Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Fighting the Sexual Revolution

by Dustin Siggins

First published at The Stream on June 21, 2018.

The Stream asked the president of the Ruth Institute why she brought Paul Sullins into their work.

Dr. Jennifer Morse: replied: “We are concerned that ordinary people are making life-changing decisions without accurate information about the long-term consequences. Millions of people have thrown away perfectly good marriages because the ‘experts’ assured them that ‘kids are resilient.'”

“In the post-Obergefell era,” she continued, “people will be deciding to have children within same-sex relationships. These people are entitled to have more complete information than the advocacy research that convinced the judges that same-sex parenting was harmless.”


She called his work on same-sex parenting “first rate.” It “has the potential to help many ordinary people.”

The Stream also asked her if by working with Dr. Sullins, the Institute is proving the SPLC’s claim that it mostly cares about LGBT issues.

“Not really,” said Morse. “He is working on other topics, including the psychological fall-out for women from procuring abortions. His work fits well with our larger concern of giving voice to victims and survivors of the sexual revolution.”

The Stream noted that a new Gallup poll claims that 4.5 percent of Americans are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. This is a record high since Gallup began polling on the question in 2012. It is also far higher than the percentage the CDC estimated in 2014. We asked Morse what she attributes the rise to.

“Describing oneself as ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ has become ‘cool.'” More replied. “We have known since at least 1994 that a person’s propensity to self-identify as ‘gay’ is responsive to social and cultural factors. I’m not surprised that young people are experimenting with these labels.”

“I just hope they don’t hurt themselves and make mistakes they cannot undo. If they do, they will join millions of other survivors of the sexual revolution: people who figured out too late that the culture lied to them.”


Siena Symposium speaker: ‘Contraceptive ideology’ creates new layer of inequality

by Susan Klemond

This article was first published at The Catholic Spirit May 1, 2018.

The economy and upper-level decision-making in the United States are built on delayed childbearing — a consequence of the sexual revolution and widespread promotion of contraceptives, said Jennifer Roback Morse in her April 26 talk at the University of St. Thomas.

As a result, power is concentrated among highly educated and disproportionately childless elites.

“The decision-makers in our culture — the people who occupy the higher echelons of the professions — are selectively more likely to be people who have postponed childbearing, people who are more likely to be in favor of contraception and abortion because that’s kind of how they got it done,” said Morse, founder and president of the Louisiana nonprofit the Ruth Institute.

The St. Paul event was sponsored by the Siena Symposium for Women, Family and Culture, and attended by about 200 students and other adults. After receiving the Siena Symposium’s 2018 Humanitarian Leadership Award, Morse presented “Recovering from the Sexual Revolution: ‘Humanae Vitae’ in 2018” in honor of the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter outlining Church teaching on the regulation of birth.

Morse also described other ramifications of what she called a “contraceptive ideology,” such as separating sexual intercourse from creating human life and its effects on women, children and families.


The Ruth Institute focuses on the impact that family breakdown has on children. An author and speaker, Morse was a spokeswoman for California’s 2008 Proposition 8 campaign defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, introduced Morse and presented her with the award. “She is at the forefront of helping people understand the ecosystem in which children, families and the broader society flourish,” he said.

The Siena Symposium was founded in 2003 as an interdisciplinary faculty group at the University of St. Thomas that seeks to develop the new feminism called for by St. John Paul II.

The contraception ideology creates a new layer of inequality in U.S. society, Morse said. While the overall contraception failure rate is 8 percent, birth control pills are much less effective for poor, young and unmarried women than their wealthier counterparts, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which collaborates with Planned Parenthood on research and policy regarding “sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

Morse traced the social and legal history of contraceptives, noting that contraception ideology is totalitarian because the goal has always been controlling population through widespread promotion.

“Making contraceptive technology legally available has never been good enough for the true ideologues,” she said.

With billions of dollars in backing from top leaders, the sexual revolution’s promotion of unlimited sexual activity as a right through contraception ideology is one way it conflicts with children’s best interests, Morse said.

Julia Lindell, 17, attended the talk to learn more about what her faith teaches and how to defend it. A parishioner of St. Peter in Forest Lake, she said she is learning to recognize contraception ideology, including in her high school sex education classes.

“There’s a lot about how we’re being brainwashed,” said Lindell, who’ll graduate from Forest Lake High School this spring. “We don’t realize how much this is impacting us. We don’t realize it’s changing the way we’re thinking when we view the family and marriage culture.”

