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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, March 24, 2021
A speech by Don Feder to the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum’s Virtual Life Symposium, at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, March 23, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to once again address an event sponsored by the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum which does such vital work to protect life and the family in East Africa. We have a lot in common, you and I. We fight a common enemy to advance a common cause.
The battle for civilization has shifted from Europe and America, where the odds are against us, to nations like Kenya, where we still have a fighting chance. Here’s a simple formula for saving civilization in developing nations: Look at what we’ve done in the West. Don’t do it.
When I was a child (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), my favorite TV shows were “The Amazing Adventures of Superman” and “The Lone Ranger.” Did you have them in Kenya? Both were about the original superheroes. Superman was the Man of Steel, a strange visitor from another planet; bullets bounced off him. The Lone Ranger could shoot a gun out of a man’s hand.
Even now, decades later, I can still remember the beginning of each episode of The Lone Ranger: “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again.”
Well, apologies to the masked man and his faithful Indian companion, but those days of yesteryear often weren’t that thrilling. In antiquity, they were frequently barbaric, bloody and brutal.
Think back 3,000 years – to a world of city states and empires, slavery and savage spectacles.
It was a time when human sacrifice, infanticide and the carnage of the arena were commonplace.
Peoples as diverse as the Carthaginians, Etruscans, Canaanites, Aztecs and Hawaiians sacrificed adults or infants to appease their gods, to ward off natural disaster, and to assure good harvests or victory in battle. In Carthage between 800 BC and 146 BC., it’s estimated that 20,000 babies were ritually sacrificed.
Infanticide was also common. Infants who were sickly or deformed were often left to die from exposure or to be eaten by wild animals. Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle approved of the practice.
The Romans preferred bloodshed in the arena, in gladiatorial contests or the execution of criminals or prisoners of war. To celebrate his conquest of Dacia (modern day Romania), the Emperor Trajan had 123 days of games, in which more than 9,000 gladiators fought.
In Rome, a father had absolute authority over his household, including the right to disinherit, sell or even kill any of his children.
All of that started to change 3,000 years ago with the giving of the Law at Sinai, including what are commonly known as the Five Books of Moses. According to Jewish tradition, half-a-million souls were there to hear the voice of God, amidst the fire and smoke.
Sinai was the beginning – the beginning of Western Civilization. All of us, Christians and Jews, trace our roots there.
From Sinai came the Promised Land – more than 1,000 years chronicled in the Bible. From Sinai came the kings and prophets. Judaism and Christianity started there. (Without Passover, there would have been no Easter.)
The Jews eventually went into exile and their morality was spread into Europe and eventually worldwide by Christians through what came to be known as Judeo-Christian ethics.
The United States Declaration of Independence proclaims that certain truths are “self-evident” (meaning obviously true, requiring no proof) – “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” All of these truths were revealed at Sinai.
But the aforementioned rights aren’t “self-evident.” They weren’t self-evident in the United States, for the first 85 years of our national existence, when we had the institution of slavery in certain parts of our country.
In the ancient world, power flowed from the ruler down to a favored few. The poor and powerless were inconsequential – objects to be used and disposed of by others. If you told them that the peasant grubbing in his field had inalienable rights, they would have stared at you in dumb disbelief.
Not until Sinai did the concept of human rights appear. The Torah/Bible tells us that God created man “in His image,” and that as He is holy, we are to be holy, including treating others as individuals having God-given rights, not as objects to satisfy our desires -- to be used and disposed of.
The Mishna (which is part of what we call the Oral Law) says: “Therefore, Adam was created singly, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life in Israel is considered by Scripture to have destroyed the whole world, and whoever saves a single life… is considered … to have saved the whole world.”
Two of God’s chief attributes are justice and mercy. If we are to emulate Him, we must ask ourselves: Is abortion just? Is abortion merciful? Or is it a denial of God and a reversion to human sacrifice – this time to an idol called “choice”?
To give you an idea of Sinai’s profound influence on America, on the doors leading to the Supreme Court’s chamber, there’s a carving representing twin tablets with the Roman numerals 1 through 10. Sometimes, guides tell visitors that they represent the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. Nonsense. In reality, they are there to remind us of a much older code of law on which our own is based.
Governments change. Fashions change. Political philosophies come and go. The vision of Sinai is unchangeable. It is for all peoples, at all times, in all places. The nations and the societies that adhere to it prosper. Those that do not fall by the wayside or fade to oblivion.
