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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: Thursday, March 02, 2017
by Jennifer Johnson
Published on March 2, 2017, at clashdaily.com.
This is an image of the Holy Family that I used to keep in my office.
I would look at this image from time to time and pray to Jesus for wisdom for defending marriage and the family. One day I was looking at this image and saw a triangle between the head of Jesus, His mother Mary, her husband Joseph, then back to Jesus. I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s the family structure! It’s a triangle! It is not only a reflection of the Holy Family, it is a reflection of the Trinity!”
This excited me for a couple reasons. For one thing, I’ve discovered that the average person doesn’t understand what “family structure” or “structural issues” mean. Policy wonks, like me, tend to take for granted what we mean when we use phrases like that. To be able to show the family as a triangle means that the average person now has a simple way to understand what those phrases mean.
I was also excited because I wondered how it would apply to my own childhood.
I had not been raised with my own married parents. My parents divorced when I was three and went on to subsequent marriages, divorces, different children, a lot of back and forth between “two homes,” and a lot of chaos.
So I went home that night and applied the family triangle to my situation.
I carefully drew it all out, using several pieces of paper. It took me several tries to get everybody to fit onto the page in a way that made sense and was proportional.
As I worked on it, I could tell that it was going to be far more complex than I had ever imagined.
This is what I saw:
That’s me, in the bottom center circle.
What do you think? What is your gut response to this?
The first few hours after I finished the drawing were surreal, and I was in a daze.
Seriously, what is this? How was I supposed to navigate this as a child, alone?
In fact, I didn’t navigate it at all. I blocked parts out as time went on, out of necessity. That’s why it was such a shock to see it all there in a two-dimensional way.
One of the first things that stuck out at me was how ugly it is. It looked like a malformed spider’s web.
It was not pretty like the simple triangle I had seen.
I had a flood of emotions come over me, as it brought back memories of people that left my life due to divorce, so I was supposed to have forgotten them when that happened.
My initial excitement had turned to tears of sadness.
And so I cried, a lot at first.
As time went on, I became angry at God for showing this to me. I couldn’t understand why He would make me feel old pain like that. Why bring it all up again? Why have this ugly family structure burned into my mind now? Wasn’t I better off just burying it all in the back of my mind, as if it never happened? The diagram made me feel ashamed. It was always very difficult to have so many different adults and new family members to reckon with constantly, and I didn’t like having them thrust into my face again all at once.
Is it safe for me to say that I just wanted my own family? MY family, MY triad, MY home?
Social conservatives believe in equality for children, because they believe in this for every child:
When every child has this, without the extraneous people as I had, it is a form of equality.
The problem with this argument is that conservatives are not drawn to it. Equality is not a primary ideal in conservatism. But if we stop to think about it, I think it is fair to say that our recent loss over same-sex marriage may have been because our argument did not appeal to people’s sense of fairness. The appeal to equality was an appeal to fairness, after all.
Let’s consider the pro-life movement and see if there is something there that can help us. Crux.com recently published some interesting remarks by Daniel K. Williams, author of Defenders of the Unborn and associate professor of history at the University of West Georgia. He makes the argument that the pro-life movement started as a liberal movement based on social justice and human rights. He believes that the movement gains vitality and appeal when its proponents frame the issue using liberal values.
I discovered that we can do the same thing. We can embrace the liberal value of equality. The ancient Christian teachings on sex and marriage means that every child is to be raised with his or her own married mother and father, except for an unavoidable tragedy.
That’s a type of equality that people don’t talk about, but it is real. And there are other equalities that flow out of that one. When the family breaks down or doesn’t form according to the triad, inequalities for children multiply. I think it is exciting to see that this form of equality has been the flip-side of the ancient Christian teaching on marriage and sex all along.
You can learn more about this form of equality, and about the inequalities children face who were not raised with their own married parents. Go to the Ruth Institute website and order my new Special Report, called, “Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children.” It includes stories and easy-to-understand diagrams that will help you reopen this discussion with your friends and family members who may believe in same-sex marriage.
By embracing the liberal value of equality we can show people that we hold an ideal that they care about. This may help them listen to what we are saying. After all, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Go here to order this Special Report now:
I don’t want to give away too much, but remember how I said I cried when I drew the diagram of my family structure? If you order the report, you read
the story of how God worked that out for good.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 21, 2017
A January conference in Phoenix will tackle tough issues of homosexuality, transgenderism
by James Graves at OSV Newsweekly on January 27, 2017
Clergy process out of the chapel at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich., in August 2015 after the opening Mass of the Truth and Love Conference. CNS photo by Mike Stechschulte
Courage International will join with the Diocese of Phoenix to host Truth and Love, a conference intended to offer practical and pastoral guidance on the topics of homosexuality and sexual identity on Jan. 9-11, 2017, at St. Paul Parish in Phoenix. Courage is the Catholic Church’s apostolate to help men and women struggling with same-sex attraction live in accordance with the teachings of the Church. The Phoenix conference will be Courage’s third since its founding in 1980; a similar conference was held most recently in Michigan in August 2015.
Father Philip Bochanski, Courage’s executive director, says that the conference is a tool to “share the good news that living chastely and finding our true identity as sons and daughters of God is the way to real happiness and authentic relationships.”
