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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published April 17, 2017, at Crisis Magazine.
My son and I saw the new Beauty and the Beast. It was lovely, magical, following the 1991 cartoon, almost scene for scene, song for song. This is the story everyone wants to hear: darkness and evil and selfishness transformed by love into light and good and self-surrender. Life and love conquer death and fear.
This just happens to be the Christian story. That is why we never tire of hearing it. We were meant for love, for communion with others, for radical self-giving.
We want the Beast to be transformed. We want Belle to see beyond his looks and love him. We love Belle’s father and mother when each of them sacrifices themselves for their daughter. (Spoiler alert: we find out what happened to Belle’s mother.) We do not need to be talked into loving these moments. We love them instinctively, from the deepest part of our hearts.
We love the authentic portrayal of masculinity and femininity. The villain, Gaston, is a caricature of manhood. He is a preening, self-indulgent bully. He uses his strength and power to lord it over everyone around him and get what he wants. We are meant to despise the trio of girls who fawn over Gaston. And we do, because they are caricatures of authentic womanhood. They are absorbed with their looks and in snagging a high-status man.
We love Belle, not because she is an embodiment of some new feminist protagonist, but for the same reasons we have always loved our heroines. She is kind, faithful, and capable of radically self-giving love. Yes, she speaks her mind. Yes, she is competent. Yes, she likes to read. But who ever thought these traits were incompatible with genuine femininity? Shakespeare? Tolstoy? Laura Ingalls Wilder? Only feminist ideologues in their fantasy worlds ever thought otherwise.
We love the Beast because he is transformed from being a punk like Gaston into a truly manly man. His willingness to sacrifice his life for the sake of Belle’s happiness transforms him. This just happens to be what St. Paul enjoins of husbands in Ephesians 5: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself up for her.”
We do not need to be taught to love this story. It is written on our hearts by our Creator. In spite of the ravages of sin, in spite of all the ways we Moderns have distorted ourselves, we still respond to the story of self-giving love triumphing over selfishness. Ideologically-concocted fantasies don’t satisfy.
The Gay Moments
This brings me to the Beauty and the Beast “gay moment” that got so much press prior to the film’s opening. The film has several gay innuendos. A viewer in the theater could blink and miss them. That is why I believe Christians can see it, and even take their kids. The gay double entendres will sail right over their heads.
Buying the DVD is a different story. If kids watch the film repeatedly as people tend to do in their own homes, they will eventually figure out the gay stuff.
Interestingly enough, the presumably-gay LeFou doesn’t actually fit the Official Gay Storyline. He is unsure of his masculinity. By attaching himself to the hyper-masculine Gaston, he tries to reinforce his own sense of maleness.
But contra the Official Gay Storyline, his attraction to Gaston does nothing positive for him. In fact, it weakens him. He lies for Gaston. He acquiesces in attempted murder. He participates in mob violence. All along, LeFou knows he is doing wrong. He stifles his conscience to please Gaston. When Gaston finally throws him under the bus (actually, under the piano), LeFou has second thoughts. He mentally ditches Gaston, and he can finally fight for what he knows to be right.
In other words, he becomes a man. He doesn’t need Gaston. At the end of the film, he is dancing with women, along with every other man in the castle.
Is it really a “gay moment” in the last scene when he momentarily gets partnered with a man? Or is it reversion to heterosexuality when LeFou dances happily with women in the bulk of the scene? More importantly, what is the Moment with a Man even doing in the movie? It adds nothing to the plot.
I think director Bill Condon felt he needed to pay obeisance to the Big Gay Activist Machine. The hints about the “exclusively gay moment,” to “the UK’s best-selling gay magazine” are part of the dance everyone now needs to perform to please the really powerful people.
But was it enough? Of course not. Nothing is ever enough for the True Believer.
Why isn’t it enough?
The sexual revolutionaries are peddling propaganda. They must. They are trying to manipulate people into believing things that are not true.
Love and sex are not the same. We cannot live without love, but we can live without sex. Men and women are different. Selfishness does not make us happy. These things are all true. The sexual revolutionaries are trying to create a society based on their opposites.
This project of theirs cannot succeed. But the impossibility of the goal does not dissuade them from their attempts. Their fantasy of what the world should be continues to propel them. Every new failure just ratchets up their commitment to keep trying.
Hence the need for more and deeper propaganda. The sexual revolutionaries must do as the Soviets did: enlist artists to create propaganda for the creation of their fantasy. Every work of art must point to the Glorious New World.
The Disney people painted a mustache on their Mona Lisa of a film, in order to placate the Activists, who, in the end, were not satisfied. Some have said that the “gay LeFou” character is a tribute to Howard Ashman, who wrote the original lyrics but died of AIDs before the cartoon was released in 1991. I find that suggestion offensive. I doubt that an artist of his stature would be “honored” by the Disney studios inserting the equivalent of a juvenile fart joke into his work. (Speaking of fart jokes, this not-nearly-gay-enough criticism of the film is gross. Is this how they really talk when they think no one is listening?) Soviet art is bad art. Pasting homosexual themes onto this story is bad art.
