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.


Practical, pastoral guidance for Catholics

A January conference in Phoenix will tackle tough issues of homosexuality, transgenderism

by James Graves at OSV Newsweekly on January 27, 2017

Clergy process out of the chapel at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich., in August 2015 after the opening Mass of the Truth and Love Conference. CNS photo by Mike Stechschulte

Courage International will join with the Diocese of Phoenix to host Truth and Love, a conference intended to offer practical and pastoral guidance on the topics of homosexuality and sexual identity on Jan. 9-11, 2017, at St. Paul Parish in Phoenix. Courage is the Catholic Church’s apostolate to help men and women struggling with same-sex attraction live in accordance with the teachings of the Church. The Phoenix conference will be Courage’s third since its founding in 1980; a similar conference was held most recently in Michigan in August 2015.


Father Philip Bochanski, Courage’s executive director, says that the conference is a tool to “share the good news that living chastely and finding our true identity as sons and daughters of God is the way to real happiness and authentic relationships.”

Welcoming, accompanying

The theme of Truth and Love is “welcoming and accompanying our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions or confusion regarding sexual identity.”

According to a joint statement released by the Diocese of Phoenix and Courage, many of the current approaches to homosexuality “do not include the fuller perspective of the human person. Rather, they limit themselves to ‘acceptance’ and to the protection of the ‘right’ of ‘sexual satisfaction.’ Yet, as the Catholic Church has consistently taught, these approaches will never lead people to the abundant life that Christ promises.”

 

Presenters include Father Bochanski; Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agaña, Guam; chastity speaker Jason Evert; Walt Heyer, a former transgender person, speaker and operator of the site www.SexChangeRegret.com; Janet Smith, a professor of moral theology at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; John Cuddeback, a professor of philosophy at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia; and Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.

Morse is an author and speaker specializing in the area of marriage and family, and played a prominent role defending traditional marriage in California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Her conference topic will be “Understanding the Sexual Revolution.”

Her topic, she said, includes refuting the belief of the sexual revolution that happiness comes merely by having sex, an idea that she says didn’t emerge without help.

“I’m 63, and the sexual revolution has been with us throughout my lifetime,” she said. “The good news is that we have decades of studies that have demonstrated that these ideas are a failure.”

Once the ideas of the sexual revolution had permeated society, she continued, “the building blocks for gay marriage were already there in the culture. People have come to believe that sex should be a sterile activity — that people can have sex and not think about babies — and gay sex is the ultimate sterile sex.”

Coupled that with the belief that “men and women are interchangeable and that kids don’t need their parents, so why not have gay marriage?”

Speaking from experience

Also featured at the conference will be speakers who have experienced same-sex attraction or sexual identity confusion sharing how chaste friendships and embracing the teachings of the Church have helped them on their journey toward chastity and sanctity. These include Daniel Mattson, who will present “Captivated by Truth: Why the Church’s Truth about Homosexuality has Set Me Free.”

Mattson is a professional musician from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was baptized Catholic and raised an evangelical Christian. He experiences same-sex attraction, and although he was “clandestine” about it, he was once involved in the gay lifestyle.

He wanted to participate in the Courage conference, he said, in hopes that he could “communicate that chastity is a vital part of the Good News, and part of the reason I came back to the Catholic Church.”

Mattson noted that in the entertainment world of which he is a part, his fellow musicians “would celebrate me coming out, embracing being gay and having a boyfriend.” Instead, he continued, “They are mystified that I would choose to be Catholic.”

But, he continued, it was in the Catholic Church that he has found both “truth and freedom, and I accept that truth in humility, even though that does not affect that I am still attracted to men.”

Mattson returned to the Catholic Church after attending a Courage conference in 2009. He tells his story in the Courage film “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which can be viewed under the resources tab on the Courage website. He travels frequently to speak at high schools and colleges, often accompanied by Father Bochanski or Father Paul Check, the former executive director of Courage.

He recalled a question asked by a teenage boy at one of his high school presentations: “If I feel I’m attracted to the same sex, am I gay?”

“I responded, ‘No. The Church wisely teaches us that our feelings do not define who we are. Who we are made by God is what defines us.”