The theme of Truth and Love is “welcoming and accompanying our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions or confusion regarding sexual identity.”
According to a joint statement released by the Diocese of Phoenix and Courage, many of the current approaches to homosexuality “do not include the fuller perspective of the human person. Rather, they limit themselves to ‘acceptance’ and to the protection of the ‘right’ of ‘sexual satisfaction.’ Yet, as the Catholic Church has consistently taught, these approaches will never lead people to the abundant life that Christ promises.”
Presenters include Father Bochanski; Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agaña, Guam; chastity speaker Jason Evert; Walt Heyer, a former transgender person, speaker and operator of the site www.SexChangeRegret.com; Janet Smith, a professor of moral theology at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; John Cuddeback, a professor of philosophy at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia; and Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.
Morse is an author and speaker specializing in the area of marriage and family, and played a prominent role defending traditional marriage in California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Her conference topic will be “Understanding the Sexual Revolution.”
Her topic, she said, includes refuting the belief of the sexual revolution that happiness comes merely by having sex, an idea that she says didn’t emerge without help.
“I’m 63, and the sexual revolution has been with us throughout my lifetime,” she said. “The good news is that we have decades of studies that have demonstrated that these ideas are a failure.”
Once the ideas of the sexual revolution had permeated society, she continued, “the building blocks for gay marriage were already there in the culture. People have come to believe that sex should be a sterile activity — that people can have sex and not think about babies — and gay sex is the ultimate sterile sex.”
Coupled that with the belief that “men and women are interchangeable and that kids don’t need their parents, so why not have gay marriage?”
Also featured at the conference will be speakers who have experienced same-sex attraction or sexual identity confusion sharing how chaste friendships and embracing the teachings of the Church have helped them on their journey toward chastity and sanctity. These include Daniel Mattson, who will present “Captivated by Truth: Why the Church’s Truth about Homosexuality has Set Me Free.”
Mattson is a professional musician from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was baptized Catholic and raised an evangelical Christian. He experiences same-sex attraction, and although he was “clandestine” about it, he was once involved in the gay lifestyle.
He wanted to participate in the Courage conference, he said, in hopes that he could “communicate that chastity is a vital part of the Good News, and part of the reason I came back to the Catholic Church.”
Mattson noted that in the entertainment world of which he is a part, his fellow musicians “would celebrate me coming out, embracing being gay and having a boyfriend.” Instead, he continued, “They are mystified that I would choose to be Catholic.”
But, he continued, it was in the Catholic Church that he has found both “truth and freedom, and I accept that truth in humility, even though that does not affect that I am still attracted to men.”
Mattson returned to the Catholic Church after attending a Courage conference in 2009. He tells his story in the Courage film “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which can be viewed under the resources tab on the Courage website. He travels frequently to speak at high schools and colleges, often accompanied by Father Bochanski or Father Paul Check, the former executive director of Courage.
He recalled a question asked by a teenage boy at one of his high school presentations: “If I feel I’m attracted to the same sex, am I gay?”
“I responded, ‘No. The Church wisely teaches us that our feelings do not define who we are. Who we are made by God is what defines us.”
Mattson continued, “I do what I’m doing to help people like this boy. He’s living in a world that tells him it does mean he’s gay, but I’m here to say that he doesn’t have to follow every feeling or desire. These kids are being told lies and falling into a trap.”
Mattson also will soon release a book through Ignatius Press sharing his experiences. Mattson’s brother, Steve, is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, and also is a presenter at the conference.
Mass celebrants include Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez. Bishop Olmsted was pleased to have his diocese host the conference.
“The work of Courage International, helping those with same-sex attraction to build friendships and virtue, and helping the Church to share the Good News of Christ in a challenging area, is essential in our time,” he said. “I encourage all who have pastoral responsibilities to join us at the conference. It will help you to grow in knowledge and fellowship.”
Posted on: Saturday, February 18, 2017
by Jennifer Roback Morse on
In my line of work, people tell me their stories of family breakdown and heartbreak. I recently heard the following story. I will tell it in first person, roughly as it was told to me. My comments are in italics.
“Like you and your husband, my wife and I went through years of infertility. We decided to try IVF. I was worried that a child created by us would not be fully a child of God. I went to a priest/mentor. He told me: “you are going to a lot of trouble and expense to create a child. The child will certainly be a child of God.” I breathed a sigh of relief. The priest relieved his immediate concern. The priest also said, “I have to tell you: the Church doesn’t want you to do this.” I couldn’t tell whether the priest gave him any reasons why the Church doesn’t want him to do this: all my friend heard was, “It’s ok.”
“The IVF clinic told us that we should retrieve three eggs, fertilize and implant them, for the best chance of getting one embryo to implant successfully. Once my wife woke up from the procedure, the doctors informed us that they had retrieved 13 eggs and fertilized all of them. They had implanted 3 in my wife’s womb, as we discussed. But this was the first mention of any other eggs or embryos. Only then, did they ask us what we wanted to do with the “extras.” I have heard many similar stories of infertility clinics failing to tell the whole story. People desparate for a child do not always think clearly or listen completely. And the fertility industry does not always help them….
