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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: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published April 17, 2017, at Crisis Magazine.
My son and I saw the new Beauty and the Beast. It was lovely, magical, following the 1991 cartoon, almost scene for scene, song for song. This is the story everyone wants to hear: darkness and evil and selfishness transformed by love into light and good and self-surrender. Life and love conquer death and fear.
This just happens to be the Christian story. That is why we never tire of hearing it. We were meant for love, for communion with others, for radical self-giving.
We want the Beast to be transformed. We want Belle to see beyond his looks and love him. We love Belle’s father and mother when each of them sacrifices themselves for their daughter. (Spoiler alert: we find out what happened to Belle’s mother.) We do not need to be talked into loving these moments. We love them instinctively, from the deepest part of our hearts.
We love the authentic portrayal of masculinity and femininity. The villain, Gaston, is a caricature of manhood. He is a preening, self-indulgent bully. He uses his strength and power to lord it over everyone around him and get what he wants. We are meant to despise the trio of girls who fawn over Gaston. And we do, because they are caricatures of authentic womanhood. They are absorbed with their looks and in snagging a high-status man.
We love Belle, not because she is an embodiment of some new feminist protagonist, but for the same reasons we have always loved our heroines. She is kind, faithful, and capable of radically self-giving love. Yes, she speaks her mind. Yes, she is competent. Yes, she likes to read. But who ever thought these traits were incompatible with genuine femininity? Shakespeare? Tolstoy? Laura Ingalls Wilder? Only feminist ideologues in their fantasy worlds ever thought otherwise.
We love the Beast because he is transformed from being a punk like Gaston into a truly manly man. His willingness to sacrifice his life for the sake of Belle’s happiness transforms him. This just happens to be what St. Paul enjoins of husbands in Ephesians 5: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself up for her.”
We do not need to be taught to love this story. It is written on our hearts by our Creator. In spite of the ravages of sin, in spite of all the ways we Moderns have distorted ourselves, we still respond to the story of self-giving love triumphing over selfishness. Ideologically-concocted fantasies don’t satisfy.
The Gay Moments
This brings me to the Beauty and the Beast “gay moment” that got so much press prior to the film’s opening. The film has several gay innuendos. A viewer in the theater could blink and miss them. That is why I believe Christians can see it, and even take their kids. The gay double entendres will sail right over their heads.
Buying the DVD is a different story. If kids watch the film repeatedly as people tend to do in their own homes, they will eventually figure out the gay stuff.
Interestingly enough, the presumably-gay LeFou doesn’t actually fit the Official Gay Storyline. He is unsure of his masculinity. By attaching himself to the hyper-masculine Gaston, he tries to reinforce his own sense of maleness.
But contra the Official Gay Storyline, his attraction to Gaston does nothing positive for him. In fact, it weakens him. He lies for Gaston. He acquiesces in attempted murder. He participates in mob violence. All along, LeFou knows he is doing wrong. He stifles his conscience to please Gaston. When Gaston finally throws him under the bus (actually, under the piano), LeFou has second thoughts. He mentally ditches Gaston, and he can finally fight for what he knows to be right.
In other words, he becomes a man. He doesn’t need Gaston. At the end of the film, he is dancing with women, along with every other man in the castle.
Is it really a “gay moment” in the last scene when he momentarily gets partnered with a man? Or is it reversion to heterosexuality when LeFou dances happily with women in the bulk of the scene? More importantly, what is the Moment with a Man even doing in the movie? It adds nothing to the plot.
I think director Bill Condon felt he needed to pay obeisance to the Big Gay Activist Machine. The hints about the “exclusively gay moment,” to “the UK’s best-selling gay magazine” are part of the dance everyone now needs to perform to please the really powerful people.
But was it enough? Of course not. Nothing is ever enough for the True Believer.
Why isn’t it enough?
The sexual revolutionaries are peddling propaganda. They must. They are trying to manipulate people into believing things that are not true.
Love and sex are not the same. We cannot live without love, but we can live without sex. Men and women are different. Selfishness does not make us happy. These things are all true. The sexual revolutionaries are trying to create a society based on their opposites.
This project of theirs cannot succeed. But the impossibility of the goal does not dissuade them from their attempts. Their fantasy of what the world should be continues to propel them. Every new failure just ratchets up their commitment to keep trying.
