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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, August 29, 2016
This book is great - simple, achievable hints for a better relationship.
by Tamara El-Rahi
This article was first published August 16, 2016, at Mercatornet.com.
It’s not often that couples are in unhappy relationships because of big things like star-crossed fates or the fact that their families are feuding. More often than not, it’s the small things that come between two people – and isn’t that a shame?
Sometimes I observe a couple and wish they knew certain simple things that would really enhance their relationship. Which is why I am a big fan of the book 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage by Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes: because it’s literally 101 little and achievable things that make a big difference if implemented in a couple’s day-to-day life.
The different chapters offer a handful of hints that come under various topics, such as “Adjust Your Attitude,” “Get It Done Without Drama” and “Appreciate Your Spouse.” I can’t list all of my favourite tips as there are just so many good ones, but here are a few that stood out to me, as well as my thoughts on them:
Tip #5 – Enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings, but don’t feel cheated if they go away. Feelings are fleeting. “I like the way I feel with this person” is not enough to sustain a marriage for a lifetime.
A common mistake that people make is assuming that the way they feel in a moment is all that matters - but feelings change from day to day. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to catch some episodes of the latest US season of The Bachelorette; seeing her base her decisions so much on the way someone made her feel over their other qualities. My feelings towards people can change when I’m hungry, for goodness’ sake! Feelings are good of course, but love more than anything needs to be an act of the will.
Tip #10 – Take responsibility for your own happiness. Your spouse does not really have the power to make you happy or miserable. You have a choice about how to react to what your spouse succeeds or fails to do.
This is something that many people struggle with – I sure have! I think that after the joy of falling in love, people expect that it’s their spouse’s job to always keep them that euphoric. Talk about pressure! No-one is perfect, so expecting your spouse to be will just leave you disappointed. Owning your happiness (or seeking it in God, for those who are religious) is so important for your relationship satisfaction.
Tip #35 – Practice giving to your spouse. “I’m getting up to get a cup of coffee. Can I get something for you?”
I love this one! No-one is happy with contributing 50-50; or counting how many good deeds they do in comparison to their spouse. Happiness comes from “100-100” – both giving their all and thinking of the other first; instead of focusing on what they’re getting: which too often becomes a focus on what they’re not getting! I know I always feel cherished when my husband brings me a snack or a drink when he went to get one for himself.
Tip #37 – Always speak well of your spouse, both in private and in public. Badmouthing your spouse to others makes you look either disloyal or foolish, or both. Say nothing if you can’t think of anything positive to say.
I’m sure you’ve experienced it – socialising with a couple as one lists the other’s bad habits in a passive-aggressive manner, as you awkwardly try to laugh it off or change the subject. Or catching up with a friend to hear her complain endlessly about her husband – not in a constructive way where she’s looking for advice, but rather in a “men are so stupid” way. Let’s be honest: these scenarios are pretty cringe-worthy. Unity is so important for a couple’s relationship to be strong! If you have something critical to say, it should be dealt with behind closed doors, and then you should move on instead of hanging onto resentments. Not to mention that the way one speaks and thinks of their spouse is how they end up relating to them – hence best to keep it positive!
97 more great tips like this to be found in the book! And for those who aren’t yet espoused, 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person is due out this October.
Posted on: Friday, August 19, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published August 18, 2016 at The Blaze.
For a very short time, Puritanism was the dominant religion in America.
The need to populate a large continent led to lots of immigration of lots of people from different religions. Since then, we Americans have developed a sardonic definition of “Puritan:” a person with the nagging feeling that somewhere, someone is having fun. We have to adapt that to our current times, since now, everyone gets to have as much fun as they want.
The New Orthodoxy, the State Religion, is that abortion is a positive good. And a Pro-Choice Puritan is a person with the nagging feeling that somewhere, a woman doesn’t choose abortion.
California seems to be full of Pro-Choice Puritans. The legislature passed a bill regulating what pro-life pregnancy care centers can say, and how loudly they have to say it. Pregnancy care centers in California are required to announce that abortion is available elsewhere. The state regulates where this signage must be, and how large the type face must be.
Evidently, the Big Abortion Industry feels threatened by these centers. Even very liberal California has 167 privately financed and run pregnancy care centers. This is according to the breathless NARAL Pro-choice America “report,” modestly entitled, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie.” Nationwide, according to this same “report,” there were 2,460 pregnancy care centers, 438 abortion clinics, 839 “Guttmacher clinics,” a term for which I could find no definition, and 1,720 “Guttmacher providers,” again, an undefined term.
The idea that pregnancy care centers are “tricking” or “misleading” women into having their babies is preposterous on its face. The decision to abort is a decision that can be carried out in a single afternoon. But the decision to carry a child to term has to be reaffirmed every day throughout the pregnancy. The woman can change her mind one afternoon, walk into the abortion clinic, and her baby will be gone forever.
The pregnancy care center model is to accompany the mother throughout her pregnancy. I know of centers that help mothers find work or housing. I know of centers that provide the mothers with material assistance through the child’s first year. Many centers provide classes on childcare and healthy relationships. What is so wrong with that?
The Big Abortion Industry’s claims that “crisis pregnancy centers lie,” doesn’t hold water. In a section of the “report” purporting to show how much Pregnancy Care Centers “shame and judge” pregnant women, we find these items:
Every state in America has some kind of regulation against consumer fraud. The fact is, that these “lies” do not come anywhere near meeting the legal standard for “consumer fraud.” Unless the Pro-Choice Puritans get their friends in the legislature to redefine “fraud” to mean, “failing to use the politically correct euphemisms.”
