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.


Euthanizing the Unhappy: The Urgent Need for Love

by Jennifer Roback Morse

The case of a Belgian woman who committed physician-assisted suicide after a sex-change operation reveals that we must not only look more closely at the causes of gender dysphoria, we must also offer all people the love that they so deeply need.

The recent physician-assisted suicide of a deeply depressed Belgian woman made worldwide headlines. But the headlines didn’t say a thing about depression. The headlines read, “Belgian killed by euthanasia after a botched sex change operation.”

This is not a story of medicine gone wrong. It is a story of a world where the light has gone out.

 


Everything about this headline is a euphemism or half-truth. The author couldn't figure out whether to describe the individual as a man or a woman. So, in keeping with GLAAD guidelines, the author used the gender-neutral term “Belgian,” to describe a generic person, and later describes the individual as “Nathan, born Nancy, Verhelst.” The story never tells us exactly what was “botched” about the operation, except that Nancy was unhappy with the result. And the term “euthanasia” obscures the fact that a physician killed a perfectly healthy woman who happened to have been extremely unhappy for a long time.

Let's read past the headline and consider the story more deeply.

Nancy was the daughter of a mother who wanted sons.

“I was the girl that nobody wanted. . . While my brothers were celebrated, I got a storage room above the garage as a bedroom. ‘If only you had been a boy’, my mother complained. I was tolerated, nothing more.”

Nancy’s mother confirmed Nancy’s story in this article.

“When I first saw ‘Nancy,’ my dream was shattered. She was so ugly . . . I had a ghost birth. Her death does not bother me.”

She said the farewell letter that Mr. Verhelst had written to her explaining his reasons for choosing euthanasia had not yet arrived, adding: “I will definitely read it, but it will be full of lies.

“For me, this chapter closed. Her death does not bother me. I feel no sorrow, no doubt or remorse. We never had a bond which could therefore not be broken.”

It is painfully obvious that Nancy needed love. What she got was a highly invasive set of medical procedures.

The typical justification for the amputation of perfectly healthy breasts and the prescription of powerful hormonal treatment is “gender dysphoria.” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual describes gender dysphoria this way:

there must be a marked difference between the individual’s expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, and it must continue for at least six months. In children, the desire to be of the other gender must be present and verbalized. This condition causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Looking through the DSM online, I did not find reference to the idea of trying to understand why the person experiences gender dysphoria. Nor did I find any reference to the idea of exhausting less invasive solutions to the distress or impairment before embarking on such a radical process as sexual reassignment surgery and a lifetime of hormone treatment, even on insurance company websites. One might think that an insurance company would want to know that less expensive alternatives had been attempted, before agreeing to pay for sexual reassignment surgery.

Admittedly, this online version of the DSM is for laypeople, not professionals. And also admittedly, insurance companies typically require "two referrals from qualified mental health professionals who have independently assessed the individual." But in the absence of objective criteria that would establish gender dysphoria apart from the individual's feelings, it is not clear what this very open-ended referral requirement exactly accomplishes.

The colloquial version of gender dysphoria is that the person feels “trapped in the wrong body.” But this does not apply to Nancy's case. The overriding fact of this woman's life was that her mother rejected her because she was a girl. We now know that millions of baby girls have been aborted worldwide, simply because they were girls. Nancy’s story is the slow-motion Western European equivalent. Her mother wanted a son, or at least a better-looking girl. She feels no remorse, even after her daughter’s suicide.

What exactly was “botched” about the sex change operation? I could find no allegation in the published accounts that the doctors did anything wrong or were negligent in any way. It appears that there was nothing medically abnormal about her body. The operation was “botched” only in the sense that Nancy was not satisfied with the outcome.

In the hours before his death he told Belgium's Het Laatse Nieuws: “I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself.

“My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be . . . a monster.”

Nancy needed to be affirmed in her femininity. She had internalized her mother’s view that she was defective. Not surprisingly, her surgical attempts to correct a moral and psychological problem did not succeed. Changing her body did not resolve the problem of her mother's rejection.

Why no one saw this, I cannot say.

Dr. Paul McHugh was Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins University from 1975 to 2001. During that time, he made the decision and led the department in shutting down the sexual reassignment unit. Here is what he said, years after the fact:

As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their “true” sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.

However you may feel about Dr McHugh's argument as a general proposition, we can say that he is absolutely correct in Nancy Verhelst's case. This particular woman was not “really” a man “trapped” in a woman's body. She was “really” a woman “trapped” in a world in which the most important person in her life did not love her.

Nancy did not need surgery. She needed her mother’s love. And short of that, she needed other people to care for her, to reach out to her in love, and assure her that she is loved by God.

The Christian community should have and could have reached out to a little girl whose mother was disgusted by her female body. Christians of all denominations need to start creating their own structures of service to those who are so wounded that they want to mutilate their own bodies or kill themselves.

More cases like Nancy’s are inevitable. Sexual reassignment surgery for any reason is already here in America. Euthanasia for any reason is coming down the pike. These trends are driven by the modern obsession with personal autonomy, uncoupled from any objective notion of the good. You don't like your body? No problem. We'll change yours to your specification. You don't want to live? No problem. We will help you die. Giving people what they say they want is becoming the sum total of our idea of helping people.

