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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, February 26, 2018
Dear Dr. J:
My brother just announced he would be getting married to his boyfriend. They have been together for approximately ten years. My parents and brothers
raised their glasses to his plans and seem to be congratulating them. As a Roman Catholic with my principles of natural family and natural marriage,
how should I react about him getting married and what should I do when he invites me to his wedding?
Should you go to the wedding? In a word, no, you should not. They may ask you, "Would you go to the wedding of a divorced person who was remarrying?" The correct answer is, "No, I would not. They are entering publicly into an adulterous union. I would not go." If they reply, "But you went to Uncle Harry's second wedding and didn't say a word," the proper answer is, "I was wrong to do that. I should not have gone."
The longer-term question is: how do you maintain good relationships with these people and other family members who are going along with their plans to marry? This is the larger challenge.
Take every opportunity to show them love and compassion. Include your brother and his friend in activities whenever you can do so in good conscience. For instance, you can have them over for dinner, or go out to a show with them. These are not intrinsically "coupled" activities. You should invite them whenever you can. If they say no, that is ok. You have done your part. You can send them each birthday cards or Christmas cards.
If they want to argue with you about why you didn't go to the wedding, I suggest you decline to participate. Ditto if they want to argue about related topics, like the Church’s teaching on sexuality, unless you have reason to think they are sincerely interested in what you have to say. If they just want to argue, your answer is a polite, "No thanks."
Keep praying for them. Your time with the Lord will gradually reveal other specific ways in which you can show love to your brother. Eventually, the
Lord may show you an opportunity to explain the Church’s teaching in its fullness. Or maybe the Lord will place someone else in your brother’s
life who can share it with him.
Thank you for your question.
Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2018
New York is sacrificing a child's best interest in favor of "marriage equality."
By Jennifer Roback Morse
Published on February 9, 2018, at The Stream.
A little girl in New York is in foster care, even though her father is a perfectly fit parent. The court will not even recognize him as her father. How is this possible, you ask?
The little girl’s mother is in a same sex union. The girl is in foster care, because of neglect petitions pending against both the mother and her lover. The five-judge panel agreed that the fact that the child was in foster care was “relevant” and “concerning.” They nevertheless denied the father’s request to prove his fatherhood.
In the court’s logic, this man “merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights.”
In other words, he is not a father unless we say so.
The news stories about this case focus on its implications for “Marriage Equality.” The Daily Beast story has a sub-headline: “judges rule in favor of marriage equality over biology in case of 3-year-old girl.” A Canadian paper, The National Post describes the case this way:
Without legal advice, Christopher and the women drew up a contract in which he waived any claims to paternity, custody or visitation, and the women waived any claim to child support. But troubles arose, and they disagreed on Christopher’s access to the child … In April 2015, Christopher went to court, seeking an order for a paternity test, and later for custody of the child.
The Post is not too clear on what “troubles arose.” We get a clue, from the court documents (page 18), which The Daily Beast cited only in passing, that the child has been in foster care for a lengthy “period of time” since the 2015 hearing.
Perhaps this explains why he “belatedly asserted parental rights.” Maybe he saw what the child welfare authorities eventually saw. These women were neglecting the seven-month-old child.
Christopher volunteered his sperm as a “humanitarian gesture” to two women who were family friends. He evidently absorbed the Grand Gay Narrative that assures us:
If the Grand Gay Narrative is true, a man might logically conclude that donating his sperm could be a “humanitarian gesture.” He might well believe that agreeing in advance to stand down from active fatherhood was a fine thing to do, costless to himself and his child, and beneficial to these two women.
The problem is that the Grand Gay Narrative is false. Biology does matter. Both parents and children care about their biological connections. Being raised by a same sex couple does present risks to kids, compared with being raised by one’s own biological parents. The people who say otherwise base their opinion on highly suspect, cherry-picked data, from small unrepresentative samples. Frankly, most of it is highly publicized junk science.
Neither of these women has pulled herself together enough to have the little girl returned to her care. I was a foster parent in San Diego. I know that child welfare agencies try to give parents every opportunity to reunify with their children. If the child has been in foster care “for a lengthy period of time,” these two women must be bad news. Christopher was trying to be a nice guy in 2014 when he donated the sperm. He has been trying to be a responsible father since April 2015 when he first petitioned the court.