Friends recommended the talk to Andrew Ratelle, 30, a parishioner of Holy Family in St. Louis Park. He noted the net economic effect of contraception propaganda.

“All my friends, we’re all millennials and we’re seeing this fallout, and it’s generated a lot of resentment among people of our generation that are of any background, religious or non-religious,” he said. “They’ve suffered the effects of this propaganda and ideology that’s infected our culture.”

The sexual revolution — and contraception ideology — deny the human body, Morse said, adding that the false image of a society built around the idea that sex doesn’t make babies can’t naturally support and reproduce itself.

But, she said, “If you’re going to build a society around the idea that children come from sex, that children have rights, etc., you can do that. Nature will reinforce your view that sex makes babies on a fairly regular basis.”


Symposium: ‘Humanae Vitae’ Teachings Essential for Stable Marriages, Families

Benedictine College event looked at why the teachings of the Church are the answer to many current cultural and societal problems.

Mary Rezac/CNA/EWTN News March 28, 2018, at ncregister.com.
 
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks at the Symposium on Advancing the New Evangelization in Atchison, Kansas.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks at the Symposium on Advancing the New Evangelization in Atchison, Kansas. (Michelle Harrison/Benedictine College via CNA)
 
ATCHISON, Kan. — The promise of the sexual revolution and contraception was total sexual freedom for everyone.

“Sex is for fun and now women can have just as much fun without the consequences,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said about the claims of the sexual revolution in a recent talk.

“That was the cry of the day, and yet somehow it didn’t work out that way,” he said.


What went wrong? It’s a question that the archbishop and other presenters attempted to answer at a symposium on Humanae Vitae and the New Evangelization at Benedictine College in Kansas this past weekend. Archbishop Cordileone was one of four featured keynote speakers, along with Janet Smith from Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia; and Jennifer Roback-Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.

The symposium covered a wide range of topics related to marriage and family life and looked at why the teachings of the Church in Humanae Vitae are the answer to many of the current cultural and societal problems surrounding sex, marriage and family.

In his talk, Archbishop Cordileone noted the dissonance in a society that on the one hand accepts divorce, contraception and all kinds of sexual deviance as normal and on the other hand is baffled when thousands of women complain of sexual harassment as part of the #MeToo movement.

“This is another major head-scratcher for me. The whole point of these last 50 years was supposed to be liberation,” Archbishop Cordileone said. But “no one dares to suggest that the problem is the very narrative [from the sexual revolution] itself.”

Brad Wilcox, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, also noted this cultural inconsistency in his talk about marriage inequality in America.

Wilcox noted that while the upper and middles classes say they are increasingly tolerant of family structure diversity and deviance from the two-married-parent household norm, they are usually more traditional in practice, while the poor are left to suffer the consequences of a culture that no longer values marriage and family.

“We’re seeing what Charles Murray has called a fault line now dividing Americans on marriage,” he said, noting that studies show that Americans who are college-educated and relatively more affluent tend to get and stay married.

“By contrast, poor and working-class Americans are less likely to sustain high-quality marriages and their kids are more likely to be exposed to some kind of instability,” he said, whether that’s single parenthood, cohabitation, divorce and even abuse.

“For me, all of this really matters because it has a direct impact on our kids,” he said, noting that children who experience unstable families on average have lower graduation and employment rates, are more likely to end up in trouble with the law, and are more likely to become pregnant as teenagers.

This significant class divide over marriage did not exist 50 years ago, but economic and policy shifts as well as a shift away from the secular and civic institutions that used to be a key part of American civil life have played a significant role in creating this divide, Wilcox said.

The interest and participation levels in these institutions that “used to supply money, moral direction and social support to marriage are quite fragile today, particularly for Americans who don’t have that college degree,” he added.

In her talk, “What the Contraceptive Ideology Has Done to America,” Morse said that the sexual revolution had three main objectives: to separate sex from babies, to separate both sex and babies from marriage, and to wipe out all differences between men and women.

While Wilcox noted that the poor and working class are suffering the most from a decline in marriage and family, Morse added that children are the ones who lose the most in a society that embraces contraception and divorce.

“We’re talking about a whole society built around the premise that adults can have whatever sexual activity they want and never have a baby, unless they want the baby. That is irrational to believe that that is possible. That is a fantasy,” Morse said.