Not long ago, I gave a talk at a university titled “Healing the Family of the 21st Century.” In the question period, I laughingly said that we need a new religious order to reach out to people hurting from family problems. (Listen to this around minutes fifty-four through fifty-eight.) In that context, I was talking about the millions of people who have been wounded by the Sexual Revolution: children of divorce, reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses, heartbroken career women.

But I'm not laughing now. We really do need a group of people whose job it is to reach out to those who need love, for whatever reason, from whatever cause. Pope Francis has recently said that he views the church as a field hospital after battle. “Heal the wounds! Heal the wounds!”

There is a town where the Christian people pride themselves on the care of the mentally ill. This town was the site of the murder of St. Dymphna by her mentally deranged father in the ninth century. Ever since, the residents of this town take mentally ill people into their homes. Coincidently, this town is in Belgium, the country that now euthanizes depressed people like Nancy Verhelst.

The modern world promises health and happiness through science. Science is supposed to deliver human control over the constraints of nature. This, in turn, will make us happy, since the free exercise of our will is supposed to be the key to human happiness.

Science did not deliver happiness to Nancy Verhelst. Science helped her to exercise her will, all right—but that was not enough.

The psychological sciences are inadequate for dealing with the existential problem of lovelessness and loneliness. The medical sciences are not the solution for a spiritual problem. We cannot save ourselves. Only God can save us. Only God's love can sustain us in loving others when all hope of love seems lost. This is precisely when the need for love is the greatest. We who have experienced this love need to be more assertive about sharing this astounding fact with others.

 



Recognizing Propaganda for Divorce

An excerpt from “The Sexual State,” a forthcoming book by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

At the heart of the Divorce Ideology is one simple idea: kids are so resilient that they do not really need their own parents. This idea salves many a guilty conscience over making these choices. This is the idea that allows adults to divorce, remarry, become single parents by choice, and use third party reproduction. This idea allows people to have sex with people they are not married to: they presume the resulting children, (if any) will be fine. They presume that their currently existing children will not mind them taking up with new lovers, forming new households and all the rest. Kids are resilient.

This idea is completely false. All its variants are equally false.

“I can safely abandon the mother of my child, and my child.”

“I can safely kick my child’s father out of the house.”

“As a judge or social worker, I can separate children from their parents, support one blameless parent against the other, and nothing bad will happen.”

“As an academic or journalist, I can safely promote the idea that marriage is unnecessary, probably oppressive, and after all, just a piece of paper.”

“The kids will be better off if I am happy.”


 

It takes a lot of propaganda to maintain the myth that the kids will be fine.

The victims of the Divorce Ideology number in the millions. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this ideology. All these people need to be silenced to maintain the fiction that the kids will be fine as long as their parents are happy. But over-writing nature on this scale is no small matter. The Revolutionaries need to enlist a lot of social effort, since their ideas do not accord with reality. The True Believers in the Sexual Revolution regard doing the impossible as a high moral duty. They believe themselves entitled to use all available social and political power to achieve their impossible goals. They believe working toward these high moral ends will give meaning to their lives and salvation to society. Since their premises are false and their goals are impossible, they will never be satisfied, no matter how much social change they generate. In fact, since the premises are false, every mistaken step compounds the previous mistaken steps. The True Believer becomes even less happy with every step of the “March of Progress.”

Some of this is masked by the fact that they sometimes have legitimate goals wrapped up inside their ideology. For example, many people agree that increasing women’s participation in higher education and the professions is a good thing. The Sexual Revolutionaries claim credit for every woman who has graduated from college since 1965. But they never stop to assess any collateral damage that their methods may have generated. Nor do they ask whether these legitimate objectives (behind which they hide their Revolutionary agenda) could have been achieved in some other way.

The Sexual Revolution needs the State because it needs enormous amounts of power to accomplish its impossible objectives. This one insight unlocks the key to the whole course of the Sexual Revolution. We are now in a position to see why the Sexual Revolution has morphed into a power grab, why it seems so overwhelming, why it is so seductive, why its propaganda seems so relentless, and why the downhill slide seems to be accelerating.

Propping up this combination of half-truths and flat-out lies requires a lot of propaganda. Every TV sitcom showing the happy fatherless family is part of this effort to remake human nature. Ditto every movie showing jolly blended families. Speaking of, The Huffington Post has a regular feature called “Blended Family Friday.” They describe it this way:

As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they successfully blended their two families. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life! Want to share your own story? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com.

Most of these accounts are chipper reports from the adult’s point of view. I have not seen too many accounts written from the child’s perspective. The articles tend to downplay the problems, suggesting that with tenacity and determination, these problems can be overcome. This feature outrages my friends who are adult children of divorce. They feel it diminishes the negative experiences they had as children.

The propaganda for the divorce ideology causes real pain to real people. Those who have been harmed by family breakdown feel isolated. “If only my family was cooler and more together, we could be like those people on TV. We would not be having all these problems.” What if you and your family are more common than you believe, and the TV show characters are the unusual ones?