Hence the need for more and deeper propaganda. The sexual revolutionaries must do as the Soviets did: enlist artists to create propaganda for the creation of their fantasy. Every work of art must point to the Glorious New World.
The Disney people painted a mustache on their Mona Lisa of a film, in order to placate the Activists, who, in the end, were not satisfied. Some have said that the “gay LeFou” character is a tribute to Howard Ashman, who wrote the original lyrics but died of AIDs before the cartoon was released in 1991. I find that suggestion offensive. I doubt that an artist of his stature would be “honored” by the Disney studios inserting the equivalent of a juvenile fart joke into his work. (Speaking of fart jokes, this not-nearly-gay-enough criticism of the film is gross. Is this how they really talk when they think no one is listening?) Soviet art is bad art. Pasting homosexual themes onto this story is bad art.
I watched the original cartoon endlessly, when it came out in 1991 and I had two preschoolers. How will the “gay moments” in this new version hold up after repeated viewing? All the rest of this live-action remake could be watched endlessly, without losing its charm. But the gratuitous gay scenes will be boring the second time you see them.
As for the Christians who called for a boycott of the film without even seeing it, well, I think that was ill-conceived. It is possible that Director Bill Condon, who is openly gay himself, was attempting to bait Christians. But taking the bait is not always wise. It could be more akin to a child repeatedly dropping his spoon from the high chair: he doesn’t really want the spoon. He just wants to see you pick it up over and over.
I think is more likely that Condon’s real audience for his comments was the Gay Commentariat. He felt he needed to pay homage to them, and win their approval. We conservative Christians are barely on his radar screen. We cannot hurt him the way gays in Hollywood potentially could.
The differences between the new Beauty and the Beast and the original cartoon from 1991 shows how far our culture has fallen into the grip of sexual revolutionary propaganda. We barely recognize it.
The telling of the Christian story resonates because it is calling out to our hearts with things everyone knows to be true. We Christians have Truth and Beauty on our side. We need to use them, without apology.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter
This article was first posted July 5, 2017, at Christian Post.
Younger Americans are less likely to cheat on their spouses than older Americans are, and although culture has become much more accepting of loose sexual norms, adultery is still viewed with disapproval, according to the social science data.
Writing on the blog of the Institute for Family Studies Wednesday, Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer sciences and sociology at the University of Utah, explained that a notable gap exists between those over 55 and under 55 regarding extramarital sex.
The "adultery taboo" has endured throughout human history, Wolfinger wrote. And the number of Americans who admit to having sex outside of marriage has remained steady over the years, hovering around 16 percent, giving the impression that Americans have basically concluded that extramarital sex is wrong.
Yet, some shocking changes have occurred since the year 2000, he noted: older Americans are cheating more and younger Americans are cheating less.
Wolfinger derived this assessment from the past three decades of data from the General Social Survey which tracks social attitudes about a variety of moral matters. Since 1991, GSS respondents have been asked: "Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were married?"
"Starting after 2004, Americans over 55 began reporting rates of extramarital sex that were about five or six percentage points higher than were being offered by younger adults. By 2016, 20% of older respondents indicated that their marriages were nominally adulterous, compared to 14% for people under 55," Wolfinger said.
While the majority of Americans are committed to monogamy, "the mounting age difference is noteworthy and statistically significant," he added.
Wolfinger further underscored the role of the sexual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s as a driving factor in shaping the attitudes of people toward sex. For the generation who came of age during the sexual revolution — people who are now in their 50s and 60s — "it's understandable they are more likely to have sex with someone without their spouses," he said. These people are also more likely to have had more sexual partners in their lifetimes than their older or younger peers.
"They may have firsthand experience with 1970s-era experiments with non-monogamy. A few people born in the late 1950s may have had swingers for parents, leading offspring to question taboos surrounding infidelity."
After reaching a peak in 1990, sex among teenagers has fallen significantly, the data shows.
"Collectively, this sexual biography makes it understandable that products of the sexual revolution would be most predisposed to extramarital sex. If people just aged into outside love affairs, presumably as they grew bored of their marital beds, we could expect that the oldest GSS respondents would be the most likely to report extramarital sex," Wolfinger said.