“If you’re having sex with somebody who’s [not your spouse] and would be ... completely inappropriate for you to co-parent with, what are your options if your contraception fails, which it will about 13% of the time?”

The options for these couples are a shotgun wedding, single parenthood, adoption or abortion, Morse noted, and in many cases, the child suffers from the parents’ actions.

Because of the devastating impacts that the sexual revolution has had on marriage and family, it is all the more important for the Church to continue preaching the truths of Humanae Vitae and the beauty of marriage and family life lived out according to God’s design, Archbishop Cordileone said.

In the encyclical itself, Pope Paul VI admits that this teaching will not be easily accepted by all: “It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a ‘sign of contradiction.’ She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.”

However, those who make the best disciples and evangelizers of the truths of Humanae Vitae are those who have lived by the “secular code of conduct” and have found it lacking and even harmful, the archbishop noted.

“One of the most common responses of young people who are granted the grace of this understanding is ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me sooner? It would have saved me untold suffering,’” he said.

“Such people make the most ardent disciples and provide a much needed witness for many cradle Catholics.”

Humanae Vitae is not easy to live out, Archbishop Cordileone said, but it will lead couples to the most happiness and therefore must be taught in a way that is winsome and effective, without shying away from the suffering involved.

“The worst thing we can do ... is to soften or downplay the hard parts of our faith, those teachings where we encounter the most resistance or hostility in our culture. How could we do such a thing if we are convinced that this is true and for the true good of all people?” he said.

“We leaders in the Church do a grave disservice to our people by giving them excuses for taking the easy way out, such as misleading them with the false idea of what conscience means or failing to assist them in forming their consciences correctly. Much to people’s surprise, it is actually the hard way out that is the most effective evangelizing strategy,” he added.

“Rather than offering excuses for fleeing the cross, what we need are creative new ideas to help people understand the wisdom and beauty of God’s design.”

The point of the symposium is to bring people together who can do just that, said Matthew Muller, assistant professor of theology and an organizer of the event through Benedictine College’s Gregorian Institute.

“The symposium is a think tank for the New Evangelization, so what is important now, I think, is that leaders at the diocesan, parish and ministry levels, as well as the scholars and graduate students who attended, continue to reflect on the ideas they heard and develop ways to implement those ideas in their professional or scholarly work,” Muller told CNA.

“The reception of Humanae Vitae is an ongoing process in the Church, and events like the symposium help to encourage a deeper appreciation and integration of the Church’s teachings concerning the goodness of the human person, sexuality, marriage and family.”

 

 


The Real Reason The Atlantic Fired Kevin Williamson

by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

First published April 11, 2018, at The Stream.

Kevin Williamson has been summarily dismissed from The Atlantic. The editor says it was because Williamson advocated that the law should treat abortion as murder. But this is hardly a full explanation of the full social process around this disturbing incident. Williamson did not express that view in The Atlantic’s pages: His opponents resurrected it from a 4-year-old podcast. If the editors at The Atlantic really wanted a “big tent,” (their supposed reason for engaging Williamson in the first place) they could have found dozens of more moderate pro-life advocates.

No, something else is afoot. Let me explain it. This will take more than 144 characters. Bear with me.

The Two Paths

Suppose you are a woman, and a recent college graduate. You aspire to a career in journalism. You are having sex with someone you would not want to marry. Maybe he is married to someone else. Maybe he is hopelessly immature, narcissistic, and/or self-absorbed. But since you are using contraception, you figure its ok.

Then, the unthinkable-statistically-unlikely-but-still-non-zero-probability-event takes place. You get pregnant. You now have four choices:


  • Get married, have the baby, and raise the child together.
  • Have the baby. You both relinquish parental rights and place the child for adoption.
  • Have the baby. You raise the child alone.
  • Abort the child.

The choice you make now will shape your belief system for a long time. There are roughly two paths:

  • The pro-life path: Your decision and subsequent experience convinces you that the child in the womb is a unique and irreplaceable human being. Therefore, you become less inclined to believe that abortion is morally justified.
  • The pro-abortion path: Your decision and subsequent experience convinces you that abortion is a moral necessity.

I think you’ll agree that the woman or couple that chooses life for their child is less likely to support abortion, either before or after that decision. Likewise, many, many women who abort their children become convinced or were already convinced, that abortion is a necessity. They come to believe that even if it is a killing, it is a justifiable killing, and not murder at all. Their experience either establishes this belief or confirms and reinforces it.

