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.

Ruth Inst. president applauds strict sentencing for convicted s*x offender, Fr. Michael Guidry

Today, September 19, Judge Alonzo Harris reconsidered the sentence of confessed sex offender, Fr. Michael Guidry of Lafayette, LA.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, was present in the courtroom when the sentence was announced. She stated, “Justice was done today. I am sincerely grateful that Judge Alonzo did not reduce the sentence, as Fr. Guidry requested.”

In April, Guidry pleaded guilty in Opelousas, Louisiana, to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, out of the ten-year maximum sentence. Guidry requested, and was granted, a hearing to reconsider his sentence. The hearing took place on September 19 at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse in Opelousas.


Morse is an outspoken critic of clergy sexual abuse and cover up. She is also a passionate advocate for the victims of the sexual revolution, including victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Morse said she applauds today’s ruling and believes the sentence should not have been reconsidered in the first place. “The family and other victims had achieved some degree of closure and relief from the April 30th sentencing of Fr. Guidry. Going back into court undoes the sense of finality, and revictimizes those who have already been through so much,” Morse said.

She explained further: “When I say ‘victims’ -- plural -- I include Oliver Peyton, the immediate victim, who woke up to find Fr. Guidry performing a sex act on him. I also include Oliver’s family and the members of the community who were shocked and disheartened by the revelation that the abuser, a priest in his 70s, had betrayed their trust.

“Lastly, I’m talking about the victims of child sex abuse everywhere who have been watching this case. Every new case, such as Fr. Guidry’s, can be a traumatic and ‘triggering’ event, especially for those who suffer PTSD symptoms. Every slap-on-the-wrist sentence revictimizes the victims. No new facts have emerged. Fr Guidry is still as guilty as he was in April when Judge Harris originally sentenced him. I drove from Lake Charles, LA, where I live, to support Oliver Peyton and his family. I am relieved that justice was done.”

Morse concluded with a promise, “I am not of Acadian heritage. But I am privileged to live among the Cajun people. I have heard it said that ‘The Bayou Teche will run dry before the Cajun people lose their Catholic faith.’ Civil and ecclesial authorities should be aware: we are not leaving the Church. Nor will we avert our eyes from clergy sex abuse. The scandal first broke here in Lafayette in the 1980s with the case of then-Father Gilbert Gauthe. We mean to see this crisis in the Church through to the end. Let it end here.”

The Ruth Institute works to empower victims and survivors of the sexual revolution – including victims of divorce, abuse and the LGBT culture. In April, the Institute held the first-ever Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the Ruth Institute has its international headquarters.


How the Commission on Unalienable Rights Can Make the Family Great Again

COMMENTARY: The commission has the potential to shift attention from the desires of adults, based on their fantasy ideologies, to the needs of children, based on immutable realities.

by Jennifer Roback Morse on September 17, 2019, at

Serious Catholics should applaud the action of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in forming a Commission on Unalienable Rights to advise his department in its dealings with foreign governments and international organizations. This may sound like inside-the-Beltway insider baseball, but I am convinced that this commission has the potential to create a focal point for an alternative understanding of human rights. And boy, do we need to get our “rights talk” right!

Some people say everyone has a “right” to abortion or “sexual expression.” Others say everyone has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But these two groups — those who espouse abortion and sexual rights on the one hand and the rest of us on the other — are clearly not talking about the same thing when they use the term “rights.”

Advocates of the sexual revolution use an expansive understanding of “human rights” to promote their values. Describing “marriage equality” as a “human right” allows them to sidestep the many troubling consequences of redefining marriage. Labeling abortion as a “human right” puts defenders of the unborn on the defensive.

This language of “human rights” (which is in reality neither) is common in the United Nations and other international organizations. The U.S., along with other Western countries, have promoted these “human rights” through the U.N. and international organizations. Numerous international leaders, including Pope Francis, however, have decried such talk as “ideological colonization” or “cultural imperialism.”

By contrast, the advocates of “unalienable rights” or “inalienable rights” of the kind found in the Declaration of Independence ground their understanding of rights in undeniable and universal truths about the human condition. This is a basic starting point of natural-law thinking. The Catholic Church has long held that the natural law is knowable to human reason. For instance, Pope Leo XIII stated in Libertas Praestantissimum (The Nature of Human Liberty) in 1888 that “natural law … is written and engraved in the mind of every man; and this is nothing but our reason, commanding us to do right and forbidding sin” (8).