Isn’t this how we want men to behave toward the children they sire?
The five-judge panel was not interested.
We believe that it must be true that a child born to a same-gender married couple is presumed to be their child … A paternity test for an outsider, who merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights, would effectively disrupt, if not destroy, this family unit and nullify the child’s established relationship with the wife, her other mother. Testing in these circumstances exposes children born into same-gender marriages to instability for no justifiable reason other than to provide a father-figure for children who already have two parents.” (emphasis added.)
News flash to the judges: a child in foster care is already “exposed to instability.” Is letting her father be involved more disruptive than foster care?
The court’s ruling does not protect the child’s best interests. Their ruling circles the wagons to protect the Grand Gay Narrative.
“Marriage Equality” advocates assured us that removing the gender requirement from marriage was only a matter of making same sex couples the legal equivalent of opposite sex couples. This case shows that “Marriage Equality” creates a whole round of new inequalities. Some fathers are permitted to be involved in their children’s lives. Others are not: the law actively blocks Christopher from his own child. Some children have a legally recognized right to their fathers. Others, like this little girl, do not.
She only has the parents the government allows her to have. And that is way too much power for any government.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 06, 2018
by James V. Schall, S. J. (close friend of Dr. Morse)
As I watched the Super Bowl, which turned out to be a very good game, what rapidly grew in my conscience was the sustained egalitarian propaganda in so many of the unavoidable ads we watched. One could not but notice that Turkish Airlines was a major sponsor, though we are by now used to ads from the Emirate airlines in many sports venues.
The rhetoric of the ads and the story line presented obviously had something to do with the NFL’s problem with player protests against America. Some of this may have been manifest, but if so, I missed it. T-Mobile seemed to sponsor the egalitarian line in almost evangelistic fashion.Three sequences in particular are worth recalling. The first one showed a taxi drive up to a Catholic church. A vigorous, rather tough-looking young cleric in Roman collar got in the cab. This scene was followed by stops at the local mosque, Buddhist center, and at a synagogue where clerics in colorful garb also got into the same cab. The viewer could have gotten the impression that this country is mainly populated by eastern religions.
But the message all along was that we all can and must get along together, no matter what our doctrinal differences. Live and let live. We can all enjoy the same games, no problem. The message had, to me at least, a bite to it. That is, these religions better get along together in this land. No conflict can exist between the culture and any religion. We do not tolerate anyone who cannot go along with the reigning civic orthodoxy.
Another sequence showed acts of charity and kindness, gays and poor, and minorities being helped by others. We just needed to get along. Everyone needed to help everyone. We can change, we are again and again told.A new day is dawning. The media now take an active role in changing views to conform to the reigning orthodoxy.
The final series was perhaps the most disturbing. In a nursery, we suddenly see one infant after another lined up next to each other. One is white, one is black, one Latino, one Chinese, and others of some other hue. The point was, evidently, all these little tykes are pretty much alike. How could anyone think otherwise?
Yet, these babies were all but recently born. They were shown without their parents, almost as if the parents were irrelevant. The children were not seen as members of a family. What was not mentioned or indicated was that any one or all of these infants could have been legally aborted with no questions asked had their photos been taken in utero a couple of months earlier.
So my brief conclusion from this year’s Super-bowl ad-watching saga is that we are being subjected to a heavy dose of propaganda about equality. The swirl of the myriads of identical dancers at half-time left the same impression. Besides a universalized egalitarianism, no other distinctions about the human good are permitted. Fundamental differences of belief, custom, genes, virtue, and prospect are evil and must be eliminated, evidently by what? My guess is the state, or perhaps the NFL.
James V. Schall, S.J. taught political philosophy at Georgetown University for many years until recently retiring. He is the author of
numerous books and countless essays on philosophy, theology, education, morality, and other topics. His most recent book is Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism (Ignatius Press). Visit his site, "Another Sort of Learning", for more about his writings
Posted on: Monday, February 05, 2018
Keeping your marriage healthy is paramount for your mental, physical, even financial health.
By Betsy Kerekes
This article was first published January 15, 2018, at Christian Post.
This time of year, people tend to look at their waistline, their exercise goals, or that unfinished project in the garage. How about a New Year's resolution that's more lasting and more important? Keeping your marriage healthy is paramount for your mental, physical, even financial health. It has a powerful impact on your children and influences your friends and other family members as well. That's a big responsibility! Here are 10 tips for making your marriage stronger and happier than ever.