Here is why this is relevant to Kevin Williamson.

The Women Who Make Up Mainstream Journalism

Which women, making which choice, are more likely to land a job at a prestigious publication like The Atlantic? Women who have their babies? Or women who abort?

In general, the woman with child-care responsibilities is at a competitive disadvantage compared with the woman who does not. This is especially true during the early career-building phase. (This period of life just happens to be near the peak of a woman’s natural fertility. Which produces another whole set of problems. But I digress.)

I don’t say that a woman who has a baby shortly after college could never have a successful career in journalism. I just say it is unlikely. In fact, I will say something even stronger: In the social universe as it is today, delayed child-bearing is the price of entry into the professions. Contraception, backed up by abortion, is necessary for women to compete. The United States Supreme Court said as much in its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey , back in 1992. (I hasten to add: this is not the only possible social environment in which women can participate in higher education and the professions: it is just the one our culture has created using the abortion license as its touchstone. But I digress.)

That is why mainstream journalism is dominated by people who believe passionately in unlimited abortion. Their lives as they know them, depend upon it. Likewise, pro-choice women professors dominate the academy, including the legal academy.

What About Women Who Regret Their Abortions?

One exception proves the general rule. Some women who have abortions later become pro-life. These women conclude that they have committed a murder and regret it, sometimes immediately, sometimes after the passage of time. The professional literature on post-abortion mental health confirms this. We have known since the 1990’s that at least 10% of post-abortive women, and possibly as many as 30%, experience regret serious enough to cause mental health issues.

But we seldom hear about these women outside of publications dedicated to the pro-life position. Men are reluctant to say much about women’s feelings about abortion. And the women sociologists and statisticians, who are could study such things are, more than likely, women who cannot relate to such regrets.

It takes a rare warrior like Dr. Priscilla Coleman to study mental health complications associated with abortion. Her fellow academics either don’t want to study the subject or dedicate themselves to tearing her down. Journalists who might cover her studies have no interest in publicizing such results.

Note: I am NOT saying that women professionals conspire to hide or distort evidence, or to drive dissenters from their midst. I AM saying that people who have similar incentives are likely to engage in similar behaviors and hold similar beliefs. They don’t need to plot and scheme and conspire. They study and write about topics that interest them, that they find compelling and believable. The public, in turn, concludes “women are pro-choice” if the women they see in public positions are pro-choice.

The Relevance to Kevin Williamson

There are plenty of pro-life women, some with advanced degrees and great accomplishments to their credit. Anyone who has hung around the pro-life movement knows that women dominate it. But: Women who value their children more than their careers are at a disadvantage in the competition for high-status, high-visibility jobs.

This is all we need to know about why people with pro-abortion views dominate the professions.

And that is why The Atlantic fired Kevin Williamson.


Same Sex Attraction: A feeling, not an identity

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published at Clash Daily on April 18, 2108.

“Am I Gay?” Today, every family in America faces this question one way or another. Even the best families. Maybe you have a child, or sibling, or close friend who feels attracted to people of the same sex. Maybe a niece or nephew or grandchild wonders about their sexuality.

Maybe they are asking YOU these questions.

The book “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay” challenges the idea that feelings of same sex attraction necessarily mean a person is “gay.” The author, Daniel Mattson, tells his story of experiencing same sex attraction, acting on it, and ultimately, allowing Jesus to turn his life around.

This is not a “pray away the gay” message. It is something much more powerful. The “pray away the gay” slur is meant to demean people’s efforts to change their patterns of sexual attraction. Mattson’s message is that every person can and must, make choices about their feelings. Even if same sex attraction persists, or reemerges, every person continues to have meaningful choices about important topics:

What meaning do I assign my sexual feelings? Whom do I choose as my friends? From whom do I chose to draw inspiration, advice, and encouragement? And most of all, how do I decide to behave?

I have heard Dan speak. (Full disclosure: Dan and I are friends. He says nice things about me in the “Acknowledgments” section of the book.I say nice things about him on the back cover.) Dan has a wonderful way about him. He loves talking with high school students. He invites them to write their questions on index cards, so no one knows who is asking what question.

Inevitably, a few kids will write “Am I gay?” on their cards.

Dan answers them so gently.

Feelings of attraction to the same sex are just that: feelings. Those feelings are not the same thing as an identity. You are more than the sum total of your feelings. So is every human being who has ever walked the earth.