I watched the original cartoon endlessly, when it came out in 1991 and I had two preschoolers. How will the “gay moments” in this new version hold up after repeated viewing? All the rest of this live-action remake could be watched endlessly, without losing its charm. But the gratuitous gay scenes will be boring the second time you see them.
As for the Christians who called for a boycott of the film without even seeing it, well, I think that was ill-conceived. It is possible that Director Bill Condon, who is openly gay himself, was attempting to bait Christians. But taking the bait is not always wise. It could be more akin to a child repeatedly dropping his spoon from the high chair: he doesn’t really want the spoon. He just wants to see you pick it up over and over.
I think is more likely that Condon’s real audience for his comments was the Gay Commentariat. He felt he needed to pay homage to them, and win their approval. We conservative Christians are barely on his radar screen. We cannot hurt him the way gays in Hollywood potentially could.
The differences between the new Beauty and the Beast and the original cartoon from 1991 shows how far our culture has fallen into the grip of sexual revolutionary propaganda. We barely recognize it.
The telling of the Christian story resonates because it is calling out to our hearts with things everyone knows to be true. We Christians have Truth and Beauty on our side. We need to use them, without apology.
Posted on: Thursday, July 06, 2017
By Stoyan Zaimov
This article was published at Christian Post on May 17, 2017.
(Photo: Reuters) Children play in their kindergarten run by a private foundation which is not affected by the nursery caretakers' strike in Hanau, 30km south of Frankfurt, Germany, May 8, 2015.
An organization of teachers in the U.K. has argued that homosexuality and transgenderism should be taught to young children starting in nursery school.
Members of the National Union of Teachers group voted for a measure at a conference in Cardiff to "campaign to ensure a comprehensive age-appropriate content including promotion of LGBT+ matters for all schools from nursery throughout all phases of state education," The Evening Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Annette Pryce, a NUT executive member from Buckinghamshire, claimed that the U.K. government hasn't been doing enough to promote inclusion.
"Those generations of young LGBT people who have been failed by the system are still not told explicitly in the law that their lives are important too," Pryce said.
"The NUT ... needs to ensure that SRE is inclusive to LGBT young people now and forever."
Education Secretary Justine Greening announced back in March that age appropriate sex and relationships guidance is to be made compulsory for all children, though it allowed parents and faith schools to opt out of the new rules.
U.K. ministers have been facing "mounting pressure" to respond to concerns that children are not being educated about online porn, cyber bullying and sexting, the Telegraph said.
Conservatives, such as Andrea Williams, chief executive at Christian Concern, have warned that teaching statutory sex education to 4-year-olds can be "devastating" and risks "robbing them of their innocence," however.
"Children [age 4] should not be introduced to this. Schools need to be safe places where the innocence of children is protected," Williams said in February.
"Very often sex education introduces children to concepts far too soon, destroying their innocence. This is not something that the state should be laying down. We are very concerned about this," she added.
Transgender issues being imposed upon children has stirred controversy in both the U.K. and the United States in recent times, with one critic calling a recently released book teaching children that men can have periods too "child abuse."
The Adventures of Toni the Tampon: A Period Coloring Book, which is being sold online on Amazon, claims that it's an "easy way to start a conversation with young kids about menstruation."
Cass Clemmer, a 2015 graduate of American University who created the Toni the Tampon character, said that Toni "is a little genderqueer tampon — kind of like me in tampon form — who just goes by Toni instead of any pronouns."
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute that seeks Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown, told The Christian Post in March that teaching children that men and boys can have periods is both "scientific malpractice and child abuse."
"This coloring book is a solution in search of a problem. Undermining children's comfort with their own bodies is no service to anyone. Most children who experience gender dysphoria grow out of it," Morse told CP.
Posted on: Wednesday, June 28, 2017
AUSTIN, Texas, May 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Two bisexual women and one man proclaim threesome marriage “should be the future of relationships” and that their threesome parenting is “setting a good example.”
Adam Lyons, 36, lives openly with two women, 28-year-old Brooke Shedd — with whom he has a two-year-old son, and 27-year-old Jane Shalakhova — who is eight months’ pregnant with his third son. He already has a seven-year-old stepson from yet another relationship.
“Three parents are better than two,” Lyons told the New York Post. “It enables us to manage daily life so much better.”
He says he notices “normal” two-person couples are often exhausted and struggle to keep up with work and children. “With three people, it’s logistically so much easier. … We share out the responsibilities, and it fits our sexual preferences too.”
“This should be the future of relationships, where people are able to enjoy love in any way they feel works,” Lyons advocated. “Three people and three parents makes so much sense to us.”
Shalakhova says she never wanted children until she joined the threesome. “I always thought that when you had a baby, you became a slave to your child,” she shared. But “with three parents, we can still have a social life, make time for one another, and share the parenting tasks so you don’t end up like the typical sleep-deprived mom.”