The newly formed Commission on Unalienable Rights has the potential to shift the conversation about rights. The commission is chaired by pro-life Harvard Law professor and former ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon. Glendon wrote the highly regarded Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse in 1993. Glendon has been thinking deeply about the proper understanding of “rights” for a long time.

Serving alongside Glendon on the commission will be law professors and philosophy professors from distinguished institutions such as Stanford and Notre Dame, as well as a rabbi, an American Muslim scholar and several African Americans. (The complete list of the commissioners can be found here.)

I realize that some people scoff at the very idea of “intellectually serious” and “Trump administration” in the same sentence. Get over it. Trump’s secretary of state has assembled a group of intellectually serious people considering serious questions.

Predictably the commission drew fire before they even opened their mouths. For instance, opined, “Civil and human-rights advocates raised immediate alarm when news of the commission was first reported, fearing that its focus on ‘natural law’ was code for anti-LGBTQI, anti-choice and anti-women’s rights agenda(s).” Notice the rhetoric: “anti-this” and “anti-that.” No mention of what the commission might be positively “for.”

Let me take a stab at using natural law to defend some human rights that I, at least, am positively “for.” I will list two self-evident truths and draw two reasonable conclusions:

Self-Evident Truth No. 1: Every person comes into the world as a helpless baby.

Self-Evident Truth No. 2: Every person has a mother and a father.

One need not be Catholic to recognize these two significant facts about the human condition. From these two facts (which I hope everyone will accept), I draw these two conclusions:

Reasonable Conclusion No. 1: Every society needs some plan for helping its members move from helpless infancy to adulthood.

If this job doesn’t get done, there will not be a “society” in any meaningful sense of that term. We don’t need a perfect plan, mind you. But we do need some social structures that address the fundamental issues of infant helplessness and the basic human needs for attachment, connection and identity.

Reasonable Conclusion No. 2: Mothers and fathers cooperating with each other in a lifelong loving union for their mutual benefit and the benefit of their children (including possibly adopted children) provides such a plan for helpless babies. This union is what societies usually call “marriage.”

I will go further and say: Marriage is the best plan. It is not foolproof in every case. Unexpected things happen. People sometimes fail or are mean or stupid. All true.

But I will stand by this statement: Marriage is superior to its competitors. We have tried just about every imaginable alternative to marriage. We now have enough evidence — and not just by faith-based groups — to conclude that marriage serves the legitimate interests and needs of children better than the alternative structural systems.

This line of thought produces its own set of rights, different from those we commonly hear about:

  • the right of every child to a relationship with his or her natural mother and father, except in cases of unavoidable tragedy,
  • the right of every person to know the identity of his or her biological parents,
  • the right to life from conception to natural death; and
  • the right of families to educate their own children in their faith tradition and values, without being undermined by the state.

The president campaigned on the promise to “Make America Great Again.” Without the restoration of the family, he will be unable to fulfill that promise. But, more importantly, the newly formed Commission on Unalienable Rights has the potential to shift attention from the desires of adults, based on their fantasy ideologies, to the needs of children, based on immutable realities.

Let’s Make the Family Great Again, both at home and abroad.


Vatican Offers a Useful Tool for ‘Gender Theory’ Education

COMMENTARY: ‘Male and Female He Created Them’ has great potential for Catholic education. Faithful Catholics should pick up this ball and run with it.

by Jennifer Roback Morse on June 27, 2019, at

Catholic commentators from across the spectrum have criticized the Vatican’s new document on gender theory. Some on the so-called left say Pope Francis didn’t approve the document; others on the so-called right say it is too little too late in stopping the spread of gender ideology from influencing the Church. As I read the Congregation for Catholic Education’s document, I can see why both “sides” might react as they do. So I was surprised when the headmaster of an independent Catholic school told me, “This document is a Godsend to us.” This gentleman is not only a dear friend, but a man of deep loyalty to traditional Catholic sexual ethics. I decided to reread the document from his perspective. Does this document help Catholic educators fulfill their mission?

To be clear, what are the critics criticizing? Those who favor the “LGBT” agenda, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are angry that the Vatican supports the fact that God created only two sexes. Such critics even consider the title of the document, “Male and Female He Created Them” to be inflammatory.