 

 

Mattson continued, “I do what I’m doing to help people like this boy. He’s living in a world that tells him it does mean he’s gay, but I’m here to say that he doesn’t have to follow every feeling or desire. These kids are being told lies and falling into a trap.”

Mattson also will soon release a book through Ignatius Press sharing his experiences. Mattson’s brother, Steve, is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, and also is a presenter at the conference.

Pastoral presence

Mass celebrants include Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez. Bishop Olmsted was pleased to have his diocese host the conference.

“The work of Courage International, helping those with same-sex attraction to build friendships and virtue, and helping the Church to share the Good News of Christ in a challenging area, is essential in our time,” he said. “I encourage all who have pastoral responsibilities to join us at the conference. It will help you to grow in knowledge and fellowship.”


Padres: please tell us the full truth!

by Jennifer Roback Morse on

In my line of work, people tell me their stories of family breakdown and heartbreak. I recently heard the following story. I will tell it in first person, roughly as it was told to me. My comments are in italics.

cryotanks-frozen-embryo-storage
[Pictured: Cryotanks for frozen embryo storage. Is this where you want your children to live for the foreseeable future?]

“Like you and your husband, my wife and I went through years of infertility. We decided to try IVF. I was worried that a child created by us would not be fully a child of God. I went to a priest/mentor. He told me: “you are going to a lot of trouble and expense to create a child. The child will certainly be a child of God.” I breathed a sigh of relief. The priest relieved his immediate concern. The priest also said, “I have to tell you: the Church doesn’t want you to do this.” I couldn’t tell whether the priest gave him any reasons why the Church doesn’t want him to do this: all my friend heard was, “It’s ok.”


“The IVF clinic told us that we should retrieve three eggs, fertilize and implant them, for the best chance of getting one embryo to implant successfully. Once my wife woke up from the procedure, the doctors informed us that they had retrieved 13 eggs and fertilized all of them. They had implanted 3 in my wife’s womb, as we discussed. But this was the first mention of any other eggs or embryos. Only then, did they ask us what we wanted to do with the “extras.” I have heard many similar stories of infertility clinics failing to tell the whole story. People desparate for a child do not always think clearly or listen completely. And the fertility industry does not always help them….

“I was in shock. Indeed. The man’s countenance visibly changed as he told me this part of the story. We decided to freeze them and deal with them later.

“Only one of the babies survived, and she is now a teenager. I love her. I’m glad I have her. But I have agonized over those 10 frozen embryos ever since. Apologists for the Sexual Revolution might say that this man’s guilt is a problem created by the last vestiges of religion. I say that is a crock. He instantly and instinctively knew that something was wrong with freezing his children. After all, if the one that was implanted and carried to term became his precious child, how could her siblings, conceived at exactly the same time, and under the same circumstances, be any less precious?

“My wife and I divorced. I am still struggling over what to do with our frozen embryos. I have met with other priests and counselors. I finally found one who said, “Stop calling them embryos. They are your children.” I knew immediatly that he was right. The priest gave him some genuine relief, by actually addressing the problem, not glossing over it. I don’t know about you, but I feel crazy when someone tells me “it’s ok,” when I know for a fact that it isn’t. The priest gave me an ethical path for what to do for my children. I still have to convince their mother. I don’t know if she will go along with it.”

I’m not going to share the priest’s counsel right now. I will save that for a different post. Today, I want to focus on one point: if that first priest had given him reasons to NOT do IVF, this man would not have had these years of anguish.

It is true that he would not have had this particular daughter, conceived at this particular moment and in this particular way. And of course, we must never regret the child. Each and every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift from God.* But he and wife might have had some other experience of fatherhood and motherhood, some other way, on God’s good time and in God’s good way. Who knows? They might even still be married.

Priests and other authority figures need to tell people the whole truth. Sugar-coating is not helpful. Truthful words, spoken firmly before the sin actually occurs, could prevent the sin, and save the person years of heartache.

miserere-confession
Go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you.

Please Padres, Pères and Fathers: tell us the whole truth. We promise to listen and not give you a hard time.

And my non-clergy readers, please: if you are in a situation like this, go to confession.** Trust the Lord to put you in the right confessional with the right priest. Do not delay. Trust me on this. You are going to feel better.

* I spell this out in more detail in my essay, “You were loved into existence.” We give this essay away as a free premium for signing up for the Ruth Institute newsletter.