The unmarried polygamous arrangement has been going on for five years, which proves, Lyons says, “we’re a real family with healthy, happy kids.” All three say they are “setting a good example” for Lyons’ stepson, Oliver.
All three also admit they occasionally bring in a fourth sex partner. “We’re still open to fun when it comes along,” Lyons said. “We do sleep with other people outside the three of us” and “if we wanted to add someone, I’m sure we could.”
“We still make time to go to strip clubs together,” Shalakhova happily added. “We just hang out and have fun there.”
Shedd hints at a possible future political front in the culture wars. “I would definitely love to get married to Adam and Jane. It’s something we’ve always wanted, even though it’s not legal.”
Shedd says one thing is certain. “We definitely want a few more kids.”
Pro-marriage and family advocates say the threesome are in delusion.
“This is a form of child abuse, pure and simple,” National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown told LifeSiteNews. “A child has a mother and father … period. To introduce an additional sexual partner into the home is to create confusion and chaos for an innocent child.”
Brown said this proves what opponents of homosexual “marriage” knew all along.
“We predicted that this would be the next step with the court creating the legal fiction of same-sex ‘marriage:’ This is a further step down the path of sacrificing children’s real needs to the sexual desires of parents.”
“I pray for the children who are being robbed of their innocence in such a home,” Brown added.
Dr. Mark Regnerus, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, expressed concern to LifeSiteNews over a lack of stability for the children.
“From a social scientific perspective, this is an inherently unstable arrangement — and we know stability is good for children,” the professor explained.
“Adding children to the ‘mix’ is likely to destabilize the (polyamorous) arrangement, whereas it often functions to unite a marriage between a man and a woman,” Regnerus observed.
Jennifer Johnson, the Ruth Institute’s director of the Children of Divorce Project, has seen the damaging effects of non-traditional family structures on children.
“These adults have created a structural inequality for the children and are celebrating it,” she explained to LifeSiteNews. “This is very typical for adults in our culture, who place their sexual liberty ahead of family structure equality for their children.”
“Family structure equality means that kids are raised with their own married mother and father, and that they don’t have step and half siblings to contend with,” Johnson illustrated. “Mom, dad, kids. That is equality from the child’s point of view.”
Johnson’s book, Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children, notes:
“Children are observant. Any school-aged child can see which of them live with their own married parents and which do not. They can see that some kids know and are connected to both halves of their origins, and others are not. If a particular child thinks or feels something about the inequality in which he finds himself, his thoughts and feelings may not be welcome. This is because they cannot be welcome. To welcome those thoughts and feelings might cast doubt upon the structure of the family itself.”
This inner disconnect is most often only acknowledged years later, once the damage is done to the child.
“For example, the now-adult children of unilateral divorce are finding their voices and beginning to speak out,” Johnson said. “They were silent for many years because of not wanting to hurt their parents, feeling too afraid to reveal their true feelings, and feeling isolated.”
Johnson says the pain, insecurity, and inner conflict that adult children of non-traditional family structures witness to shows that polygamous arrangements like Lyons, Shedd, and Shalakhova’s are deeply harmful.
“They are now telling their stories, and what they have to say isn’t pretty,” Johnson said. “It will undermine the belief that ‘kids are resilient.’”
The current generation is cursing the coming generation with an unbearable psychological and emotional (and sexual) burden.
“I will not be surprised when all the other kids of other kinds of family structure inequality also grow up, find their voices, and tell the ugly truth about what it was like to have their own intact families sacrificed on the altar of sexual liberation,” Johnson added.
Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg pointed out that if Lyons’ “arrangement” is true, it confirms the many warnings of concerned Christians.
“Those of us who opposed the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples were routinely mocked for making ‘slippery slope’ arguments suggesting that such eliminating the male-female requirement for marriage would lead to further redefinitions, such as eliminating the requirement that marriage be limited to two people,” the senior fellow for policy studies told LifeSiteNews. “The slope is proving even more slippery than I might have imagined.”
Sprigg echoed his pro-family colleagues’ concern for the children.
“Living in a household with their mother, father, and another woman they also refer to as ‘Mom’ is likely to create confusion about their place in the world,” he explained. “As they grow older, there may well be rivalries between the half-siblings who have different mothers — as is clearly seen in the polygamous families of the Old Testament.”
Furthermore, polygamous relationships are unstable, Sprigg says.
“This ‘throuple’ is even more likely to eventually break up than a typical married couple, which can cause lasting trauma to a child,” he said. “While they present a rosy picture in this article, it is almost inevitable that jealousies would arise in this situation.”
“That’s not to mention the destructive role model of self-indulgent promiscuity that these three are providing for the children in their home,” the family advocate added.
“I would think that it is not only conservatives who should be concerned about such an arrangement, but feminists as well,” Sprigg noted. “One rarely hears of a woman sharing a household with multiple male sexual partners. If this model were to spread, it would mean more men would have difficulty finding wives, and a surplus of unmarried men in a society is a recipe for instability.”
