Ruth Speaks Out

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.


How to marry the right person

Five tips to get you started on the path to a happy marriage.

 
This article was first posted November 25, 2016, at Mercatornet.com.
 

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.


Man Woman Marriage Creates Equality for children (in more ways than one!)

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.

First way:

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.


Second way:

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.

Third way:

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.



How a Christian Child’s Love Won Jane Roe’s Heart

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.


Study finds skyrocketing rate of abstinence among Millennials

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."

 



Brief thoughts on 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person

by Erika Marie at onesimplemama.com.

101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do by Betsy Kerekes and Jennifer Roback Morse.

After reading and reviewing 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage: Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other , Betsy emailed me last Fall and asked if I’d like to read their newest book, 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person. I really enjoyed the layout from their first book with a very short one-page reflection for each tip, it was very easy to read and the tips were simple and easily applicable. After reading through this new one, providing 101 tips for those who aren’t married yet, I enjoyed it just as well for the same reasons as their first.


Obviously I’m married already and don’t have to worry about dating anymore (thank goodness!), I still found the tips very interesting and helpful. I lent it to a single friend who said that while she’s not really ready for a book like this quite yet as she’s not seriously dating anyone right now, she still enjoyed the ease of reading the tips and could tell it could be useful to someone in a more serious relationship.

I’d recommend this book as a gift for a single friend or family member – as long as they are open to it!


CDC Report: Virgin Teens Much Healthier Than Their Sexually Active Peers

This article was first published at The Christian Post on December 6, 2016.

by Brandon Showalter

A new Centers for Disease Control study examines teenage health behaviors in connection to their self-reported sexual activity and shows those who remain abstinent are much healthier on many fronts than their sexually active peers.

(Photo: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)Teen girls are seen in a file photo.

 

The report, titled "Sexual Identity, Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12, United States and Selected Sites," showcased the results from a 2015 survey that monitored several categories of health-related behaviors like tobacco usage, drug and alcohol use, sexual habits, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.

The report concludes "that students who had no sexual contact have a much lower prevalance of most health-risk behaviors compared with students" who had sexual contact.

In a Monday interview with The Christian Post, Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, said, "this study is remarkable because it asks questions and reports the answers, rather than avoiding questions or assuming answers."


As Glenn Stanton noted last week in The Federalist, the results from those questions and answers are remarkable.

With regard to smoking, teenage virgins are 3,300 percent less likely to smoke daily than their peers who are sexually involved with someone of the opposite sex, Stanton computed from the report's data. Teen virgins are 9,500 percent less likely to smoke daily than their peers who are sexually involved with someone of the same sex or in a bisexual relationship, he added. Chaste young people are also extremely less likely to use indoor tanning beds, binge drink, smoke marijuana, ride in cars as passengers with a drunk driver, and get into physical fights than their sexually active peers. Abstinent youth are also more likely to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night and eat breakfast daily.

"Our children should know there's very compelling scientific evidence on so many levels showing how saving the precious gift of their sexuality for the safe harbor of marriage is nothing about old-time moralism or unhealthy sexual repression. Just the opposite is true," Stanton wrote.

And the advantages of refraining from sex during teen years are not just physical, Morse said.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the President of the Ruth Institute.

"I've noticed that the chaste students we have worked with over the years at the Ruth Institute do not have the angst that one so often attributes to young adulthood," she explained. "I think it is because avoiding sexual activity avoids a lot of psycho-social drama that goes along with it. 'Does he still like me?' 'What is she really doing with that other guy, and do I really care?'"

"Also, one has to say: no one has ever died from not having sex," she added. "But people sometimes feel as if they are going to die without sex. If you feel that way, it may mean that you are addicted. After all, that is a primary indicator of addiction: you think you'll die without the endorphin rush that comes from the activity or substance."

The CDC report also included findings from 25 state surveys, and 19 large, urban school district surveys conducted among students in grades 9–12 which took place between December of 2014 and September of 2015.