 

Did you know, that in some states, Dan’s message could be considered illegal? That’s right. “You Must Stay Gay” laws are being proposed and passed across the country.

Of course, no one comes right out and says: “You Must Stay Gay.”

They say they are outlawing “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts.”They claim offering therapy is an “unlawful business practice.”

In other words, the government is telling you and me and every young person how they must interpret their own feelings. “You feel same sex attraction: you are gay.” End of story.

But Dan Mattson begs to differ. We can feel all kinds of things. We still have choices about how to label ourselves, what to think, and how to behave. He is not a therapist, and not making therapeutic claims. He is just one man, who is telling his own story. That is still legal. At least for now.

My identity: I am a child of God.

Noted Catholic Cardinal, Robert Sarah of Guinea, wrote the foreword to Dan’s book. Cardinal Sarah says of persons who experience same sex attraction:

Only when they lived in keeping with Christ’s teaching were they able to find the peace and joy for which they had been searching… They are called to chastity, and we demean them if we think they cannot attain this virtue, which is a virtue for all disciples.”

In fact, the subtitle of Dan’s book is “How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace.” People need to hear this message of hope for people who experience same sex attraction.

A word to the many non-Catholic Christians on this site: Yes, this book is written by a Catholic man, published by a Catholic publisher, and endorsed by a Catholic Cardinal. There are plenty of culturally-Catholic quirks that may strike you as odd. But the overall message is just as biblically sound and solid as it can be. In this age of so many religious leaders in so many branches of Christianity promoting so much confusion, we small “o” orthodox believers have no choice but to support one another wherever we can.

Please buy this book. Read it. Share it with your pastor, youth minister, and others who work with young people. Help give Dan Mattson’s message of hope and peace the wide audience it deserves.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, located in Lake Charles Louisiana. Daniel Mattson will be the keynote speaker at their First Annual Awards Dinner June 15, 2018.

 



Dear Dr. Peterson: The Resurrection is Credible. Dear MSM: Just Stop It.

Human psychology sheds light on whether Jesus literally rose from the dead.

By Jennifer Roback Morse

Published on March 19, 2018, at The Stream.

Jordan Peterson has become a hero to many because of his relentless truth-telling. Many people of faith see him as an ally. In a wide-ranging interview with Patrick Coffin, former Catholic Answers radio show host, Peterson said about the Resurrection, “I need to think about that for about three more years before I would even venture an answer.” Not a flat-out dismissal of the possibility that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, but an open-ended desire to learn and think more deeply. This respectful position is a far cry from the annual, “Jesus was just a nice guy but the Resurrection never happened” story that someone in the secular media subjects us to, every year right around Easter.

Mass Delusion … or Mass of Witnesses?


So, let’s analyze this, for Dr. Peterson’s sake. Peterson is a psychologist. I submit that human psychology sheds light on whether Jesus literally rose from the dead. The behavior of his disciples makes zero sense unless the Resurrection took place.

If Jesus did not literally rise from the dead, what exactly did happen? Did the disciples think they saw him after his death, but they didn’t really? Were the disciples lying about seeing him after his death? Neither of these alternatives, delusion or lying, can account for the known facts.

Fact: Jesus was dead and buried.

Jesus was executed in a very thorough and very public manner for which the Romans were noted and feared. There is no doubt at all that he was dead. He was buried. The Roman officials and the Jewish leaders insisted that the grave be guarded.

Fact: People claimed they saw him after his death.

On the third day after His death, people claimed they saw Him. Not just one guy, mind you, but lots of people. Mary Magdalene saw him. Ten disciples saw him the night of the Resurrection. So did two random guys on the road to Emmaus. The following week all eleven surviving disciples saw Him. At some point, 500 people saw him at the same time. Mass delusion on this scale seems unlikely.

Believers Paid a Steep Price

A skeptic might respond that people talk each other into delusions all the time. Look at our current “politically correct” mess. Dr. Peterson has become famous precisely for tearing the lid off the mass delusions of our time.

I reply: People get praised and supported for spouting silliness that supports the current incarnation of the mass delusion. Nobody today loses his job for going along with the fantasy ideology that Bruce Jenner is a woman. People lose their jobs for denying the delusion. Stating the obvious truth that the winner of the 1976 Olympic decathlon is now, and always has been, a man: now, that will cost you something.