“The one-man, one-woman model of marriage is one of the most egalitarian social institutions,” Sprigg concluded, “because it maximizes the likelihood that everyone, regardless of social status, will be able to find a suitable mate.”
Posted on: Monday, April 17, 2017
A Child of Divorce Speaks Out on the Importance of a Family
Jennifer Johnson is Director of the Children of Divorce Project at the Ruth Institute. She is an author, whose interests include homeschooling (she homeschooled her three children), children’s rights and family structure issues. She has worked full time with the Ruth Institute since 2010, an organization founded by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse “dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown.”
Johnson’s most recently published work is “Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children.” She recently talked about divorce and its effect on her life.
What is your own personal experience of divorce?
I have a lot of experience with divorce, far too much to ask of any one person in my opinion. My parents divorced when I was three and went on to subsequent marriages, divorces, different children, a lot of back and forth between “two homes,” and a lot of chaos. By the time I was about 22, I had experienced three divorces: my own parents’ divorce and my dad’s two subsequent divorces. I am divorced as an adult and there is quite a bit of divorce in the rest of my family.
How did it affect you, and how have you been able to recover?
That is a whole story that I tell in my Special Report, “Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children”. The short version is that I did not have a family; I was the lone member of my family. The family experience that I had was shared by no other person. I include diagrams in the report to show what I mean.
That experience taught me to suppress my true thoughts and feelings about the original divorce and the remarriages. That chaotic situation taught me to ignore my own intuitions, taught me that letting my intuitions bubble to the surface of my mind was dangerous. Had I examined and revealed my intuitions about all that to my parents, it would have jeopardized my already-tenuous relationship with them. Learning to ignore my thoughts, feelings and intuitions about things that bothered me made me extremely vulnerable once I became an adult. I joined a cult at the age of 19, had an arranged marriage there, and participated and endorsed some horrific abuse and exploitation of others so that I could fit in and not be thought of as an outsider. The cult appealed to my deep need for belonging, for being a full-fledged member of a family.
Anthropologists have a concept that applies here. It is called “liminality.” Limin is Latin for the threshold of a doorway. The threshold is not one room or the other. It is the in-between place between two rooms, or between the outside of the house and the inside. Liminality is the condition of being between states or statuses. Sometimes it is referred to as being “betwixt and between.” When somebody is in a liminal state, they are no longer what they were and are not yet what they will be. The old rules no longer apply, and the new rules do not apply yet.
When my parents divorced, I ceased to exist as a full-fledged daughter in my family, because my family ceased to exist. I never again entered a full-fledged status with either of them. Their divorce and subsequent remarriages pushed me into a liminal state from which I have never emerged. Joining the cult was my attempt to exit the liminal state, to become initiated as a full-fledged member of a family, even if it was an abusive family.
There have been many studies about the effects of divorce on children. What are some of the findings?
It’s bad. It is worse than the average person wants to realize. Divorce shortens people’s lives. That alone should get people’s attention. Plus it increases the risk factors for addictions, not finishing high school, getting divorced as an adult and losing contact with grandparents. Children of divorce report feeling a lack of empathy from their churches, and don’t go to church as much as kids from intact families.
“No fault” divorce came to California in 1969, and the rest of the country soon after. How do you think divorce has affected society as a whole?
In order to talk about society, we need to talk about the mechanics behind the changes of “no-fault.” No-fault changed an important legal presumption in marriage. A presumption is a starting-point, a place where we say, “Here is where we begin, and we can make adjustments to individual circumstances from this place, but we need a beginning point so we always begin here.” Prior to no-fault, the legal presumption, the legal beginning point, was that marriage is permanent. It was viewed as a truly life-long commitment and the family courts honored this, at least in principle. Of course, there was divorce and separation prior to no-fault, but the presumption of permanence was honored by the courts. In order to get a divorce, that presumption had to be overcome by demonstrating why the marriage had failed. Such circumstances included adultery, addictions and abandonment.
No-fault changed the legal presumption. Now marriage is no longer legally presumed permanent by the family courts. The courts get involved in the minutia of family life at the behest of one spouse. One spouse has the power to harness the family court to destroy the family, like wielding a sledge hammer, and the family courts must comply. They no longer side with the family, giving preference to its legitimate claim on wholeness. They side with the person who wants to destroy the family. If the other spouse wants to keep the family together, that person has no legal remedy. The divorce will be enforced in all cases if one spouse wants it.
In this respect, no-fault divorce is like abortion. That might sound like a dramatic claim, so let me spell it out.
In both cases, the State sides with one person (the pregnant mother, the petitioner in a no-fault divorce action) to uphold or enforce the action that the person wants (the abortion, the no-fault divorce), while simultaneously providing no legal defense for the other person (the unborn child, the respondent in the divorce action). The individual who wants the action (of the abortion or to be divorced) must be “freed” from every restraint that he does not explicitly want. Even if he chose the restraint at a point in the past, if he changes his mind, then the State’s duty is to free him from it if this is what the individual wants.
