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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: Sunday, February 04, 2018
By Brandon Showalter
This article was first posted on Christian Post on December 19, 2017.
A new Senate report is highlighting the effects of unwed childbearing and family breakdown as approximately 40 percent of births in the United States now occur outside of wedlock. And what are known as "shotgun" marriages are largely a thing of the past.
The sharp rise in nonmarital births is a result of a complex mixture of moral, behavioral, and social changes given how the Sexual Revolution overhauled the American landscape, noted Robert VerBruggen, deputy managing editor of National Review, writing on the blog of the Institute for Family Studies Monday. Two out of every five pregnancies in the United States now occur outside of wedlock.
"Married couples' fertility rate plummeted by about a third in the 1960s and early 1970s, almost certainly thanks to the introduction of the Pill at the beginning of that period," he wrote.
"Married people have always been sexually active, and the Pill allowed them to continue doing what they were doing with a drastically reduced risk of pregnancy if that was what they wanted."
But such a shift in mindset about sex has reorganized adult priorities while having grievous consequences on children, another scholar pointed out.
"People today generally believe that unlimited sex is an entitlement and that children have only the rights adults choose to give them. This is called 'reproductive justice,' because it neutralizes the impact of children on education and career, and supports 'equality' between men and women," said Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute, in an interview Tuesday with The Christian Post.
"But if you believe that kids need and are entitled to a relationship with both their own parents, the moral calculus changes considerably."
Sex outside of marriage puts the prospective children at risk of experiencing at least one form of injustice, Morse went on to say. They are either killed via abortion; put at risk of a weak or nonexistent relationship with one parent, often the father; or are placed for adoption, separating the child from their biological parents, at least for the duration of their childhood, she explained.
The Senate report, "Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage: The Rise in Unwed Childbearing," was released this month and prepared by the vice chairman's staff of the Joint Economic Committee at the request of Senator Mike Lee (Republican of Utah). The findings examine the trends and aim to understand how the United States arrived at its current social state.
The report also reveals that "shotgun" marriages — where the woman's father supposedly enforced the social norm of marriage by threatening to shoot the guy who impregnated his daughter — have tanked.
"We ridicule this norm, because we forget that it had the benefit of protecting the interests of children in having relationships with both parents," Morse commented.
"The most just solution for the child, is for the parents to marry each other, and work together for a lifetime for the good of the child, and their whole family. We accept injustice to children as the price we are willing to pay for adult sexual freedom and 'gender equality.'"
The report data shows that in the early 1960s, 43 percent of unwed pregnancies precipitated a hasty, "shotgun" marriage. Today, only 9 percent of unwed pregnancies result in such quick marital arrangements. Young couples no longer see the necessity of getting married because a child is coming.
Unmarried people as a group had previously limited their sexual activity, concerned about both unwanted pregnancy and social stigma, the report found. But they, too, began having sex earlier and more frequently as they gained access to hormonal contraception and as changing attitudes made premarital sexual relations more acceptable.
"Further societal changes made unmarried childbearing, not just sex, more acceptable, such that half of births from nonmarital pregnancies today are intended," VerBruggen observed.
The authors of the report do not think that abortion is a significant contributor to these trends, he explained. The abortion rate increased during the 1970s but dropped in the following decades and remains by all measures lower today than when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.
"It's a frustratingly complex picture; and half a century after the Sexual Revolution, with no reversal in sight, these may primarily be academic questions anyway. But if we're not happy where we are in this regard — and we shouldn't be, given the harms children have suffered from family breakdown — it can't hurt to know how we got here," VerBruggen said.
Posted on: Monday, January 08, 2018
Posted by Marc & Julie Anderson on in Archdiocese, Leaven News
What part will you play in the future of the family?
It is a question that is on the mind of more than a few Catholic leaders these days, as we see the primary institution of our society fracture under seemingly insurmountable stress.
But the Catholic Church is not the only institution unwilling to throw in the towel on the institution of the family.
The Ruth Institute, founded in 2008 by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, is a global nonprofit organization aimed at ending family breakdown by energizing survivors of the Sexual Revolution.
And it’s a movement that is coming to the archdiocese next month.
On Jan. 27, the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life will host the institute’s “Healing Family Breakdown” spiritual workshop at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.
The event is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic, and, according to Morse, is meant to accomplish three goals: (1) heal families; (2) help participants prevent family breakdown; and (3) help participants become agents of healing within society at large.
When families attend the workshop, Morse added, something important and life-changing happens to them.
“You realize you and your family are not the only ones,” she said. “For a lot of people, that is huge.”