Let’s be clear: pro-life pregnancy centers are in business to provide alternatives to abortion. They do not want to refer people for abortions. The Big Abortion Industry insists on enlisting their competitors in promoting their business, because their business is not simply providing abortions.
The Big Abortion business is creating the Fantasy Ideology of the Sexual Revolution. They want to convince people that everyone has the right to act as if sex were a sterile activity with no moral or social consequences. Since this is patently untrue, the Pro-Choice Puritans must suppress those who dissent from their Orthodoxy.
If you leave people alone to follow the trail of their experience and the evidence, most people come to realize that sex does in fact make babies. Even contracepted sex sometimes makes babies. The only way to make the Fantasy Ideology appear to be true is to downplay contraceptive failure and the medical risks, psychological problems or just plain unhappiness that sometimes arises from abortion.
A pregnancy care center tells women that contraception sometimes fails. (Most of them have already learned this. Roughly half of women who come for abortions say they were using contraception the month they got pregnant. In this study, it was 54 percent. Not a typo. Look at Table 1.) A pregnancy care center tells women that abortion sometimes has negative consequences. Most of all, pregnancy care centers tell women that having their babies and being good mothers is a realistic possibility for them.
The True Believers can’t allow heresies like these to go unchallenged. That is why I say that the Pro-Choice Puritans are haunted by the thought that some woman, somewhere, wants her baby.
Posted on: Tuesday, August 16, 2016
First published August 11, 2016 at heymiller.com and will be in the
NATIONAL REVIEW August 29, 2016.
“It’s a discouraging time to be a social conservative,” says Jennifer Roback Morse. “We’ve been marginalized everywhere: the media, the academy, the legal system, and now even in politics.”
Many of her brethren know exactly what Morse means. Everywhere they look, it seems, they’re on the defensive. The Supreme Court just overturned abortion restrictions in the states and has mandated gay marriage everywhere. The Republican presidential nominee, usually a conduit for their ideas, rarely addresses their concerns. Their numbers may be shrinking, too: The percentage of Americans who describe themselves as social conservatives has fallen from 42 percent in 2009 to just 31 percent last year. This is the lowest rate the Gallup Poll has ever recorded.
Yet Morse concedes nothing. “The cause of truth is never lost,” she says. “Hope is not a plan or a strategy. It’s a supernatural virtue.”
She might benefit from a bit of divine intervention. As the founder and leader of the Ruth Institute, a small nonprofit organization, Morse has taken up a difficult vocation: “We’re trying to create a social movement that supports people harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other aspects of the sexual revolution,” she says.
People call her “Dr. J” — a reference to her Ph.D. in economics, a background that allows her to bring an uncommon perspective to debates over everything from women in the work force to transgender bathroom access. She writes a weekly column, gives radio interviews, and travels the world; I caught up with her in June, when she had just returned from a ten-day trip to Australia and was getting ready for a couple of speeches in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Morse refuses to speak in code. She mixes her moral sensibility and economics training to produce a bracing candor that listeners tend to find either plucky or abrasive. Here’s how she talks about single motherhood, for example: “There’s no such thing as a single parent. They’ve become dependent on other people in commercial transactions, such as their employers and child-care providers. A single mother may look like she’s doing so much ‘on her own,’ but she has merely commercialized the things the father would have done.”
This style of rhetoric has the power both to attract and to repel potential converts to the cause of social conservatism — and behind these words lies not only an unequivocal voice but also a fascinating story of personal conversion from anything-goes libertarianism to strait-laced conservatism.
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, the 62-year-old Morse attended Oberlin College in the early 1970s and then transferred to Ohio State University, shedding the Catholicism of her youth and discovering the free-market thinking that would form the initial basis of her professional life. “I was attracted to the way it explained the world,” she says. By the time she was a graduate student at the University of Rochester, she had become attached to libertarianism in its most freewheeling forms. “I was deeply committed to all of it, even legalized prostitution,” she says.
She also had an abortion. “I regretted it right away,” she says. “I was in a marriage that I knew was a mistake and I was scared that I wouldn’t be a good mother.” She divorced her husband, earned her Ph.D., and threw herself into the politics of the Libertarian party, even joining its platform committee and cheering the presidential candidacy of Ed Clark in 1980. The abortion continued to haunt her, however. “I had night terrors and anniversary anxiety,” she says. “I went to counseling but none of the counselors said that maybe the abortion had something to do with my troubles.”
As a young woman with a doctorate in economics and a devotion to free-market philosophy, Morse was a rare commodity. “I was often the only girl in the room,” she says. The legendary public-choice economist James Buchanan tried to recruit her to Virginia Tech, where he was then teaching. She turned his offer down in favor of a post at Yale. By 1985, however, Buchanan had moved on to George Mason University in northern Virginia, where he was assembling an impressive faculty of latter-day Adam Smiths (and where he would win the Nobel Prize in 1986). He remembered the impressive young lady from several years before and once again offered her a job. This time, she accepted.
Morse’s academic career looked bright. “She was a sharp colleague and an excellent scholar,” says Walter Williams, a longtime member of GMU’s economics department. She was happily remarried, too. “I had it all planned out,” she says. “I was going to get tenure and have a baby, and we were going to make sure the baby came at the end of one school year so that I could deliver and be ready for the start of the next school year. I thought I was in complete control and that I could choose everything.”
She got tenure but failed to get pregnant, let alone on the precise timetable she had imagined. A year went by and then another. The abortion still disturbed her and she began to wonder if she had missed her one chance at motherhood. “I was panicked,” she says.