Rebecca Oas, associate director of research at the Center for Family and Human Rights in New York City, thinks a significant problem driving the sexual dysfunction among teens is the wrongheaded approach and perspective many parents and teachers have regarding sex education.

"One can talk about the risks associated with sexual behavior among adolescents and the question of how to mitigate that," Oas said in a phone interview Monday with CP.

But far too often the operative assumption is "that adolescents will inevitably engage in these behaviors and so what you have to do is pump huge amounts of money into trying to mitigate the costs and the harmful effects of [those behaviors]."

"And yet, we have also seen data that more students are remaining abstinent than before, so the idea that this is somehow an impossible standard is just not true. The problem is that a lot of the people educating the children in the schools and even their own parents have taken on this fatalistic attitude. So they are not encouraging them and demonstrating to them that among their peers they would not be alone," she continued.

"The other question that I don't see anyone asking is: Is there anything beneficial at all to adolescents who engage in these activities?"

"And the answer is clearly no," she added.

"Maybe what we really need to be doing is educating parents how to parent rather than trying to encourage sexual experimentation among adolescents, assuming they are going to do it anyway."

Valerie Huber, founder and President of ASCEND, a Washington D.C.-based abstinence advocacy group, told CP that she has a question of her own: "Why aren't we placing a higher priority on encouraging youth to wait for sex?"

"In light of the fact that 90 percent of all federal sex ed funding goes to programs that normalize teen sex, it's evident that our priorities are all wrong," Huber said. "In addition to revealing that risk begets risk, the CDC report also showed that the majority of teens are waiting for sex. And that those numbers have increased 28 percent in the past 25 years."

"The next Congress and administration have a real opportunity to change course in sex education policy in 2017. Let's hope they take it. Youth deserve the skills to achieve optimal health," she said.


Probably a dumb thing to do right before Christmas….

Writing a long, heart-felt letter on a difficult topic is probably a dumb thing to do right before Christmas. You’re looking for cheer and comfort. But I’m reaching out to you because I have something on my heart that I’m guessing is on your heart too.

I know that some of you are deeply concerned about the confusion in the Catholic Church about marriage and divorce.

Pope Francis wrote an apostolic exhortation called Amoris Laetitia, or “The Joy of Love.” Most of it is lovely. But a few passages are ambiguous. Some bishops and priests are reading the document in continuity with the whole tradition, dating back to apostolic times. Others are reading it differently. Four Cardinals have asked Pope Francis for clarification. He has not replied.

What are we to make of this? Readers of this newsletter are passionately committed to marriage: one man, one woman, for life, as taught by Jesus. What can we do, as lay people, whether we are Catholic or not?

Let us set aside the things we cannot control and focus on what we can.

No one can stop us from doing good. No one can force us to do wrong.

At the Ruth Institute, we have a definite plan for doing good, specifically, for promoting the Ancient Teachings of Christianity about marriage. Our ultimate goal? Create a lasting and Christ-like mass social movement to end the injustice and heartbreak of the Sexual Revolution and family breakdown.

We need your help. Please make your most generous gift today. We’ll have specific activities for you at the beginning of 2017. You can be part of the movement to bring Jesus’s message of lifelong love to the world.


In the meantime, here is what I want you to do over Christmas: Pray.

  • If you’re Catholic, say the Rosary every day. I’ve been saying the Rosary every day since I returned to the Church in 1988. You can find time: while you’re driving, standing in the grocery line, on hold on the telephone, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. As you meditate on the life of Jesus, as seen through His mother’s eyes, ask Him to protect our families and our nation.
  • If you’re not Catholic, I suggest this: set aside some quiet time, and say the Lord’s Prayer ten times. You can count them on your fingers, anywhere you may be. Don’t be troubled by the Scripture passage, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” (Mt 6:7) Jesus told us to pray without ceasing. You cannot go wrong saying the Lord’s Prayer! Or try saying it just once, in a slow meditative manner. Ask for wisdom and charity.