People who have made decisions that result in family breakdown undoubtedly sometimes do so based on the cultural narrative supporting the “freedom to divorce” and “the kids will be fine.” When they discover that all that freedom didn’t make them happy, that the kids really aren’t fine, many of these people feel cheated, like freaks, like outliers. What if the difficulties you encounter are the norm and the TV characters are the freaks?

Every instance of this propaganda victimizes the already-victimized. Besides being hurt by their parents’ divorce, the children of divorce are subjected to the continual claim that they really are all right. And if they are not all right, there is something especially wrong with them. We take them to therapy. We prescribe medication for them. We ask them to deny the reality that is right in front of them. No wonder they are upset. No wonder they have stomach cramps, sleepless nights, psychological problems, and trouble with their school work. The divorce ideology and the propaganda that supports it is crazy-making. Honestly, it is a wonder that so many of the children of divorce do as well as they do. I cannot even imagine what they go through.

I don’t care how often it happens. I don’t care how much propaganda attempts to normalize it. I will never consider it “normal” for children to be asked to do without one of their parents, without a really, really, good reason.

1. “Meet the Blended Families We’ve Featured in the Past” is a montage of 156 stories of stepfamilies. The description quoted in the text appears in the tee-up of each one. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-blended-family-motto-this-mom-swears-by_us_55fb25fce4b0fde8b0cd9012?slideshow=true#gallery/559ee9b3e4b05b1d02900b90/0(Last accessed November 16, 2016.)


Recognizing Propaganda for Divorce

An excerpt from The Sexual State by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse


At the heart of the Divorce Ideology is one simple idea: kids are so resilient that they do not really need their own parents. This idea salves many a guilty conscience over making these choices. This is the idea that allows adults to divorce, remarry, become single parents by choice, and use third party reproduction. This idea allows people to have sex with people they are not married to: they presume the resulting children, (if any) will be fine. They presume that their currently existing children will not mind them taking up with new lovers, forming new households and all the rest. Kids are resilient.

This idea is completely false. All its variants are equally false.

“I can safely abandon the mother of my child, and my child.”

“I can safely kick my child’s father out of the house.”

“As a judge or social worker, I can separate children from their parents, support one blameless parent against the other, and nothing bad will happen.”

“As an academic or journalist, I can safely promote the idea that marriage is unnecessary, probably oppressive, and after all, just a piece of paper.”

“The kids will be better off if I am happy.”

It takes a lot of propaganda to maintain the myth that the kids will be fine.

The victims of the Divorce Ideology number in the millions. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this ideology. All these people need to be silenced to maintain the fiction that the kids will be fine as long as their parents are happy. But over-writing nature on this scale is no small matter. The Revolutionaries need to enlist a lot of social effort, since their ideas do not accord with reality. The True Believers in the Sexual Revolution regard doing the impossible as a high moral duty. They believe themselves entitled to use all available social and political power to achieve their impossible goals. They believe working toward these high moral ends will give meaning to their lives and salvation to society. Since their premises are false and their goals are impossible, they will never be satisfied, no matter how much social change they generate. In fact, since the premises are false, every mistaken step compounds the previous mistaken steps. The True Believer becomes even less happy with every step of the “March of Progress.”

Some of this is masked by the fact that they sometimes have legitimate goals wrapped up inside their ideology. For example, many people agree that increasing women’s participation in higher education and the professions is a good thing. The Sexual Revolutionaries claim credit for every woman who has graduated from college since 1965. But they never stop to assess any collateral damage that their methods may have generated. Nor do they ask whether these legitimate objectives (behind which they hide their Revolutionary agenda) could have been achieved in some other way.

The Sexual Revolution needs the State because it needs enormous amounts of power to accomplish its impossible objectives. This one insight unlocks the key to the whole course of the Sexual Revolution. We are now in a position to see why the Sexual Revolution has morphed into a power grab, why it seems so overwhelming, why it is so seductive, why its propaganda seems so relentless, and why the downhill slide seems to be accelerating.

Propping up this combination of half-truths and flat-out lies requires a lot of propaganda. Every TV sitcom showing the happy fatherless family is part of this effort to remake human nature. Ditto every movie showing jolly blended families. Speaking of, The Huffington Post has a regular feature called “Blended Family Friday.” They describe it this way:

As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they successfully blended their two families. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life! Want to share your own story? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com.[1]

Most of these accounts are chipper reports from the adult’s point of view. I have not seen too many accounts written from the child’s perspective. The articles tend to downplay the problems, suggesting that with tenacity and determination, these problems can be overcome. This feature outrages my friends who are adult children of divorce. They feel it diminishes the negative experiences they had as children.

The propaganda for the divorce ideology causes real pain to real people. Those who have been harmed by family breakdown feel isolated. “If only my family was cooler and more together, we could be like those people on TV. We would not be having all these problems.” What if you and your family are more common than you believe, and the TV show characters are the unusual ones?