Looking for solace, Morse started to attend early-morning Mass at a Catholic church. Then she went to confession, which she had not done in years. “The priest understood right away how the abortion was weighing on me,” she says. “I started to calm down.” She finally made a full return to the faith of her youth. “I realized that I didn’t have to get all of the things that I wanted.” One day, as she walked down the baby-food aisle of a grocery store — “an experience,” she points out, “that can be emotionally hard for childless women” — it occurred to her that she could be a mother without having a baby. She and her husband could adopt.
“Then something unlikely happened,” she says. In 1991, as the couple entered the advanced stages of adoption, she became pregnant. In April, they brought home a boy from Romania. In October, Morse gave birth to a daughter.
With the Romanian adoption, they thought they were not only aiding a child but also doing their part to help a struggling nation realign itself after the fall of Communism. What they didn’t anticipate was a two-year-old with disabilities. “From birth, he had almost never left his crib,” says Morse. “He had serious developmental needs. What he needed most was a mommy. To put him in day care would have been cruel. He didn’t need a mother substitute. I was already that.” They named him Nick. “He convinced me that children require parents. This is the great insight of my life!” she says, laughing. “Somebody’s got to say it.”
So she tried to balance the demands of work and home, teaching courses on microeconomics and researching the economic history of the Civil War while also looking after her kids. “I could have stayed at GMU forever,” she says. Yet her husband wanted to leave. “He didn’t like Washington, D.C. The old me would have said, ‘I’m not going — not unless I get an academic position somewhere.’ But that was no way to live.” So she quit her job.
The family moved to California, first to Silicon Valley and later to San Diego. Without a job, Morse spent more time with her kids, and especially with her son, who required extra attention. They also opened their home to eight foster children. “As this was going on, I was losing my libertarianism — or rather, it was losing me,” says Morse. “Without strong families, you can’t have free markets or limited government. Instead, you get ‘The Life of Julia.’” This is a reference to a slide-show advertisement from President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign that treated a fictitious woman’s cradle-to-grave dependence on government as a triumph of progressivism.
The intellectual dissonance became personal when one of the leading lights of libertarian economics — Morse’s mentor, James Buchanan — publicly disapproved of her decisions. The showdown came in 1997, at the 50th-anniversary meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, a prestigious organization of classical liberals founded by F. A. Hayek. Morse had been asked to deliver remarks at a confab in Switzerland. She didn’t want to take time away from her family, so she wrote a paper. William Campbell of Louisiana State University presented it.
There is no transcript or recording of the session — at least none that I could track down — but several witnesses described what happened. During a discussion period, Buchanan spoke. “I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it had something to do with throwing away a career to do a minor thing like raise a family,” says Edwin J. Feulner, the longtime head of the Heritage Foundation who was at the time also the society’s president. “A few years before he had told me that Jennifer was one of his star protégés.” Father Robert A. Sirico of the Acton Institute also was there. “Jim didn’t speak for long, but he made clear that he was disappointed in her.” (Buchanan died in 2013.)
Back in the United States, Morse heard about the incident from friends and colleagues. Today, she doesn’t want to say much about Buchanan’s comments — they still sting — but she offers this much: “He was very good to me until he wasn’t.”
During those years, Morse was slowly writing a book. Love & Economics came out in 2001. “My understanding of the human person and society had been deeply influenced by free-market economics and libertarian political theory, which have shaped my entire adult working life,” she wrote. “As I came to realize how much I had overlooked, I concluded that my profession was overlooking much as well.” It had forgotten about the vulnerability of children and the need for families: “Without loving families, no society can long govern itself.”
These words set the stage for the second part of her career. In 2008, as her kids approached adulthood, Morse found herself with more time for travel and activism. She started the Ruth Institute, envisioning it as a way to help her talk to young women. “I wanted to warn them about the careerist trap,” she says. “It’s okay to get married, stay married, and do something later. You don’t have to get on the career bandwagon.”
She spoke on campuses around the country but soon, like so many social conservatives, found herself embroiled in the gay-marriage debate. At first, she tasted success as part of the team that pushed for Proposition 8, the ballot proposal in California to ban gay marriage, which voters approved. Then judges struck it down in what became a series of rapid legal defeats, culminating in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling last year.
“We learned that making a correct argument doesn’t matter to the Supreme Court,” says Morse, who departed California and moved to Louisiana last year. “It’s not listening to reason and evidence. So we need a new strategy, one that focuses on the entire sexual revolution, not just the gay parts. That’s my mission now — to tell the truth about how the sexual revolution oppresses us.”
Divorce is a favorite topic. “Nobody talks about it, but this is an issue of justice for the child,” she says. She ticks off statistics about the children of divorced parents: They’re more likely to fall behind in school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and think about suicide. “This is the number-one lie of the sexual revolution: Kids are resilient. No, they’re not.”
And though she ended her first marriage, Morse won’t shy away from criticizing others who make the same choice. “We didn’t have kids and I got an annulment,” she says. “I’m not a hypocrite. I’m penitent. Divorce has harmed lots of people and those people have harmed lots of people. We have to say this. Modern society tries to make guilt go away by saying nothing is ever wrong — that there’s no right or wrong at all — and that’s not true.”