“I was in shock. Indeed. The man’s countenance visibly changed as he told me this part of the story. We decided to freeze them and deal with them later.
“Only one of the babies survived, and she is now a teenager. I love her. I’m glad I have her. But I have agonized over those 10 frozen embryos ever since. Apologists for the Sexual Revolution might say that this man’s guilt is a problem created by the last vestiges of religion. I say that is a crock. He instantly and instinctively knew that something was wrong with freezing his children. After all, if the one that was implanted and carried to term became his precious child, how could her siblings, conceived at exactly the same time, and under the same circumstances, be any less precious?
“My wife and I divorced. I am still struggling over what to do with our frozen embryos. I have met with other priests and counselors. I finally found one who said, “Stop calling them embryos. They are your children.” I knew immediatly that he was right. The priest gave him some genuine relief, by actually addressing the problem, not glossing over it. I don’t know about you, but I feel crazy when someone tells me “it’s ok,” when I know for a fact that it isn’t. The priest gave me an ethical path for what to do for my children. I still have to convince their mother. I don’t know if she will go along with it.”
I’m not going to share the priest’s counsel right now. I will save that for a different post. Today, I want to focus on one point: if that first priest had given him reasons to NOT do IVF, this man would not have had these years of anguish.
It is true that he would not have had this particular daughter, conceived at this particular moment and in this particular way. And of course, we must never regret the child. Each and every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift from God.* But he and wife might have had some other experience of fatherhood and motherhood, some other way, on God’s good time and in God’s good way. Who knows? They might even still be married.
Priests and other authority figures need to tell people the whole truth. Sugar-coating is not helpful. Truthful words, spoken firmly before the sin actually occurs, could prevent the sin, and save the person years of heartache.
Please Padres, Pères and Fathers: tell us the whole truth. We promise to listen and not give you a hard time.
And my non-clergy readers, please: if you are in a situation like this, go to confession.** Trust the Lord to put you in the right confessional with the right priest. Do not delay. Trust me on this. You are going to feel better.
* I spell this out in more detail in my essay, “You were loved into existence.” We give this essay away as a free premium for signing up for the Ruth Institute newsletter.
** Or as Fr. Z would say, GO TO CONFESSION!!
Posted on: Thursday, February 16, 2017
The Ruth Institute commends Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, for his clear and humane teaching about marriage, and his clear interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. We believe our world needs to hear his prophetic words.
“The indissolubility of marriage is a precious and essential teaching of the Church, revealed by Jesus and cherished in our unbroken Tradition… The marriage bond is indissoluble because the Gospel covenant is indissoluble, for the sacrament signifies Christ’s permanent union with his Church.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Literally every day, the Ruth Institute hears from people who have been harmed by divorce and other forms of family breakdown. Straying from Jesus’s teaching on the permanence of marriage has devastated millions of children and deserted spouses. We want the Archbishop to know that these wounded souls deeply appreciate his words.
We also commend Archbishop Sample for his clarity regarding three possible misuses of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.
Time has shown the Archbishop’s foresight in this area. Many people continue to be confused and are misusing the Holy Father’s words in exactly these ways.
As a sign of support for Archbishop Sample, the Ruth Institute offers these roses and our prayers for him and for everyone in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 14, 2017
'We are separating ourselves from our bodies'
A new survey detailing the extent of casual sex among singles shows many are having intimate relations before the first date, a development that can be blamed in part on technology but leads to tremendous regret and permanently damaged relationships.
This week, the dating service Match released a new survey on sex and singles conducted by Research Now. Included in the data are the revelations that 34 percent of singles have had sex before a first date and that millennials are 48 percent more likely to have sex before a first date than all other generations of singles in order “to see if there is a connection.”
In a USA Today story on the survey, sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson suggests millennials have inverted the relationship process, using sex to determine if they want to pursue anything further with that person.
“We used to think of sex as you crossed the line now, you are in an intimate zone. But now sex is almost a given, and it’s not the intimate part. The intimate part is getting to know someone and going on a date,” Anderson is quoted as saying.
Ruth Institute Founder and President Jennifer Roback Morse says the discrepancy between millennials and other singles is that the older ones know better.
“The reason older generations are not [having sex before a first date] is because they have figured out already from experience that this is not a good idea,” Morse told WND and Radio America. “What we’re doing is just one generation of young people after another are having to figure out for themselves that hopping into bed with somebody is a lot more complicated and potentially hurtful than we’re led to believe by the media and stories like this one.”
Morse also said smartphone apps for the explicit purpose of casual sex are contributing to the trend.
“It’s a new thing when you have dating apps or casual sex apps on your cell phone and you can find out if there’s somebody close by who wants to have sex with you. That’s a new thing,” she said.
“The desire to be sexually active has been with us forever obviously, but this way of going about it and the way the culture is pushing people toward sex without any kind of intimacy or friendship, that is something new and, I think, uniquely destructive,” Morse said.
“What we’re trying to do is get away from this message of airbrushing away all the problems and allowing people space and time to say here’s what really happened. ‘Here’s how I really felt after casual sex. Here’s the next step after the first time you have that kind of encounter and then you get kind of swept away in it and are having one encounter after another and they’re not really satisfying you. Here’s where that leads,'” stated Morse.