On the other hand, many of those who are loyal to the magisterium and the traditional teachings of the Church are alarmed by the subtitle: “Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” These critics observe that “dialogue” with sexual radicals does not do well at preserving tradition. All too often, “dialogue” translates into the radicals talking until they wear us down. Or worse, they don’t even pretend to dialogue; they take the opportunity provided by “dialogue” to attack. In Gabriele Kuby’s critique of the new Vatican document, she recounts her personal experience with this sort of “dialogue.”

I fully understand. This amateur video posted to my Facebook page from a speaking engagement at the University of California-Santa Barbara captures one of my experiences with “dialogue” with protesters. Certainly, with activists, “compromise” or negotiation is out of the question. Experience has shown that what one side considers compromise, the other side considers a steppingstone. Permit me to say: I’m not a fan of “dialogue” for its own sake.

But the Congregation for Catholic Education is not writing for people like me and others in the commentariat. The primary audience of the Congregation for Catholic Education is Catholic educators. In the daily life of the principal of a Catholic school, he or she must deal with a wide range of people. The constituency of a Catholic school includes the faculty and staff, the parents of children in the school, prospective parents and, of course, the children themselves. And that is just for independent schools. Diocesan or parish or religious-order schools bring another layer of constituents to the headmaster’s or principal’s office: the bishop, the pastor, the abbot. On top of all that, the principal has accrediting agencies, other government entities, donors, the press and the general public. Among these people will be some who are well catechized and enthusiastic for the faith. Others, not so much.

In fact, in today’s climate, some Catholic school administrators must wonder whether the sophisticated lesbian pair in their office asking for their child’s admission to the school is setting a trap that will lead to a lawsuit.

“Dialogue” happens in the principal’s office every day, whether she likes it or not. Permit me to say: I would not be temperamentally suited to this job. Permit me also to say: I am grateful to those who shoulder this job.

The Congregation for Catholic Education’s new document provides clarity for the administration of the Catholic school. They can build that clear teaching into policies and procedures, student and faculty handbooks and similar documents. “No, there will be no open-access bathrooms or locker rooms.” “No, we cannot have a drag show on campus.” “Yes, we are going to participate in sporting leagues that require all participants to compete only against other students of their birth sex.” “Our new family-life curriculum is going to be based on theology of the body.”

As an added public-relations bonus, “Male and Female He Created Them” is a product of Pope Francis’ Vatican, which many consider “gay-friendly”; not Pope Benedict’s Vatican, which has been labeled homophobic.

My friend the headmaster pointed out that “Male and Female He Created Them” provides a backstop against the pressure he faces on all these questions. He can beef up the school’s governing charters with the authority of Rome. Things like the school’s written handbooks can provide protection in legal actions such as discrimination suits, harassment from accrediting agencies and the like. This is a good time to mention something else I noticed in the congregation’s work. Another office in Vatican City, the Pontifical Council for the Family, produced a widely (and justly) criticized sexual-education curriculum, “The Meeting Point: Project for Affective and Sexual Education,” in 2018. Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons described it as “the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years.” Coming from a man who has counseled thousands of victims and survivors of the sexual revolution, that is quite a criticism.

“The Meeting Point” is completely absent from the references in “Male and Female He Created Them.” Instead, we find numerous references to Pope St. John Paul’s corpus, including Familiaris Consortio, Veritatis Splendor, his “Letter to Women” and his great work from his days as a philosophy professor, Love and Responsibility.

I do not pretend to know what is going on in the various quarters of the Vatican. (Being a Vaticanista is another job I am really not temperamentally suited for!) But it appears to me that “Male and Female He Created Them” is a different kettle of fish from many things that have come out of Rome recently. We were beginning to wonder whether the great teaching pontificate of John Paul II had ever even happened. Bringing his work front and center is a great gift to all the Church, especially to Catholic educators. Critics of “Male and Female He Created Them” might argue that the calls for “dialogue” leave an opening for less-than-entirely-faithful interpretations. People who want their Catholic schools to be nothing but private prep schools with crucifixes might find a way to drive a truck through the seemingly clear statements that there are only two sexes. And, indeed, so-called Catholic progressives just might.

I do know one thing: If those faithful to the magisterium ignore this document, or worse, shun it, very likely the “dialoguers” will interpret it the way they want. Unless the faithful contend for the proper interpretation of this document, the less-than-faithful cohort will win by default.

My advice to faithful Catholic administrators and parents is this: Pick up this ball and run with it. It’s your move.