The most important thing social conservatives can do right now, she says, is persevere. “It’s as if we’ve lost a war and now we live in an occupied country. What did people in Communist Poland do? They resisted.” She brings up the example of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the dissident writer in the old Soviet Union. “He may have thought he was in a minority of one, but then he started writing and people read him,” she says. “I believe that millions of people agree with us, even Democrats who are sick of a culture that’s saturated in pornography and the sexualization of children — as well as people who have survived the sexual revolution and are willing to tell the whole story. Is it really so hard to say that children are entitled to parents? This is the birthright of every child, not an impossible dream.” She pauses, then concludes: “When nothing is politically possible, you don’t need to trim sails. You can just tell the truth.”
Posted on: Friday, August 12, 2016
By Ryan MacPherson, a Ruth Institute Circle of Experts member
Book Review: The Decline of Males, Lionel Tiger (New York: Golden Books, 1999)
This article was first published at hausvater.org.
Why would a confessional Lutheran (who recognizes that God created humanity male and female, instituted marriage, and designed the one-flesh union for procreation) want to read a book written by an evolutionist who claims that Darwin’s theory of sexual selection is the key to interpreting the breakdown of the American family? If the evolutionist is Dr. Lionel Tiger, a Rutgers University anthropologist, and the book is The Decline of Males, then the answer is simple: his insightful analysis offers lessons that transcend the gap between Darwinian assumptions, which fundamentally contradict Scripture, and the confessional Lutheran worldview, which proclaims that God “impressed upon [human] nature” a “divine ordinance” for marital procreation (Apol. XIII (XI), 7, 12).
Tiger differs from many scholars. He identifies the root of America’s culture war over “family values,” with its recurring “battle of the sexes,” not in politics, not in religion, not in any particular ideology, but rather in biology. He argues that male and female bodies, and the social behaviors that typically go with them, have evolved over millions of years to perfect a mammalian reproductive cycle in which offspring are preserved by males who care for pregnant and lactating females. The introduction of modern contraception in the 1960s, however, radically altered the human social environment. Biology—slow to evolve—is struggling to catch up. The result is social chaos, involving an escalation of single motherhood and absent fatherhood. A confessional Lutheran would want to correct Tiger’s evolutionary presuppositions with the doctrine that God the Creator designed human nature in such a way that “a husband should labor to support his wife and children … that a wife should bear children and care for them.” (AC XXVI, 10) The interesting thing is that many of Tiger’s conclusions would still stand. Following is the story he tells, drawn from anthropology, sociology, and psychology.
Prior to the 1960s, when the hormonal birth control pill became available, men and women had equal awareness of whether a sexual encounter was likely to result in pregnancy. Men, therefore, were more willing to accept responsibility for their pre-marital misbehavior, as evidenced by the high percentage of pregnant brides a century ago (30% to 50%). Today, by contrast, fewer women are pregnant on their wedding day, but many more remain unmarried as single mothers. “It is impossible,” writes Tiger, “to overestimate the impact of the contraceptive pill on human arrangements.” By shifting responsibility away from men and women (condoms and diaphragms) and toward women alone (pills and IUDs), modern contraceptive technology has empowered women to control their own destinies while also leaving women more vulnerable and isolated by deflating “a man’s sense of power … sense of function … sense of responsibility.” (35) Tiger suggests that this explains why the push for legalized abortion increased after the pill became available: when the pill failed, and an unmarried woman found herself pregnant, she could count no longer on a “shotgun wedding” as a safety net, and so she felt desperate for another way out.
By severing sexual intimacy from procreative potential, and procreative potential from male responsibility, the same pill that made women less dependent upon men also made them more dependent upon themselves, and ultimately upon the state. “If liberation means the absence of unavoidable irrefutable obligations,” explains Tiger, “women’s liberation has backfired. It is men who have been liberated.” (184) As women became less trusting of men and more reliant on themselves, higher education and gainful employment shifted, among women, from being luxuries to necessities. It became a greater stigma for a woman to be unemployed than unmarried. “Housewife,” formerly a badge of honor, was now a label of embarrassment. Women discovered, in a new culture of absent fatherhood and devalued motherhood, that “paid work enjoys high moral and social status even if it involves a woman’s taking care of someone else’s child ... and even if she has to pay yet another person to take care for hers.” (68) Men, meanwhile, shirked their responsibilities to the women they impregnated and the children born to them, leaving a void that social welfare sought to fill. Thus, monogamy gave way to “bureaugamy,” the marriage of a single woman and her child to the state’s welfare bureaucracy (21).
All this may sound too much like a “just so” story—clever, but without substantial evidence to support it. Here is where Tiger’s synthesis of the social sciences and natural sciences becomes more intriguing.
First, a lesson from primatology. Consider Austin, a dominant male monkey on a Caribbean island with nine female monkeys. As is typical for his species, he chooses to mate repeatedly with his favorite females—in this case, three of the nine. When researchers inject two of those three with Depo-Provera, a contraceptive, Austin loses interest and seeks two replacements from among the other monkeys. When the Depo-Provera wears off after three months, he returns to them. When researchers put all nine females on contraception, Austin begins “to rape, masturbate, and behave in a turbulent and confused manner.” (39) Depo-Provera chemically mimics pregnancy; since a female cannot become pregnant while currently pregnant, a female who is “chemically pregnant” on Depo-Provera has significant “protection” from actually becoming pregnant. As Austin’s harem demonstrates, this protection comes not only from the drug’s physiological effects, but also from it social effects. Chemically pregnant females do not exude the same pheromones as fertile females, and hence not only their own libido but also the interest that males exhibit toward them declines.