By contrast, the people who claimed they saw Jesus alive after his execution paid a steep price. Matthew had a cushy job as a tax collector. Should he give that up, because Mary Magdalene metaphorically saw the Lord? Peter, Andrew, James, and John did not abandon their fishing business because they saw a Jungian archetype. Their behavior only makes sense if they really saw Jesus after his death.

Why Suffer for a Lie?

In fact, none of these witnesses could be talked out of their belief that they saw Jesus, despite some very aggressive attempts to do so. Peter and Andrew were both crucified. If they were making stuff up, don’t you think they would have recanted? The most logical conclusion is that they saw him, in the flesh, just as the Gospels report.

Tradition has it that Bartholomew was flayed alive. If he had been lying, the threat of such a painful, prolonged death would have been a good time to start telling the truth. “Put that knife down: I’ll show you where we hid the body.” But he didn’t change his story. He allowed himself to be murdered in an extraordinarily painful way.

The most psychologically compelling conclusion is that the disciples were neither lying, nor deluded. They saw Jesus.

‘Just a Nice Guy’? Give Me a Break

The Resurrection is indeed worthy of a lifetime of deep thought. I myself meditate upon it a couple of times a week and have done so since 1988. I’m still not finished with it. Dr. Peterson, take all the time you need. You can keep thinking about it, even if you do take a leap of faith.

And to the knucklehead journalist who writes this year’s version of “Jesus was just a nice guy, but it didn’t really happen,” story: just stop. As C.S. Lewis put it, Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. The “just a nice guy” story is the truly delusional belief.


Will Cupich “Accompany” Reluctantly Divorced Spouses?

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published March 14, 2018, at Crisis Magazine.

Cardinal Cupich has been holding seminars on implementing Amoris Laetitia. These “New Momentum Conferences” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” I wonder whether these seminars will include anything for reluctantly divorced persons. No one else seems to be doing anything for abandoned spouses. Perhaps Cardinal Cupich and his friends will step up to the plate.

The public, including many Catholics, has the impression that no-fault divorce allows two sensible and mature adult people to agree to end their marriage. We imagine that the state must not interfere in this mutual decision. No one should cry over the spilt milk of a “dead marriage.” Many in the Church tacitly agree.


But setting theology aside, let’s challenge the basic premise of no-fault divorce. What if one person wants a divorce and the other wants to remain married? Dr. Stephen Baskerville, frequent contributor to these pages, made me aware of this possibility in his first book, Taken into Custody. If the spouses do not agree, justice requires adjudication by a neutral party. But on what basis would that neutral party decide which spouse to side with: the spouse who wants the divorce, or the spouse who wants the marriage?

The Grand Divorce Narrative offers no answer. The official ideology of no-fault does not acknowledge that such a case can even exist. And if we add the (highly dubious) claim that “kids are resilient,” then there is no reason for anyone to favor preserving a marriage, even one with children. As for adjudication between the spouse who wants the marriage and the one who wants divorce, forget it. No-fault divorce means the state always sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.

The Grand Divorce Narrative, subtly or not-so-subtly, suggests people who complain about divorce probably did something to bring it on themselves. They need to stop whining and get with the program.

I wish I could tell you whether the abandoned spouses are a misbehaving lot. I wish I could tell you anything systematic about the reluctantly divorced. Unfortunately, all I have is anecdotal information. The people who normally collect and analyze this kind of thing seem to be completely uninterested.

We don’t even know how many reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses there are.

Here is one snippet. I once bemoaned the fact that we have no data on the number of reluctantly divorced persons. My friend, University of Texas sociology professor, Mark Regnerus chimed in that he had some data on this question in his new book, Cheap Sex.

I checked it out. In Figure 5.2 on page 161, he asked this question of divorced spouses, “who wanted the marriage to end, you, your spouse, or both of you?” Only 24 percent of women and 27 percent of men said, “we both wanted it to end.” In other words, in his survey, over 70 percent of divorces have a reluctant partner.

The CDC reported over 800,000 divorces from 44 states and the District of Columbia in 2016. If 70 percent of those divorces had a reluctant partner, that is over a half million reluctantly divorced people, in a single year. Add that up, year after year for forty years. That is a lot of broken hearts and wounded souls, walking around, socially invisible, and isolated.

Please note: counting reluctantly divorced persons was not the focus of Dr. Regnerus’ study. God bless him, he stumbled across it while studying something else. I don’t know of any other large scale, representative study of this question. This lack of professional and scholarly interest testifies to the power of the Divorce Ideology.