That realization is an important first step in healing, she said, and is often made manifest to her in a tangible way in the seating arrangement of workshop participants.
“The Holy Spirit has a way of seating people at the table who belong together,” Morse said.
For example, at a past workshop, she witnessed a teenage girl’s perspective change as a result of a conversation she had with a man at her table.
The girl was the daughter of divorced parents. She blamed her father for the situation and did not want anything to do with him.
However, also seated at her table was a divorced man experiencing loneliness as his children would not talk to him. A conversation between the two, Morse said, led the young lady to consider the hurt and loneliness her father might be experiencing, a perspective the teenager had not considered previously.
And that’s just one type of healing and paradigm shift The Ruth Institute is trying to bring about in the world.
On the nonprofit’s website — www.ruthinstitute.org — Morse identifies a dozen different types of survivors of the Sexual Revolution, ranging from children of divorce and of unmarried parents, to a pornography addict or a post-abortive man or woman.
If you recognize yourself, a family member or a friend in one of the 12 survivor descriptions, Morse discourages you from trying to go it alone. Participate in the workshop and begin the healing process, instead.
“We need [survivors’] participation,” she said. “We need you to be witnesses to say the church was right all along [about its teachings on family and sexuality].”
Morse calls survivors “the secret weapon” to restoring the family to its greatness and its rightful place in society.
“All these wounded souls need to speak up,” she said.
“Many people leave the faith over sexual issues,” Morse explained. “I know. I stormed off in a huff.”
But just as people leave the faith over sexual issues, Morse said, countless people later realize the beauty of church teaching and return to the faith.
“I was completely wrong, of course,” she said of her departure from the faith.
Later, by studying the church’s teachings and by watching her adopted and biological children grow, Morse said she realized how much children need their father and mother as well as how much they want their parents.
“That’s how I got interested in the family and how the family fits into society,” said Morse.
As she has watched the family structure in modern society continue to deteriorate, however, Morse is not without hope.
“A lot of what society is trying to do is undoable,” she said. “We believe it is possible to make the family great again.”
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter
This article was first posted July 5, 2017, at Christian Post.
Younger Americans are less likely to cheat on their spouses than older Americans are, and although culture has become much more accepting of loose sexual norms, adultery is still viewed with disapproval, according to the social science data.
Writing on the blog of the Institute for Family Studies Wednesday, Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer sciences and sociology at the University of Utah, explained that a notable gap exists between those over 55 and under 55 regarding extramarital sex.
The "adultery taboo" has endured throughout human history, Wolfinger wrote. And the number of Americans who admit to having sex outside of marriage has remained steady over the years, hovering around 16 percent, giving the impression that Americans have basically concluded that extramarital sex is wrong.
Yet, some shocking changes have occurred since the year 2000, he noted: older Americans are cheating more and younger Americans are cheating less.
Wolfinger derived this assessment from the past three decades of data from the General Social Survey which tracks social attitudes about a variety of moral matters. Since 1991, GSS respondents have been asked: "Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were married?"
"Starting after 2004, Americans over 55 began reporting rates of extramarital sex that were about five or six percentage points higher than were being offered by younger adults. By 2016, 20% of older respondents indicated that their marriages were nominally adulterous, compared to 14% for people under 55," Wolfinger said.
While the majority of Americans are committed to monogamy, "the mounting age difference is noteworthy and statistically significant," he added.
Wolfinger further underscored the role of the sexual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s as a driving factor in shaping the attitudes of people toward sex. For the generation who came of age during the sexual revolution — people who are now in their 50s and 60s — "it's understandable they are more likely to have sex with someone without their spouses," he said. These people are also more likely to have had more sexual partners in their lifetimes than their older or younger peers.
"They may have firsthand experience with 1970s-era experiments with non-monogamy. A few people born in the late 1950s may have had swingers for parents, leading offspring to question taboos surrounding infidelity."
After reaching a peak in 1990, sex among teenagers has fallen significantly, the data shows.
"Collectively, this sexual biography makes it understandable that products of the sexual revolution would be most predisposed to extramarital sex. If people just aged into outside love affairs, presumably as they grew bored of their marital beds, we could expect that the oldest GSS respondents would be the most likely to report extramarital sex," Wolfinger said.
But the data suggests that is not the case. The sexual revolution continues to produce fruit today in the generation who grew up in its wake, he observed.
Although the rate of divorce overall has dropped in the past few decades, "gray divorce," that is, divorce among the middle aged, has seen a surge.
"Part of that story seems to be a corresponding increase in midlife extramarital sex," he said.