** Or as Fr. Z would say, GO TO CONFESSION!!


Sex before 1st date? Shocking trend means big regrets

'We are separating ourselves from our bodies'

An interview of Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse by Greg Corombos
 
This article was first posted at World Net Daily on February 11, 2017.

A new survey detailing the extent of casual sex among singles shows many are having intimate relations before the first date, a development that can be blamed in part on technology but leads to tremendous regret and permanently damaged relationships.

This week, the dating service Match released a new survey on sex and singles conducted by Research Now. Included in the data are the revelations that 34 percent of singles have had sex before a first date and that millennials are 48 percent more likely to have sex before a first date than all other generations of singles in order “to see if there is a connection.”


In a USA Today story on the survey, sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson suggests millennials have inverted the relationship process, using sex to determine if they want to pursue anything further with that person.

“We used to think of sex as you crossed the line now, you are in an intimate zone. But now sex is almost a given, and it’s not the intimate part. The intimate part is getting to know someone and going on a date,” Anderson is quoted as saying.

Ruth Institute Founder and President Jennifer Roback Morse says the discrepancy between millennials and other singles is that the older ones know better.

“The reason older generations are not [having sex before a first date] is because they have figured out already from experience that this is not a good idea,” Morse told WND and Radio America. “What we’re doing is just one generation of young people after another are having to figure out for themselves that hopping into bed with somebody is a lot more complicated and potentially hurtful than we’re led to believe by the media and stories like this one.”

Morse also said smartphone apps for the explicit purpose of casual sex are contributing to the trend.

“It’s a new thing when you have dating apps or casual sex apps on your cell phone and you can find out if there’s somebody close by who wants to have sex with you. That’s a new thing,” she said.

“The desire to be sexually active has been with us forever obviously, but this way of going about it and the way the culture is pushing people toward sex without any kind of intimacy or friendship, that is something new and, I think, uniquely destructive,” Morse said.

“What we’re trying to do is get away from this message of airbrushing away all the problems and allowing people space and time to say here’s what really happened. ‘Here’s how I really felt after casual sex. Here’s the next step after the first time you have that kind of encounter and then you get kind of swept away in it and are having one encounter after another and they’re not really satisfying you. Here’s where that leads,'” stated Morse.

She said her work shows that personal stories resonate best with young people.

“I think millennials particularly want to hear stories. They don’t care for data. All these numbers aren’t going to touch them one bit,” Morse said. “But if someone who is 35 years old stands in front of them and says, ‘This is how my heart was broken by doing what you’re standing there thinking about doing,’ they just might listen to that.”

Perhaps worst of all, Morse said, is the long-term damage casual sex inflicts on future efforts at meaningful relationships.

“The results of sex are bonding and babies. That’s the natural biological result of sex, bonding and babies,” Morse said. “If people don’t know how to bond with one another, they’re going to have trouble creating lasting, stable relationships for when they do finally want to have babies. Then they’re not going to be ready to really care for their children and give the children the kind of security and attachment that they need.”

She said the impact of poor bonding is also is also felt by the children.

“The kind of damage that’s going to happen to children of people who can’t form relationships is really hard to predict just how bad that can be,” Morse said. “Honestly, I don’t see a floor under this elevator. We’re still going down.”


Poor Kids Need Their Parents Too

By Jennifer Roback Morse Published on January 29, 2017, at stream.org.

Life-long married love benefits children. Why then, is our government creating incentives for parents to not marry? Poor children need their own parents and a stable family life every bit as much as children of the middle and upper classes.

If you are not sure about the benefits of life-long married love for children, let me tell you about Gina. I encountered her when I was a foster parent. When I met Gina, she was 12 years old and was transitioning from a group home into a foster home. She was intelligent and pretty and articulate.

Gina’s Story


Gina’s mother and father had not married each other. Her mother developed a drug problem and disappeared. Her father took full responsibility for Gina. Eventually, he met another woman, fell in love, and married her. They had a child together.

Gina was jealous of the new wife and the new baby. Her father and stepmother were afraid to leave her unattended in the same room with the baby, for fear she would hurt the baby. In fact, she did try to hurt the baby.