She said her work shows that personal stories resonate best with young people.
“I think millennials particularly want to hear stories. They don’t care for data. All these numbers aren’t going to touch them one bit,” Morse said. “But if someone who is 35 years old stands in front of them and says, ‘This is how my heart was broken by doing what you’re standing there thinking about doing,’ they just might listen to that.”
Perhaps worst of all, Morse said, is the long-term damage casual sex inflicts on future efforts at meaningful relationships.
“The results of sex are bonding and babies. That’s the natural biological result of sex, bonding and babies,” Morse said. “If people don’t know how to bond with one another, they’re going to have trouble creating lasting, stable relationships for when they do finally want to have babies. Then they’re not going to be ready to really care for their children and give the children the kind of security and attachment that they need.”
She said the impact of poor bonding is also is also felt by the children.
“The kind of damage that’s going to happen to children of people who can’t form relationships is really hard to predict just how bad that can be,” Morse said. “Honestly, I don’t see a floor under this elevator. We’re still going down.”
Posted on: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Life-long married love benefits children. Why then, is our government creating incentives for parents to not marry? Poor children need their own parents and a stable family life every bit as much as children of the middle and upper classes.
If you are not sure about the benefits of life-long married love for children, let me tell you about Gina. I encountered her when I was a foster parent. When I met Gina, she was 12 years old and was transitioning from a group home into a foster home. She was intelligent and pretty and articulate.
Gina’s mother and father had not married each other. Her mother developed a drug problem and disappeared. Her father took full responsibility for Gina. Eventually, he met another woman, fell in love, and married her. They had a child together.
Gina was jealous of the new wife and the new baby. Her father and stepmother were afraid to leave her unattended in the same room with the baby, for fear she would hurt the baby. In fact, she did try to hurt the baby.
One day, Gina provoked a quarrel with her stepmother. She got so frustrated she shoved Gina, who called the police. The stepmother knew she shouldn’t have done it. But Gina was in no real danger: she called the police out of spite. The stepmother spent a few days in jail. Child protective services put Gina in a group home.
Her father was heartbroken. He loved Gina and was really trying to take care of her. But she was a risk to the baby. And she got her stepmother arrested.
In the meantime, Gina’s maternal grandparents came to visit while she was in foster care. They wanted to get custody and take her home. They were heartbroken that their own daughter had gone off the rails so badly that she was not taking care of her own child. Although they had had little relationship with Gina, they were worried about Gina being in foster care and a group home.
They just wanted their granddaughter to be with them. Perfectly understandable, and laudable. We would want all grandparents to feel that way. Just one problem: Gina’s father did not want them to take Gina off to another state.
Nothing completely takes the place of a loving stable relationship between a child’s own parents.
So, let’s look at the scorecard. A heartbroken father, who can barely keep his wife and daughter from fighting, and who cannot be sure that his infant is safe from his 12-year-old daughter. A pair of heartbroken grandparents who want some relationship with their granddaughter. A stepmother who fears for her child’s safety and who fears being set up by the stepdaughter.
And one deeply disturbed little girl. Angry, lonely, manipulative. Gina was deeply in need of unconditional love, and yet almost completely incapable of receiving the love people tried to offer her.
This blended family is innocuous by modern standards. Gina had had only two “family transitions”: the first when her mother abandoned the family, the second when her father got married. The father was free to marry, even by the strictest Roman Catholic standards, since he had never been married to Gina’s mother in the first place. Everyone was sincerely trying to do the right thing for Gina. The family was not desperately poor. There was no hostility or quarreling between the biological parents.
Yet, there is still no solution to Gina’s situation. Nothing completely takes the place of a loving stable relationship between the child’s own parents. So, yes, kids really do need their own parents.
Now: is the government in fact undermining marriage among the poor? Consider these facts from the Institute for Family Studies, as of 2010:
Out of wedlock births are significant because the mothers so frequently have their next child with a different partner. This places the first child in a situation like Gina’s, with all the accompanying risks and complications.
What accounts for this overall trend and these class distinctions? Part of the answer, surely, is that some of the most significant income support programs have significant marriage penalties. People in these situations are better off cohabiting, or not living together at all, rather than getting married.
A report from the Urban Institute focuses on the Earned Income Tax and Child Tax Credits. A report from the American Enterprise Institute examines Medicaid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the new name for food stamps) and TANF, (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.)
The widespread perception that marriage puts one’s benefits at risk may be driving behavior more than the actual details of the program.
The AEI report focuses on families with at least one child aged two or younger, in other words, the men and women most likely to be new parents and to be considering whether to marry. The poorest of the poor are less likely to be affected by marriage penalties. Many of the lowest income people qualify for benefits whether they marry or not. But even among the lowest income quintile, two-thirds of the lowest income quintile will likely face a marriage penalty for SNAP, TANF or Medicaid.
The situation is even worse for the working poor, with slightly higher incomes. People closer to the eligibility threshold can face substantial losses in family income if they marry. Among the middle quintile, three quarters face a marriage penalty for SNAP, TANF or Medicaid. And among those in the second lowest quintile, fully 87% of the families would face a reduction in benefits if they married.