In February, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput published a book called, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World. He makes this same point when he says: “Without the restrains of some higher moral law, democracy instinctively works against natural marriage, traditional families and any other institution that creates bonds and duties among citizens. It insists on the autonomous individual as its ideal.”
Thus, as a society, we believe that the State’s duty to the individual is to annul or at least modify his familial obligations whenever he chooses in order to free him.
I’ve heard it said divorce may be a necessity when “the 3 A’s” are involved: addiction, abuse and adultery. Do you agree?
This is a complex question since it touches on a variety of issues. We can talk about it from the State’s perspective or the perspective of individual families. Taking the State’s perspective, we might ask: what is the State’s role in divorce? Should the State be involved? If so, at what point? I would say that yes, there is a role for the State, but to restore some semblance of justice in divorce we need to restore the legal presumption of permanence. I do not know how that should be done. Should we go back to some sort of fault-based system that relies on “the 3 A’s”? Should we at least eliminate the unilateral aspect of divorce and require both spouses to consent to it? I would say yes to both of those questions.
We can also consider the perspective of individual families. Perhaps somebody reading this article is experiencing one or more of those things right now. It is difficult to give blanket advice since each case is unique. Even so, I have heard many reports about couples who recovered from adultery. For addiction issues, help can be found through groups such as Al-Anon.
The good thing about the old fault-based system is that somebody was legally culpable. This person was then penalized by the courts. This deterred bad behavior. For example, if the child is not living with that person post-divorce, then this makes sense. Children should not be living with addicts or with abuse, especially when their other parent is not there to serve as a buffer.
What might you say to couples with children considering divorce when less serious issues are involved?
That triad of your family matters a great deal. It matters to your children, to all of the people around you, and to your grandchildren and the rest of your posterity. So try harder to work things out. I know you’re tired and you probably want to go find somebody else. But your kids need you there, at home. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your situation will beat the odds for your kids. Are you willing to implicitly tell them that you don’t want to live with them for half of their remaining childhood? Because that is what you will be communicating to them if you split up. Do you want to throw away their sense of being your full-fledged child?
You will continue to have a relationship with your spouse even after the divorce, and you will have less say-so in the lives of your children than you do now. Your ex-spouse might bring undesirable people into your children’s lives, and your children will feel pressure to accept and love those people. Some spouses resort to parental alienation tactics, which means that you run the risk of losing all contact with your children for a very long time.
Please do not make the child live in “two homes.” Do not break up their daily life like that. Consider keeping the family home, letting the children live there full time, and getting a small place nearby that you share with your ex-spouse. Each of you takes turns going back and forth between the family home and the other place. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, then please reconsider making your kids do the same. Apply the same standard to your children that you want applied to you.
What help/advice would you offer children of divorced parents to help them recover?
I don’t have any magic words here. Healing is an ongoing process. The first steps were the hardest for me:
I recommend my reading my book for more details about all of these concepts, plus many diagrams that make it easy enough for a child to understand.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 21, 2017
A January conference in Phoenix will tackle tough issues of homosexuality, transgenderism
by James Graves at OSV Newsweekly on January 27, 2017
Clergy process out of the chapel at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich., in August 2015 after the opening Mass of the Truth and Love Conference. CNS photo by Mike Stechschulte
Courage International will join with the Diocese of Phoenix to host Truth and Love, a conference intended to offer practical and pastoral guidance on the topics of homosexuality and sexual identity on Jan. 9-11, 2017, at St. Paul Parish in Phoenix. Courage is the Catholic Church’s apostolate to help men and women struggling with same-sex attraction live in accordance with the teachings of the Church. The Phoenix conference will be Courage’s third since its founding in 1980; a similar conference was held most recently in Michigan in August 2015.
Father Philip Bochanski, Courage’s executive director, says that the conference is a tool to “share the good news that living chastely and finding our true identity as sons and daughters of God is the way to real happiness and authentic relationships.”
The theme of Truth and Love is “welcoming and accompanying our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions or confusion regarding sexual identity.”
According to a joint statement released by the Diocese of Phoenix and Courage, many of the current approaches to homosexuality “do not include the fuller perspective of the human person. Rather, they limit themselves to ‘acceptance’ and to the protection of the ‘right’ of ‘sexual satisfaction.’ Yet, as the Catholic Church has consistently taught, these approaches will never lead people to the abundant life that Christ promises.”
Presenters include Father Bochanski; Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agaña, Guam; chastity speaker Jason Evert; Walt Heyer, a former transgender person, speaker and operator of the site www.SexChangeRegret.com; Janet Smith, a professor of moral theology at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; John Cuddeback, a professor of philosophy at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia; and Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.
Morse is an author and speaker specializing in the area of marriage and family, and played a prominent role defending traditional marriage in California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Her conference topic will be “Understanding the Sexual Revolution.”
Her topic, she said, includes refuting the belief of the sexual revolution that happiness comes merely by having sex, an idea that she says didn’t emerge without help.