Today, the vision of Sinai is challenged by another vision. In place of light, there is growing darkness. During the Second World War, Winston Churchill warned that a Nazi victory would herald “a new Dark Age made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science.”
My friends, does that not perfectly describe what’s happening today, when killing children in utero is called a human right?
When abortion was legalized in the United States, through the subterfuge of Roe v. Wade, the great Talmudist Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik predicted, “If you kill a fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed.” Many of us saw it coming.
In the West, we’ve gone from abortion to infanticide to euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. The party of the President of the United States, which has the audacity to call itself Democratic, embraces abortion for any reason, or none at all-- abortion up to the moment of birth, and even beyond it to include a newborn lying on an operating table.
Instead of affirming our common humanity, because we all were made in the image of God, increasingly, we play God with the lives of others.
Instead of a acknowledging the sovereignty of the God of the Bible and doing homage to him, we worship the gods of personal autonomy, of freedom divorced from values, of secularism and of choice. But be warned, does not the Bible say: “If you turn your back on me, on that day, I will hide my face from you.”
And what has it brought us?
Last year, there were 42.6 million abortions worldwide, which – according to the World Health Organization – is more than all of the deaths from cancer, malaria, AIDS and COVID-19 combined. This works out to 125,000 abortions a day. Annually, it’s more than twice the number of military casualties in World War II, the bloodiest conflict in human history –not spread over 6 years, but every year.
There’s a price to pay for this carnage. There’s always is a price to pay. This time, it’s in the coin of declining fertility, which some of us have come to call Demographic Winter.
Since the 1960s, worldwide, the fertility rate (the number of children the average woman will have in her lifetime) has been cut in half. In the United States, we now have the lowest fertility rate on record, 1.82, compared to about 3 during the postwar Baby Boom. But this is nothing compared to Europe, where the total fertility rate is 1.5 – way below replacement. Overall, Africa seems to be the only continent where people are still having children, and even here family size is declining.
Sometime in this century, perhaps before the year 2050, the world’s population will stop growing and begin declining. Once that starts, the rate of decline will accelerate.
The children who weren’t born today won’t have children or grandchildren of their own. Very soon, we will begin running out of people. Where will we find the farmers to grow our food, the workers to run our factories, the doctors and nurses to heal us, the teachers to educate our children, the police to keep us safe, the soldiers to guard our borders – in other words, all of the people needed to keep society functioning.
You can have a functioning society without domestic energy production, natural resources or arable land. You can’t without people.
And still we’re aborting 42 million people a year worldwide. Instead of abortion and contraception, we should be encouraging procreation and facilitating large families. Think of what the money we spend on abortion would buy if invested in clean water, disease control, better nutrition, and maternal health in developing nations.
There’s a saying that was popular with my generation: “What goes around comes around.” In “The Brothers Karamazov,” the Russian novelist Fyodor Destoyevsky wrote: “Without God all things are permitted.”
What things? Things like ethnic cleansing, like slave labor, like planned famines, like Auschwitz. The death camps of World War II weren’t built with bricks and mortar and barbed wire alone. They were built with ideas.
Deuteronomy 30:19 admonishes: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you may live, you and your children.”
This applies not only to individuals, but to nations and civilizations as well. Where are the Babylonians, the Persians and the Phoenicians – the ancient Greeks, and Romans and the Egyptians who built the pyramids? In the words of Mark Twain, they have “faded to dream stuff and passed away.”
You choose life and you get life, including living descendants. You choose death and you get death. That’s fair, isn’t it?
For more than half-a-century, we in the West have chosen death – death by abortion, death by euthanasia, and death by rapidly falling fertility (due to a refusal to marry and have children).
The choice before us is stark – blessings or curses, life or death, law or chaos, Sinai or savagery and – eventually -- oblivion.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 17, 2021
- Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse and Matt Maddox
- Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse and Matt Maddox
A cartoon skunk is now the face of the rape culture. Pepè Le Pew, the lovestruck, clueless, ostensibly French, romancing skunk has found himself in the crosshairs of New York Times columnist, Charles Blow. In a recent column, he said that the besotted skunk normalized the sordid culture of rape. In an otherwise thoughtful piece on how children experience racism, Mr. Blow’s toss-away condemnation of a cartoon skunk garnered him the most attention. In response to the outcry, he doubled-down. Unfortunately, blaming a cartoon character for the rape culture minimizes both the suffering of rape victims and the deepest roots of the problem.