1. Remember that love is a decision, not a feeling.
It's impossible to keep warm fuzzy feelings for your spouse constantly, especially when you have children taking up much of your time and energy. In the year ahead, there are sure to be challenging times, but remember to love your spouse, even when you don't feel like it. Your children are important, but your relationship with your spouse comes first. Period. Keep making the decision to love him or her even, and especially, when it's hard.
2. Put your spouse first.
Even though we all learned to share in kindergarten, we are still selfish beings. We want what we want when we want it. Technology and society as a whole aren't great at helping and encouraging us to break this habit, but the happily functioning marriage should be anything but selfish. Always ask yourself, what would your spouse like? Whether it's what to eat for dinner, what movie to watch, or what dessert you share at a restaurant, let your spouse choose. Having a happy spouse makes you a happy spouse. Let his or her happiness bring you happiness.
3. Keep dating each other.
Just because you're married, and especially if you have kids, doesn't mean your dating life is over. You still need to spend quality time together, or out with friends, but especially alone together. Getting out of the house for a date isn't always possible with sitters or finances, but you can have dates in, too. Rather than spend your evenings in separate rooms on separate phones, unplug - everything except your TV. Snuggle on the couch with popcorn or a glass of wine and a good movie. Better still, pull out a deck of cards or a board game. Every couple should have one indoor and one outdoor activity that they enjoy doing together. Schedule it on the calendar if necessary.
4. Have couch time.
This should happen daily. If it's difficult to talk about your day at the dinner table because you're too busy haranguing Penelope to eat her peas, or keeping Bobby from dunking his face in his soup, get your quality time on the couch when the children aren't around. Sit next to each other. Snuggle. Have at least some part of you touching. Physical touch soothes you. And as an added bonus, if you're touching even in some small way when you're upset with each other, the physical contact will ease tension and help you work out your troubles in a calmer, quicker manner.
5. When it's time to speak your mind, do so in a gentle way.
Don't keep a laundry list and dump all your grievances at once. No one likes being attacked. This is all the more reason to speak up when something is getting you down. And whenever possible, do so in a self-effacing way to lessen the blow. For instance: "We should probably both work on keeping the kitchen a little tidier." Even if you know full well it's the other person who's a slob, this phrase comes off much nicer than: "You need to clean up your mess! I'm tired of picking up after you!" That approach only leads to more yelling, childish name calling, and pointless comparisons of who does what and how often. It never ends well. Instead, be nice.
6. Don't let Robin rule the roost.
If your devotion to your children has gotten to the point where it feels more like they're in charge, tension is bound to occur in your home. It might be with a spouse who disagrees with your discipline methods, or within yourself because you're whipped by your own two-year-old. When it comes to discipline, it's imperative that both parents are on the same page. When there are cracks in the foundation of the castle, Little Prince or Princess will find them and take full advantage, turning you into court jesters. Your marriage will be happier if an agreed upon discipline is firmly in place.
7. Always be open with communication.
Whether it's discussing synchronizing your parenting styles or realizing when you last had an intimate moment alone together, you need to be open and honest. "Communication is key" is a cliché, but they're also words to live by. If you have something to say to your spouse, out with it. If it's unfortunately negative but needs to be said, don't keep it bottled up where it will only fester and grow to the point of explosion. If it's something positive, all the more reason to share it! It takes ten positive statements to push aside the sting of a negative statement. Don't be stingy on the praise. Only be negative when absolutely necessary.
8. Go to sleep at the same time.
This provides you with another opportunity for communication: verbal or physical. You decide. Be open. Enjoy each other's company. If you're normally too tired to do more than collapse into bed and fall directly to sleep, get yourselves in bed sooner. This is more needed couple time.
9. Maintain an attitude of gratitude.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are not Wonder Woman or Superman. You cannot do it all on your own. Sometimes you'll need help from your spouse. Allow your spouse to help you. Ask for help, but don't demand it. Ask kindly without whining or complaining. And accept graciously. When help comes unsolicited, be grateful and don't shy away from showing your gratitude. The words "thank you" and "I love you" go a long way. Kisses can go even longer.
