, an unnamed 9-month-old baby girl died after being sexually assaulted, shaken and strangled by a 32 year-old-man. In New Jersey, Ariana, a two-year-old girl diedafter being sexually assaulted by a 22 year-old-man.
What do all of these cases have in common?
The perpetrator of these crimes was in each case, the mother’s live-in boyfriend. If you type the words “mother’s boyfriend kills child” into your browser, many similar stories will pop up.
Social scientists have known for some time that the most dangerous living arrangement for a child is living with his or her mother and her live-in boyfriend. Back in 1994, a British study of child abuse reported that children living with their mother and a cohabiting boyfriend were about 50 times more likely to be killed than children living with their married parents.
This chart is taken from the original article with the permission of the author. Look at the bar labeled 2 NP md, which stands for “two Natural Parents, married,” and compare it with the bar labeled NM & chtee, which stands for “Natural Mother and cohabitee.”
A more recent study, in 2005, in Missouri, found that children living with their mother and an unrelated adult were 60 times more likely to be killed than children living with their married mother and father. And 84 percent of the time, that murderous unrelated adult was the mother’s boyfriend.
What does this have to do with me, you may ask? My young friends, I have frequently given talks on the hazards of cohabitation. And it never fails: some college student, usually a guy, will claim that cohabitation is not really so bad. It just looks bad, he will say, because lots of poor people cohabit. It looks like a bad deal, because the people who cohabit are more likely to be losers in the first place.
This is not correct, as it happens: controlling for income and education does reduce the impact of cohabitation, but not all the way to nothing. But let us say, for the sake of argument, that the problem is not cohabitation per se, but the people who happen to cohabit.
This, my earnest young friends, is where the social justice issue comes into play. Let’s say that you, as a privileged college-educated woman, can have a child, and then safely move in with a boyfriend who is not your child’s father. Let’s say you, as a college-educated man, never abuses your live-in girlfriend’s child.
But look: the child of a poor woman is more likely to be harmed by his or her mother’s boyfriend. What part of social justice is it for you and your advantaged friends to make excuses for a social convention, cohabitation, that won’t hurt you, but is systematically more likely to harm the poor? Why would you do such a thing?
That study is old and out of date, you may say. Ask yourself why you think that matters. I think we somehow expect the passage of time to bring wider acceptance of cohabitation. And we think, this wider social acceptance will solve these problems.
That assumes that the problems have only to do with social approval. Do you really believe that less disapproval of unmarried motherhood will eliminate the stress, fatigue and loneliness that unmarried mothers feel? Will wider social acceptance improve her judgment about what kind of guy is good for her to be involved with? Is the mere progression of time enough to make men no longer prefer their own natural children to someone else’s? Will further progress of the Sexual Revolution make men less interested in sex with the mother and more interested in her child?
In other words, the True Believers in the Sexual Revolution believe they can remake human nature.
I think this is a fool’s errand. I think these “old, outdated” studies show that we have known from the beginning that cohabitation is problematic. The privileged people of society, academics, social workers, judges, law enforcement officers, they are all aware of these risks. But we are not telling the poor, whose lives are most likely to be disrupted and even destroyed.
So here is my challenge to you. Stop making excuses for cohabitation. You don’t really need to move in with your Significant Other, do you? And even if you think you do, at least stop defending it as public policy. Give some thought for Zackariah, Ariana and the thousands of other unnamed children who have been harmed by their mothers’ boyfriends. Sacrifice yourself for the sake of social justice.
You just might save some lives.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse: Survivor of the Sexual Revolution
Posted on: Tuesday, October 11, 2016
By Joyce Coronel
“My friends, the Church has lasted 2,000 years. Let this be our finest hour!”
Such were the parting words of Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, when she spoke before a packed hall of more than 350 inside the Diocesan Pastoral Center during the Catholics in the Public Square legislative seminar Sept. 17. It was a harkening back to the iconic speech given by Winston Churchill as the Nazi attack on Britain loomed.
With the election just weeks away, Catholics from across the Diocese of Phoenix gave both Roback Morse and Alan Sears, president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, standing ovations for high-energy talks that encouraged attendees to get informed, speak out, and live their faith boldly in the public square.
Many of those gathered were parish representatives on hand to get copies of the fourth edition of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s “Catholics in the Public Square” booklet. The booklet examines the intersection of faith and civic duty and calls on the faithful to form their conscience “in accord with the voice of God” and to “defend the dignity of every human person.”