Ruth Institute Launches “Make the Family Great Again” Petition

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, announced the launch of a petition to Make the Family Great Again. “The president campaigned on the promise to Make America Great Again. But only the family can help him fulfill that promise,” she said.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo established a Commission on Unalienable Rights to advise his department in its dealings with foreign governments and international organizations. This commission is chaired by pro-life Harvard Law Professor and former Ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon.

The “Make the Family Great Again” petition urges the Commission and the State Department to make these fundamental principles the basis for articulating unalienable rights:

  • Marriage and the family are universal institutions for the stability of society and the continuation of the human race.
  • Children need their mother and father.
  • Stable loving families provide the basis for strong societies, including thriving economies, national security and international peace.

The petition calls on the Commission to work for recognition of:

  • the right of every child to a relationship with his or her natural mother and father, excepting an unavoidable tragedy,
  • the right of every person to know the identity of his or her biological parents,
  • the right to life from conception to natural death, and
  • the right of families to educate their own children in their faith tradition and values, without being undermined by the state.

The petition has been signed by Governor Mike Huckabee, Brent Bozell (Founder and President, Media Research Center), Ted Baehr (Chairman, Christian Film and Television Commission), Fr. Shenan Boquet (President, Human Life International), Janice Shaw Crouse (author, columnist and speaker), Pat Fagan (Director, Marriage and Religion Research Institute), Steve Mosher (President, Population Research Institute), C. Preston Noell (President, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property), and Sharon Slater (President, Family Watch International).

Signers from outside the United States include: Bishop Emmanuel Badejo (Oyo, Nigeria), Moira Chimombo (former Executive Director, Sub-Sahara Family Enrichment, Malawi), Ann Kioko (President, African Organization for Families, Kenya), Lech Kowalewski (board member, Polish Federation of Pro-life Movements), Christa Leonhard (Foundation for Family Values, Germany and the Swiss Foundation for the Family), Warwick and Allison Marsh (Founders, Dads4Kids, Australia), Christine Vollmer (Founder and President, Latin American Alliance for the Family, Venezuela), Andrea Williams (Chief Executive, Christian Concern, United Kingdom), and Levan Vasadez (pro-life activist, Republic of Georgia).

“We are honored to have such distinguished leaders sign our petition,” Morse said. “People around the world are very concerned about US foreign policy. With their support and the leadership of Professor Glendon on the Commission, we have a unique opportunity to help the U.S. State Department champion family rights internationally.”

Sign the Petition to Make the Family Great Again here:

The Ruth Institute is a global interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love. On April 26-27, the Institute held a Summit for Survivors of Sexual Revolution.

Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

Find more information on The Ruth Institute at

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact

The gay gene myth has been exploded

If the gay gene does not exist, how can LGBT supporters maintain that tolerance of homosexual behaviour requires intolerance of heterosexual behaviour?
By Fr. Paul Sullins on September 3, 2019, at

The findings of a study of the genetic basis of homosexuality published last week in the journal Science explode the false narrative that being gay is an innate condition that is controlled or largely compelled by one's genetic makeup.

Rebutting decades of search by LGBT scientists for a "gay gene", the study's first author flatly concludes "it will be basically impossible to predict one’s sexual activity or orientation just from genetics”.

This is putting it gently.

The study found that a person's developmental environment--the influence of diet, family, friends, neighbourhood, religion, and a host of other life conditions--was twice as influential as genetics on the probability of adopting same-sex behaviour or orientation. The genetic influence did not come from one or two strong sources but from dozens of genetic variants that each added a small increased propensity for same-sex behaviour.

A genetic arrangement based on a large number of markers across the genome means that virtually all human beings have this arrangement, or large portions of it. In other words, not only did the study fail to find some controlling gene for gay identity, it also established that gay persons are not genetically distinct from all other human beings in any meaningful sense.

Gay persons, we might say, have a perfectly normal human genome.

Proponents of LGBT normalization, which includes the publishing journal and mainstream media reporters, have tried to put the best face on this result. As if the issue were tolerance of gay people's lifestyle choices, the New York Times quotes one of the authors saying, “I hope that the science can be used to educate people a little bit more about how natural and normal same-sex behaviour is”. LGBT activists declared that the study "provides even more evidence that being gay or lesbian is a natural part of human life".

Indeed, the study found that genetic propensity for same-sex behaviour is not very different from that of 28 other complex traits or behaviours and is related to a propensity for other risk-taking behaviour such as smoking, drug use, number of sex partners or a general openness to new experience.