A better cultural icon to cancel would be someone like Hugh Hefner, and the deep root of the rape culture problem: the Sexual Revolution itself.
Mr. Blow defended himself on Twitter, expounding on the romantic rodent’s sexual misconduct. “1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will. 2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won’t release her. 3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping.”
Perhaps Charles Blow should re-watch those old Pepè Le Pew episodes (if they’re not canceled yet). He might see that Pepè is presented as someone the other characters avoid. He’d also see that even Pepè Le Pew doesn’t like when the tables are turned. The obvious comedy of the situation might be too nuanced for a grown up to get. But kids understand intuitively that the seductive skunk is not a role model, but a laughable character, whose antics should not be replicated.
If we are going to retroactively cancel cultural icons because of their encouragement of rape culture, let’s start with Hugh Hefner. Reflecting on his work in an interview in 2010 he said, “The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects.”
Printing a magazine that taught millions of boys that women are merely objects for sex does far more harm than a clueless skunk amorously chasing a cat. Hugh Hefner did incalculable harm to those millions of boys accidentally exposed to porn at a young age through his magazines.
Pornography, though doesn’t merely degrade women in the eyes of the consumer. Pornography also tends to be an escalating behavior.Fight The New Drug (an anti-pornography website) puts it this way, “Because of porn’s addictive nature, porn consumers usually need an ever-increasing dosage over time in order to feel the same level of enjoyment. They often have to seek out more extreme and hard-core forms of porn.” For too many consumers, this more extreme and hard-core porn includes violence.
Dr. John Foubert, a leading expert on sexual violence, examined the link between pornography and sexual violence in a recent article. He found: “That 95% of the time when someone is violent with another person in porn, usually a man toward a woman, the recipient is shown as either liking that violence or having no objection…Pornography teaches boys to hit girls and shows girls that they should like it.”
In addition, Mr. Blow’s colleague at The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof, wrote a blockbuster report on how Pornhub profits from sexual violence. Kristof’s article featured the terrible story of a woman, now 23, who was adopted from China. Her adoptive parents forced her to appear in violent pornographic videos uploaded to Pornhub, from the time she was 9 years old.
The same report from The New York Times quotes the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s statistics on how the exploitative content of minors has exploded. In the space of four years (2015 to 2019) there was a shocking 964% increase, going from 6.5 million reported exploitative images, to 69.2 million reported such images and videos. In the face of this type of data, it’s hard to blame the rape culture on a cartoon skunk kissing a painted cat.
But underlying all of the rape culture, is the pervasive ideology of the Sexual Revolution. The core tenant of the Sexual Revolution is that everyone deserves to have sex all the time with no consequences anywhere: sex is an entitlement. This ideology permeates society. Even Nicholas Kristof in his fine expose, couldn’t help but opine that “It should be possible to be sex positive and Pornhub negative.”
We’re not so sure. Writing in the National Catholic Register, one of us challenged the Sexual Revolutionary view. Evidently Kristof and Blow both accept the idea that lack of consent is the only possible basis for judging a sexual encounter as immoral. We think this places more weight on “consent” than it can bear.
The #MeToo movement bears this out. So do the cases of Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, or former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. While these three men operated in different sectors of society, they all operated according to the tenets of the Sexual Revolution. Weinstein promised his victims stardom through his wealth and influence. Epstein offered his victims the possibility of modeling careers. McCarrick gave advancement in the Catholic Clergy to his victims.
The power of these men enabled them to silence their victims and create a system of compromised individuals who helped enable the victimizers. Their heinous acts are really little different from the back-alley rapist, the sadomasochistic pornography producer, or the child sex abuser. All these predators embrace the idea that they are entitled to sex. Other people are objects for them to use in what is no more than a physical act.
Focusing on a cartoon character, when the porn industry makes billions, is a cheap shot. The porn industry might actually fight back. Canceling a skunk when a cad like Hefner gets a pass, is unconscionable. The Ruth Institute stands by the ancient Catholic teaching that no one is entitled to sex. The only way to combat the rape culture is to diagnose it accurately, recognize where it comes from, and speak for the victims.
Posted on: Monday, March 15, 2021
This article was originally published in the National Catholic Register.
Fellow Christians, do you ever feel like we are in the crosshairs of all sorts of ideological groups? I sure do. I’ve had to think about this a lot! And I think I’ve figured out a pattern that explains why we are always in hot water with the “Latest and Greatest and Ultimate Ideological Fad.”