Similarly, women on the pill fall out of synch with off-pill women, whose pheromones lead the menstrual cycles of, say, women in a college dormitory to synchronize with the alpha female. In other words, “the pill affects how women relate to other women in a visceral way.” (42) Hormonal contraception also impacts women’s perceptions of men: women off the pill can distinguish responsible, gainfully employed, physically fit men from social “losers” by the smell of their clothes; women on the pill fail this same pheromonal evaluation. Such data confirm that Lutheran pastors had good reason to be concerned that, once the pill became commonplace, “Relationships between men and women would never again be the same.” (Lutheran Synod Quarterly, 1981*)
As Tiger progresses from the natural sciences to the social sciences, he does not champion “traditional family values” in the manner typical of reactionary conservatism. Rather, he argues compellingly for the success of single motherhood as a strategic adaptation to a radically impoverished human social environment. Women, whether single, married, or divorced, whether with or without children, are faring surprisingly well (though married women fare best). Women’s real wages increased in the closing decades of the twentieth century, while they declined for men. Women make up the majority of college students (55% in America; 60% in Canada) and are earning an increasing share of post-graduate degrees. Women are starting successful small businesses—often in or close to home, as they creatively integrate work with family life, a task that men have not mastered so well.
Rather than pointing a finger of blame at single women for being irresponsible, or for milking the welfare system, Tiger applauds their success at beating the odds. He also analyzes social transformations that have reshaped the odds in their favor. Specifically, a double-standard has emerged, under the guises of affirmative action and political correctness, in which all-female colleges retain praise but an all-male academy or golf club receives a court order to integrate. Rambunctious boys, whom an evolutionary anthropologist would identify as well-adapted for catching prey on the savannah, are now expected to cooperate quietly in feminized group learning classrooms, or else be diagnosed with ADHD and drugged with Ritalin. The same “troublesome” boys who fare poorly in school excel on the athletic field and demonstrate mental acuity by memorizing the stats of their favorite sports teams. Their biology is that of a male hunter-gatherer, but their social environment increasingly rewards feminine behavioral patterns they cannot readily produce.
Tiger thus objects both to the male chauvinism against which mid- to late-twentieth-century feminists reacted and also to the androgynous ideal that has largely replaced it. Emphasizing that men and women are biologically different, and by nature interdependent, Tiger worries about the “new world” in which men and women are expected to be the same, as interchangeable individuals rather than interdependent pairs. “Both men and women must play separately by the same rules rather than together by different ones.” (137)
But why separately? “It is almost easier to sever the most fundamental of human connections [marriage] than to install a Coke sign in a landmark part of town.” (115) No-fault divorce transforms even married mothers into single mothers, pseudo-empowering women to go it alone and men to leave them alone. Only 18% of single mothers receive child support from the father. Nearly 50% of Manhattan residents and 70% of central Oslo residents live alone. “The family effectively becomes almost a subset of society rather than the central system of society itself.” (107) Even families that remain intact outsource what historically have been the family’s most efficient achievements: childcare, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Half of American meals are eaten outside of home, and many of those eaten at home are “carry out” from elsewhere. The same two-income social structure that enables such tasks to be hired out also prevents spouses from having time to do them for themselves. Of course, this also means that husband and wife, parent and child are not doing such tasks for or with one another.
Men, meanwhile, recognize their lost ability to provide gainfully for a woman and their children. Some give up trying. Others labor in dissatisfying jobs, which they acquire only after tough competition against other men and women in an environment where affirmative action preferences female applicants. “The most challenging test to industrial communities,” projects Tiger, “will be to provide acceptable and gratifying occupations for young males and the adults they become.” (190) The decline of males has been especially sharp among African Americans, among whom 40% to 50% of young men are unemployed, and 7% of men spend part of their lives in jail. But the challenge is much broader. “How many men of any race or ethnic group can confidently assume they will, like their fathers, be able to support a spouse and several children in a seemly manner on their own check?” (170)
At the root of this all is a biological imperative: “Who will raise the children?” In Tiger’s evolution-assumed analysis, “it is best to begin with the mammalian fact that small children should be raised by their mothers. This is Mother Nature’s plan.” (260) Still, he does not suggest that people should be trapped by their genetic coding; rather, he urges that choices should be made in conformity with biological reality: if many mothers decide to remain at home with their children … this should be treated as an adult choice by empowered people, not a distasteful primordial legacy.” (263) He also wants women to feel free to remain unmarried and childless, pursuing independent lifestyles if they prefer. However, he argues that such independence should be truly independent, not bolstered by affirmative action—particularly now that 55% of college students are women anyway.
But whether women work, or stay at home to raise their children, or creatively develop a combination of both, is not Tiger’s principal concern. He simply suggests that children are best raised by their parents, and young children by their mothers, and thus he raises a red flag about a society that so causally has adopted the post-family normalcy of a single woman laboring (often by caring for other people’s children) in order to finance childcare for her own children. “No zookeeper would have Monkey Mother A take care of Monkey Mother B’s baby and vice versa,” but current welfare policy encourages precisely this arrangement for humans (264). Why not instead provide welfare payments for stay-at-home single mothers?
Better still, why not identify ways to foster greater responsibility among males, so that husbands and fathers can acquire gainful employment and fulfill responsibilities to women and children? Of course, responsibility implies interdependence, and interdependence is quite at odds with the sort ofindependence the pill promised women and men half a century ago. Could it be that such independence has prompted men to retreat from family responsibilities? Tiger thinks so, and warns that human society is regressing to a matrilineal chimpanzee lifestyle in which females mate with multiple males, none of whom maintain close ties to mother or child.