But the longstanding and emphatic claim of gay activists in law and public policy has not been that same-sex activity reflects upbringing or lifestyle factors, but is an inborn difference that is discovered, not developed; a distinct and fixed element of a person's nature that is unchangeable.

Emotionally and sexually, same-sex orientation is not a matter of who persons choose to become, they have claimed, but who they already are.

A linchpin of the evidential basis for the US Supreme Court decision sanctioning same-sex marriage, for example, was that same-sex orientation reflected an "immutable nature [which] dictate[d] that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment." (Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, p. 4).

And the point of conflict for tolerance today is not so much for people who want to identify themselves as gay or lesbian, but for people who want, for themselves personally, to avoid or resist such an identification.

On the grounds that they would be denying their immutable nature, numerous legislative and judicial efforts are currently underway to outlaw voluntary therapy for or deny the legitimacy of adults who experience some level of same-sex attraction but do not want to engage in same-sex relations or identify themselves as gay or lesbian.

In the very jurisdictions where persons with same-sex orientation are now free to identify as gay and to engage in same-sex marriage, LGBT ideologues are working to deny the same persons the freedom to decline to identify as gay and to engage in opposite-sex marriage, on the premise that they would thereby be doing violence to who they really are.

This study pulls the rug out from under such thinking.

If gay and lesbian persons are genetically normal, what basis is there for considering them a distinct, protected class subject to preferential treatment under the law or for prohibiting other genetically normal persons from refusing to engage in same-sex behaviour?

The study finds that most persons with the identical genotype as gay or lesbian persons (by an approximate ratio of 2 to 1) end up, for various reasons of social environment or development or personal principle, not engaging in same-sex relations. Shouldn't such persons have equal freedom and legitimacy to do so?

In a free society that values personal autonomy, it is not an appropriate function of law to penalize personal lifestyle choices, no matter how vehemently some may disagree with them or politically incorrect they may be. If it ever did make sense on the premise that gay persons were born that way, in the absence of such a compelling genetic difference, it is impossible to reasonably maintain that tolerance of homosexual behaviour requires intolerance of heterosexual behaviour.

In light of these implications, some of the scientists involved in the study, who are themselves gay, have publicly opposed its publication. Strikingly unaware of their own bias, they expressed concern that the study findings would be "misconstrued" to "advance agendas of hate".

In less heated language, they are concerned that it might be interpreted in ways with which they disagree. For them, the benefits of increased understanding of human behaviour in this area did not outweigh the perceived negative political implications of the findings for the expression of gay identity.

The lead authors of the study, some of whom are also gay, are to be commended for resisting the impulse to suppress scientific evidence for the sake of political expediency. Although sadly often violated today, the conviction that the dissemination of evidence and ideas should not be censored by political considerations is fundamental to modern science.

While we can dispute, hopefully with mutual respect, who may be being hateful to whom in their interpretation of the results, in the end we will all find our best modus vivendi on the basis of policy and law that reflects solid objective evidence, honestly presented, as this study exemplifies.

Or as a wise man once said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free".

Rev. D. Paul Sullins recently retired as Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. He is a Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute. Dr. Sullins is a leader in the field of research on same-sex parenting and its implications for child development. He has written four books and over 100 journal articles, research reports, and essays on issues of family, faith, and culture.

Ruth Institute President Says Teaching LGBT History is Indoctrination, Not Education

Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., called the growing trend in public schools of teaching LGBT history “the institutionalization of the Sexual Revolution.”

“For years, activists have sought to use schools to advance their sexualized worldview,” Morse explained. “They are succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. California, New Jersey, Colorado and now Illinois require exposing children to this ‘instruction.’”

Morse noted an assault on parental rights. “Since most sex education instruction has an opt-out provision, activists have branched out, inserting LGBT instruction into history, foreign language and even art classes.”

Morse urged parents to be vigilant to stop this indoctrination from spreading. “The mandates for these classes are usually based on a vote of the state legislature. Often, legislators hear from only one side – the proponents of these radical measures.”

“You might say eternal vigilance is the price of morality,” Morse concluded.

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love. On April 26-27, the Institute held a Summit for Survivors of Sexual Revolution

Dr. Morse is the author of, “The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.”