One day, Gina provoked a quarrel with her stepmother. She got so frustrated she shoved Gina, who called the police. The stepmother knew she shouldn’t have done it. But Gina was in no real danger: she called the police out of spite. The stepmother spent a few days in jail. Child protective services put Gina in a group home.

Her father was heartbroken. He loved Gina and was really trying to take care of her. But she was a risk to the baby. And she got her stepmother arrested.

In the meantime, Gina’s maternal grandparents came to visit while she was in foster care. They wanted to get custody and take her home. They were heartbroken that their own daughter had gone off the rails so badly that she was not taking care of her own child. Although they had had little relationship with Gina, they were worried about Gina being in foster care and a group home.

They just wanted their granddaughter to be with them. Perfectly understandable, and laudable. We would want all grandparents to feel that way. Just one problem: Gina’s father did not want them to take Gina off to another state.

Nothing completely takes the place of a loving stable relationship between a child’s own parents.

So, let’s look at the scorecard. A heartbroken father, who can barely keep his wife and daughter from fighting, and who cannot be sure that his infant is safe from his 12-year-old daughter. A pair of heartbroken grandparents who want some relationship with their granddaughter. A stepmother who fears for her child’s safety and who fears being set up by the stepdaughter.

And one deeply disturbed little girl. Angry, lonely, manipulative. Gina was deeply in need of unconditional love, and yet almost completely incapable of receiving the love people tried to offer her.

This blended family is innocuous by modern standards. Gina had had only two “family transitions”: the first when her mother abandoned the family, the second when her father got married. The father was free to marry, even by the strictest Roman Catholic standards, since he had never been married to Gina’s mother in the first place. Everyone was sincerely trying to do the right thing for Gina. The family was not desperately poor. There was no hostility or quarreling between the biological parents.

Yet, there is still no solution to Gina’s situation. Nothing completely takes the place of a loving stable relationship between the child’s own parents. So, yes, kids really do need their own parents.

How the Government Undermines Marriage Among the Poor

Now: is the government in fact undermining marriage among the poor? Consider these facts from the Institute for Family Studies, as of 2010:

  • Among high school drop outs, 83% of firstborn children are born outside of marriage. In 1970, only 33% of their first births were out of wedlock.
  • For women with a high-school degree and maybe some college, 58% percent of their firstborn children are born out of wedlock. In 1970, only 12% of their first births were out of wedlock.
  • Most college-educated women continue to get married before becoming mothers. Only 12 percent of first births to college educated women are out of wedlock.

Out of wedlock births are significant because the mothers so frequently have their next child with a different partner. This places the first child in a situation like Gina’s, with all the accompanying risks and complications.

What accounts for this overall trend and these class distinctions? Part of the answer, surely, is that some of the most significant income support programs have significant marriage penalties. People in these situations are better off cohabiting, or not living together at all, rather than getting married.

A report from the Urban Institute focuses on the Earned Income Tax and Child Tax Credits. A report from the American Enterprise Institute examines Medicaid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the new name for food stamps) and TANF, (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.)

The widespread perception that marriage puts one’s benefits at risk may be driving behavior more than the actual details of the program.

The AEI report focuses on families with at least one child aged two or younger, in other words, the men and women most likely to be new parents and to be considering whether to marry. The poorest of the poor are less likely to be affected by marriage penalties. Many of the lowest income people qualify for benefits whether they marry or not. But even among the lowest income quintile, two-thirds of the lowest income quintile will likely face a marriage penalty for SNAP, TANF or Medicaid.

The situation is even worse for the working poor, with slightly higher incomes. People closer to the eligibility threshold can face substantial losses in family income if they marry. Among the middle quintile, three quarters face a marriage penalty for SNAP, TANF or Medicaid. And among those in the second lowest quintile, fully 87% of the families would face a reduction in benefits if they married.

Perhaps even more importantly, the AEI report found that about 30% of Americans personally know someone who did not marry due to fear of losing the benefits. This widespread perception that marriage puts one’s benefits at risk may be driving behavior more than the actual fine-grained details of the program.

The Federal government’s programs for poor relief undermine the ability of the poorest people in society to get married and stay married. This has got to stop.