“I’m 63, and the sexual revolution has been with us throughout my lifetime,” she said. “The good news is that we have decades of studies that have demonstrated that these ideas are a failure.”
Once the ideas of the sexual revolution had permeated society, she continued, “the building blocks for gay marriage were already there in the culture. People have come to believe that sex should be a sterile activity — that people can have sex and not think about babies — and gay sex is the ultimate sterile sex.”
Coupled that with the belief that “men and women are interchangeable and that kids don’t need their parents, so why not have gay marriage?”
Also featured at the conference will be speakers who have experienced same-sex attraction or sexual identity confusion sharing how chaste friendships and embracing the teachings of the Church have helped them on their journey toward chastity and sanctity. These include Daniel Mattson, who will present “Captivated by Truth: Why the Church’s Truth about Homosexuality has Set Me Free.”
Mattson is a professional musician from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was baptized Catholic and raised an evangelical Christian. He experiences same-sex attraction, and although he was “clandestine” about it, he was once involved in the gay lifestyle.
He wanted to participate in the Courage conference, he said, in hopes that he could “communicate that chastity is a vital part of the Good News, and part of the reason I came back to the Catholic Church.”
Mattson noted that in the entertainment world of which he is a part, his fellow musicians “would celebrate me coming out, embracing being gay and having a boyfriend.” Instead, he continued, “They are mystified that I would choose to be Catholic.”
But, he continued, it was in the Catholic Church that he has found both “truth and freedom, and I accept that truth in humility, even though that does not affect that I am still attracted to men.”
Mattson returned to the Catholic Church after attending a Courage conference in 2009. He tells his story in the Courage film “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which can be viewed under the resources tab on the Courage website. He travels frequently to speak at high schools and colleges, often accompanied by Father Bochanski or Father Paul Check, the former executive director of Courage.
He recalled a question asked by a teenage boy at one of his high school presentations: “If I feel I’m attracted to the same sex, am I gay?”
“I responded, ‘No. The Church wisely teaches us that our feelings do not define who we are. Who we are made by God is what defines us.”
Mattson continued, “I do what I’m doing to help people like this boy. He’s living in a world that tells him it does mean he’s gay, but I’m here to say that he doesn’t have to follow every feeling or desire. These kids are being told lies and falling into a trap.”
Mattson also will soon release a book through Ignatius Press sharing his experiences. Mattson’s brother, Steve, is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, and also is a presenter at the conference.
Mass celebrants include Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez. Bishop Olmsted was pleased to have his diocese host the conference.
“The work of Courage International, helping those with same-sex attraction to build friendships and virtue, and helping the Church to share the Good News of Christ in a challenging area, is essential in our time,” he said. “I encourage all who have pastoral responsibilities to join us at the conference. It will help you to grow in knowledge and fellowship.”
Posted on: Friday, September 09, 2016
by Jennifer Johnson
This article was first published at Clash Daily on September 1, 2016.
There is a lot of controversy over the Catholic annulment process, both within the Catholic world and outside of it. I am grateful that the Church has such a process, but there is confusion about it. So I thought of a way to explain it by using a hypothetical story about a same-sex couple:
Once upon a time there was a man and a man. They fell in love and decided to get married. They planned a large wedding in a beautiful church. They obtained a marriage license from the county and found a minister to conduct the ceremony. They planned a beautiful reception.
On the big day, all their family and friends came. The ceremony went smoothly and the reception was a lot of fun. Everybody had a wonderful time and many people remarked on what a joyous occasion it was. They went on a honeymoon and after they got back, they decided to buy a home together. They hung their marriage certificate on the wall. They were very happy.
After a few years, one of the men slowly became convinced that he was not living the way God wanted him to live. He eventually submitted his life to Jesus Christ, and sought a divorce. He started going to church that disagreed with same-sex marriage and made a lot of friends there. He had gotten to know a Christian woman there, and they became close friends. He told her of his past life and she didn’t seem to care. They loved each other and decided to marry.
They knew the ancient Christian teaching regarding marriage, and wondered if perhaps God viewed the man as still being married in God’s sight. So they went to the pastor with this question. The pastor told them that no, just because the man went through a wedding ceremony and had a marriage certificate, did not mean that he was married in God’s sight. The pastor assured them that the man was free to marry the woman, since he had not been married in God’s sight when he was with the other man.
Any Christian can see that this would be true, if it were to happen. Same-sex marriages are not marriages in God’s sight. If somebody in the situation above were to later desire marriage with somebody of the opposite sex, they would be free to marry since they were not truly married in the first place. As Christians, we say this because the ancient teaching is clear in passages such as Matthew 19.
Unfortunately, the same thing can happen in male/female marriages. Sometimes they are not married in God’s sight even though they had a wedding, a reception, a marriage certificate from the county, children, and a divorce. Even civil law acknowledges this concept, and calls these situations “putative marriages.” This is a problem that has grown along with the sexual revolution. So-called “sexual liberation” has distorted people’s understanding of marriage, to such an extent that some of them fail to enter into real marriages in the first place.