People who have made decisions that result in family breakdown undoubtedly sometimes do so based on the cultural narrative supporting the “freedom to divorce” and “the kids will be fine.” When they discover that all that freedom didn’t make them happy, that the kids really aren’t fine, many of these people feel cheated, like freaks, like outliers. What if the difficulties you encounter are the norm and the TV characters are the freaks?

Every instance of this propaganda victimizes the already-victimized. Besides being hurt by their parents’ divorce, the children of divorce are subjected to the continual claim that they really are all right. And if they are not all right, there is something especially wrong with them. We take them to therapy. We prescribe medication for them. We ask them to deny the reality that is right in front of them. No wonder they are upset. No wonder they have stomach cramps, sleepless nights, psychological problems, and trouble with their school work. The divorce ideology and the propaganda that supports it is crazy-making. Honestly, it is a wonder that so many of the children of divorce do as well as they do. I cannot even imagine what they go through.


[1]Meet the Blended Families We’ve Featured in the Past” is a montage of 156 stories of stepfamilies. The description quoted in the text appears in the tee-up of each one. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-blended-family-motto-this-mom-swears-by_us_55fb25fce4b0fde8b0cd9012?slideshow=true#gallery/559ee9b3e4b05b1d02900b90/0 (Last accessed November 16, 2016.)


Beauty and the Beast’s Obeisance to the Big Gay Machine

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.

Polygon panned it. USA Today called it “queerbaiting”: promising just enough to get gays into the theaters, but not nearly enough.

Why isn’t it enough?

Soviet Art

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.


Young Americans Cheat on Spouses Less Often Than Older Americans, Study Finds

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter

This article was first posted July 5, 2017, at Christian Post.

Marriage requires more than just the rings and the vows.

Younger Americans are less likely to cheat on their spouses than older Americans are, and although culture has become much more accepting of loose sexual norms, adultery is still viewed with disapproval, according to the social science data.

Writing on the blog of the Institute for Family Studies Wednesday, Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer sciences and sociology at the University of Utah, explained that a notable gap exists between those over 55 and under 55 regarding extramarital sex.

The "adultery taboo" has endured throughout human history, Wolfinger wrote. And the number of Americans who admit to having sex outside of marriage has remained steady over the years, hovering around 16 percent, giving the impression that Americans have basically concluded that extramarital sex is wrong.


Yet, some shocking changes have occurred since the year 2000, he noted: older Americans are cheating more and younger Americans are cheating less.

Wolfinger derived this assessment from the past three decades of data from the General Social Survey which tracks social attitudes about a variety of moral matters. Since 1991, GSS respondents have been asked: "Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were married?"

"Starting after 2004, Americans over 55 began reporting rates of extramarital sex that were about five or six percentage points higher than were being offered by younger adults. By 2016, 20% of older respondents indicated that their marriages were nominally adulterous, compared to 14% for people under 55," Wolfinger said.

While the majority of Americans are committed to monogamy, "the mounting age difference is noteworthy and statistically significant," he added.

Wolfinger further underscored the role of the sexual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s as a driving factor in shaping the attitudes of people toward sex. For the generation who came of age during the sexual revolution — people who are now in their 50s and 60s — "it's understandable they are more likely to have sex with someone without their spouses," he said. These people are also more likely to have had more sexual partners in their lifetimes than their older or younger peers.

"They may have firsthand experience with 1970s-era experiments with non-monogamy. A few people born in the late 1950s may have had swingers for parents, leading offspring to question taboos surrounding infidelity."

After reaching a peak in 1990, sex among teenagers has fallen significantly, the data shows.

"Collectively, this sexual biography makes it understandable that products of the sexual revolution would be most predisposed to extramarital sex. If people just aged into outside love affairs, presumably as they grew bored of their marital beds, we could expect that the oldest GSS respondents would be the most likely to report extramarital sex," Wolfinger said.

But the data suggests that is not the case. The sexual revolution continues to produce fruit today in the generation who grew up in its wake, he observed.

Although the rate of divorce overall has dropped in the past few decades, "gray divorce," that is, divorce among the middle aged, has seen a surge.

"Part of that story seems to be a corresponding increase in midlife extramarital sex," he said.

Even as increased chatter about "open" marriages and other forms of consensual non-monogamy like polyandry have appeared on the scene, with the declines in extramarital sex observed for younger Americans, "barring any unforeseen developments, we should anticipate a future of more monogamous marriage," Wolfinger said.

Americans by and large "still disapprove of sex outside of wedlock, but we disapprove less strongly than we used to," the scholar noted, suggesting that society is witnessing a growing "sexual inequality."

GSS data also reveals that while some Americans have more sex out of wedlock, others have become even more disapproving.

"Indeed, perhaps some of this disapproval reflects the comparably high rates of extramarital sex 50-somethings and 60-somethings have been observing in their peers."

His analysis seems to comport with the findings in other related studies.

The Christian Post reported in August that contrary to conventional wisdom and a sex-saturated culture, young people are actually not having much sex.