Even as increased chatter about "open" marriages and other forms of consensual non-monogamy like polyandry have appeared on the scene, with the declines in extramarital sex observed for younger Americans, "barring any unforeseen developments, we should anticipate a future of more monogamous marriage," Wolfinger said.
Americans by and large "still disapprove of sex outside of wedlock, but we disapprove less strongly than we used to," the scholar noted, suggesting that society is witnessing a growing "sexual inequality."
GSS data also reveals that while some Americans have more sex out of wedlock, others have become even more disapproving.
"Indeed, perhaps some of this disapproval reflects the comparably high rates of extramarital sex 50-somethings and 60-somethings have been observing in their peers."
His analysis seems to comport with the findings in other related studies.
The Christian Post reported in August that contrary to conventional wisdom and a sex-saturated culture, young people are actually not having much sex.
In a study published last year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers Jean M. Twenge, Ryne A. Sherman, and Brooke E. Wells discovered that young people born in the 1990s were "significantly more likely to have no sexual partners" than Gen Xers. The only generation with a higher rate of sexual inactivity than today's 20- to 24-year-olds was the one born in the 1920s when controlled for time period and age.
"I think a lot of them are watching the adults around them and concluding that sex without limits is not making people happy. Parents with multiple marriages and divorces, etc.," said Ruth Institute founder Jennifer Roback Morse in a statement to CP, suggesting that younger generations were becoming wiser.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
For immediate release:
“Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins! So, go to Confession!” –Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Ruth Institute launches ‘Go to Confession’ Campaign
(March 14, 2017, Lake Charles, LA) During this season of Lent, The Ruth Institute has launched an online and billboard campaign encouraging people of all faiths to make things right with God. “Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins!” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse stated in announcing the campaign. “That is why have launched a series of billboards and social media messages urging people to go to confession!”
Even in cases where one person has the major responsibility for fracturing the family, all family members can benefit from going to confession. “The injured parties may need help with bitterness, anger, emotional paralysis and many other issues. The grace of confession can help them,” Dr. Morse explained. “And of course, it goes without saying: if you have injured your family through addiction, abuse, adultery or desertion, go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you in the confessional and wants to forgive you. If you can’t tell him, in the person of the priest, that you are sorry, how are you ever going to be able to face your ex-spouse or your children?”
“Our ‘Go to Confession’ campaign reminds people that God is merciful and He will forgive us. What better time than during Lent?” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute said.
The Institute launched a billboard campaign in Lake Charles, LA, with messages: “Jesus is waiting for you,” “Sin makes you stupid,” featuring St. Thomas Aquinas (who loosely said that), and “Party’s over. Go to confession,” with an image of Mardi Gras debris. “Lake Charles is in the heart of Cajun Country, the Catholic buckle on the Bible belt. If we can’t publicly urge people to go to confession here, where can we? And the world desperately needs this encouragement.”
Dr. Morse added. “Guilty consciences make it harder for us to move forward and to resolve the issues caused by our sins, or the bitterness we’ve held onto from the sins of others.” Find the Ruth Institute’s ‘Go to Confession’ images on their website here, here and here.
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.
Reply to this email if you’d like to interview Dr. Morse further about this unique and beneficial ‘Go to Confession’ campaign.
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, October 24, 2016
by Crystal Stevenson / American Press
This article was first published October 21, 2016, at AmericanPress.com.
How to heal after the breakdown of one’s family unit will be the topic of the San Diego-based Ruth Institute’s inaugural Louisiana event.
The “Healing Family Breakdown” retreat will be 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven’s family center, 3939 Kingston St.
The retreat will include short talks, guided meditation and small group discussions, said Ruth Institute founder and retreat organizer Jennifer Roback Morse.
“Pretty much every family is affected by it in some way or another, if not your immediate family then in the extended family,” Morse said. “We realized based on our scientific research that there is an enormous amount of pain associated with it. Just looking around the culture you can see that people are suffering, but they don’t know what to do about it.”
Morse describes the forms of a family breakdown as adults divorced against their will — such as in cases of adultery or desertion; children who experience the divorce of their parents; children born to unmarried parents; and fostered, adopted or donor-conceived people who don’t know their biological parents.
“A lot of times people feel it’s their fault and there’s something wrong with them, but really we have a lot of structural problems causing this,” she said. “So we wanted to put together something that would help people deal with it in their own lives and also have a bigger picture of why it’s so troubling, and that’s what the retreat is designed to do.”
Morse said the retreat will focus on the child’s perspective.
“Our philosophy is that every child is entitled to a relationship with both of their parents unless some unavoidable tragedy takes place to prevent that, and of course that does happen,” she said.