What he mistakes for evolutionary regression, Scripture identifies as original sin—the rotting away of our divinely fashioned human nature. For a full remedy to the epidemic of fatherlessness in America, one must look far beyond the social science of Lionel Tiger to the Bible’s testimony of the forgiving God who comes to earth to restore His fallen creatures. One must look to the gospel of Jesus Christ, concerning whom the prophet Malachi wrote, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
*Carl E. Braaten, “Sex, Marriage, and the Clergy,” Dialog n.v. (n.d.): n.p., as quoted and discussed in Norman A. Madson, “How Should a Pastor Deal with the New Morality?” Lutheran Synod Quarterly 21, no. 3 (1981): 32-47, at 35.
Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of The Hausvater Project. He lives with his wife Marie and their children in Mankato, Minnesota, where he teaches American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College. For more information, visit www.ryancmacpherson.com.
Posted on: Friday, August 05, 2016
by Ryan C. MacPherson, a Ruth Circle of Experts member
Book Review: On the Meaning of Sex, J. Budziszewski
ISI Books, 2011; 145 pages, $27.95
Reprinted with permission from the author from The Family in America.
Noah Webster was no intellectual slouch. Proficient in the languages of the ancient Near East as well as of modern Europe, he painstakingly compiled the etymology, orthography, and signification of 70,000 words for the great American Dictionary of the English Language published in 1828. A product of his times, but also a product of one of the best intellectual traditions humanity has mustered in all of time, Webster did not hesitate to follow the guidance of natural law when defining terms that refer to humanity in its personal, social, and political manifestations. Webster defined sex as “the distinction between male and female,” male as “pertaining to the sex that procreates young,” and female as “noting the sex which produces young.” And marriage? “The act of uniting a man and a woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and a woman for life . . . for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.”
Two centuries removed from Webster, many people now reject his definitions as being too morally restrictive, too narrowly traditional, too out of step with the hodgepodge of Facebook status updates, YouTube videos, and MP3 downloads that shape personal identities today. Indeed, for college students such as “Harris,” the question no longer is whether Webster got the definition of “sex” right, but whether “sex” has any meaning at all.
Harris is certain that sex is meaningless. And yet, Harris is just as certain that the factories for human reproduction depicted in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are appalling. In the opinion of Harris’s philosophy professor, J. Budziszewski, Harris must be confused. How can the student say that sex has no meaning and nevertheless find it appalling that procreation has been separated from sexual intimacy and performed by a factory in the absence of parents? With this puzzle Budziszewski begins a book of philosophical inquiry, entitled On the Meaning of Sex.
Although Budziszewski does not turn to Webster’s Dictionary (he does not even cite it once), the conclusions he draws align with such wisdom from the past. Making such conclusions palatable to a postmodern audience is, however, a formidable challenge. Professor Budziszewski might be one of the last people on earth crazy enough to attempt just that—and with a fair amount of success.
For starters, the account of Harris demonstrates that “sex means something to us even if we don’t admit to ourselves that it does.” From this modest foundation—to which even the Harrises of the world find themselves assenting, however reluctantly—the good professor proceeds to build a case for three other claims: meaning is not arbitrary, human nature is not an oppressive construct but the “deep structure of what we really are,” and “human will isn’t something separate from human nature.” The course is thereby charted to discover what human nature is, to discern how human nature relates to the meaning of sex, and to conclude how the human will ought rationally to approach the topic of sex.
Of course, an author must first ask whether anyone else cares—for whom would it be worth writing on such topics? Budziszweski has three audiences in mind. He writes first for his own generation, the sexual revolutionaries of the 1960s, with the hope that “perhaps we can do better with our children’s children than most of us did with our own.” He also writes for the current generation coming into power, which has begun to recognize, for example, that divorce and cohabitation put children at risk, whereas lifelong marital fidelity provides children with the best upbringing as gauged by a variety of statistical measures. Finally, Budziszewski hopes to alleviate the burdens that his own generation has placed upon today’s young people. His philosophical style, however, makes the book accessible especially to broadly read individuals who have a grasp of the liberal arts, sufficient at least to appreciate his allusions to Aristotle, Dante, and Freud. Readers who shy away from such erudition will at least appreciate some cameo appearances by Katharine Hepburn, Mother Teresa, and Naomi Wolf—a diverse crowd to be sure.
In two simple sentences, Budziszewski conveys his straightforward thesis: “we aren’t designed for hooking up. Our hearts and bodies are designed to work together.” Or, more positively stated: only in celibate singleness and faithful marriage do the heart and body truly maintain integrity. Budziszewski defends his appeal to the natural design of human sexuality with an analogy from medicine:
Consider the young glue-sniffer again. How should we advise him? Is the purpose of his lungs irrelevant? Should we say to him, “Sniff all you want, because an is does not imply an ought”? Of course not; we should advise him to kick the habit. We ought to respect the is of our design. Nothing in us should be put into action in a way that flouts its inbuilt meanings and purposes.
What, then, are the inbuilt meanings and purposes of sexual union? The Harrises of this world, once they come around to admitting that sex has meaning after all, generally settle upon pleasure. Budziszewski disagrees. “Sex is pleasurable,” he acknowledges, “but there is nothing distinctive about that.” What, then, distinguishes sexual intercourse from other pleasurable experiences? Objectively, sexual intercourse unites two persons as one and has the potential to generate a third person, their child. Therefore, the inbuilt meanings and purposes of sexual intercourse are unity and procreation. And if this is the case, then traditional sexual mores serve as rational, and preservative, commentaries on human nature: “Honor your parents. Care for your children. Save sex for marriage. Make marriage fruitful. Be faithful to your spouse.”