In a study published last year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers Jean M. Twenge, Ryne A. Sherman, and Brooke E. Wells discovered that young people born in the 1990s were "significantly more likely to have no sexual partners" than Gen Xers. The only generation with a higher rate of sexual inactivity than today's 20- to 24-year-olds was the one born in the 1920s when controlled for time period and age.

"I think a lot of them are watching the adults around them and concluding that sex without limits is not making people happy. Parents with multiple marriages and divorces, etc.," said Ruth Institute founder Jennifer Roback Morse in a statement to CP, suggesting that younger generations were becoming wiser.

 


Children Must Be Taught Transgenderism, Homosexuality Starting in Nursery School, Teachers Say

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.

 



DIVORCE ENABLERS: The Liberal Fantasy World Is Wrecking Children’s Lives

This article was published June 3, 2017, at ClashDaily.com.

By Jennifer Roback Morse

The Divorce Ideology is one of the linchpins of the Sexual Revolution. Kids are resilient. Parents who don’t get along do their kids no favor by staying married. Everyone has a right to be happy, which means the right to change sex partners more or less at will. TV sitcoms, movies, academic studies, public policies, “style” sections of newspapers, women’s magazines, therapists and even some clergy claim divorce is harmless to children and beneficial to adults.

Unfortunately, these claims are false. Switching partners around can create chaos in the family. Divorce does not necessarily solve the problems people thought it would solve: the probability of divorce is higher for second marriages than for first marriages. Family law attorneys tell me that managing post-divorce conflict is a major portion of their business. And, most to the point of this book: children do not just get over divorce.

“The kids will get over it.” So say the experts and cheerleaders for divorce. On that basis, many parents end perfectly good marriages that could have been saved with some effort.


Sustaining the Divorce Ideology requires that people don’t ask too many questions, or voice too many objections. According to the Divorce Ideology, no-fault divorce just means that two adults who agree to divorce do not have to go through the elaborate charade of claiming that one party committed adultery.

In reality, many divorces take place against the will of one of the parties. The law takes sides with the party who wants the marriage the least, even if that person has committed adultery. That is how no-fault divorce not only demolished the presumption that marriage is permanent. It also smashed the presumption that marriage is sexually exclusive.

In the Divorce Fantasy World, there are only two choices. Unhappy parents stay miserably married and fight for the rest of their lives. Or, they get divorced and everyone lives happily ever after. The idea that one or both parents should change their behavior doesn’t register as an option. Nor does the idea that the divorce might seriously wound the kids.

In the Divorce Fantasy World, the children are all better off if their parents split than if they stay together. The children are delighted that their parents are happy. They have no ill-feelings about being asked to move every other week, a fate that few adults would willingly endure. Children are ok with calling their mom’s new husband, “dad”, or seeing their dad in bed with another woman. Children have no feelings at all about their family photos being taken down. They never feel jealous of the children of the new union, children who absorb the attention of their parent and new spouse. No, my goodness, no: the children from the original union never feel like leftovers from a previous relationship.

To keep the Fantasy alive, anyone who does not follow the Socially-Approved Divorce Script, must be silenced. This is bad enough for abandoned spouses. But for children of divorce, it is literally a nightmare.

The kids are socially invisible. If they have a problem, we take them to therapy. We put them on medication. But we never admit that maybe the adults should have worked as hard on their marriages as they seem to work on managing their divorce. And we certainly never tell the adults not to remarry.

Even inside the family, the children are not permitted to voice their real feelings. Love inside the family feels fragile: the kids have absorbed the message that people sometimes leave each other, or get kicked out. They may view love as unreliable. Even if children could verbalize their feelings, (which they can’t) they are afraid to risk losing their parents’ love. They don’t want to upset mom or dad.

They learn to silence themselves.

Leila Miller’s book, Primal Loss, gives voice to the adult children of divorce. Their stories are not pretty. This book is significant precisely because it breaks through the layers and layers of pro-divorce propaganda that we all endure in 21st century America.

The cultural elites love the Sexual Revolution and actively promote the Divorce Ideology. They provide a platform for happily-divorced people, jolly blended families and all the rest. They never mention the abandoned spouses or the shattered children. They need all this propaganda because that’s what it takes to convince people that biological bonds don’t matter either to children or adults.

Each parent is half of who the child is. When the parents reject each other, they are rejecting half of the child. They may tell the child, “We still love you: we just don’t love each other.” The child cannot make sense of this impossible contradiction. In my opinion, this is the underlying reason for the well-documented psychological, physiological, and spiritual risks that children of divorce face.

As a society, we are faced with two competing worldviews. The worldview of people of faith is this: Every child has identity rights and relational rights with respect to their parents. When children are deprived of these rights without an inescapable reason, this is an injustice to the child.

And these rights impose legitimate obligations on adults to provide these things to children. We don’t like to say this too loudly because people in our time resist hearing that they have obligations to others that they did not explicitly choose to bear.

The competing worldview is this: Every adult has a right to the sexual activity they want, with a minimum of inconvenience, and children must accept whatever the adults choose to give them. We do not just blurt out that last part because we would be ashamed of ourselves. But that is approximately the position of most of the people in power in most of the so-called developed countries: they believe it is the job of the government to minimize the inconvenience that adults experience from their sex lives.