We also know very little of the lived experiences of the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses. We do know that divorce doubles a man’s probability of suicide and has essentially no impact on the woman’s chance of suicide. But we don’t really know why. As to spiritual life, we know that children of divorce are less likely to practice any religion. But as far as I know, no one has ever asked how divorce affects the religious commitments of the adults, particularly, one who was divorced against their will. The category, “reluctantly divorced persons” does not even exist in the minds of the scholars who have the expertise to study this sort of thing. After over 40 years of no-fault divorce, I am appalled that we have so little information about the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses.

And I might add, I’m also appalled at the lack of pastoral concern for the reluctantly divorced, blameless, or abandoned spouses. In all the uproar over Amoris Laetitia, in all the endless yammering in favor of “accompaniment” and “discernment,” for the divorced and civilly remarried, one can find almost nothing about the spouse of the original union.

I know an abandoned spouse who changed parishes. She couldn’t bear to see her spouse receiving communion with his new cohabiting girlfriend. He evidently “discerned” that this was hunky-dory. The pastor wasn’t much help to my friend. He told her the “people fall out of love,” and that “everyone gets an annulment.” He assumed that my friend was also dating someone else, which she had no intention of doing.

What was this pastor thinking? Why didn’t anyone ensure she feels “fully integrated” into the life of the parish where she and her husband were married?” Will anyone “accompany” abandoned spouses like her? Why is the Church abandoning them to the brutal injustice of the divorce culture?

At least on paper, the Church still holds to the radical teaching of Jesus on the indissolubility of marriage. I hope Cardinal Cupich and his friends pay attention to the reluctantly divorced, though I’m not holding my breath. Catholics, of all people, should be paying special attention to abandoned spouses. Their pain proves that Jesus was right all along.


"How to Defend Marriage" on the Patrick Coffin Show

“Dr. J” to her tribe, this influencer has a PhD and teaching experience at Yale and George Brown University. An economist by training, she has invaluable insights into the wreckage we see around us caused by the failed Sexual Revolution. The organization she founded, The Ruth Institute, exists to help survivors of this very public shipwreck.

With the Obergefel v Hodges (2015) decision redefining marriage at the federal level, we have reached a legal tipping point. Most Americans support marriage as it’s been defined for millennia, as the lifelong union of one man and one woman with openness to children. Culture is one thing, laws are another.

If you want practical insights into how to talk about this and other challenges such as our collective no-fault divorce attitude (yes, it has infected “good Catholic” circles), and the forgotten players known as children, this is the interview for you.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Proven strategies for framing the arguments
  • How to avoid taking the bait offered by anti-marriage activists
  • The importance of keeping the conversation where it needs to be: on the linking of children to their parents
  • How to articulate reasons for supporting marriage without reference to either homosexual behavior on the one hand, or religious tenets on the other

from Patrick Coffin's website here.

 


Invite Children of Divorce to Cupich’s Amoris Laetitia Seminars

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published February 28, 2017 at Crisis Magazine.

I see where Cardinal Cupich is planning a series of seminars on Amoris Laetitia. According to a letter obtained by the Catholic News Agency, the “New Momentum Conferences on Amoris Laetitia,” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” As someone who has listened to many victims of the Sexual Revolution, I am eager to learn about the “pastoral practice” these seminars will promote. I wonder if they will feature adult children of divorce or unmarried parents among their presenters.

I can still recall the first time a young person came up to me in tears after one of my talks. “This is the first time I have ever heard an adult say that divorce is hard on children.” She went on to describe her father’s intention of entering yet another civil marriage, this time, to a woman in her twenties.

My young friend was twenty-one.


Since that incident, I have heard from many people of all ages, whose parents divorced and remarried. I can remember sitting down to a post-conference dinner with one of the other speakers and his wife. She confided in me that she had run out of the room in the middle of my talk. She couldn’t bear to hear my description of children’s hurt from divorce. My talk stirred up pain from her parents’ divorce.

She was in her sixties.

I don’t see any mention of Leila Miller or Jennifer Johnson among the proposed speakers on the traveling Amoris Laetitia Road Show. Both Mrs. Miller and Ms. Johnson have written poignant works on the experiences of children of divorce. You may imagine what the adult children of divorce have to say about second “marriages.”