“From the child’s perspective, anything that involves them not being in a day-to-day relationship with both parents, that’s a breakdown. If you look at it from a child’s perspective, sometimes the family is broken down even before it starts.”
Too many families are suffering alone and in silence, Morse said.
“It’s possible to have some healing. The feelings you have of maybe longing for the missing parent or longing for the relationship to somehow be restored, that’s a perfectly valid feeling,” she said.
“It might not happen; you might not be able to control whether it happens or not. But we want people to feel affirmed that at least it’s OK to have that desire.”
Morse said the conference is open to people ages 15 and older. Cost is $30 per person and $50 per family; attendance is free for members of the clergy. To register, visit www.olqh.org.
Posted on: Saturday, October 15, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
Originally published at The Blaze on October 14, 2016.
Dear Social Justice Warriors,
In some circles, the term “Social Justice Warrior” is a slur: an overly sensitive, obliviously privileged college student in a continual uproar over trivia.
I don’t agree with this caricature. I agree with you that social justice is real and worth fighting for. I admire young people who want to do something noble and good with their lives.
I have the perfect cause for you. This is a cause where you can do something constructive for the poor and marginalized. This cause demands something of you, rather than you demanding something of others. Are you ready for my challenge?In Portland Oregon, 2-year-old, Zackariah Luda Daugherty was murdered by a 20-year-old man. In West Virginia, an unnamed 9-month-old baby girl died after being sexually assaulted, shaken and strangled by a 32 year-old-man. In New Jersey, Ariana, a two-year-old girl diedafter being sexually assaulted by a 22 year-old-man.
What do all of these cases have in common?
The perpetrator of these crimes was in each case, the mother’s live-in boyfriend. If you type the words “mother’s boyfriend kills child” into your browser, many similar stories will pop up.
Social scientists have known for some time that the most dangerous living arrangement for a child is living with his or her mother and her live-in boyfriend. Back in 1994, a British study of child abuse reported that children living with their mother and a cohabiting boyfriend were about 50 times more likely to be killed than children living with their married parents.
This chart is taken from the original article with the permission of the author. Look at the bar labeled 2 NP md, which stands for “two Natural Parents, married,” and compare it with the bar labeled NM & chtee, which stands for “Natural Mother and cohabitee.”
A more recent study, in 2005, in Missouri, found that children living with their mother and an unrelated adult were 60 times more likely to be killed than children living with their married mother and father. And 84 percent of the time, that murderous unrelated adult was the mother’s boyfriend.
What does this have to do with me, you may ask? My young friends, I have frequently given talks on the hazards of cohabitation. And it never fails: some college student, usually a guy, will claim that cohabitation is not really so bad. It just looks bad, he will say, because lots of poor people cohabit. It looks like a bad deal, because the people who cohabit are more likely to be losers in the first place.
This is not correct, as it happens: controlling for income and education does reduce the impact of cohabitation, but not all the way to nothing. But let us say, for the sake of argument, that the problem is not cohabitation per se, but the people who happen to cohabit.
This, my earnest young friends, is where the social justice issue comes into play. Let’s say that you, as a privileged college-educated woman, can have a child, and then safely move in with a boyfriend who is not your child’s father. Let’s say you, as a college-educated man, never abuses your live-in girlfriend’s child.
But look: the child of a poor woman is more likely to be harmed by his or her mother’s boyfriend. What part of social justice is it for you and your advantaged friends to make excuses for a social convention, cohabitation, that won’t hurt you, but is systematically more likely to harm the poor? Why would you do such a thing?
That study is old and out of date, you may say. Ask yourself why you think that matters. I think we somehow expect the passage of time to bring wider acceptance of cohabitation. And we think, this wider social acceptance will solve these problems.
That assumes that the problems have only to do with social approval. Do you really believe that less disapproval of unmarried motherhood will eliminate the stress, fatigue and loneliness that unmarried mothers feel? Will wider social acceptance improve her judgment about what kind of guy is good for her to be involved with? Is the mere progression of time enough to make men no longer prefer their own natural children to someone else’s? Will further progress of the Sexual Revolution make men less interested in sex with the mother and more interested in her child?
In other words, the True Believers in the Sexual Revolution believe they can remake human nature.
I think this is a fool’s errand. I think these “old, outdated” studies show that we have known from the beginning that cohabitation is problematic. The privileged people of society, academics, social workers, judges, law enforcement officers, they are all aware of these risks. But we are not telling the poor, whose lives are most likely to be disrupted and even destroyed.
So here is my challenge to you. Stop making excuses for cohabitation. You don’t really need to move in with your Significant Other, do you? And even if you think you do, at least stop defending it as public policy. Give some thought for Zackariah, Ariana and the thousands of other unnamed children who have been harmed by their mothers’ boyfriends. Sacrifice yourself for the sake of social justice.