Perhaps even more importantly, the AEI report found that about 30% of Americans personally know someone who did not marry due to fear of losing the benefits. This widespread perception that marriage puts one’s benefits at risk may be driving behavior more than the actual fine-grained details of the program.
The Federal government’s programs for poor relief undermine the ability of the poorest people in society to get married and stay married. This has got to stop.
Scholars and analysts across the political spectrum are aware of this problem. They only disagree about how significant it is. Analysts at the liberal end of the spectrum probably fear that removing the marriage penalties won’t do much. Those at the conservative end may fear that removing the marriage penalties would cost too much. But both these fears cannot be true. So, let’s spend the money it takes to remove the marriage penalties. If these penalties only affect a few people, it won’t cost much to remove them.
Social conservatives have the ear of the current Administration. Now is a good time to recruit scholars and analysts from the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Urban Institute and Brookings, and do something about the marriage penalties.
Together, they could come up with something. We owe it to the least among us to stop undermining the formation and stability of their families.
Posted on: Monday, January 30, 2017
Five tips to get you started on the path to a happy marriage.
If you are a take-your-vows-seriously type of person and believe in “till death do us part,” your life will be much simpler if you marry the right person to begin with. For some this seems a difficult task. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. If you’re dating someone to the point where things have crossed over that indefinable line into a “serious relationship,” stop and ask yourself if this is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. Can you see this person as the mother or father of your children? If not, why are you wasting your time? Don’t put off the inevitable. It will only be harder later on for both of you. Meanwhile, the person who is right for you is out there still, waiting to meet that wonderfulness that is you. Or perhaps you already know him or her, but you’ve just been unavailable. Don’t stay with someone who isn’t right for you out of fear of being alone. Instead, get yourself one step closer to lifelong happiness—with the right person.
2. Ask the opinion of your mom or best friend
when it comes to your relationship with this person. They know you better than anyone and have an outsider’s view of your relationship. Does that person think you two are a good match? Do they like your significant other? If not, why? The tricky part here is to be open to the other person’s objective opinion. You may be filled with warm fuzzies just at the thought of this person, but those feelings will not last and will not sustain a marriage. There needs to be something backing the emotion. A person on the outside can see if your relationship has substance. Listen to that person.
3. Discuss children, finances, and in-law involvement. These are all issues that can cause conflict later on. If you truly love this person, learn to compromise. If you’re truly right for each other, you will agree on important areas such as these. If one of you wants seven kids and the other wants zero—you’ve most likely got a deal breaker. If one of you is a penny pincher and the other a spend-thrift, you may have conflict in your future life together. If one of you wants your mom essentially to live with you, while the other thinks a week-long visit every five years is sufficient, you’d best work that out now. Men, especially, have trouble saying no to their mother, but once the ring is on your finger, gentlemen, your wife becomes the most important woman in your life. She takes precedence. Your mom will need to understand that.
4. Once you’re engaged, take the marriage preparation seriously. Listen to the experts whose mission is to help you be sure you’re making the right decision and to have the best marriage possible. Engaged couples break up. It happens all the time, but better now than years, and children, down the road. Are there any nagging issues that you’ve been repeatedly pushing to the background or rationalizing away? Do you think he or she will eventually change, or that the grace from the sacrament of matrimony will fix everything? If that’s what you’re hoping for, you should know that it doesn’t work that way. Use this as a test: when you haven’t seen the other person for an extended amount of time, how do you feel when you do see him or her again? Does your heart sing or does it flop? Does it feel nothing at all? Take a hard, honest look at how you truly feel about this person. And do it now before it’s too late.
And finally and most importantly, if you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s when it comes to all the tips above, don’t blow it now by moving in together before the wedding. Cohabitation greatly increases your chances of divorce. What you don’t realize, and what society doesn’t tell you, is that living together means you don’t fully trust each other. “Playing house” is a mere rehearsal for those who don’t love or trust each other enough to do things right the first time. Instead, it’s using one another.
Real love cares about doing things right, in the right order. If you really love one another, and want to be together for the rest of your lives, don’t sabotage your future now. What’s waiting a few more months when you have a lifetime ahead of you? If you don’t believe me, keep this in mind: research by the National Marriage Project showed that “no positive contribution of cohabitation to marriage has ever been found,” and if you take the time to look, you’ll find lots of research stating the pitfalls of cohabitation—the stuff no one dares to talk about even though the evidence is overwhelming. Think you can beat the odds? So does everyone else. What makes you any different from them?
Remember that love is doing the right thing for the sake of the other person’s happiness and well-being, even, and especially, when it’s inconvenient to you. That may mean making the hard decision to break things off, or to wait to live together even though society may mock and misunderstand you. The greatest reward, a lifetime of married happiness, belongs to those who do the difficult, but honest and selfless acts. Best of luck to you!
Betsy Kerekes is Director of Online Publications at the Ruth Institute and co-author with Dr Jennifer Roback Morse of a new book: 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do.