I first discovered this pattern in my study of the Sexual Revolution.
Step 1:Somebody sells the public on a utopian ideal, a heaven on Earth, something that sounds appealing but is utterly impossible. Even good ideas and noble goals can be corrupted by being turned into utopian ideologies. For instance, the utopian dream of the communists is the workers’ paradise of perfect economic and social equality. Now, we can eliminate some inequality, but we will never have perfect equality in every dimension. That’s completely impossible.
Some environmentalists want to eliminate all pollution, all carbon footprints. Not possible. Reduce pollution? Sure, we can do that. But eliminate it? not possible.
Some in the public health establishment want to eliminate all cases of COVID. Reduce the number of cases? Sure. Eliminate them all? Not possible.
And of course, the Sexual Revolution is all about creating a sexual heaven on Earth, where every adult can have all the sex they want and nothing bad ever happens.
Step 2: These same people selling the fantasy also sell themselves as the potential savior class who can make this dream a reality, if only
Step 3: We grant them enough power. Doing the impossible requires a lot of power. So, the self-described “savior class” requires unlimited power to bring about the fantasy dreamscape. But even with lots of power, they can’t really do the impossible. So, they must fill the society with
Step 4:Unlimited propaganda, which keeps people convinced that the dream is possible and desirable. And finally, and very importantly, the propaganda must turn people’s attention to the
Step 5:Scapegoat Class. The dreamscape will never materialize, so, the savior class needs someone to blame. Every totalitarian ideology you can think of, has had a scapegoat class. The communists blamed the kulaks and rich peasants and crypto capitalists. The Nazis blamed the Jews. The Sexual Revolutionaries scapegoat Christian hold-outs who refuse to go along with the program.
Any fantasy ideology is utterly at odds with the Christian religion. Let’s review the five elements to see why.
1. A fantasy ideology first promises heaven on Earth. But Jesus never promised us heaven on earth. As a matter of fact, he promised us persecution and trouble. He told us to “take up your cross and come follow me.” He told us to abandon our families, our possessions and our reputations, anything that interferes with the cross. Jesus does not promise heaven on earth. He promises heaven in heaven.
2. The fantasy ideology presents the need for a savior class, which can bring about this heaven on earth. Jesus doesn’t allow us to go looking for a savior class. He is the one and only savior. The Christian religion specifically forbids us from assigning the title of “savior” to anyone but Jesus.
3. The savior class can save us if only we give them enough power to achieve the impossible task they have set for us. As Christians, we are not allowed to take this deal. We are supposed to render unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar only what is Caesar’s. It should go without saying that we are not allowed to render unto the political or technocratic elites unlimited power. We owe the experts in any field a respectful hearing. We don’t owe them unquestioned obedience. In fact, they owe us respectful answers to our questions and concerns. At the end of the day, the experts in public health or in so-called sexual health or climate science or the global economy are ordinary citizens just like the rest of us.
To make Christians even more troublesome to power elites, we have this crazy idea that people with power do not get to do whatever they want. The guy at the top of the totem pole does not get to do whatever he can get away with. The history of Christianity is littered (literally) with the bodies of people who confronted people in power on this point. This, more than anything else, has gotten Christians into trouble with ruling classes down through the ages.
4. Fantasy ideologies need unlimited propaganda. Let’s be clear: Propaganda is a form of deception. When an ideology gives itself permission to deceive in order to achieve the dream, the faithful Christian needs to object. Christianity holds that there is such a thing as truth, that truth can be discovered both through reason and revelation and that everyone has a responsibility to live in the truth.
5. Finally, the fantasy ideology requires someone to blame when things don’t go according to plan. But the Christian religion specifically forbids us to scapegoat people. Because we believe in original sin, we have no expectation that we could cure the human race of all evil if we could just get rid of Those Bad People Over There. When the subject is sin, we are all in it together. As Solzhenitsyn famously said, “The line between good and evil runs within every human heart.” There are degrees of personal wrongdoing of course. There are better and worse societies, of course. But no matter how much improvement we might make, we will never achieve perfection. Promising that we will, somehow, someday do so, is setting us up for failure and disappointment.
People of faith are the ones standing in the way of whatever the fantasy ideology of the moment happens to be. When a new ideology breaks out, we are the ones scratching our heads, saying, “That doesn’t sound right.” We are the ones who are willing to say: “If someone promises heaven on Earth, don’t take the bait. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably neither good nor true.”