You just might save some lives.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse: Survivor of the Sexual Revolution
Posted on: Friday, August 12, 2016
By Ryan MacPherson, a Ruth Institute Circle of Experts member
Book Review: The Decline of Males, Lionel Tiger (New York: Golden Books, 1999)
This article was first published at hausvater.org.
Why would a confessional Lutheran (who recognizes that God created humanity male and female, instituted marriage, and designed the one-flesh union for procreation) want to read a book written by an evolutionist who claims that Darwin’s theory of sexual selection is the key to interpreting the breakdown of the American family? If the evolutionist is Dr. Lionel Tiger, a Rutgers University anthropologist, and the book is The Decline of Males, then the answer is simple: his insightful analysis offers lessons that transcend the gap between Darwinian assumptions, which fundamentally contradict Scripture, and the confessional Lutheran worldview, which proclaims that God “impressed upon [human] nature” a “divine ordinance” for marital procreation (Apol. XIII (XI), 7, 12).
Tiger differs from many scholars. He identifies the root of America’s culture war over “family values,” with its recurring “battle of the sexes,” not in politics, not in religion, not in any particular ideology, but rather in biology. He argues that male and female bodies, and the social behaviors that typically go with them, have evolved over millions of years to perfect a mammalian reproductive cycle in which offspring are preserved by males who care for pregnant and lactating females. The introduction of modern contraception in the 1960s, however, radically altered the human social environment. Biology—slow to evolve—is struggling to catch up. The result is social chaos, involving an escalation of single motherhood and absent fatherhood. A confessional Lutheran would want to correct Tiger’s evolutionary presuppositions with the doctrine that God the Creator designed human nature in such a way that “a husband should labor to support his wife and children … that a wife should bear children and care for them.” (AC XXVI, 10) The interesting thing is that many of Tiger’s conclusions would still stand. Following is the story he tells, drawn from anthropology, sociology, and psychology.
Prior to the 1960s, when the hormonal birth control pill became available, men and women had equal awareness of whether a sexual encounter was likely to result in pregnancy. Men, therefore, were more willing to accept responsibility for their pre-marital misbehavior, as evidenced by the high percentage of pregnant brides a century ago (30% to 50%). Today, by contrast, fewer women are pregnant on their wedding day, but many more remain unmarried as single mothers. “It is impossible,” writes Tiger, “to overestimate the impact of the contraceptive pill on human arrangements.” By shifting responsibility away from men and women (condoms and diaphragms) and toward women alone (pills and IUDs), modern contraceptive technology has empowered women to control their own destinies while also leaving women more vulnerable and isolated by deflating “a man’s sense of power … sense of function … sense of responsibility.” (35) Tiger suggests that this explains why the push for legalized abortion increased after the pill became available: when the pill failed, and an unmarried woman found herself pregnant, she could count no longer on a “shotgun wedding” as a safety net, and so she felt desperate for another way out.
By severing sexual intimacy from procreative potential, and procreative potential from male responsibility, the same pill that made women less dependent upon men also made them more dependent upon themselves, and ultimately upon the state. “If liberation means the absence of unavoidable irrefutable obligations,” explains Tiger, “women’s liberation has backfired. It is men who have been liberated.” (184) As women became less trusting of men and more reliant on themselves, higher education and gainful employment shifted, among women, from being luxuries to necessities. It became a greater stigma for a woman to be unemployed than unmarried. “Housewife,” formerly a badge of honor, was now a label of embarrassment. Women discovered, in a new culture of absent fatherhood and devalued motherhood, that “paid work enjoys high moral and social status even if it involves a woman’s taking care of someone else’s child ... and even if she has to pay yet another person to take care for hers.” (68) Men, meanwhile, shirked their responsibilities to the women they impregnated and the children born to them, leaving a void that social welfare sought to fill. Thus, monogamy gave way to “bureaugamy,” the marriage of a single woman and her child to the state’s welfare bureaucracy (21).
All this may sound too much like a “just so” story—clever, but without substantial evidence to support it. Here is where Tiger’s synthesis of the social sciences and natural sciences becomes more intriguing.