Budziszewski goes a step further. Not only does he find a rational basis for the traditional values of chastity and fidelity that maintain a tight connection between marriage, sex, and childbearing, but he also claims a natural rationality for the distinctions between men and women that were taken for granted in times past but now are everywhere denied. Summarizing physiological research conducted over the past few decades, he concludes that men and women differ in far more than just their genitals. “Our brains are even more different than the rest of our bodies,” accounting for cognitive and emotional distinctions that enable an individual man and an individual woman to form a complementary pair. As for the old nature-nurture debate, Budziszewski sides strongly with nature, while acknowledging that each culture adds nuances to how men and women live out their gender differences.
Regrettably, Budziszewski says next to nothing about homosexuality, potentially rendering his argument out-of-date amid the rapid accommodation to same-sex “marriage” that several state legislatures and public officials have made during the two years since On the Meaning of Sex was published. On the other hand, what the book does discuss has relevance to the controversy over the public status of same-sex relations. For example, a chapter on love articulates the connections among objective meaning, human nature, and human will rehearsed earlier by noting that “although we are more than bodies, we are never less than bodies [and] . . . the distinctive thing about sexual love is that it desires the joining of polar, corresponding bodies.” Only one man and one woman can truly unite as one flesh, and only such a union has the potential for procreation. The unitive and procreative dimensions of sexual love thus have a specifically heterosexual orientation.
Recognizing that love may (and often does) involve strong feelings, Budziszewski finds a particular exercise of the will even more intrinsic to love, namely, “Marriage rests on a . . . radical assumption: that promises can be kept.” Marital love is “a permanent commitment of the will to the true good of the other person.” That commitment manifests itself in the bodily union of a man and woman as one flesh and in their mutual fidelity, which protects not only each other as spouses but also the children whom they thereby might conceive. Indeed, the commitments of individuals to remain celibate while single and of married couples to remain faithful to each other protect the entire society from a host of emotional and immunological traumas while also providing the best possible foundation for the maturation of children.
So far, Noah Webster would have agreed. Why, then, does Budziszewski seem to be among such a minority today? (By his own admission, he could lose his university job for teaching in the classroom what he has published in this book.) The final chapter suggests that as a culture becomes farther removed from Christian theology, it loses its understanding of human nature and the meaning of sex. “Human love,” concludes Budziszewski, “makes sense only in light of divine love.” The imperfections of human sexual love suggest a more perfect model toward which we fumbling mortals strive. More particularly, the existence of love itself testifies something of God’s nature: if God’s love is eternal, and love is relational among persons, then God must eternally exist as a plurality of Persons, namely, the Holy Trinity confessed by Christians.
Budziszewski’s final claim in favor of Trinitarian Christianity risks alienating other partners in the broad Judeo-Christian and natural law traditions. But self-alienation, argues Budziszewski, is precisely what the Harrises of this world already have, for they lack a genuine knowledge of their own nature as sexual beings. If the unitive and procreative nature of human sexuality points not only to marriage but also to God, then let it be so, says Professor Budziszewski.
Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D., is author of Rediscovering the American Republic (2 vols.) and Senior Editor of The Family in America. He serves as chair of the History Department at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. This article is republished with permission from The Family in America, the Journal of the Howard Centre for Family, Religion & Society.
Posted on: Wednesday, August 03, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on August 3, 2016.
This may seem to be a remarkable headline for a well-known social conservative.
But I must defer to the authority of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. A careful reading of their “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students,” has convinced me that the proper understanding of transgender people is not to view them as sick.
I generally like to make a thorough study of an issue that is new to me. I thought I would have to inform myself about medicine and psychology. But the DOJ’s letter, and the press release that announced it, “U.S. Departments of Justice and Education Release Joint Guidance to Help Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students” have convinced me that no such careful study is required. Anyone who wants to weigh in on the controversy over “bathroom bills” can do so, with no particular scientific expertise.
Gender neutral signs are posted in the 21C Museum Hotel public restrooms on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
By contrast, Intersex is a medically diagnosable condition. According to the Intersex Society of North America, the term “intersex” “is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” The Intersex Society of North America does not advocate that intersex individuals be treated as a third gender or as having no gender. Instead, they advocate that parents of children born with these conditions work with their physicians to make a long-term, individualized plan for that particular child.
Intersex children are nowhere mentioned in the “Dear Colleague Letter.”
Gender Dysphoria is defined this way in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual:
Gender dysphoria refers to the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender. (pg. 51).
The term “assigned gender” is what most people would call “biological sex,” which of course, is not “assigned” at all. Rather biological sex exists from conception and is literally in every cell of the body. Biological sex reveals itself at birth for all to see.
Gender Dysphoria is nowhere mentioned in the “Dear Colleague Letter.”
The “Dear Colleague Letter” is not about the Intersex medical condition or the Gender Dysphoria psychological condition. The “Dear Colleague Letter” makes this very clear when it states on page two, under the heading Compliance with Title IX:
Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.
Ah. We see that for purposes of law, children of any age can diagnose themselves as transgenders. Elsewhere, the guidelines make it clear that students may present themselves as a different sex at school without telling their parents. Students of any age can change their self-identification as they wish. The “guidelines” offer no guidance whatsoever about this possibility.
A student can suddenly decide transgender is cool, after a binge on social media. They can decide to irritate their parents. They can decide they want to fit in with the kids they meet at the LGBT after-school program. And yes, some boys can decide they want to see the inside of the girls’ locker room.