Thank you so much for your prayers and generosity.

Now is the best time to heal family breakdown. Please send your most generous gift today.

Get involved. Stay involved. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Your friend,

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

PS: No one is doing the work that the Ruth Institute is doing. We are giving voice to those who have been harmed by straying from Christ’s teaching of love and fidelity. Please send your most generous gift today. The Ruth Institute is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization.


Finding Mr. (or Mrs.) Right

This article was first published at Fathers for Good on November 23, 2016.

New book outlines Catholic plan for marriage

If the “101 Tips” of this handy little book could be summed up in a few words, they would be: Know thyself. The wisdom of Socrates holds true today, though the modern dating scene may cause him to add: Know the other person, too.

Authors Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes, of the Ruth Institute, have culled a wealth of social science, psychology, common sense and personal insights in 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person (Ave Maria Press). The book serves as a sort of prequel to their 2013 release, 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage. But it would be simplistic to assume that if you read their latest book on dating you won’t need the earlier one on marriage. We all need help in getting our relationships right.


The authors are clear from the start: “Basically, the young adult Catholic dating scene is horrific.” A brief chat with young Catholics will confirm this statement. There are no rules, even the chaste and faithful are afraid to commit, and parents, parishes and priests – three strong forces for matchmaking in the past – have pretty much left young people to find their own way. Thus, this book is not only for the young Catholic searching for love, it is also for older folks who want to have some ready answers and advice for the young ones in their lives. It would also make a nice Christmas gift for those of dating age.

You can read these 122 pages in one night, skipping around the different topics. Tip No. 8 caught my eye: “Pray for your future spouse.” This is exactly what my future wife’s grade school teacher in the Philippines (a nun) told her class of girls one day. My wife followed the advice and sensed that she was not called to marry a man from her country, and thus was not at all afraid when the opportunity came for her to get a master’s degree in the United States. You never know where God will lead if you give him your heart in prayer.

Under the chapter “Best Practices,” there are these little gems: “Be friends first” and “Ladies: Let him be a man. Gentlemen: Be a man!” Under “Potential Pitfalls,” you will find warnings not to “think you can change him or her into the perfect image of your future spouse,” or “waste your time on someone who won’t commit to you.”

Here are more tips, randomly flipping the pages: “Keep your head. Guard your heart.” “Don’t expect a fairy-tale romance.” “Don’t expect love at first sight.”

There is a helpful section on the common practice of cohabiting that includes research and common sense on why couples should avoid it, and a practical guide on wedding planning if the relationship gets to that point.

This is an excellent, extremely readable book that a dating couple could easily read together, having a few laughs as well as some serious discussions. Fathers could also use this little volume to start a conversation with their son or daughter on some topics they probably should discuss before the kids leave home.

Find out more at Ave Maria Press. You can also read a Fathers for Good interview with Jennifer Roback Morse on her previous book on a happier marriage.


How To Marry an Idiot

by Betsy Kerekes

This article was first posted at Catholic Lane on November 17, 2016.

fool-clown-jesterIt seems many people have marrying an idiot as their goal. The amount of couples getting divorced proves to me that many have already become experts. Sadly, there are still those hold-outs who insist on taking their vow of “till death do us part” seriously even when they get bored with one another or a more interesting/exciting/attractive person comes along.

To those old-fashioned people who care that divorce harms children in drastic, life-altering ways, or who still think difficulties in marriage are worth overcoming rather than throwing in the towel, this article is not for you. You need to get with the times. To the rest of you who wish to join the cultural norm of marrying an idiot and eventually getting divorced only to marry yet another idiot, please keep reading. I will help you find fulfillment.

Here are five steps to get you started:

Continue dating that person whom you’ve already determined you would never want to raise children with or even spend the rest of your life with.


 

Who cares about Mr. Right? Just go with Mr. Right Now. Your biological clock is ticking! Sure, you could break up with this person, stop wasting time, and go find your perfect match, but why take the risk? Do you want to be an old maid for the rest of your life? Ignore that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that’s telling you you’re making a huge mistake. You can rationalize away all his or her flaws. Besides, you can change this person. People always change, especially people with addictions of any kind. They’ll get better once you’re married. Just wait and see.