First, a lesson from primatology. Consider Austin, a dominant male monkey on a Caribbean island with nine female monkeys. As is typical for his species, he chooses to mate repeatedly with his favorite females—in this case, three of the nine. When researchers inject two of those three with Depo-Provera, a contraceptive, Austin loses interest and seeks two replacements from among the other monkeys. When the Depo-Provera wears off after three months, he returns to them. When researchers put all nine females on contraception, Austin begins “to rape, masturbate, and behave in a turbulent and confused manner.” (39) Depo-Provera chemically mimics pregnancy; since a female cannot become pregnant while currently pregnant, a female who is “chemically pregnant” on Depo-Provera has significant “protection” from actually becoming pregnant. As Austin’s harem demonstrates, this protection comes not only from the drug’s physiological effects, but also from it social effects. Chemically pregnant females do not exude the same pheromones as fertile females, and hence not only their own libido but also the interest that males exhibit toward them declines.
Similarly, women on the pill fall out of synch with off-pill women, whose pheromones lead the menstrual cycles of, say, women in a college dormitory to synchronize with the alpha female. In other words, “the pill affects how women relate to other women in a visceral way.” (42) Hormonal contraception also impacts women’s perceptions of men: women off the pill can distinguish responsible, gainfully employed, physically fit men from social “losers” by the smell of their clothes; women on the pill fail this same pheromonal evaluation. Such data confirm that Lutheran pastors had good reason to be concerned that, once the pill became commonplace, “Relationships between men and women would never again be the same.” (Lutheran Synod Quarterly, 1981*)
As Tiger progresses from the natural sciences to the social sciences, he does not champion “traditional family values” in the manner typical of reactionary conservatism. Rather, he argues compellingly for the success of single motherhood as a strategic adaptation to a radically impoverished human social environment. Women, whether single, married, or divorced, whether with or without children, are faring surprisingly well (though married women fare best). Women’s real wages increased in the closing decades of the twentieth century, while they declined for men. Women make up the majority of college students (55% in America; 60% in Canada) and are earning an increasing share of post-graduate degrees. Women are starting successful small businesses—often in or close to home, as they creatively integrate work with family life, a task that men have not mastered so well.
Rather than pointing a finger of blame at single women for being irresponsible, or for milking the welfare system, Tiger applauds their success at beating the odds. He also analyzes social transformations that have reshaped the odds in their favor. Specifically, a double-standard has emerged, under the guises of affirmative action and political correctness, in which all-female colleges retain praise but an all-male academy or golf club receives a court order to integrate. Rambunctious boys, whom an evolutionary anthropologist would identify as well-adapted for catching prey on the savannah, are now expected to cooperate quietly in feminized group learning classrooms, or else be diagnosed with ADHD and drugged with Ritalin. The same “troublesome” boys who fare poorly in school excel on the athletic field and demonstrate mental acuity by memorizing the stats of their favorite sports teams. Their biology is that of a male hunter-gatherer, but their social environment increasingly rewards feminine behavioral patterns they cannot readily produce.
Tiger thus objects both to the male chauvinism against which mid- to late-twentieth-century feminists reacted and also to the androgynous ideal that has largely replaced it. Emphasizing that men and women are biologically different, and by nature interdependent, Tiger worries about the “new world” in which men and women are expected to be the same, as interchangeable individuals rather than interdependent pairs. “Both men and women must play separately by the same rules rather than together by different ones.” (137)
But why separately? “It is almost easier to sever the most fundamental of human connections [marriage] than to install a Coke sign in a landmark part of town.” (115) No-fault divorce transforms even married mothers into single mothers, pseudo-empowering women to go it alone and men to leave them alone. Only 18% of single mothers receive child support from the father. Nearly 50% of Manhattan residents and 70% of central Oslo residents live alone. “The family effectively becomes almost a subset of society rather than the central system of society itself.” (107) Even families that remain intact outsource what historically have been the family’s most efficient achievements: childcare, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Half of American meals are eaten outside of home, and many of those eaten at home are “carry out” from elsewhere. The same two-income social structure that enables such tasks to be hired out also prevents spouses from having time to do them for themselves. Of course, this also means that husband and wife, parent and child are not doing such tasks for or with one another.
Men, meanwhile, recognize their lost ability to provide gainfully for a woman and their children. Some give up trying. Others labor in dissatisfying jobs, which they acquire only after tough competition against other men and women in an environment where affirmative action preferences female applicants. “The most challenging test to industrial communities,” projects Tiger, “will be to provide acceptable and gratifying occupations for young males and the adults they become.” (190) The decline of males has been especially sharp among African Americans, among whom 40% to 50% of young men are unemployed, and 7% of men spend part of their lives in jail. But the challenge is much broader. “How many men of any race or ethnic group can confidently assume they will, like their fathers, be able to support a spouse and several children in a seemly manner on their own check?” (170)
At the root of this all is a biological imperative: “Who will raise the children?” In Tiger’s evolution-assumed analysis, “it is best to begin with the mammalian fact that small children should be raised by their mothers. This is Mother Nature’s plan.” (260) Still, he does not suggest that people should be trapped by their genetic coding; rather, he urges that choices should be made in conformity with biological reality: if many mothers decide to remain at home with their children … this should be treated as an adult choice by empowered people, not a distasteful primordial legacy.” (263) He also wants women to feel free to remain unmarried and childless, pursuing independent lifestyles if they prefer. However, he argues that such independence should be truly independent, not bolstered by affirmative action—particularly now that 55% of college students are women anyway.