I am grateful to the Catholic Church for having a process to determine whether or not marriages are valid. Although I am sympathetic with some of the criticism of that process being made by orthodox Catholics, I am grateful the process exists. And it needs to exist as a matter of justice. Marriage is a public commitment, a public institution, not a private one. Determinations regarding it should happen in a public forum.
Catholics call this “the external forum” which is a tribunal that exists to make these kinds of determinations. Because marriage is a public institution, I disagree with “internal forum” or private/personal determinations regarding the status of a marriage in God’s sight. Our own testimony, feeling, and conscience regarding the status of our marriage is certainly valuable, but it is not enough. “Private marriage” is oxymoron, and so private (aka “internal forum”) determinations of it can’t satisfy the requirement for justice. If we rely solely on a private or “internal forum” solution regarding the status of our marriage, we are being the judge and the petitioner in our own case. It should be clear that justice can’t be rendered, since there is a conflict of interest. The judge needs to be separate from the petitioner.
Once such a marriage has been found as invalid by the external forum, it is referred to as a putative marriage. A putative marriage as some of the elements of a valid marriage, such as legitimate children. A valid marriage can be likened to a circle, and a putative marriage can be likened to a circle with a part missing. It looks like a complete circle until it is examined more closely by people who know how to do such things.
Are there any such procedures in non-Catholic Christian churches? I am not aware of them but I’m certainly no expert on what goes on in those churches. I would appreciate learning about these procedures in other denominations.
For Christians, an invalid marriage is a relationship that looks like a marriage yet was never a marriage in God’s sight. Somebody who was in such a relationship is free to marry. He is not in violation of verses such as Matthew 19 if he should seek marriage in the future.
Jennifer Johnson is Associate Director and Treasurer of the Ruth Institute and Contributor for Ruth Institute Blog.
Posted on: Monday, September 05, 2016
The fact that an ideology is incoherent does not mean that people are not deadly serious about implementing it.
By Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Federalist on June 6, 2016.
I hate to disagree with Rachel Lu, whom I admire and consider a friend. But we simply cannot count on the LGBT movement self-destructing. I agree that this ideology is incoherent and destructive. But that is no guarantee it will implode. I fear Lu does not fully appreciate just what manner of thing we are dealing with.
Lu suggests the LGBT movement is a passing fad: “Whether it’s Malthusian population controls, global temperature freak-outs, low-fat diets, or disco, it often seems that idiocy seems unassailable until suddenly it isn’t. A page turns, and the emperor has no clothes, as his folly becomes a cautionary tale for future generations.”
By contrast, I believe the LGBT movement is one feature of the overall movement called the Sexual Revolution. The Sexual Revolution is not like low-fat diets or disco. It is more like the other items on the list. I hate to break it to you, but population control and global temperature freak-outs are still with us.
Also, what do these three things—the Sexual Revolution, population control, and global warming ideology—all have in common? They are ideologies that demand total control over large numbers of people. These ideologies are appealing to some people, precisely for that reason: they imagine themselves as the controllers, not the controlees.
The fact that an ideology is incoherent does not mean people are not deadly serious about implementing it. Look: it is not possible to create a prosperous society without private property rights. Marxist ideologues believed they had a high moral duty to try. The Soviet Union lasted 70 years and did not “self-destruct.” Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul, Margaret Thatcher, and, yes, Osama bin Laden all had a hand in pushing it over.
These three points sum up the ideology of the sexual revolutionaries. They believe a good and decent society should: Separate sex from procreation, separate both sex and procreation from marriage, and obliterate all differences between men and women, except those individuals explicitly choose. Do you recognize our society? Do you notice that all these of these objectives are impossible?
It is not possible to create an entire society in which sex does not make babies. Sex and child-bearing should both take place within marriage because children really do need their parents. Marriage is society’s institutional structure that allows children a stable and ongoing relationship with both parents. Finally, men and women actually are different, starting in the womb (little boys are less likely to survive pregnancy and childhood) and going all the way to differential causes of death.
All the branches of our government, the media, academia, big business, and entertainment are committed to the fantasy ideology of the Sexual Revolution. It takes a lot of force to do the impossible. It takes a lot of propaganda to make people believe the impossible. That is why the Sexual Revolution is a totalitarian movement, standing all on its own, quite apart from the usual categories of Left and Right.
That’s not a bug, as they say. It is a feature. Many of the most militant activists are drunk on their own power. Look at the “trans-activists” getting the city of New York to place onerous fines on people for using the wrong pronoun. Look at the college students, getting professors fired for insufficient conformity to the ever-changing standards of “sensitivity.” Look at the gay activists suing small Christian businesses, as if there were a constitutional right to get your picture taken by the photographer of your choice. These militants are intoxicated with power.
We must see the Sexual Revolution for what it is: a tyrannical movement that resents the limitations of the human body, especially those caused by our maleness and femaleness.