The Divorce Ideology needs the State because it needs enormous amounts of power to accomplish its impossible objectives. This one insight unlocks the key to the whole course of the Sexual Revolution. We can now see why enforcing divorce has become a power grab on the part of a whole array of businesses and professionals who could be called the Divorce Industrial Complex. We can see why the family-breakdown-is-harmless propaganda seems so relentless, and why the downhill slide into new, more devastating, and more permanent forms of family breakdown seems to be accelerating.

And we can see why silencing the victims and dissenters is essential to its success. Once people start asking questions, or raising objections, the whole fragile structure could come tumbling down.

Because of this systematic silencing of the victims, the next generation of children grows up operating under the very same illusions as their parents. No one ever gets a course-correction.

Leila Miller has done us all a great service by giving a voice to the Children of Divorce. Please read this book. Then share it with friends, family, counselors, teachers, and pastors. Break the silence. Do it for your own family, and for the families of future generations.

This suffering has gone on long enough.

Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D. is Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization, dedicated to creating a Christ-like solution to family breakdown. Visit at www.ruthinstitute.org or facebook.com/TheRuthInstitute/ To hear more from Dr. Morse, sign up for her e-newsletter here and receive a free gift. This article is the Forward to Primal Loss: Now Adult Children of Divorce Speak.


The Half-Made Bed and the More Excellent Way

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first posted at Crisis Magazine on May 2, 2017.

wyethandrew_master bedroom 1965

 

“The Personal is Political” was a slogan engineered by Marxist feminists of the 1960s and 1970s. Few people realized at the time exactly what that slogan entailed. “The personal is political” should have telegraphed loud and clear that these women intended to politicize every aspect of our personal lives.

Many people dismissed extreme feminism as irrational and crazy and therefore unworthy of serious consideration. Others excused feminism because they had some worthy goals, such as outlawing the firing of women when they got married or pregnant. I know I swung back and forth between these responses. I reasoned that I was just trying to live my life.

What I didn’t realize was how much baggage I had acquired from feminism. This baggage made it difficult to “just live my life,” even though I was never more than a skeptical feminist.

I thought it was important to “assert myself,” to not be a doormat, to demand respect from my husband. I thought it was important to keep separate bank accounts and divide our expenses equally. I thought we should avoid gender stereotypical divisions of labor. Even if he was manifestly better at something, I should try to “do my share” of whatever mechanical project he might have in mind.

Most importantly, of course, he should do his share of household chores, even if a particular chore didn’t even register on his radar screen. He should do his half of everything I thought was important. And, he should do it to my satisfaction. In the interest of fairness and equality.

 


 

It was all quite exhausting.

I did eventually learn that nagging my helpers for not doing things my way was a good way to lose my helpers. But notice: this is a purely pragmatic consideration. I still was not questioning the basic rightness of my overall approach. I thought I had a right to achieve my goals, and other people were there to help me achieve them.

Just to be sure I’m making myself clear here, let me repeat for emphasis: I had a right to achieve my goals, and other people were there to help me.

I was still operating within the Equality Paradigm, created by those whose stated objective was to politicize my personal life. Only after my reversion to Catholicism, did I realize that there was a “More Excellent Way,” as St. Paul would put it: The Way of Love (1 Cor. 12:31).

Instead of asking myself whether he did his fair share, I can ask myself: What does love require of me, in any given situation?

Let’s say I want the bed made in the morning. I don’t take it for granted that all my readers accept this as a lofty goal. So be it. I want the bed made each morning. Sometimes, my husband and I make it together.

The problem is: my idea of “making the bed” is not universally shared. I know this for a fact, since my husband’s idea of “making the bed” is not the same as mine. How smooth must the sheets and covers be? Do we have to pull the covers down evenly on each side of the mattress? The most frequent difference of opinion is over the correct location of the covers, in relation to the pillows: under or over the pillows?

My husband made the bed this morning.

I’ve got a few choices here. Correct him? Tell him he did it wrong? “Here is the correct way to do it.” I know from experience that, as a non-push-over himself, my husband doesn’t appreciate being treated like a child. (Imagine that.)

Or worse, I could scold him. “I’ve told you a million times how to do this. You are doing it wrong just to spite me. I have to do everything around here.”

Or I could ignore it until he leaves the house and remake the bed to my satisfaction. Sometimes, this is what I do. I like seeing the bed a certain way. So, I do it my own way, for my own reasons.

When I take this path, I strive to do it without judgment of him. I try to put these thoughts in my mind: “He does a lot for us. He can handle effortlessly things I can’t do, and would not even know where to begin.” In other words, I try to praise him, even when he is not around.

I can also install in my mind some course corrections on the significance of the chore itself. “It is just the bed. It is not that important in the grand scheme of things.” Best of all, “Never mind. With any luck, we are just going to mess it up again soon,” with a grin in my heart.