But whether women work, or stay at home to raise their children, or creatively develop a combination of both, is not Tiger’s principal concern. He simply suggests that children are best raised by their parents, and young children by their mothers, and thus he raises a red flag about a society that so causally has adopted the post-family normalcy of a single woman laboring (often by caring for other people’s children) in order to finance childcare for her own children. “No zookeeper would have Monkey Mother A take care of Monkey Mother B’s baby and vice versa,” but current welfare policy encourages precisely this arrangement for humans (264). Why not instead provide welfare payments for stay-at-home single mothers?
Better still, why not identify ways to foster greater responsibility among males, so that husbands and fathers can acquire gainful employment and fulfill responsibilities to women and children? Of course, responsibility implies interdependence, and interdependence is quite at odds with the sort ofindependence the pill promised women and men half a century ago. Could it be that such independence has prompted men to retreat from family responsibilities? Tiger thinks so, and warns that human society is regressing to a matrilineal chimpanzee lifestyle in which females mate with multiple males, none of whom maintain close ties to mother or child.
What he mistakes for evolutionary regression, Scripture identifies as original sin—the rotting away of our divinely fashioned human nature. For a full remedy to the epidemic of fatherlessness in America, one must look far beyond the social science of Lionel Tiger to the Bible’s testimony of the forgiving God who comes to earth to restore His fallen creatures. One must look to the gospel of Jesus Christ, concerning whom the prophet Malachi wrote, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
*Carl E. Braaten, “Sex, Marriage, and the Clergy,” Dialog n.v. (n.d.): n.p., as quoted and discussed in Norman A. Madson, “How Should a Pastor Deal with the New Morality?” Lutheran Synod Quarterly 21, no. 3 (1981): 32-47, at 35.
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: Wednesday, August 03, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published July 23, 2016, at The Blaze.
Earlier this week, the Ruth Institute sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia.
Our letter thanked him for “his clear teaching on marriage, family and human sexuality in the Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
With all the excitement of the political conventions, why would we spend our time sending flowers to an archbishop? We want to shine the spotlight on the positive things people are doing to build up society.
The archbishop’s guidelines restate the Ancient Teachings of Christianity regarding marriage, family and human sexuality. These teachings are obscured today. No less a theological heavy weight than the mayor of Philadelphia castigated the archbishop, saying the Guidelines were un-Christian!
To be fair to Mayor Jim Kenny, we have to admit that the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has caused worldwide confusion over Catholic teaching on marriage. Yelling at the pope has become a new cottage industry among tradition-minded Catholic writers. Pulling his words into a sexually indulgent direction has become a cottage industry among progressives of all faiths. And trying to parse out what he really meant has been a full employment guarantee for everyone.
Rather than getting involved in all that, we want to call attention to people who are implementing the unbroken teaching of the Church in a vibrant manner. Focus on what we know to be true and good. Archbishop Chaput’s Guidelines provide a clear and practical statement of ancient Catholic teaching, in the spirit of genuine mercy, incorporating language from Amoris Laetitia.
I believe that these teachings are correct, good and humane. I founded the Ruth Institute for the purpose of promoting those teachings to the widest audience possible. I don’t believe these things because I am a Catholic. On the contrary. It is precisely because I came to believe in these teachings that I returned to the practice of the Catholic faith after a 12-year lapse.
Let me discuss just one issue that has caused a lot of hand-wringing in the past 2 years. Jesus told us very clearly that remarriage after divorce is not possible. If attempted, it amounts to adultery. Why? According to Jesus, Moses only permitted a man to issue a bill of divorce because of “the hardness of your hearts.” (This is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, in case you were wondering.)
At that point, he could have said, “So, I’m going to eliminate this appalling male privilege and allow women to divorce their husbands, exactly like Moses allowed men to divorce their wives.” However, he did no such thing. He didn’t extend the male privilege. He eliminated it entirely. “From the beginning it was not so,” referring back to God’s original plan for creation. “I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” One of the “hard sayings” of Jesus, no doubt. But pretty darn clear.