Or perhaps you can’t. So, let me tell you: they feel their parents’ selfishness and excuse-making made their childhoods miserable, and continue to cause problems even in adulthood. One anonymous author titled her essay, “How my parents’ divorce ruined holidays and family life forever.”

Perhaps some of the presenters at the Amoris Laetitia gabfests will offer practical tips for what a child, of any age, ought to do when their parents decide they can’t stand each other anymore. Will Cardinal Cupich “accompany” the children of divorce when they see no photos of themselves with both parents, in either of their parents’ homes? Will any of the presenters help the children of divorce “discern” where to direct their anger when their stepfather brings home gifts for his children and his wife, but nothing for them?

I wonder if Cardinal Cupich and his friends will discuss the inequalities that divorce creates among children, and between children and adults. Jennifer Johnson argues passionately that natural marriage and only natural marriage, can create and preserve equality among children, while divorce creates deep and lasting inequalities. Here is just one example:

I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided holidays, and divided birthdays. I’ve seen this referred to as “two Christmases” or “two birthdays” in some divorce literature as a way to sugar-coat the vertical inequality. My dad wasn’t welcome on Christmas morning, and my mom wasn’t welcome on Christmas eve. I don’t think either of them would have come, had they been invited. They were too busy with their new families. When I got a little older and my parents lived further apart, I traveled alone during the holidays to see each of them. None of the adults in my life had to do any of those things. It was a requirement placed on me that made their lives easier.

No, I suppose they don’t have room for children of divorce and their lived experiences. After all, the seminars are already full of experts on women’s ordination, contraception, non-binary gender, and God knows what else.

Speaking of God: I have an idea that Jesus (remember him?) knows exactly what these children of divorce are going through. He told the apostles “in the beginning, it was not so,” when he instituted that whole one man, one woman, for life, thing. The apostles were freaked out. They thought it was too hard.

I bet Jesus saw the pain a little girl might feel when her mother asked her to be the flower girl in her second wedding. Even as a preschooler, she knew this ceremony meant that her parents would never get back together. She knew she was supposed to be happy for her mother on her special day. She faked it, but her heart was breaking.

Jesus foresaw every painful little incident, like this one:

When I was six or seven, I woke up from a bad dream in the middle of the night. I went looking for my mom but couldn’t find her. I wandered from room to room crying, disoriented and scared. But Mom wasn’t there because I was at Dad’s place, an apartment I went to once a month. My dad couldn’t understand why I wanted my mom so much. Nothing in the apartment was familiar, not even dad. He was hurt because of my longing for my mom, my house, and my own bed, so I did what a lot of children of divorce do: I bottled up my emotions to try to make one of my parents feel better.

Jesus saw how attempts at re-partnering would create a lifetime of difficulties:

At my biological grandma’s funeral, my siblings and I were left out of the family pictures. We watched our cousins treated differently just because their parents had remained married. We stopped getting invited to family reunions. Today I’m a stranger to most of my relatives on my dad’s side because growing up I saw him so little and them even less.

Maybe this sort of thing is why Jesus made such a stink about the indissolubility of marriage.

Perhaps some adult children of divorce will just show up at one of the meetings at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, or Santa Clara University. I wonder if anyone will let them have a turn at the microphone.

Maybe not. That might be just a little too much “accompanying” and “synodality,” even for Cardinal Cupich.


'Go to Confession' Campaign


For immediate release:

Ruth Institute launches ‘Go to Confession’ Campaign

(February 15, 2018, Lake Charles, LA)During this season of Lent, The Ruth Institute has launched an online and billboard campaign in Lake Charles, Louisiana, encouraging people of all faiths to make things right with God.

“The ‘Go to Confession’ campaign is a way to remind people that God is merciful, and we can go to Him with our sins at any time and find forgiveness. What better time than during Lent?” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute said.

Some of the images are humorous. “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. And new this year, an image of a stunned priest in the confessional with the caption, “You won’t really shock him: Go to confession!”


But the humor has a serious point. Dr. Morse said, “Families don’t just break down. Marriages don’t just fall apart. Somebody sins. The ultimate solution to family breakdown is repentance.”

Some of the more serious messages are, “Jesus is waiting for you,” and “Your family is depending on you. Go to Confession.”

“We’re all sinners, but we all have the opportunity to clean the slate and start fresh,” Morse said. “There is no downside to confession.”

“Confession is a means to find healing within our lives for the mistakes we’ve made,” 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, here, here, and here.


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