Now is the Time to Do Something About the Marriage Penalties

Scholars and analysts across the political spectrum are aware of this problem. They only disagree about how significant it is. Analysts at the liberal end of the spectrum probably fear that removing the marriage penalties won’t do much. Those at the conservative end may fear that removing the marriage penalties would cost too much. But both these fears cannot be true. So, let’s spend the money it takes to remove the marriage penalties. If these penalties only affect a few people, it won’t cost much to remove them.

Social conservatives have the ear of the current Administration. Now is a good time to recruit scholars and analysts from the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Urban Institute and Brookings, and do something about the marriage penalties.

Together, they could come up with something. We owe it to the least among us to stop undermining the formation and stability of their families.


Study finds skyrocketing rate of abstinence among Millennials

by Ben Johnson

This article was first published August 3, 2016, at LifeSiteNews.

Think Millennials are the most sexually active generation in history? Think again, say the authors of a new study released on Monday.

The number of young adults born in the 1990s who report they are not having sex is more than twice as high as it was for the Baby Boomer generation, a sign they have learned from the fallout of the sexual revolution, experts tell LifeSiteNews.

The study found that 15 percent of Millenials aged 20-24 said they had not had sex since age 18, more than those born in the late 1960s (six percent), 1970s (11 percent) or 1980s (12 percent). That is lower than their fellow Millennials born in the previous decade.

 


The definition of “sex” is left up to the respondent to define. However, the number of women who were sexually abstinent as young adults tripled since the 1960s, while the number of men doubled, according to the study, which appeared in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

"I think a lot of them are watching the adults around them and concluding that sex without limits is not making people happy," particularly "parents with multiple marriages and divorces,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute told LifeSiteNews.

The study concludes that “the new sexual revolution has apparently left behind a larger segment of the generation than first thought.”

"The idea that these kids are 'left behind' by the sexual revolution is quite strange, as if they've somehow been sealed in a bomb shelter and never knew it happened,” Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., the associate director of research for the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), told LifeSiteNews. “More likely, they've seen that experiment running its course and decided they'd rather learn from someone else's mistakes instead of their own.”

The finding dovetails with CDC figures that show a majority of teenagers are choosing not to have sex. Only 41 percent of high school students reported sexual activity, a 13-point drop since 1991. Millennials also have a lower average number of sexual partners (eight) than either Baby Boomers (11) and Generation X (10).

Valerie Huber, the president of Ascend, told LifeSiteNews that her group – formerly the National Abstinence Education Association - “commissioned the Barna Group to survey 18 and 19 year olds and found similar results. The majority did not like the idea of ‘hooking up,’ and most of those who were not sexually experienced were waiting for a committed relationship."

Some do not know what to make of the results. The Washington Post wrote, "Delaying sex is not necessarily bad, experts say."

Numerous studies show having sex at a younger-than-average age leads to negative results, while delaying sexual activity and reducing the number of partners has positive outcomes.

Dana Haynie of Ohio State University found that early sexual activity increased delinquency by 20 percent. Experts have warned that earlier sexual activity can increase anxiety and negative psychological reactions, such as feeling used, especially for girls. A study in Pediatrics last year concluded that troubled children were more likely to begin having sex earlier in life, reinforcing the vicious circle.

Those who had sex later than average had higher incomes, educational achievement, and satisfaction in marriage, according to a 2012 report from Dr. Paige Harden of the University of Texas.

A 2014 report found that having multiple sexual partners and cohabitation before marriage decreased marital happiness after couples eventually tied the knot.

“We know that early sexual behavior tends to set a pattern for later behavior. The fact that more and more emerging adults are avoiding sex suggests they recognize that casual sex can compromise their life goals,” Huber told LifeSiteNews.

One young person told The Washington Post that, having seen so much sex depicted in pornography, "there really isn't anything magical about it” anymore.

Those who attend religious services are more likely to be abstinent, as well. "There was a significant increase in sexual inactivity among those who attend religious services once a week or more compared with those who do not,” Oas noted.

Huber said the most common reasons young people reported to Ascend for delaying sex were personal values and a focus on attaining their goals. She encouraged schools to teach Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education - as opposed to Sexual Risk Reducation (SRR) or Comprehensive Sex Education, which present teen sexual activity as more normative.