(And please: don’t trouble me with that so-called loophole, ok? The real innovation in modern no-fault divorce law is that it allows an adulterer to get a divorce against the wishes of the innocent party. No sane person can argue that Jesus provided that “loophole” to allow the guilty party to validly remarry.)
The Church teaches that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive communion because she is trying to implement this teaching of Jesus. A civilly divorced and remarried person is living with, and presumably having sex with someone, while still validly married to someone else. If the first marriage is still valid, the second attempted marriage is not valid, and is in fact, adulterous. What is so hard to understand about that?
You know who really understands this concept, who intuitively “gets it?” Children of divorce. Kids look into their parents’ bedroom and see someone who doesn’t belong there. “Who is this guy in bed with my mom: my dad is supposed to be there.” Or, “who is this woman in bed with my dad? My mom is supposed to be there.”
At the Ruth Institute, we know there are situations in which married couples must separate for the safety of the family. But we also know that those cases are by far not the majority of cases. No-fault divorce says a person can get divorced for any reason or no reason, and the government will take sides with the party who wants the marriage the least. The government will permit that person to remarry, against the wishes of their spouse and children.
This is an obvious injustice that no one in our society will talk about. The children of divorce are socially invisible. In fact, I bet some of them felt like crying when they read my paragraph above quoting with approval, what might have gone through their little minds. Many of them have never heard an adult affirm their feelings that something dreadfully wrong and unjust took place in their families.
Jesus knew. Jesus was trying to keep us from hurting ourselves and each other. And the Catholic Church has been trying to implement Jesus’ teaching. You may say the Church has been imperfect in her attempts and I won’t argue with you. But I will say that no one else is even seriously trying.
Political campaigns come and go. Political parties come and go. In fact, nations themselves come and go. But the teachings of Jesus are forever. What we do about marriage and children and love reveals what and whom we truly love.
That is why we congratulate Archbishop Charles Chaput for his guidelines. We wish the Archdiocese all the very best. Make Marriage Great Again.
Posted on: Monday, November 02, 2015
By PEGGY FLETCHER STACK
This article was first Published at The Salt Lake Tribune on October 29, 2015, and last updated October 31, 2015.
On the third day of the World Congress of Families meeting in Salt Lake City, stirring speeches about assaults on the family from the government and media, costs of the sexual revolution, and the urgent need to protect religious freedom rang through the Grand America ballroom.
The family was "ordained of God," the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez said in a plenary session of the international gathering Thursday morning. "In essence, it is the heart of God by which we experience the fullness of God's glory."
The idea of the family "does not stem from a political ideology," said Rodriguez, who ministers to a multiethnic evangelical congregation in Sacramento, Calif., "and I don't believe the U.S. Supreme Court has the power and authority to redefine it."
Close, loving families led by a mother and father provide, he said, the "antidote to poverty, gang violence and economic disparities. ... It is a God-ordained firewall against so many ills."
An attack on the institution, Rodriguez said, "is an attack on communities that need it most."
Jennifer Roback Morse added her voice to the chorus of worried Christians, sounding the alarm about the aftermath — and victims — of the so-called "sexual revolution."
Morse — who was named one of the "Catholic Stars of 2013" along with Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI and others — was so troubled by what she sees as the decline of marriage that she launched the nonprofit Ruth Institute in 2008 to raise awareness about the costs.
The list of those victimized by the family breakdown includes children of divorce, children of unwed mothers, women who have been abandoned and children of same-sex couples, she said. "Men, women and children have been harmed ... by the lies [about marriage]."
Society's view of sexuality "is a totalitarian ideology," the Catholic scholar said. "Even [its] most ardent opponents don't know how insidious the revolution is."
Morse then challenged the gathering to speak against sexual freedom and its consequences.
"We are up against powerful people in our world," she said, "but Bill Gates and George Soros do not have enough money to silence all of us."
The Rev. Paige Patterson, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and current president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, tackled the topic of religious freedom.
It began, he said, when God created the first couple — Adam and Eve.
"God could have created automatons," the Baptist preacher said, "but our progenitors were created with the freedom to reject God or honor him."
The Constitution's First Amendment outlaws any government-established religion and forbids limits to the "free exercise of religion" — unless the state has a compelling interest to do so.
"Those concerned about the future of the family can no longer lend support to any candidate who doesn't vigorously support the First Amendment or is seeking to impose restrictions on religious freedoms," he said. "All such [office seekers] must be resisted."
Without religious freedom, Patterson said, "all other freedoms become relatively meaningless."
The Utah gathering wraps up Friday. The 10th World Congress of Families is tentatively scheduled for May 16-18, 2016, in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.