Speaking of kids, do not speak about kids

As in do you both want them and/or how many? Talking about how you’ll raise them and educate them is a total mood killer. So what if you find out later that one of you wants to homeschool them while the other insists they’d be better off in public school? Or if one of you wants to protect their innocence, while the other says you ought to throw them to the wolves because it will make them stronger! Sheltering is bad for children. Let them make their own choices, form their own opinions. At least agree that you will not form the consciences of your children. That is not your job as parents. But in order to marry an idiot, be sure you don’t agree on these issues. Or better yet, don’t discuss them beforehand at all.

Pay no attention to your mom or your best friend who knows you better than anyone when they tell you this person is not right for you.

Yes, they have an objective outside opinion, but you’re right in there! The warm fuzzies and exciting newness is all you need. It will last FOR EVER. It’s all about your emotion. If you feel good being around this person, that’s all you need. People on the outside looking in just don’t get it. They don’t know you!

Once you’ve successfully made it to the point of engagement, largely because you’ve been together so long everyone just expects it of you, don’t you dare take that marriage preparation seriously.

Doodling while the experts speak or checking your Facebook page is a definite must. That lady going on and on about the importance of finances and how you ought to have a plan for who is doing what and how you’ll handle money—she knows nothing.

And that little test they give but insist isn’t really a test but just a measure of your compatibility—it’s totally a test. What right have these people to question your fitness to marry one another? Their little test will tell you nothing. In fact, just copy each other’s answers. That’ll show those priests and marriage counselors to try to find any areas that you two need to discuss before the wedding. Can’t they see how in love you are? What more do you need? You’re totally ready!

And finally and most importantly, you absolutely positively must live together before marriage.

How else will you find out if you’re compatible? Clearly, playing house is a good warm up for the real thing. It doesn’t in any way mean that you don’t fully trust one another to take the plunge. Sure, there are countless studies saying that cohabitation is bad for your marriage, and that you’re chances of divorce increase drastically. Yes, the National Marriage Project stated “no positive contribution of cohabitation to marriage has ever been found,” but what do they know? You can beat those odds. So what that that’s what everyone thinks and is clearly wrong? They’re not you. You’re special. You’re different from everyone else. Do what feels right and nothing else matters.

Congratulations, faithful readers. If you have followed these five easy steps, you too can marry an idiot.

 

Betsy Kerekes is co-author of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage (Ave Maria Press 2013) and 101 Tips for the Marrying the Right Person (Ave Maria Press 2016). She also blogs at Parentingisfunny.wordpress.com.

 



A Guidebook for Young Adults

By Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

This article was first posted

Two marriage-and-family writers have teamed up to put together a book of tips for Catholic singles seeking marriage. Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes compiled 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person. Subtitled “Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage and Say I Do,” the book is divided into several sections (depending on what point in a relationship you’re in at the moment):

  • The Search is On: Being Both Optimistic and Realistic
  • Best Practices
  • Potential Pitfalls
  • Earnest Questions
  • Red Flags
  • Great Expectations
  • Cohabiting: Should You?
  • Cohabiting: Are You?
  • Perfect Timing
  • Marriage Planning: Focus on the Marriage, Not the Wedding

Faithfully Catholic from start to finish, this book is designed to help young adult Catholics at all stages of relationships. Some tips are designed for solo reflection; others will provide good and necessary conversation-starters for couples. In the introduction, the authors note that our culture places many significant hurdles in the way of singles discerning marriage. They go on to state that they included two chapters on cohabitation because this is “one of the most significant marriage-preparation challenges faced by churches today;” the authors present solid advice without casting blame, and encourage couples to seek–and follow–pastoral advice.

These 101 tips are short, none longer than a page, but they are candidly challenging and surprisingly substantive.

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