I notice that I still have to shut down some of those Way of Equality scripts running in my head. I feel quite certain I am not the only woman who thinks this way. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t female readers tut-tutting me at this very moment. “He is a grown man: he should know how to make his bed by now.” “He is counting on you to keep his home nice.” And so on.

But those scripts are not the Way of Love. Love means being grateful to and for one another, in all our differences, with all our quirks and insecurities. There are lots of possible Ways of Love in every situation. In all cases, the Way of Love teaches us to see the person as more important than the chore. In fact, the person is more important than pretty much anything else.

The feminists with their Way of Equality, gave us an unlimited supply of justifications for nagging our husbands, for feeling superior to our husbands, and for being just plain selfish. Do you suppose this is relevant to the high rates of family breakdown in our culture? Dismissing this topic as unworthy of thoughtful political commentary underestimates the gravity of what the sexual revolutionaries have been doing to us all this time. They have been driving wedges between men and women, husbands and wives, and even between mothers and babies.

While our brothers in the conservative movement were holding conferences on the American Founding, and symposia on free market economics, the sexual revolutionaries moved into our homes. Sexual revolutionary rhetoric is speaking to us from across our kitchen tables, from the back seat of our mini-vans, and from the other side of our beds. The revolutionaries have entered the minds of our family members, our spouses, children, and grandchildren.

All the while, powerful people have accumulated even more power over our personal lives, which have indeed become extensions of our political lives. Big Government expands to fill the voids created by family breakdown. Big Business makes money selling us stuff we wouldn’t need if we were content with our family lives. Big Media makes money keeping us overstimulated, while we scarcely know how to have face-to-face conversations. Perhaps this explains why feminists who support the Sexual Revolution get far more legal, financial, and media support than any other group of women who try to wear the feminist label.

So here we are in 2017, with record numbers of young people afraid to get married and millions of children born without both parents living with them. We Christians have a humane alternative sitting right under our noses: The Way of Love. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Fully, freely, faithfully, fruitfully, love one another to the end.

I mentioned that my husband made the bed. Did I mention that he did it without my prompting, asking or nagging? When I see the half-made bed (or the bed I consider “half-made”), I can say, “Thank you, honey, for making the bed. I smile when I see it. I appreciate you so much.” Almighty God put this man in the center of my life. No matter what is going on, I know God wants me to love my husband.

That is St. Paul’s “More Excellent Way.” The sexual revolutionaries have nothing that can compete with it. Let us say so, and live so, without apology.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a detail from “Master Bedroom” painted by Andrew Wyeth in 1965.

 


DIVORCE REFORM: Time For Pro-Family Conservatives To Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published at Clash Daily on March 25, 2017.

Representative Matt Krause of Texas has introduced a bill to limit no-fault divorce in that state. it is time to put up or shut up about family breakdown.

The Ruth Institute has a petition that anyone can sign. It just says we support Rep. Krause’s effort to limit no-fault divorce. You do not have to live in Texas to sign it.


Conservatives complain and wring their hands over “losing the culture wars.”

We can’t honestly complain about losing a battle we never even fought.

“Kids need a mom and a dad,” the constant mantra of the pro-marriage movement, is not nearly strong enough. “Kids need their own mom and dad,” is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I’m sorry to get in your face about this. But children are entitled to a relationship with both parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy takes place to prevent it.

— “I’m tired of your father,” is not an unavoidable tragedy. It is very avoidable.
— “I’m running off to marry my secretary,” is not an unavoidable tragedy. It is a selfish act of injustice to the children of the marriage.

These are the divorces that no-fault protects. When people say, “but we need no-fault divorce because fault is too hard to prove,” adultery and selfishness are sneaking in the backdoor.

Conservative Christians complained about “gay marriage” harming children.

No-fault divorce harms children.

Conservative Christians complained about “gay marriage” being un-Biblical.

No-fault divorce is un-Biblical. See Matthew 19. Don’t whine to me about the so-called “exception clause,” aka “escape hatch big enough to drive a Mac Truck through.”

Why were people against gay marriage? I don’t know about you. But I know why I was. I saw that it would harm children’s legally-recognized rights to have a relationship with both parents.

We at the Ruth Institute were virtually alone in the “Marriage Movement” in arguing this way. And I am pretty sure I know why. Once you say, “Kids have a right to their own parents,” you have to be willing to start talking about divorce, single-parenthood and donor conception. Most of the Marriage Movement bobbed and weaved to avoid these topics.

The Ruth Institute did not. I am grateful to our supporters who have stood by us as we made these arguments. I am not ashamed to say:

— no-fault divorce is an injustice to children.
— single-motherhood by choice is an injustice to children.
— donor conception is an injustice to children.
— gay “marriage” and gay parenting is an injustice to children.

The Gay Lobby accused us of hypocrisy, saying we didn’t really mean it about any of those other topics. We just really hated gay people. Divorce and single-motherhood and all the rest were just window dressing.

Too bad. We talked about children’s rights then. We continue to talk about children’s rights, now, long after the dust has settled on the whole gay “marriage” controversy. We intend to keep talking about it.

What about you? Will you sign our petition, supporting Rep. Krause and his divorce reform?