Posted on: Monday, January 23, 2017
Marriage and Equality – How natural marriage promotes equality for children
By Jennifer Johnson, Associate Director, the Ruth Institute“Gay marriage” supporters aren’t the only ones who care about equality. The ancient Christian teachings on sex and marriage ensure that every child is raised with his or her own married mother and father, except for an unavoidable tragedy. That’s a kind of equality people don’t talk about. And we need to talk more about it.
I have observed three ways that natural marriage upholds equality for children.
Every child lives with his own married mother and father in a unified home, except for an unavoidable tragedy.
The Christian teaching on marriage and sex creates “structural” equality among children—they’re all with their own parents. None of them are shuttling back and forth between “two homes.” None of them have had a genetic parent/family severed from them due to being conceived as a result of anonymous sperm or egg donation. None of them have birth records that have been falsified to accommodate a non-genetic parent’s wishes.
I first saw this form of equality one day when talking to Dr. Morse about her childhood. I asked her, “How many kids had divorced parents when you were young?” She said that she could think of one. So my mind pictured the playground, with her and all her schoolmates on it. I imagined each of them with a diagram of their family structure above their heads, in a little bubble like a cartoon. All of the kids had an intact family, except for one.
The acceptance of all family members should be a two-way street between parents and their children.
Natural marriage creates equality between the generations. Let me use an anecdote from my own life to illustrate what I mean.
When I was growing up, my parents were divorced, so I spent my entire childhood doing the back-and-forth thing between “two homes.” They also both remarried. So, in each of those places, I had a male father figure. So, I had two half-time dads, a dad, and a step-dad.
I was about twelve or so when I consciously understood that my two half-time dads did not equal one dad. To a casual observer, it might seem as though me being with each of them for half-time would be the same as having one whole dad.
But it was not.
I am not 100% sure how I came to this realization, but I do remember consciously thinking it as I stood in the driveway one day. It might have been because I was an eye-witness to what a full-time dad looked like. My step-dad was a full-time dad to my half-sister. She lived with both her married parents, my mom, and my step-dad. I could see quite clearly that what she had and what I had were two very different things.
Family photos of other people’s whole families were on the walls, but not of my whole family. Family photos were taken, but not with me in them.
I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided birthdays. I’ve seen this referred to as “Two Christmases,” or “Two birthdays” in some divorce literature. These are euphemisms. My dad wasn’t welcome on Christmas morning, and my mom wasn’t welcome on Christmas Eve. I don’t think either of them would have come, had they been invited. They were too busy with their new families. And when I got a little older and my parents lived further apart, I traveled alone during the holidays to see each of them. Nobody else had to do that.
Everybody’s pain and grief caused by injustice deserves to be expressed, acknowledged, healed, and prevented so that others don’t experience the same thing.
Not only does the inequality happen on the level of the family, it happens in the wider culture. The child lives under a burden and is not allowed to feel anything negative about the particular family form that was chosen for him. If he feels grief about missing half of himself, it is “disenfranchised grief,” grief that is not acceptable to the wider culture.
Our culture is profoundly concerned about adults and their happiness in their marital, sexual and reproductive choices. But we fail to understand that when we redefine all of those things to expand those choices, the children must live under structural inequalities, double standards and unreciprocated demands.
Read Jennifer Johnson’ whole report on Marriage and Equality. We can defend man-woman marriage! We can defend the rights of children to their own parents! Get the arguments you need by downloading the full report Marriage and Equality on your Kindle for $2.99. Or, purchase a physical copy of this brand new Report here.
Posted on: Sunday, January 22, 2017
By Ryan MacPherson, a Ruth Institute Circle of Experts member
This article was first published at hausvater.org on January 22, 2009 (36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade).
Book Review: Won by Love, Norma McCorvey (with Gary Thomas), (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998)
In her own small world she was Norma McCorvey, a battered, then abandoned, wife and drug addict, pregnant but not desiring a child. The wider world would know her as “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The story told there was tragic: a woman gang raped, forced into pregnancy, and denied the opportunity to terminate that pregnancy since abortion was outlawed in Texas. This story, however, was a lie—fabricated by attorney Sarah Weddington, who herself had obtained an illegal abortion and now was on a mission to make abortion available legally. When McCorvey became “Roe,” she provided the tool Weddington needed to push the issue in the courts. But after McCorvey signed “Roe’s” affidavit, affirming the fabricated story as her own, Weddington reneged on her promise to help McCorvey deal with her crisis pregnancy. Weddington did not even so much as telephone McCorvey until four months after the child was born.
The “Roe” of Roe v. Wade did not abort her baby, a child saved, ironically, by an attorney’s need for a pregnant plaintiff in order to sue for abortion access. McCorvey had never even been inside an abortion clinic, though later she would work for one. She was both the victim of deceit and the perpetrator of deception. Marijuana helped her to cope. So did alcohol. And coarse humor, too: “I tell women we aren’t killing little babies on Wednesday; they have to come in Thursday through Saturday to do it.” (150) But her verbal defense mechanisms, like her lesbian relationship with an abortion clinic coworker, only took her deeper into the pit of despair and anger, a bitter mixture of relentless grief and suppressed guilt.