We are on one hand, meant to think that transgenders are unfortunate souls who need special attention from society in order to fit in and feel better about themselves. But on the other hand, we are told that no medical or psychological diagnosis is needed.
On one hand, we are told that the unique situation of these children requires special accommodation from the entire society. On the other hand, we are presented with a one-size-fits-all legal commandment. The federal government hands down the mandate telling each and every school district in America how they must handle the unique needs of these children.
Children with either Intersex medical conditions or Gender Dysphoria psychological conditions need more privacy and parental help. But the Department of Justice “Dear Colleague” letter will limit parental involvement and give children less privacy.
Allowing a child to define themselves into the “transgender” category without parental involvement or knowledge does accomplish one thing, though. It allows kids to become part of the political Transgender movement at the lowest possible cost. It requires the schools to become part of the ideological destabilization of the concept of innate biological sex differences.
This is why I say that transgenders are not sick. Oh, some of them may be. But some of the kids who define themselves as transgender under these guidelines will be lonely kids trying to find friends. Some will be horny and predatory. Some will be conformist to the newest ideological fad. Some will just be ornery.
Under the Obama guidelines, “transgender” is a not a medical or psychological term. “Transgender” is a political term.
Posted on: Wednesday, August 03, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published July 23, 2016, at The Blaze.
Earlier this week, the Ruth Institute sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia.
Our letter thanked him for “his clear teaching on marriage, family and human sexuality in the Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
With all the excitement of the political conventions, why would we spend our time sending flowers to an archbishop? We want to shine the spotlight on the positive things people are doing to build up society.
The archbishop’s guidelines restate the Ancient Teachings of Christianity regarding marriage, family and human sexuality. These teachings are obscured today. No less a theological heavy weight than the mayor of Philadelphia castigated the archbishop, saying the Guidelines were un-Christian!
To be fair to Mayor Jim Kenny, we have to admit that the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has caused worldwide confusion over Catholic teaching on marriage. Yelling at the pope has become a new cottage industry among tradition-minded Catholic writers. Pulling his words into a sexually indulgent direction has become a cottage industry among progressives of all faiths. And trying to parse out what he really meant has been a full employment guarantee for everyone.
Rather than getting involved in all that, we want to call attention to people who are implementing the unbroken teaching of the Church in a vibrant manner. Focus on what we know to be true and good. Archbishop Chaput’s Guidelines provide a clear and practical statement of ancient Catholic teaching, in the spirit of genuine mercy, incorporating language from Amoris Laetitia.
I believe that these teachings are correct, good and humane. I founded the Ruth Institute for the purpose of promoting those teachings to the widest audience possible. I don’t believe these things because I am a Catholic. On the contrary. It is precisely because I came to believe in these teachings that I returned to the practice of the Catholic faith after a 12-year lapse.
Let me discuss just one issue that has caused a lot of hand-wringing in the past 2 years. Jesus told us very clearly that remarriage after divorce is not possible. If attempted, it amounts to adultery. Why? According to Jesus, Moses only permitted a man to issue a bill of divorce because of “the hardness of your hearts.” (This is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, in case you were wondering.)
At that point, he could have said, “So, I’m going to eliminate this appalling male privilege and allow women to divorce their husbands, exactly like Moses allowed men to divorce their wives.” However, he did no such thing. He didn’t extend the male privilege. He eliminated it entirely. “From the beginning it was not so,” referring back to God’s original plan for creation. “I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” One of the “hard sayings” of Jesus, no doubt. But pretty darn clear.
(And please: don’t trouble me with that so-called loophole, ok? The real innovation in modern no-fault divorce law is that it allows an adulterer to get a divorce against the wishes of the innocent party. No sane person can argue that Jesus provided that “loophole” to allow the guilty party to validly remarry.)
The Church teaches that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive communion because she is trying to implement this teaching of Jesus. A civilly divorced and remarried person is living with, and presumably having sex with someone, while still validly married to someone else. If the first marriage is still valid, the second attempted marriage is not valid, and is in fact, adulterous. What is so hard to understand about that?
You know who really understands this concept, who intuitively “gets it?” Children of divorce. Kids look into their parents’ bedroom and see someone who doesn’t belong there. “Who is this guy in bed with my mom: my dad is supposed to be there.” Or, “who is this woman in bed with my dad? My mom is supposed to be there.”
At the Ruth Institute, we know there are situations in which married couples must separate for the safety of the family. But we also know that those cases are by far not the majority of cases. No-fault divorce says a person can get divorced for any reason or no reason, and the government will take sides with the party who wants the marriage the least. The government will permit that person to remarry, against the wishes of their spouse and children.
This is an obvious injustice that no one in our society will talk about. The children of divorce are socially invisible. In fact, I bet some of them felt like crying when they read my paragraph above quoting with approval, what might have gone through their little minds. Many of them have never heard an adult affirm their feelings that something dreadfully wrong and unjust took place in their families.
Jesus knew. Jesus was trying to keep us from hurting ourselves and each other. And the Catholic Church has been trying to implement Jesus’ teaching. You may say the Church has been imperfect in her attempts and I won’t argue with you. But I will say that no one else is even seriously trying.
Political campaigns come and go. Political parties come and go. In fact, nations themselves come and go. But the teachings of Jesus are forever. What we do about marriage and children and love reveals what and whom we truly love.
That is why we congratulate Archbishop Charles Chaput for his guidelines. We wish the Archdiocese all the very best. Make Marriage Great Again.
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