At a Mass held at St. Mary’s Basilica prior to the seminar, Bishop Olmsted preached about the centrality of belief in the Resurrection of Christ, a belief he said “has had to be defended throughout history,” including today. This reminder of the power of the resurrection and Jesus’ promise to be with His believers until the end of time should bolster our faith “no matter what may discourage us in being good citizens,” the bishop said. “We do not walk into the voting booth by ourselves. We do it in Him and with Him.”
Sean Halpain, state deputy for the Knights of Columbus, spoke of the organization’s goal this year to encourage men to become the spiritual leaders of their own families. He also called on younger men to join the more than 16,000 Knights in Arizona.
Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, pointed to the funding by the Knights of Columbus that made it possible to print 55,000 copies of “Catholics in the Public Square.” The diocese held the first legislative seminar to distribute the booklet 10 years ago, he said, and since then, more than 300,000 have been distributed.
“This booklet has helped change the diocese,” Johnson said. In 2008, when voters were to decide on a proposition defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the educational campaign launched by the booklet and seminar helped shift the Catholic vote 40 points, Johnson added, and the measure passed. Despite such success, however, “in 2016, we see storm clouds.” He encouraged attendees to educate themselves on the issues and noted that the five Catholic bishops of Arizona oppose the push to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, a measure that will be before voters in November.
Specifically, Johnson urged people to Vote No on Prop. 205 in order to avoid problems, especially those related to the endangerment of public safety and harm to children.
Both Sears and Roback Morse also alluded to ominous developments in the public square. Sears spoke of the “56 percent of self-identified Catholics who disagree with the Church’s teaching on marriage and the 46 percent of Catholics who believe private business owners should be compelled to provide services to same-sex couples. The trampling of religious liberties continues, but most Catholics fail to grasp the significance,” he said.
“One thing people don’t understand is that it won’t matter to the government how kind you are, how loving you are,” Sears said. “All that will matter is one thing: whether you have bowed and offered your pinch of incense at the altar of secularism. … Catholics have seen over and over that when you offer that little pinch, it never satisfies.” He called for Catholics to speak out and stand with John the Baptist and St. Thomas More, who “never compromised on marriage. … These are grim days, but they are also days that can form our own sainthood,” Sears said.
Roback Morse, for her part, defined and denounced the sexual revolution, calling it “a pagan ideology that no Christian should have anything to do with.” She called out the separation of sex from babies, the contraceptive mentality, no-fault divorce and the move to wipe out gender differences for the harm they have caused society. She drew laughs with a meme of Blessed Paul VI inscribed with the words, “Humanae Vitae: I told you so.” The late pontiff predicted that acceptance of contraception would lead to numerous social ills, including infidelity and moral decline.
“The sexual revolution is irrational and impossible. … We have people in power deciding to create a world not based on reality,” she said. Sex does make babies, children need their parents, and there are differences between men and women.”
Posted on: Tuesday, October 04, 2016
The Ruth Institute commends Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia, for his defense of Catholic teaching. Tim Kaine, Democratic candidate for Vice President, has said that the church will change its teaching on marriage. Bishop DiLorenzo, Kaine’s local bishop, disagrees.
The Bishop’s office posted: “Despite recent statements from the campaign trail, the Catholic Church’s 2000-year- old teaching to the truth about what constitutes marriage remains unchanged and resolute.”
The statement continues by pointing out a foundational belief shared by the Ruth Institute: “Redefining marriage furthers no one’s rights, least of all those of children, who should not purposely be deprived of the right to be nurtured and loved by a mother and a father.”
For his steadfast defense of the true nature and purpose of marriage, the Ruth Institute commends and thanks Bishop DiLorenzo.
As a sign of support for Bishop DiLorenzo, the Ruth Institute offers these roses and our prayers for him and for everyone in the Diocese of Richmond.
Posted on: Saturday, October 01, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on September 29, 2016.
I got into the conservative movement as a 19-year-old economics undergraduate at Ohio State University.
My OSU professors were all recent graduates of the University of Chicago and were true believers in the free market. The theory was elegant, simple and humane. I was instinctively suspicious of anyone to the left of Milton Friedman. But recent developments have persuaded me to reconsider at least part of that elegant equation. Never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to feel as much resentment toward the wealth of certain people as I do today. Let me explain.