Even “Jane Roe” knew that abortion killed babies. While working at A Choice for Women, she tried to refer a sixth-month pregnant woman to an ob-gyn, but her supervisor insisted that the woman have access to the abortion she was seeking. Unable to cope, McCorvey had to take the afternoon off; she binge-drank for the two weeks following. Back at the clinic, she refused to be assigned to the “Parts Room,” where the remains of aborted children were stored in jars for transfer to a disposal facility, after first being counted and collated to ensure that no body parts were left in their mothers’ wombs following the procedure. She did, however, accept an assignment to console women afterwards, who grieved in the recovery room with confessions of having just killed their babies. No, it was not knowledge that McCorvey or her coworkers lacked; abortion clearly killed babies and devastated their mothers.
Love, not knowledge, was the missing piece in the puzzle of their fractured lives. And “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) God had turned the heart of Flip Benham, an alcoholic pro-choice unbeliever, toward Himself, transforming him into a Christian pro-life pastor who joined Operation Rescue. McCorvey called him “Flip Venom” when Operation Rescue moved into the office space next to A Choice for Women. The name-calling didn’t stick, however, since no venom came from Flip’s mouth. He spoke in love, as did his fellow “rescuers,” including Ronda Mackie and, the most loving and lovable of all, her seven-year-old daughter Emily.
Emily played on the sidewalk in front of the two adjacent offices: her mother’s Operation Rescue and McCorvey’s A Choice for Women. It was a brilliant Operation Rescue strategy: cute children playing gleefully outside, testifying by their casual existence the severe reality behind the “services” provided by A Choice for Women. Emily did more than deter women from seeking abortions; she smiled and greeted, she hugged and conversed with Norma McCorvey, a woman who had given birth to three children, aborted none, and yet facilitated the abortions of many at her clinic and millions through her role as “Jane Roe.” Finally, McCorvey admitted that she loved children. “Then why,” asked Emily, so innocently and so gently, “are you letting the little ones die inside?” (91) Had Pastor Flip asked the question, or any other adult, McCorvey would have responded with her standard mouthful of foul obscenity. For a seven-year-old girl, however, she had no defense. “I never answered her,” she later recalled. “I couldn’t.” (91)
In the months that followed, McCorvey became attached to Emily, and to her mother Ronda. A budding friendship bridged the gap between an Operation Rescue worker and an abortion clinic employee. McCorvey found herself, inexplicably, referring late-term clients away from A Choice for Women and toward Operation Rescue, knowing full well that since late-term abortions had the best profit margin she was sabotaging her boss’s business. One day Ronda Mackie took Norma McCorvey out for lunch and mentioned that Emily had nearly been aborted. Ronda’s fiancé and parents-in-law-to-be had urged the termination of an inconvenient pregnancy, back when Ronda herself was still an unbeliever.
Now the abortion question was too personalized to remain a question; the answer was clear, even to McCorvey, and made clearer still by the love of the Operation Rescue picketers, who never returned McCorvey’s invectives. “I love you,” echoed the voice of little Emily, a survivor of the abortion culture. “I forgive you,” said Pastor Flip, himself a penitent sinner.
Americans mark January 22 as the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but for “Jane Roe” the real turning point came on August 8, 1995. On that day she “renounce[d] the devil and all his works, and the sinful desires of the flesh” (187). She repented of her drug abuse, her lesbian self-defilement, her hatred toward pro-lifers, and her role in the deaths of the 35 million children aborted in America during the preceding 22 years. When Pastor Flip immersed her in the waters of Holy Baptism, she arose a new person. She had been won by love.
Her story amazes the reader, in places seeming too good to be true. But on closer inspection, it’s too good to be false. Love, not hatred, changes hearts,
even the hardest of hearts. The conversion narratives of Ronda Mackie and Flip Benham are encouraging enough; the redemption of “Jane Roe” into “Norma
McCorvey, Christian” (177) reveals the Gospel at its brightest. But the message does not stop there; the Gospel keeps shining, as forgiveness in Christ
also transforms Connie Gonzales, her former coworker and some-time lesbian partner. Remarkably, “Mary Doe” of Doe v. Bolton—the companion
case to Roe v. Wade—also repented. “Doe” (Sarah Cano) joined McCorvey in March 1997 as the two women publicly identified themselves
as “new creatures in Christ and children of God” while dedicating the National Memorial for Unborn Children in Chattanooga, Tennessee (236).
Forgiveness does not come easily; Christ suffered greatly and died to make it possible. “It was so hard for me to conceive that the Lord had forgiven me,” acknowledges McCorvey, “especially after so many children had been killed. But He has forgiven me and restored me. And, gradually, I have learned to trust His Word more than my own feelings.” (228) Though painful emotions still return, bringing with them doubts concerning God’s love, McCorvey finds comfort especially in these passages: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17); “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Norma McCorvey’s story concludes with words of hope. “If God can forgive Norma McCorvey—Jane Roe—and her role in abortion, surely
he can forgive you as well.” (229) Her conversion reveals not only the limitless love of Christ, but also the effectiveness of Christ’s servants who
“speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
For Ronda Mackie, loving Norma McCorvey meant trusting her to watch over her daughter Emily who began regularly visiting the reception room of A Choice for Women. Emily brought gifts of her own artwork, labeled “Jesus loves you, Miss Norma.” A child’s love communicated a message that anti-abortion ranting and raving, with slogans like “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart,” could not. “This is what happens when Christians are willing to face their enemies and adopt the most powerful strategy ever devised—the strategy displayed by Christ’s death on the cross, the strategy of laying down your life so that others, including the unborn, might live. This is what it is like to be won by love.” (240)
McCorvey’s autobiography calls to repentance both the abortion perpetrator and the abortion protester: the one for taking innocent life and the other for too often fighting a culture of death with a culture of hate. Either way, the world needs more people like Emily, a child spared from abortion and a spokesperson of truth in love. And to become like Emily, one first needs Christ, who did not spare Himself, but lived and died for the truth in love. Christ practiced “lifestyle witnessing” to the extreme. The gift of His Spirit empowers others to do the same.