And that is why Christians are public enemy No. 1.
Posted on: Thursday, March 11, 2021
Ruth Institute Submission to the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)
A Response to the Call for Input to a Thematic Report:
“Gender, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”
Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Founder and President, The Ruth Institute
March 9, 2021
We offer the following items for the consideration of the Independent Expert:
Ruth Institute Press Releases on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity:
Posted on: Wednesday, March 03, 2021
COMMENTARY: Your mission, should you choose to accept it.This article was originally published in the National Catholic Register.
Many readers of the Register feel demoralized by the current state of the world. The world we once knew is gone. The world where people care about the truth of things, the world where childhood innocence is expected and respected and protected, that world seems a dim and distant memory.
There is no natural reason to be hopeful. However, this does not preclude some supernatural reason for hope. That is why in a previousarticleI reminded my readers of the central truths of our faith. It is reasonable to believe that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, that he is God and that the Bible is true. In this article, I go even further: Trusting more deeply in the fundamentals of the faith is a practical course of action. The most reasonable posture in this historical moment is to set aside the human perspective and embrace the God’s eye perspective.
Not that we are ever going to know the mind of God. Of course, that is way beyond us. But it is quite reasonable for us to remember that God does have his own perspective, and that we would be smart to align ourselves with it.
Let’s cut to the chase: God does not expect you to singlehandedly prevent the fall of Western civilization. He doesn’t expect you to root out the corruption in the Church, or in the U.S. government. I’m pretty sure that is true of everyone reading this, even though I don’t know each of you individually.
God is a reasonable God: It is not reasonable to suppose that he expects you to do something that is not humanly possible.
On the other hand, he did plunk you and me down in this particular moment of history in a unique geographic and social location. Surely, he has a specific vocation in mind for each of us. He will hold each of us accountable to that mission, uniquely tailored to our gifts, talents and circumstances. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to embrace that divinely appointed vocation to the best of our ability, and stop worrying about the other problems of the world.
Let me emphasize that:Stop worrying about the other problems of the world.
Our faith teaches us that God created each of us in his image and likeness. Our faith also teaches us that God is infinite and we are finite. Therefore, no one of us can image every aspect of God’s perfections. Even the best of us can only imperfectly image some aspect of God. We have to face that basic fact. God is God. We are not.
God certainly knows that our world is a mess. He has a plan for restoring the cosmos. The Divine Trinity has been working that plan since the Garden of Eden. You have a part in that plan. That is pretty much all you need to know. Execute your part of the plan, and you’ve literally done all that you can do.
After all, how could you or I possibly improve on God’s plan? He knows more than you or I do. He has the good of more people at heart, whereas I’m pretty much thinking of myself, (even though I really should know better.) And he has a longer time horizon than I do. Therefore, doing the mission God has chosen for me is literally the best possible thing I could be doing. If everything crashes around me, so be it. He has matters well in hand. Do you really believe that?
He has equipped each of us to achieve our specific mission. He has already given you the tools you need, placed you in the exact right place, and put the right people in your life. As you put one foot in front of the other, more tools will appear, and more of the right sort of people will find you. You may end up in a place you never expected, or never thought possible, or never would have chosen. That is perfectly alright.
I strongly encourage you to discern your unique calling from God, in this particular moment. God has placed specific people in each of our lives that he intends for us to love, cherish and care for. Maybe your vocation is to reach out through letters or calls to people who are discouraged or wounded. Maybe you are a member of a profession that has become corrupted by the Sexual Revolution or financial impropriety or both.
Your unique vocation may be to somehow use your gifts, talents, personal history and connections to bring reform to your area of expertise. If you are a physician, your responsibility is to address the ways the Sexual Revolution has corrupted medicine, not law, or social work or journalism. If your calling is to teaching fifth graders, you cannot simultaneously battle political correctness at the university level.
God of course, knows this. God expects you to achieve your unique mission, and no other. He expects you to stay focused, and not be distracted by everyone else’s.
And besides, you will feel better if you are doing something constructive. I am pretty sure no one has a vocation to sitting on the sidelines, worrying or complaining, (although you might not guess that from people’s social media posts.) Hiding under the bed because you scared yourself to death isn’t going to help anything or anybody.
Do you really believe that God has a plan for the world and for your life? Then trust that plan. Do you really believe God has a plan for your life? Then
discover and work that plan. Everything else is a waste of time. Heaven knows, we have no time to waste in the defense of the truths of the faith,
and the building of a better world.