The study notes, “abstinence-only sex education and virginity pledges became more popular (and federally funded) after the 1980s, especially between 1996 and 2009, when abstinence-only programs received large amounts of federal and state funding.” Studies have found that abstinence-based education reduces the overall teen sex rate.

“This new research suggests that our students have caught a positive and healthy vision for their futures,” she said. “It also means that we must, as a society, be more intentional on reinforcing this same healthy behavior for young, single adults."

 



CDC Report: Virgin Teens Much Healthier Than Their Sexually Active Peers

This article was first published at The Christian Post on December 6, 2016.

by Brandon Showalter

A new Centers for Disease Control study examines teenage health behaviors in connection to their self-reported sexual activity and shows those who remain abstinent are much healthier on many fronts than their sexually active peers.

(Photo: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)Teen girls are seen in a file photo.

 

The report, titled "Sexual Identity, Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12, United States and Selected Sites," showcased the results from a 2015 survey that monitored several categories of health-related behaviors like tobacco usage, drug and alcohol use, sexual habits, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.

The report concludes "that students who had no sexual contact have a much lower prevalance of most health-risk behaviors compared with students" who had sexual contact.

In a Monday interview with The Christian Post, Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, said, "this study is remarkable because it asks questions and reports the answers, rather than avoiding questions or assuming answers."


As Glenn Stanton noted last week in The Federalist, the results from those questions and answers are remarkable.

With regard to smoking, teenage virgins are 3,300 percent less likely to smoke daily than their peers who are sexually involved with someone of the opposite sex, Stanton computed from the report's data. Teen virgins are 9,500 percent less likely to smoke daily than their peers who are sexually involved with someone of the same sex or in a bisexual relationship, he added. Chaste young people are also extremely less likely to use indoor tanning beds, binge drink, smoke marijuana, ride in cars as passengers with a drunk driver, and get into physical fights than their sexually active peers. Abstinent youth are also more likely to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night and eat breakfast daily.

"Our children should know there's very compelling scientific evidence on so many levels showing how saving the precious gift of their sexuality for the safe harbor of marriage is nothing about old-time moralism or unhealthy sexual repression. Just the opposite is true," Stanton wrote.

And the advantages of refraining from sex during teen years are not just physical, Morse said.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the President of the Ruth Institute.

"I've noticed that the chaste students we have worked with over the years at the Ruth Institute do not have the angst that one so often attributes to young adulthood," she explained. "I think it is because avoiding sexual activity avoids a lot of psycho-social drama that goes along with it. 'Does he still like me?' 'What is she really doing with that other guy, and do I really care?'"

"Also, one has to say: no one has ever died from not having sex," she added. "But people sometimes feel as if they are going to die without sex. If you feel that way, it may mean that you are addicted. After all, that is a primary indicator of addiction: you think you'll die without the endorphin rush that comes from the activity or substance."

The CDC report also included findings from 25 state surveys, and 19 large, urban school district surveys conducted among students in grades 9–12 which took place between December of 2014 and September of 2015.

Rebecca Oas, associate director of research at the Center for Family and Human Rights in New York City, thinks a significant problem driving the sexual dysfunction among teens is the wrongheaded approach and perspective many parents and teachers have regarding sex education.

"One can talk about the risks associated with sexual behavior among adolescents and the question of how to mitigate that," Oas said in a phone interview Monday with CP.

But far too often the operative assumption is "that adolescents will inevitably engage in these behaviors and so what you have to do is pump huge amounts of money into trying to mitigate the costs and the harmful effects of [those behaviors]."

"And yet, we have also seen data that more students are remaining abstinent than before, so the idea that this is somehow an impossible standard is just not true. The problem is that a lot of the people educating the children in the schools and even their own parents have taken on this fatalistic attitude. So they are not encouraging them and demonstrating to them that among their peers they would not be alone," she continued.

"The other question that I don't see anyone asking is: Is there anything beneficial at all to adolescents who engage in these activities?"

"And the answer is clearly no," she added.

"Maybe what we really need to be doing is educating parents how to parent rather than trying to encourage sexual experimentation among adolescents, assuming they are going to do it anyway."

Valerie Huber, founder and President of ASCEND, a Washington D.C.-based abstinence advocacy group, told CP that she has a question of her own: "Why aren't we placing a higher priority on encouraging youth to wait for sex?"