But the data suggests that is not the case. The sexual revolution continues to produce fruit today in the generation who grew up in its wake, he observed.
Although the rate of divorce overall has dropped in the past few decades, "gray divorce," that is, divorce among the middle aged, has seen a surge.
"Part of that story seems to be a corresponding increase in midlife extramarital sex," he said.
Even as increased chatter about "open" marriages and other forms of consensual non-monogamy like polyandry have appeared on the scene, with the declines in extramarital sex observed for younger Americans, "barring any unforeseen developments, we should anticipate a future of more monogamous marriage," Wolfinger said.
Americans by and large "still disapprove of sex outside of wedlock, but we disapprove less strongly than we used to," the scholar noted, suggesting that society is witnessing a growing "sexual inequality."
GSS data also reveals that while some Americans have more sex out of wedlock, others have become even more disapproving.
"Indeed, perhaps some of this disapproval reflects the comparably high rates of extramarital sex 50-somethings and 60-somethings have been observing in their peers."
His analysis seems to comport with the findings in other related studies.
The Christian Post reported in August that contrary to conventional wisdom and a sex-saturated culture, young people are actually not having much sex.
In a study published last year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers Jean M. Twenge, Ryne A. Sherman, and Brooke E. Wells discovered that young people born in the 1990s were "significantly more likely to have no sexual partners" than Gen Xers. The only generation with a higher rate of sexual inactivity than today's 20- to 24-year-olds was the one born in the 1920s when controlled for time period and age.
"I think a lot of them are watching the adults around them and concluding that sex without limits is not making people happy. Parents with multiple marriages and divorces, etc.," said Ruth Institute founder Jennifer Roback Morse in a statement to CP, suggesting that younger generations were becoming wiser.
Posted on: Thursday, July 06, 2017
By Stoyan Zaimov
This article was published at Christian Post on May 17, 2017.
(Photo: Reuters) Children play in their kindergarten run by a private foundation which is not affected by the nursery caretakers' strike in Hanau, 30km south of Frankfurt, Germany, May 8, 2015.
An organization of teachers in the U.K. has argued that homosexuality and transgenderism should be taught to young children starting in nursery school.
Members of the National Union of Teachers group voted for a measure at a conference in Cardiff to "campaign to ensure a comprehensive age-appropriate content including promotion of LGBT+ matters for all schools from nursery throughout all phases of state education," The Evening Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Annette Pryce, a NUT executive member from Buckinghamshire, claimed that the U.K. government hasn't been doing enough to promote inclusion.
"Those generations of young LGBT people who have been failed by the system are still not told explicitly in the law that their lives are important too," Pryce said.
"The NUT ... needs to ensure that SRE is inclusive to LGBT young people now and forever."
Education Secretary Justine Greening announced back in March that age appropriate sex and relationships guidance is to be made compulsory for all children, though it allowed parents and faith schools to opt out of the new rules.
U.K. ministers have been facing "mounting pressure" to respond to concerns that children are not being educated about online porn, cyber bullying and sexting, the Telegraph said.
Conservatives, such as Andrea Williams, chief executive at Christian Concern, have warned that teaching statutory sex education to 4-year-olds can be "devastating" and risks "robbing them of their innocence," however.
"Children [age 4] should not be introduced to this. Schools need to be safe places where the innocence of children is protected," Williams said in February.
"Very often sex education introduces children to concepts far too soon, destroying their innocence. This is not something that the state should be laying down. We are very concerned about this," she added.
Transgender issues being imposed upon children has stirred controversy in both the U.K. and the United States in recent times, with one critic calling a recently released book teaching children that men can have periods too "child abuse."
The Adventures of Toni the Tampon: A Period Coloring Book, which is being sold online on Amazon, claims that it's an "easy way to start a conversation with young kids about menstruation."
Cass Clemmer, a 2015 graduate of American University who created the Toni the Tampon character, said that Toni "is a little genderqueer tampon — kind of like me in tampon form — who just goes by Toni instead of any pronouns."
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute that seeks Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown, told The Christian Post in March that teaching children that men and boys can have periods is both "scientific malpractice and child abuse."
"This coloring book is a solution in search of a problem. Undermining children's comfort with their own bodies is no service to anyone. Most children who experience gender dysphoria grow out of it," Morse told CP.