The myth of ‘economic man’: How love holds society together

by Joseph Sunde at Acton.org on February 14, 2017

Despite the predictable flurry of sugary clichés and hedonistic consumerism, Valentine’s Day is as good an opportunity as any to reflect on the nature of human love and consider how we might further it across society.

For those of us interested in the study of economics, or, if you prefer, the study of human action, what drives such action — love or otherwise —is the starting point for everything. For the Christian economist, such questions get a bit more complicated.

Although love is clearly at the center, our understanding of what that looks like is interconnected with and interdependent on the love of God, which persistently yanks our typical economist sensibilities about “prosperity,” “happiness,” and “quality of life” into transcendent territory (never mind those convenient buckets of “self-interest” and “sacrifice”). The marketplace is flooded with worldly spin-offs, as plenty of cockeyed V-Day ditties and run-of-the-mill romantic comedies are quick to demonstrate. At a time when libertine, self-centered approaches appear to be the routine winners in everything from consumerism to self-help to sex, we should be especially careful that our economic thinking doesn’t also fall prey to such distortions.

In her book Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, Jennifer Roback Morse cautions against such tendencies, pointing us in the right direction and challenging us to reconsider our basic views about human needs and human potential.


Morse begins with a critique of homo economicus (economic man), the understanding of man as Supreme Calculator, capable of number-crunching his way to happiness and fulfillment on the basis of cut-and-dry cost/benefit analysis. Such a view ignores the social and spiritual side of the human person, excusing away our thoughts and affections at the mercy of of a cold, limiting, earthbound order. As Rev. Robert Sirico puts it, “Any man who was only economic man would be a lost soul. And any civilization that produced only homines economici to fill its markets, courts, legislative bodies, and other institutions would soon enough be a lost civilization.”

To demonstrate the inadequacy of the common caricature, Morse points us to human infanthood, a uniquely universal human experience in supreme dependency and irrationality. “We are not born as rational, choosing agents, able to defend ourselves and our property, able to negotiate contracts and exchanges,” she writes. “We are born as dependent babies, utterly incapable of meeting our own needs—or even of knowing what our needs are. As infants, we do not know what is good or safe. We even resist sleep in spite of being so exhausted we cannot hold our heads up. We are completely dependent on others for our very survival.”

As Morse goes on to remind us, the other side of this dependence — a nurturing family environment — is not an automatic given, and our response (or non-response) proves the economic man hypothesis to be dangerously incomplete (while also countering Rousseau’s view of the “state of nature”).

To demonstrate her case, she looks to extreme situations wherein the family has been entirely removed, focusing specifically on child abandonment and the attachment disorder that so often follows:

The classic case of attachment disorder is a child who does not care what anyone thinks of him. The disapproval of others does not deter this child from bad behavior because no other person, even someone who loves him very much, matters to the child. He responds only to physical punishment and to the suspension of privileges. The child does whatever he thinks he can get away with, no matter the cost to others. He does not monitor his own behavior, so authority figures must constantly be wary of him and watch him. He lies if he thinks it is advantageous to life. He steals if he can get away with it. He may go through the motions of offering affection, but people who live with him sense in him a kind of phoniness. He shows no regret at hurting another person, though he may offer perfunctory apologies.

Here we find a peculiar integration of economic man and noble savage, a child “untouched by corrupting adult influences” who seeks only to meet his own temporal human needs, regardless of the social costs. As Morse summarizes, to avoid a society filled with such disorder, we must ground ourselves in something far more powerful and grounded and transcendent than self-centered individualism. “The desperate condition of the abandoned child shows us that we have, all along, been counting on something to hold society together, something more than the mutual interests of autonomous individuals,” she writes. “We have taken that something else for granted, and hence, overlooked it, even though it has been under our noses all along. That missing element is none other than love.”

Thus, before we get too deep into all the important Hayekian questions about knowledge and decision-making, proceeding to dichotomize between a centralized governmental Mother Brain and “better,” “morerational” individualistic mini-brains, we should pause and remember that without love properly defined and vigorously pursued, human holes will surely remain.

Love and Economics, Jennifer Roback Morse Whatever form of magical super-rationalism we humans might be able to concoct, whether through governments or markets or otherwise, without the love of God and the corresponding building blocks of relationship and family and community, our stomachs will continue to growl and the social stew will continue to fester. Without transcendent obedience and a willingness to sacrifice our own convenience and temporal, transactional notions about prosperity, happiness, and human fulfillment, society at large will slowly yield to false caricatures about human needs and the corresponding solutions.

“Love is from God,” writes the Apostle John, “and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” This is what we should strive for: to be born of God and to know God, from the way we respond to a baby’s first breath to the way we cultivate our families and communities to the way we conduct ourselves in our daily work across the economic order.

This Valentine’s Day, let us remember that love is much more than the sentimentality and self-gratification that consumes our culture. Love is what holds society together, and that means fewer self-centered sonnets to faux self-empowerment, and more covenantal worship and service across society. Whether as spouses or parents, neighbors or strangers, we remain children of the King, created in the image of a God who so loved that he gave.

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