"In light of the fact that 90 percent of all federal sex ed funding goes to programs that normalize teen sex, it's evident that our priorities are all wrong," Huber said. "In addition to revealing that risk begets risk, the CDC report also showed that the majority of teens are waiting for sex. And that those numbers have increased 28 percent in the past 25 years."

"The next Congress and administration have a real opportunity to change course in sex education policy in 2017. Let's hope they take it. Youth deserve the skills to achieve optimal health," she said.


Probably a dumb thing to do right before Christmas….

Writing a long, heart-felt letter on a difficult topic is probably a dumb thing to do right before Christmas. You’re looking for cheer and comfort. But I’m reaching out to you because I have something on my heart that I’m guessing is on your heart too.

I know that some of you are deeply concerned about the confusion in the Catholic Church about marriage and divorce.

Pope Francis wrote an apostolic exhortation called Amoris Laetitia, or “The Joy of Love.” Most of it is lovely. But a few passages are ambiguous. Some bishops and priests are reading the document in continuity with the whole tradition, dating back to apostolic times. Others are reading it differently. Four Cardinals have asked Pope Francis for clarification. He has not replied.

What are we to make of this? Readers of this newsletter are passionately committed to marriage: one man, one woman, for life, as taught by Jesus. What can we do, as lay people, whether we are Catholic or not?

Let us set aside the things we cannot control and focus on what we can.

No one can stop us from doing good. No one can force us to do wrong.

At the Ruth Institute, we have a definite plan for doing good, specifically, for promoting the Ancient Teachings of Christianity about marriage. Our ultimate goal? Create a lasting and Christ-like mass social movement to end the injustice and heartbreak of the Sexual Revolution and family breakdown.

We need your help. Please make your most generous gift today. We’ll have specific activities for you at the beginning of 2017. You can be part of the movement to bring Jesus’s message of lifelong love to the world.


In the meantime, here is what I want you to do over Christmas: Pray.

  • If you’re Catholic, say the Rosary every day. I’ve been saying the Rosary every day since I returned to the Church in 1988. You can find time: while you’re driving, standing in the grocery line, on hold on the telephone, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. As you meditate on the life of Jesus, as seen through His mother’s eyes, ask Him to protect our families and our nation.
  • If you’re not Catholic, I suggest this: set aside some quiet time, and say the Lord’s Prayer ten times. You can count them on your fingers, anywhere you may be. Don’t be troubled by the Scripture passage, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” (Mt 6:7) Jesus told us to pray without ceasing. You cannot go wrong saying the Lord’s Prayer! Or try saying it just once, in a slow meditative manner. Ask for wisdom and charity.

Thank you so much for your prayers and generosity.

Now is the best time to heal family breakdown. Please send your most generous gift today.

Get involved. Stay involved. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Your friend,

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

PS: No one is doing the work that the Ruth Institute is doing. We are giving voice to those who have been harmed by straying from Christ’s teaching of love and fidelity. Please send your most generous gift today. The Ruth Institute is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization.


Finding Mr. (or Mrs.) Right

This article was first published at Fathers for Good on November 23, 2016.

New book outlines Catholic plan for marriage

If the “101 Tips” of this handy little book could be summed up in a few words, they would be: Know thyself. The wisdom of Socrates holds true today, though the modern dating scene may cause him to add: Know the other person, too.

Authors Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes, of the Ruth Institute, have culled a wealth of social science, psychology, common sense and personal insights in 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person (Ave Maria Press). The book serves as a sort of prequel to their 2013 release, 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage. But it would be simplistic to assume that if you read their latest book on dating you won’t need the earlier one on marriage. We all need help in getting our relationships right.


The authors are clear from the start: “Basically, the young adult Catholic dating scene is horrific.” A brief chat with young Catholics will confirm this statement. There are no rules, even the chaste and faithful are afraid to commit, and parents, parishes and priests – three strong forces for matchmaking in the past – have pretty much left young people to find their own way. Thus, this book is not only for the young Catholic searching for love, it is also for older folks who want to have some ready answers and advice for the young ones in their lives. It would also make a nice Christmas gift for those of dating age.