For more information on The Ruth Institute:

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, email

New York City’s First Lady Chooses Drag Queen Over Saint: Ruth Institute President Appalled

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, said replacing a noted humanitarian and America’s first canonized saint with a politically connected drag queen, “makes a mockery of the program’s stated purpose. The city claimed it wanted to erect monuments honoring the women who built New York City. Instead, NY’s First Lady is honoring men who say they are women.”

New York City is planning to erect statues of women to address a perceived gender imbalance among the city’s monuments. Political correctness has come to dominate the process.

The project is known as She Built NYC and is expected to cost $5 million. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (popularly known as Mother Cabrini) “fit the stated description of the project perfectly,” Morse observed.

Working in the 1880s, Mother Cabrini founded an upstate orphanage and a school for girls in the Washington Heights section of New York. Altogether, she started 67 institutions dedicated to helping the poor.When the city solicited nominations for the She Built NY project, Mother Cabrini was nominated more frequently than any other person.

The City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, ignored the public’s stated wishes and selected drag queens and LGBTQ activists, who adopted the names Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Johnson, in place of Mother Cabrini.

Dr. Morse explained: “Calling yourself ‘transgendered’ doesn’t make you a woman if you have the DNA of a man. Adopting a woman’s name and dressing like a woman won’t work either. Gender is a matter of biology, not belief.”

Morse continued: “Sexual Revolutionaries have found a new way to advance their agenda – publicly-funded monuments honoring individuals who represent gender confusion and whose chief achievement is political activism promoting their cause.”

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love. On April 26-27, the Institute held a Summit for Survivors of Sexual Revolution

Dr. Morse is the author of, “The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.”

For more information on The Ruth Institute:

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, email

Cohabiting: Should you?

by Betsy Kerekes at Chastity Project

The Catholic Church is so behind the times. What does it know? Things have changed. Everyone is living together now. It’s no big deal.

But, as it happens, completely secular studies back up what the Church has been telling us all along: cohabiting is bad for your relationship.

The National Marriage Project (not affiliated with the Church) did a thorough study of cohabitation and concluded: “No positive contribution of cohabitation to marriage has ever been found.”

If you think it’s smart to take your potential future marriage for a test drive, counter-intuitive as it may seem, you’re actually sabotaging your marriage before it begins.

Couples who cohabit are more likely to get divorced. Weird, right? Here’s what seems to be happening: Cohabiting couples often stay on their best behavior, knowing they still need to “win the other over.” Once they’re married, they tend to let things slide, making the other person wonder what happened. (I’ve seen it happen.) At least one member of the couple expects their relationship to become stronger with marriage, but in reality, the opposite happens. The end result: “You’re not the person I thought you were. I want a divorce.”

The other issue is that cohabiting couples, whether they realize it or not, are rehearsing distrust. Half a commitment is no commitment. Each member of a cohabiting couple is keeping one foot out the door. This attitude, conscious or not, can carry into married life, making it harder to keep the marriage bond permanent.

Cohabiters often want steady companionship, cheaper rent, and sexual availability, making cohabitation a utilitarian act. This amounts to a relationship that says, “I’m willing to let you use me, as long as you’re willing to let me keep using you.” Does that sound like real love?

Shacking up or even just sleeping together clouds a person’s judgment. Sex makes you physiologically attach to your partner, whether he/she is good for you or not. Attachment neurochemicals, such oxytocin and vasopressin produce feelings of bliss when with the other person, whether he or she is right for you or not. That little happy kick makes it a whole lot easier to make excuses for and rationalize the normally questionable behavior of the other person, while ignoring the little voice inside telling you to end the relationship now.

For the ladies reading this, I hate to say it, but you are especially giving yourself a raw deal when you play house. The sad state of affairs is that a woman’s marriageability decreases with age. Older men can easily marry younger women in our society, so a relationship break-up, even late in the game, isn’t as big of a deal for men as it is for women.

Consider the consequence of being in a cohabiting relationship that doesn’t work out. You’ve spent years with this guy, hoping you’ll get married and telling yourself that once you do, your future is secure. But what if it’s not? Now you’ve wasted the best years of your young adult life; meanwhile, your pool of eligible young bachelors has diminished.

Men, on the other hand, have a wide age-range to work with, and given the choice, will often opt for a younger, smoother-skinned companion than one with a more well-worn look. Again, it’s a crappy system, but for men accustomed to a culture of try-until-you-buy, and when that doesn’t work, upgrade to a newer model, women are too often left in the cold.