If more people would read Won by Love, then they could understand more clearly the gracious will of God amidst one of our nation’s greatest tragedies. Let’s just hope they don’t keep it to themselves. Christ’s love, communicated in actions and not just in words, transformed America’s most infamous abortion advocate into a Christian defender of purity and life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no one could ever hear the phrase “Roe v. Wade” without remembering “Jane Roe’s” repentance and Christ’s forgiveness?
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: Tuesday, January 17, 2017
by Ben Johnson
This article was first published August 3, 2016, at LifeSiteNews.
Think Millennials are the most sexually active generation in history? Think again, say the authors of a new study released on Monday.
The number of young adults born in the 1990s who report they are not having sex is more than twice as high as it was for the Baby Boomer generation, a sign they have learned from the fallout of the sexual revolution, experts tell LifeSiteNews.
The study found that 15 percent of Millenials aged 20-24 said they had not had sex since age 18, more than those born in the late 1960s (six percent), 1970s (11 percent) or 1980s (12 percent). That is lower than their fellow Millennials born in the previous decade.
The definition of “sex” is left up to the respondent to define. However, the number of women who were sexually abstinent as young adults tripled since the 1960s, while the number of men doubled, according to the study, which appeared in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
"I think a lot of them are watching the adults around them and concluding that sex without limits is not making people happy," particularly "parents with multiple marriages and divorces,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute told LifeSiteNews.
The study concludes that “the new sexual revolution has apparently left behind a larger segment of the generation than first thought.”
"The idea that these kids are 'left behind' by the sexual revolution is quite strange, as if they've somehow been sealed in a bomb shelter and never knew it happened,” Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., the associate director of research for the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), told LifeSiteNews. “More likely, they've seen that experiment running its course and decided they'd rather learn from someone else's mistakes instead of their own.”
The finding dovetails with CDC figures that show a majority of teenagers are choosing not to have sex. Only 41 percent of high school students reported sexual activity, a 13-point drop since 1991. Millennials also have a lower average number of sexual partners (eight) than either Baby Boomers (11) and Generation X (10).
Valerie Huber, the president of Ascend, told LifeSiteNews that her group – formerly the National Abstinence Education Association - “commissioned the Barna Group to survey 18 and 19 year olds and found similar results. The majority did not like the idea of ‘hooking up,’ and most of those who were not sexually experienced were waiting for a committed relationship."
Some do not know what to make of the results. The Washington Post wrote, "Delaying sex is not necessarily bad, experts say."
Numerous studies show having sex at a younger-than-average age leads to negative results, while delaying sexual activity and reducing the number of partners has positive outcomes.
Dana Haynie of Ohio State University found that early sexual activity increased delinquency by 20 percent. Experts have warned that earlier sexual activity can increase anxiety and negative psychological reactions, such as feeling used, especially for girls. A study in Pediatrics last year concluded that troubled children were more likely to begin having sex earlier in life, reinforcing the vicious circle.
Those who had sex later than average had higher incomes, educational achievement, and satisfaction in marriage, according to a 2012 report from Dr. Paige Harden of the University of Texas.
A 2014 report found that having multiple sexual partners and cohabitation before marriage decreased marital happiness after couples eventually tied the knot.
“We know that early sexual behavior tends to set a pattern for later behavior. The fact that more and more emerging adults are avoiding sex suggests they recognize that casual sex can compromise their life goals,” Huber told LifeSiteNews.
One young person told The Washington Post that, having seen so much sex depicted in pornography, "there really isn't anything magical about it” anymore.
Those who attend religious services are more likely to be abstinent, as well. "There was a significant increase in sexual inactivity among those who attend religious services once a week or more compared with those who do not,” Oas noted.
Huber said the most common reasons young people reported to Ascend for delaying sex were personal values and a focus on attaining their goals. She encouraged schools to teach Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education - as opposed to Sexual Risk Reducation (SRR) or Comprehensive Sex Education, which present teen sexual activity as more normative.
The study notes, “abstinence-only sex education and virginity pledges became more popular (and federally funded) after the 1980s, especially between 1996 and 2009, when abstinence-only programs received large amounts of federal and state funding.” Studies have found that abstinence-based education reduces the overall teen sex rate.
“This new research suggests that our students have caught a positive and healthy vision for their futures,” she said. “It also means that we must, as a society, be more intentional on reinforcing this same healthy behavior for young, single adults."
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