As a young free marketeer, I developed a sensibility that I should not automatically be suspicious of wealthy people, (even though I didn’t actually know any.) An honest person could do well in an economy like ours. “Do well by doing good.” Serve large numbers of consumers. Give the consumers what they want, at the lowest possible cost.
I developed unbridled contempt for people who used the coercive power of the State to enrich themselves. Bilking the taxpayer, bullying competitors through regulations, generating artificial demand for your product by government fiat: this kind of thing made me angry. It still does.
I couldn’t care less how a person spends his or her own money. Ostentatious conspicuous consumption. Keeping up with the Jones’. Their shallowness was their problem, not mine. As long as they came by their wealth honestly, I hold them no ill will. The gap between their income and mine, the gap between their income and the person who cleans their house: that still doesn’t much bother me. The wealthier person provides employment for others, without harming their dignity.
But now, I have come to see that some rich people are doing something I really do resent. They are using their wealth to manipulate the political system. They are trying to change the rules for everyone to remake the world in their own image.
I first noticed it in my area of social conservatism. I saw people like Paul Singer passing out money to get “marriage equality” enacted in New York State. People like George Soros form organizations to manipulate public opinion and lobby the government. (See the Tax Form 990 for the Open Society Institute for 2014, Part XV, Line 3, here.) Rob Reiner and his Hollywood friends formed an organization to overturn Proposition 8, which had been duly elected by the largest grass roots campaign in history.
Warren Buffett has spent over a billion dollars promoting abortion, “comprehensive sexual education,” and “peer counseling,” (read: propaganda) for promoting the early sexualization of children. This same handful of rich people financed the research that overturned the Texas abortion clinic regulations, which were duly enacted by the duly elected representatives of the people.
This weekend I went with my husband to the Gun Rights Policy Conference, sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation. Guess what I learned? They are dealing with the same problem. In their case, Michael Bloomberg is the Sugar Daddy of the campaign to disarm law-abiding citizens. I heard speaker after speaker describing “astro-turf” (that is, fake grass roots) organizations lobbying the legislature.
Different issue, same problem. Rich people figure they are entitled to throw their money around to enact the laws that will bring their fantasy ideology into being. They spend their money to promote massive publicity campaigns to manipulate public opinion, so people will go along with it, and maybe even come to believe it.
The fantasy ideology of gun control is: “If we only had enough new gun laws, criminals would all obey those laws and firearm violence would disappear.”
This fantasy requires a lot of propaganda. “If we never run a news story in which an armed and trained citizen interrupts a crime, no one will ever notice that a good guy with a gun actually can stop a bad guy with a gun. We will make a “documentary” that we edit to make supporters of citizen self-defense appear foolish. Those dopes in fly-over country will never notice.”
The fantasy ideology in my line of work is: “Kids don’t really need their own parents.” This fantasy also needs a lot of propaganda. “If we just “educate” everyone early enough and often enough, kids won’t miss their missing parents. We can change the story line slightly to accommodate the fact that some kids lost contact with their parents through divorce, single parenthood, or third party reproduction. But it is the same story: kids don’t really need their own parents. If we never mention in a news story the connection between fatherless boys and violence, or fatherless girls and early sexual activity, or mothers’ boyfriends and child abuse, maybe no one will ever notice.”
What does this have to do with the free market, and my personal regrets? When my friends and I were promoting the free market, we were thinking of small businesses, minding their own businesses. We were thinking of Dave Ramsey-style, living within your means, ordinary folk taking personal responsibility for themselves and those around them. We thought that by speaking out against crony capitalism, we had done our duty. We were not taking seriously the ways that highly concentrated wealth could be used to manipulate the whole political system.
Perhaps some of you agree with “marriage equality.” Maybe you agree with abortion on demand and sexually explicit sex education in the schools. Maybe you agree with highly regulated guns and highly unregulated abortion clinics. But do you really want to be manipulated by a handful of unelected, unaccountable wealthy people? I sure don’t.
I am now wondering whether some of the people I considered Leftist adopted those beliefs because they were worried about these very things. I still can’t’ imagine myself going full bore down the left-side of the spectrum. But still, maybe some of these people have more to say than I gave them credit for. If you are suspicious of the rich, or of the free market, for these reasons, allow me to apologize. I should have listened sooner. I still don’t know what to do about it.
But, maybe we should talk.
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