The moral of this story is: avoid the temptation to do what everyone else is doing. Cohabiting only wastes your best years. Keep sex out of the relationship in order to know if the feelings are real. You’ll save so much time, and a great deal of heartache, in the long run.


Betsy Kerekes is co-author, with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, of 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person and 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage. Her newest book is Be a Happier Parent or Laugh Trying. She can be found at her blog, or on twitter @BetsyK1.

Do You Want To Be a Happier Parent?

, at Integrated Catholic Life

Raising children isn’t as easy as it looks in those soft-focus magazine and television ads. I think it might be some kind of ruse designed to bamboozle us into peopling the earth (and buying all the products for it). Actual children are messy, unreasonable, and they’re around for such a long time! It turns out it takes more than absorbent paper towel and animal shaped multi-vitamins to raise good kids! It takes happy, loving parents.

It’s the rare parents, however, who don’t admit they’re in over their heads upon the arrival of their first bundle of joy. To get through this extreme sport known as parenting, it is essential to seek out the commiseration and encouragement of fellow parents-in-the-trenches to compare scars, swap tactics, and share a whole mess of humorous anecdotes. And also to remind us what our goal is in this crazy endeavor: eternal happiness for the whole family.

I have the just the thing for you! I recently read Betsy Kerekes’ new book, Be a Happier Parent or Laugh Trying. You may know Betsy from her humorous blog, Parenting is Funny, or from the two books she co-wrote with Jennifer Roback Morse, 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage and 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person. Betsy is flying solo this time – and she was tipsy when she wrote this book too! (It contains more tips than the apron of the prettiest bar maid at Oktoberfest.)

It’s clear that she’s a happy, fun person (Betsy, not the bar maid), who followed the advice from her previous books. It’s not that she comes across as the perfect wife and mom, nor is she preachy and didactic. In fact, many of the pro tips that pack this slim volume were gleaned from her myriad mom friends. She shares her struggles and successes with a healthy dose of humility and humor. Well, maybe it’s more a gluttonous dose of humor – because, it’s huge.

I guarantee, by a few chapters in, you will feel like you’re sitting in her kitchen, enjoying coffee with the author, sharing parenting stories, while your children play (or bicker) with hers nearby. The writing is conversational and encouraging.

We can all use a little more encouragement these days when it’s so easy to feel like a failure if you can’t keep up with the “perfect” example of those moms we see on television, blogs, and magazines. You know, the examples they save to show the public for our emulation – even though hey probably don’t live up to it either. Betsy is refreshingly real. While she does give examples from her own successful experiences, she shares her failures as well. She never comes across as superciliously saying, “Just do it like I do; it’s so easy!” This is not an instruction manual.

Each of the ten chapters is headed with an inspiring quotation from a saint. It’s just one of the things that make apparent Betsy’s goal of not merely curating a fun-filled family environment, but of helping us to build a happy family in the truest sense. Aristotle names happiness as our ultimate goal and virtue as the means to get there. Kerekes leads us through various ways to grow in virtue as a parent and help our kids do so as well, and always with the purpose of reaching our true end of eternal happiness – as well as daily happiness gleaned from a loving, peaceful household.

There are chapters that focus on having fun, dealing with tears (yours as well as your kids’), discipline, the frustration of trying to keep an orderly house, teenagers, matters of faith, and gaining help from the saints. She shares a couple of additional essays on the heartbreak of infertility and the loss of children. As a mother raising four kids, she has experienced her share of all of these topics. Her irrepressibly positive attitude has carried her through difficulties and is uplifting to read.

There is a good deal of wisdom behind her cheery words. In the pages of this little book, you will learn the housekeeping secret of “The Magic Chair” and of allowing angry kids slam doors. Betsy comes across as sort of a phlegmatic version of Mary Poppins steeped in Saint John Paul II’s teaching of respect for the dignity of the human person.

With the recent Mother’s Day and the approach of Father’s Day, this is a book to consider getting for yourself, your spouse, and anyone who has or is contemplating having kids any time in the future. You can even give it to your parish priest, because he can see from the pulpit the parents who might benefit from such a book.

It may take more than animal shaped multi-vitamins and absorbent paper towel to raise real life kids. This little book will give you a spiritual multi-vitamin pick-me-up to face your family with a renewed sense of happiness and humor.


A Sex-Abuse Story Catholics Need to Hear

COMMENTARY: Healing the crippling wounds abused people suffer.