10. Focus on the positive things in your life.
Maybe you're not as thin as you'd like to be and the garage or laundry room are still a mess, but how adorable was it when the baby blew raspberries at you? You may have been in your pajamas all day, but your spouse brought home dinner! Can't remember the last time you showered? Try instead to remember your wedding day in every blissful detail. Don't get down on the negative. Nobody ever promised life was easy. You do the best you can. If you're Debbie Downer, you won't be fun for your spouse to be around. Everything else will get taken care of in due time. Take that to heart by enjoying all the good and filtering out the bad.
Betsy Kerekes, editor at the Ruth Institute, is co-author with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage (Ave Maria Press 2013) and 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person (Ave Maria Press 2016). She blogs at Parentingisfunny.wordpress.com.
Posted on: Sunday, February 04, 2018
By Brandon Showalter
This article was first posted on Christian Post on December 19, 2017.
A new Senate report is highlighting the effects of unwed childbearing and family breakdown as approximately 40 percent of births in the United States now occur outside of wedlock. And what are known as "shotgun" marriages are largely a thing of the past.
The sharp rise in nonmarital births is a result of a complex mixture of moral, behavioral, and social changes given how the Sexual Revolution overhauled the American landscape, noted Robert VerBruggen, deputy managing editor of National Review, writing on the blog of the Institute for Family Studies Monday. Two out of every five pregnancies in the United States now occur outside of wedlock.
"Married couples' fertility rate plummeted by about a third in the 1960s and early 1970s, almost certainly thanks to the introduction of the Pill at the beginning of that period," he wrote.
"Married people have always been sexually active, and the Pill allowed them to continue doing what they were doing with a drastically reduced risk of pregnancy if that was what they wanted."
But such a shift in mindset about sex has reorganized adult priorities while having grievous consequences on children, another scholar pointed out.
"People today generally believe that unlimited sex is an entitlement and that children have only the rights adults choose to give them. This is called 'reproductive justice,' because it neutralizes the impact of children on education and career, and supports 'equality' between men and women," said Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute, in an interview Tuesday with The Christian Post.
"But if you believe that kids need and are entitled to a relationship with both their own parents, the moral calculus changes considerably."
Sex outside of marriage puts the prospective children at risk of experiencing at least one form of injustice, Morse went on to say. They are either killed via abortion; put at risk of a weak or nonexistent relationship with one parent, often the father; or are placed for adoption, separating the child from their biological parents, at least for the duration of their childhood, she explained.
The Senate report, "Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage: The Rise in Unwed Childbearing," was released this month and prepared by the vice chairman's staff of the Joint Economic Committee at the request of Senator Mike Lee (Republican of Utah). The findings examine the trends and aim to understand how the United States arrived at its current social state.
The report also reveals that "shotgun" marriages — where the woman's father supposedly enforced the social norm of marriage by threatening to shoot the guy who impregnated his daughter — have tanked.
"We ridicule this norm, because we forget that it had the benefit of protecting the interests of children in having relationships with both parents," Morse commented.
"The most just solution for the child, is for the parents to marry each other, and work together for a lifetime for the good of the child, and their whole family. We accept injustice to children as the price we are willing to pay for adult sexual freedom and 'gender equality.'"
The report data shows that in the early 1960s, 43 percent of unwed pregnancies precipitated a hasty, "shotgun" marriage. Today, only 9 percent of unwed pregnancies result in such quick marital arrangements. Young couples no longer see the necessity of getting married because a child is coming.
Unmarried people as a group had previously limited their sexual activity, concerned about both unwanted pregnancy and social stigma, the report found. But they, too, began having sex earlier and more frequently as they gained access to hormonal contraception and as changing attitudes made premarital sexual relations more acceptable.
"Further societal changes made unmarried childbearing, not just sex, more acceptable, such that half of births from nonmarital pregnancies today are intended," VerBruggen observed.
The authors of the report do not think that abortion is a significant contributor to these trends, he explained. The abortion rate increased during the 1970s but dropped in the following decades and remains by all measures lower today than when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.
"It's a frustratingly complex picture; and half a century after the Sexual Revolution, with no reversal in sight, these may primarily be academic questions anyway. But if we're not happy where we are in this regard — and we shouldn't be, given the harms children have suffered from family breakdown — it can't hurt to know how we got here," VerBruggen said.