You can read these 122 pages in one night, skipping around the different topics. Tip No. 8 caught my eye: “Pray for your future spouse.” This is exactly what my future wife’s grade school teacher in the Philippines (a nun) told her class of girls one day. My wife followed the advice and sensed that she was not called to marry a man from her country, and thus was not at all afraid when the opportunity came for her to get a master’s degree in the United States. You never know where God will lead if you give him your heart in prayer.

Under the chapter “Best Practices,” there are these little gems: “Be friends first” and “Ladies: Let him be a man. Gentlemen: Be a man!” Under “Potential Pitfalls,” you will find warnings not to “think you can change him or her into the perfect image of your future spouse,” or “waste your time on someone who won’t commit to you.”

Here are more tips, randomly flipping the pages: “Keep your head. Guard your heart.” “Don’t expect a fairy-tale romance.” “Don’t expect love at first sight.”

There is a helpful section on the common practice of cohabiting that includes research and common sense on why couples should avoid it, and a practical guide on wedding planning if the relationship gets to that point.

This is an excellent, extremely readable book that a dating couple could easily read together, having a few laughs as well as some serious discussions. Fathers could also use this little volume to start a conversation with their son or daughter on some topics they probably should discuss before the kids leave home.

Find out more at Ave Maria Press. You can also read a Fathers for Good interview with Jennifer Roback Morse on her previous book on a happier marriage.


A Guidebook for Young Adults

By Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

This article was first posted

Two marriage-and-family writers have teamed up to put together a book of tips for Catholic singles seeking marriage. Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes compiled 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person. Subtitled “Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage and Say I Do,” the book is divided into several sections (depending on what point in a relationship you’re in at the moment):

  • The Search is On: Being Both Optimistic and Realistic
  • Best Practices
  • Potential Pitfalls
  • Earnest Questions
  • Red Flags
  • Great Expectations
  • Cohabiting: Should You?
  • Cohabiting: Are You?
  • Perfect Timing
  • Marriage Planning: Focus on the Marriage, Not the Wedding

Faithfully Catholic from start to finish, this book is designed to help young adult Catholics at all stages of relationships. Some tips are designed for solo reflection; others will provide good and necessary conversation-starters for couples. In the introduction, the authors note that our culture places many significant hurdles in the way of singles discerning marriage. They go on to state that they included two chapters on cohabitation because this is “one of the most significant marriage-preparation challenges faced by churches today;” the authors present solid advice without casting blame, and encourage couples to seek–and follow–pastoral advice.

These 101 tips are short, none longer than a page, but they are candidly challenging and surprisingly substantive.


Pocket-Sized Pointers for Picking a Partner (Review: “101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person”)

by Lindsay Wilcox

This article was first published at atxcatholic.com.

Today’s review is of a short book, so this will be a short review. Following on the heels of their successful book 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage , Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes have released a guide for getting to marriage in the first place. This new title basically begged me to read it: 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do. Yes, please! In this tiny tome, I found much to support my previous thoughts about important premarital decisions and a few new points to ponder.


As the authors note, it’s much easier to have a happy marriage when you’ve married the right person in the first place. Thus, most of the book is given over to how to improve yourself as a single, how to date wisely, and what to look for when the possibility of marriage pops over the horizon. They’re definitely on the right track there. I have never been married, but I used to do marriage prep (for other couples, not for myself), and I have a personal interest in improving the way marriages begin. Starting off on the right foot sounds like a good way to set yourself up for marital bliss.

Photo by Billy Quach

Photo by Billy Quach

Some standout tips are:

16. When the relationship begins to get serious, seek the opinion of an objective third party, with emphasis on “objective.”

They suggest parents or siblings. When you marry someone, you marry their family, too, and family will still be with you even if the romance ends.

25. Do not date someone you wouldn’t consider marrying.

This wanders into an unclear zone. Similar advice has caused many people to not date at all, insisting that they have to know someone well enough to know they’d marry them before they will go on a date. How, then, do you get to know someone? Most people are worth one date, but I agree that you shouldn’t stay in a relationship unless you see it going somewhere.

45. Does the other person care enough to help cheer me up when I’m down or commiserate with me when I’m upset—whichever I prefer?

This is crucial. I am a commiserator. Pollyannas drive me crazy. I know they mean well, but it’s quite difficult to already be feeling down about whatever my stressor is and then also be upset about my partner’s failed attempt at stress relief!

Keep reading.


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