This article by Sue Ellen Browder was first published at on August 16, 2019.
I met my beloved husband, Walter, in 1966 at the University of Missouri, where he was studying to be a chemical engineer and I was enrolled in the School of Journalism, hoping to earn a living as a magazine writer. Almost from the moment we met, Walter and I were fast friends.
After our marriage, he left engineering to become a struggling novelist, and we both freelanced from home, working, playing and raising our children side by side.


Yet for all our intimacy, Walter contained within his heart a dark secret he didn’t share even with me. As a little boy growing up on a farm in Missouri, he’d been sexually abused by his sadistic older brother Bob, who frequently threatened to kill him. Only after we converted to Catholicism did this unspeakable secret from his tortured past at last come to light.
Walter first began to reveal the truth about his childhood horrors one Monday morning after Mass. It was about three years after we became Catholics. Approaching our pastor, Father Bruce, Walter said, “There’s something I’ve never told you.”


Seeing Walter’s sober face, Father Bruce took him immediately into the rectory. I stood alone in the church parking lot and waited, as Walter revealed secrets to Father Bruce that even I had never heard.

After 45 minutes, the two finally emerged from the rectory, and Father Bruce said to me: “Sue, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to ask Walter to tell you what happened when he was 7 years old. He may not want to talk about it. If he doesn’t volunteer to talk about it every two or three days, I want you to ask him about it. Just listen. Get all the details. But don’t get all emotional. Remember Joe Friday on Dragnet? I want you to be like that: ‘Just the facts, Ma’am.’”

For the next month, as we sat side by side sipping our morning coffee, we talked daily about what happened when Walter was 7. Bob held loaded guns to Walter’s head and giggled as he toyed with the trigger. He sat on the bank of a pond laughing as little Walt, who couldn’t swim, almost drowned. But the worst was that he repeatedly raped Walter in the barn and in the root cellar and threatened to kill him if he told anyone. Walter had every reason to believe Bob would carry through on this threat. The abuse was so severe that for most of Walter’s life, unknown to me, he had been suffering five or six flashbacks a day.

After 38 years of marriage, I was at last able to understand the strange anxieties and explosive anger attacks I’d witnessed, which seemed to come out of nowhere and which I’d found inexplicable in a man who was otherwise so deeply loving and sweet.

Father Bruce counseled Walter to forgive Bob (who had died years earlier) and even to pray for his immortal soul. Many non-Catholics might find such advice an outrage, as if forgiveness somehow means letting an evildoer off the hook. But trusting God, Walter listened. And in the process of praying for Bob, Walter himself was transformed: No longer a helpless victim, he became an ennobled intercessor.

On Jan. 13, 2006, Walter wrote in his personal journal:

“Sue and I had a lovely talk this morning. We talked about the problems I had with Bob. But this time we didn’t talk about just what happened. We talked about how it has affected me now. I said I was still angry with God, because Bob may have had the free will to do all that to me, but God should have stopped him somehow. No matter what, that should not have been allowed to happen. God is able to bring good things out of bad, but the bad still happened. I began thinking about that, and I decided I was still angry with God, angry enough that I would not become creative. That’s what I was doing. I was sabotaging my creativity. Every time I would get creative with my writing or my art, I would ruin it. That’s how mad I was at God. What can I do to get rid of this permanently? I don’t know. But this realization, coupled with the understanding Father Bruce gave me that I was still obeying Bob by not wanting to talk about what he did to me, has been a big relief. I now feel like I’ve had a harness taken off of me.”

After this entry in his journal, I don’t know exactly when it happened, but Walter was no longer angry at God — nor at Bob. Christ had healed him. Brimming with gratitude and joy, he announced to me the violent flashbacks that had tormented him for nearly 60 years were suddenly gone.

When Christ, the timeless One, enters into time, he makes “all things new.” It is to the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit that we receive the peace that passes all understanding.

It is certainly necessary to expose sex scandals in the Church. Evil flourishes in darkness and must be exposed to the light. But the continual mainstream media emphasis only on sex-abuse problems within the Church tends to obscure the reality that, within her sacred walls, the Church simultaneously contains the power of God to solve those problems and to heal the crippling wounds sexually abused people like Walter suffer.

Faced with horrifying sex-abuse scandals, many Catholics understandably ask, “Where is our Lord Jesus Christ in all this?” The answer is this: He’s hidden at the center of it all, taking our suffering into himself on the cross, recreating the world, and transfiguring all our pain into joy.

Sue Ellen Browder is author of Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement.



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