With all due respect, Lu, the LGBT movement will not self-destruct: it will morph into new and more virulent forms. The LGBT true believers are already throwing over the Ls (lesbians, remember?) in favor of the Ts (transgender people). Lesbian couples made nice, non-threatening images for commercials for redefining marriage. But many lesbians do not accept “transmen” as women. Lesbians are no longer useful as battering rams for taking down sex differences. Therefore, their objections don’t count.
The Ts are the current battering ram. A very useful battering ram they are, too. If you can make people say and believe that Bruce Jenner is a woman, you can make them say and believe anything. If you can make people afraid to say anything other than that the 1976 Olympic decathlon winner is a woman, you can make them believe that black is white, up is down, and freedom is slavery. Or, more to the point: that slavery is freedom.
No, we cannot count on the Sexual Revolution to just fade away. It has caused enormous human suffering already. That has not stopped the true believers from carrying on. The Ruth Institute has a plan. This column is not the place to go into it. Suffice to say, that our plan calls on everyone who has been harmed by the Sexual Revolution to tell the whole truth about what happened to them.
If we all speak up, we have a chance. If we are afraid to speak, if we try to live our lives quietly, as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on, the revolutionaries will continue unimpeded. Eventually, we won’t be able to protect ourselves and our children.
I for one, am all in: total, unapologetic opposition to the whole destructive course of the Sexual Revolution. Total solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Sexual Revolution.
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: Wednesday, August 03, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on August 3, 2016, under the title, "Under Obama, Transgenderism Is Not Medical Condition. It’s a Political Stepping Stone."
This may seem to be a remarkable headline for a well-known social conservative.
But I must defer to the authority of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. A careful reading of their “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students,” has convinced me that the proper understanding of transgender people is not to view them as sick.
I generally like to make a thorough study of an issue that is new to me. I thought I would have to inform myself about medicine and psychology. But the DOJ’s letter, and the press release that announced it, “U.S. Departments of Justice and Education Release Joint Guidance to Help Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students” have convinced me that no such careful study is required. Anyone who wants to weigh in on the controversy over “bathroom bills” can do so, with no particular scientific expertise.
Gender neutral signs are posted in the 21C Museum Hotel public restrooms on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
By contrast, Intersex is a medically diagnosable condition. According to the Intersex Society of North America, the term “intersex” “is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” The Intersex Society of North America does not advocate that intersex individuals be treated as a third gender or as having no gender. Instead, they advocate that parents of children born with these conditions work with their physicians to make a long-term, individualized plan for that particular child.
Intersex children are nowhere mentioned in the “Dear Colleague Letter.”
Gender Dysphoria is defined this way in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual:
Gender dysphoria refers to the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender. (pg. 51).
The term “assigned gender” is what most people would call “biological sex,” which of course, is not “assigned” at all. Rather biological sex exists from conception and is literally in every cell of the body. Biological sex reveals itself at birth for all to see.
Gender Dysphoria is nowhere mentioned in the “Dear Colleague Letter.”
The “Dear Colleague Letter” is not about the Intersex medical condition or the Gender Dysphoria psychological condition. The “Dear Colleague Letter” makes this very clear when it states on page two, under the heading Compliance with Title IX:
Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.
Ah. We see that for purposes of law, children of any age can diagnose themselves as transgenders. Elsewhere, the guidelines make it clear that students may present themselves as a different sex at school without telling their parents. Students of any age can change their self-identification as they wish. The “guidelines” offer no guidance whatsoever about this possibility.
A student can suddenly decide transgender is cool, after a binge on social media. They can decide to irritate their parents. They can decide they want to fit in with the kids they meet at the LGBT after-school program. And yes, some boys can decide they want to see the inside of the girls’ locker room.
We are on one hand, meant to think that transgenders are unfortunate souls who need special attention from society in order to fit in and feel better about themselves. But on the other hand, we are told that no medical or psychological diagnosis is needed.
On one hand, we are told that the unique situation of these children requires special accommodation from the entire society. On the other hand, we are presented with a one-size-fits-all legal commandment. The federal government hands down the mandate telling each and every school district in America how they must handle the unique needs of these children.
Children with either Intersex medical conditions or Gender Dysphoria psychological conditions need more privacy and parental help. But the Department of Justice “Dear Colleague” letter will limit parental involvement and give children less privacy.
Allowing a child to define themselves into the “transgender” category without parental involvement or knowledge does accomplish one thing, though. It allows kids to become part of the political Transgender movement at the lowest possible cost. It requires the schools to become part of the ideological destabilization of the concept of innate biological sex differences.
This is why I say that transgenders are not sick. Oh, some of them may be. But some of the kids who define themselves as transgender under these guidelines will be lonely kids trying to find friends. Some will be horny and predatory. Some will be conformist to the newest ideological fad. Some will just be ornery.
Under the Obama guidelines, “transgender” is a not a medical or psychological term. “Transgender” is a political term.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Petition to: Archbishop Charles Chaput of PhiladelphiaThank you for the wisdom and clarity in your Guidelines. We are praying for you!
For the Petition: