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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Monday, October 15, 2018
Just remember: Pray. Learn. Speak Out. Repeat.
This article was first published October 15, 2018, at NCRegister.com.
Faithful Catholics are understandably distressed over the scandalous revelations about our church. Sexual abuse of minors, sexual harassment of seminarians, cover-ups by bishops are all part of the mix, not to mention financial malfeasance for good measure. People may wonder, “What can I do about all this?”
I offer my Three and a Half-Step plan for reforming the Church.
This plan is NOT for people who have specific vocational expertise to offer. If you are a canon lawyer, investigative journalist or retired FBI investigator, I won’t presume to tell you how to do your job. My plan is for ordinary people, without such specialized knowledge.
And yes, you read it right: It is a Three and a Half-Step Plan. Here are the three full steps:
Let me explain each one in turn.
Step 1: Pray.
You better believe we need to pray. The recently revealed sexual and financial corruption is far too deep to address through natural means alone. Yes, of course, we need to use all of our skills and knowledge. But these problems have a supernatural dimension to them. Don’t be stupid: We can’t get this done on our own.
During the worldwide Rosary Coast to Coast Oct. 7, the Ruth Institute’s contribution drew more than 800 people to Lake Charles, Louisiana. In all, the Rosary Coast to Coast comprised more than 1,000 participating locations in the U.S. and an additional 57 around the world. I have no doubt that some of those people were praying for healing for our Church.
Prayer allows us to tell God we are sorry for any ways in which we have enabled or participated in the current mess. There have been many sins of commission related to the scandals within the Church. But for most of us, sins of indifference and omission are more likely the issue. Prayer also reminds us that we are the creatures and God is the Creator. We owe him everything.
When we pray, we can listen to what God wants to tell us. I have found that sometimes when I am trying to figure out what to do or not do, an answer “just comes to me,” during prayer. We can get guidance about what specific actions we should take or not take. Given the huge range of issues that deserve the attention of faithful thoughtful Catholics, receiving direction toward one or another is no small blessing.
Step 2: Learn.
I’m sure most people reading this column in the Register know roughly what is going on in the Church right now. But you may feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problems. We really need to know what we are talking about, or we will discredit ourselves and our cause.
Faithful Catholics need to be informed about the current situation. For instance, the Ruth Institute prepared this backgrounder that addresses the disproportionate number of male victims. This is a manageable amount of information to absorb.
We also need to proclaim the Church’s teachings about marriage, family and human sexuality. Be prepared to explain what the Church teaches about divorce and premarital sex and contraception. Learn about the evidence that shows the Church has been right all along: if we lived these teachings, we would have better lives.
And we would not have sex scandals involving priests preying on young men. So yes, we need to be prepared to explain what the Church teaches about homosexual activity and homosexual identity.
Step 3: Speak Out.
People inside and outside the Church need to know that faithful Catholics want transparency. We want the truth to come out. We are not interested in protecting the Church’s reputation at the expense of innocent victims.
Another advantage of speaking out is that we will embolden the clergy or Church employees who have information about abuse and cover-up but who have been afraid to speak up. We will comfort the victims, some of whom have been seeking justice for years.
Speaking out could include: signing a petition, sharing information on social media, writing to people in authority, including bishops, priest, or governors or congresspeople. Speaking out could also include talking with your friends and neighbors. Whatever you do, keep in mind these two points that we absolutely must convey:
Step 3½: Repeat!
I count it as a “half-step” because you don’t really have anything extra to remember.
I’m dead serious about this. The “Repeat” step is very important. Let’s say you’ve done one round of Pray, Learn, Speak Out. I absolutely promise you: You will not get it all correct and complete on the first pass! You might stumble on your words. Someone might ask you a question you can’t answer. Maybe you make a mistake. Maybe someone gets mad at you. Maybe you get mad.
Your next move is the crucial move: You MUST NOT QUIT!!!!
Go back to Step 1 and Pray. “Lord, what did that person really want to know? What were they thinking? What was I thinking?” Or, if everything went well, you could say, “Thank you, Jesus! That was fun! What do you want me to do next!?”
I’ve been preaching Church teaching since roughly 2001. Trust me on this. You are going to make mistakes. The only way to improve is to keep reflecting on your encounters with people. You might as well do your reflecting in front of the Blessed Sacrament or with a Rosary in your hand.
Repeat the “Learn” step. Go ask someone for advice. Look up the answers on the internet. We’ve got a bunch of stuff (and I do mean a BIG bunch of stuff) at the Ruth Institute website.
And then, by all means, Speak Out again. You will improve. And you will make a difference.
Just remember: Pray. Learn. Speak Out. Repeat.
Together we can reform our beloved Church.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 09, 2018
By Tyler O'Neil
This article was posted October 6, 2018, at PJMedia.com.
On Sunday, Roman Catholics across the country will unite to fight "the evil one" with a "Rosary Coast to Coast." Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Catholic pro-family Ruth Institute, told PJ Media that this "Rosary crusade" will bring hope amid the fallout of the priest sexual abuse scandal and to the hidden victims of the sexual revolution.
"The evil one is slinking around our town causing trouble," Morse told PJ Media. She insisted that, just like the victims of the clerical abuse scandal, victims of the sexual revolution are "invisible," hidden.
"Part of the project of the sexual revolution is to shut everybody up and to keep the victims isolated from each other," Morse, who recently published the book "The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologues Are Destroying Lives And Why the Church Was Right All Along," argued. "If all the children of divorce lined up end to end, we'd be in a different world."
"I think there are millions of invisible victims," she explained. Her book lays out many kinds of victims: spouses who didn't want divorce, children who never know their parents, and women who delayed childbirth too late.
Morse insisted that the problems with the sexual revolution are scientifically verifiable, but she also said they have a spiritual dimension. She led the Ruth Institute to join the "Rosary Coast to Coast" in order to spread awareness of the problems and to encourage Catholics to pray the Rosary to fight the spiritual battle. She wrote more about this decision in an article for the National Catholic Register.
October 7, the date of the event, is also the feast of the Holy Rosary, a feast that dates back to the Battle of Lepanto, a key victory against Ottoman Turkish forces on October 7, 1571. European Christians were vastly outnumbered, but Pope Pius V led the soldiers and the city of Rome in praying the Rosary, and the Christians won a huge victory.
Father Richard Heilman, a priest in Madison, Wisc., organized "Rosary Coast to Coast" to fight a spiritual war. "Casualties often go unseen, but very few are left unwounded. The Enemies encamped against us seek to rob us of our Dignity–the essential Dignity of the Human Person, being made in the Image and Likeness of God," he wrote.
He pointed to the "secular Left" as the ideological enemy, and pointed to Poland as his inspiration. In 2017, the people of Poland prayed the Rosary in a circle around the borders of their country. More than 1,000 sites have been registered for the event on Sunday, across the United States and in 39 countries. Prayers will begin at 4 p.m. Eastern in the U.S., including a large rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Morse and the Ruth Institute have launched a local event in Lake Charles, La. "We told people, 'Buy ten blue t-shirts and get one gold one free.' We're going to line up like a giant Rosary around the lake," she told PJ Media. "We sold 500 t-shirts in a town of 100,000."
The Ruth Institute founder noted that southern Louisiana is still Cajun country. "Catholicism is a big part of Cajun identity, it's like their food and their music," she explained. But Catholics must unite to fight the spiritual battle over the family.
The Ruth Institute works to keep families together, explain why children need their parents, and bring healing to the wounds caused by the sexual revolution. "We got involved in 'Rosary Coast to Coast' because we're on the frontlines of dealing with family breakdown, which is just about the most painful, brutal thing going on in our culture," Morse told PJ Media.
"The sexual revolution's problem is that we are at war with our bodies," the Catholic leader argued, echoing the claims of her book. "We're a gendered species — male and female — and sex makes babies. We resent all that. That complex of ideas is the underlying problem of the sexual revolution. That's what's causing family breakdown."
She also referenced the deep darkness of abortion. "For a woman to think it's a good thing to kill her own baby, that's not natural. There's a kind of darkness at work that is making us less than human."
Morse did not identify liberals themselves as the direct enemy. "I tend not to go around saying, 'This is a bad person.' I think a lot of the people who are 'on the other side' have a lot of issues and brokenness themselves," she explained.
"The enemy is the evil one. I believe that the devil is real. The idea that is the enemy is the idea that sex is a game and your body's a toy," Morse told PJ Media. That idea has taken over a broad swath of American culture — and cultures across the world.
"We're not going to solve this without divine assistance, and anybody who doesn't see that is kidding themselves," she said.
While Lake Charles has a strong Catholic population — about 50 percent — Southern Baptists make up a sizable minority, about 30 percent. "People here tend to be either Catholic or Baptist," Morse said. "Mary's a tough thing for them. I'm trying to assure them we're not worshiping statues, we're not worshiping Mary."
"We're asking for her help. Jesus loves his momma and so do we," the Catholic leader said. "He's a nice Jewish boy who loves his momma." The Ruth Institute has advertised the local event, "Rosary Around the Lake," with billboards explaining why Catholics ask Mary for help.
Morse also suggested that, in the wake of the priest abuse scandal, Catholics should emphasize that the face of Roman Catholicism is not just priests, cardinals, and the pope. "When people think of the Catholic Church, they picture a line of clergy processing into St. Peter's Square. I'd like people to picture hundreds of lay people saying the Rosary. This is the Catholic Church, also."
She recalled the historic Cajuns, settling in Louisiana after being expelled from Canada, gathering together and "saying the Rosary with their calloused hands."
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-Left smear organization, has branded the Ruth Institute a "hate group," citing a passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The credit card processing company Vanco Payments dropped the Ruth Institute over this designation.
"People here are slightly bemused when I tell them I founded a 'hate group,'" Morse told PJ Media. "It's a badge of honor, practically." Her work to preserve the family and help the victims of the sexual revolution is the furthest thing from "hate," but such smears seem to come with the territory. This climate of intolerance is merely one more thing to pray about.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 09, 2018
By Tyler O'Neil
This article was first published October 4, 2018, at PJMedia.com.
In 21st century America, sex is all around us: on television, in movies, in classrooms, in politics, and even in churches. Sex permeates our desires, our expectations for relationships, even our identity. The Sexual Revolution goes far beyond the LGBT movement, and it has fundamentally reshaped American society. But few Americans actually grasp exactly where this revolution came from. An explosive new book reveals that government and wealthy donors, rather than impersonal historical forces or newly liberated women, propelled the Sexual Revolution.
"The State bears the greatest responsibility for the toxic sexual culture in which we live," Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute (RI), writes in "The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologues Are Destroying Lives And Why the Church Was Right All Along." She presented five other explanations for the Sexual Revolution, and found each one wanting.
Many have suggested that the Sexual Revolution came about through the inevitable and impersonal "march of history." This view does not work "because it robs us and our forbears of human agency." Even the over-hyped birth control pill "is just an inert piece of technology" that people could decide to use or not use, or use in different ways.
Morse also rebuts the feminist narrative, which suggests that "these changes have been one long string of victories for the benefit and advancement of women." Ironically, the very success of women's liberation "undermines the claim that women have been completely powerless and dominated by the patriarchy throughout all of recorded history." Furthermore, the author argues that "the pro-life movement is dominated by women," suggesting that not all women want more of the Sexual Revolution.
Perhaps the most common explanation for the Sexual Revolution is the "liberationist narrative," which posits that everyone is more free thanks to new sexual norms. This view also cannot explain how age-old oppression was immediately dissolved in one generation, Morse argues.
Furthermore, many people "have become less free, in fact actually oppressed, by the very forces that are supposedly liberating us. The breaking of family bonds has increased the size and scope of the State, including the intrusion of the State into the everyday lives of ordinary people." She mentions college sex tribunals, family courts — which even rule on which schools and churches children can attend — and higher taxes to pay for social workers who manage tough divorces and family breakdown.
Morse also rejects the "over-population narrative," which suggests that "too many people create ecological disaster and economic backwardness," so the State needs to control population through birth control and abortion. Interestingly, advocates of this narrative "haven't been able to adapt the narrative to the changing circumstances of population decline, which the Over-Population Narrative itself helped bring about."
Finally, the author turns to a "steal capitalist narrative," explaining the Sexual Revolution by pointing to the many people who benefit financially from family breakdown. Abortionists, pharmaceutical companies, the fertility industry, pornographers, divorce professionals, family court judges and lawyers, medical professionals who specialize in sexually transmitted diseases, and social workers all perversely benefit from family breakdown, contraception, and abortion.
Even higher education and employers benefit from women choosing to get married later, to go to school and to work, rather than raising a family. Morse claims that employers benefit from easy divorce as well, as women are less able to rely on their husbands to financially support them. She suggests that these factors cement the Sexual Revolution, but they do not explain it.
The author boils the Sexual Revolution down to three basic "ideologies:" the Contraceptive Ideology separates sex from childbearing; the Divorce Ideology separates sex and childbearing from marriage; and the Gender Ideology eliminates the distinctions between men and women that individuals do not explicitly embrace.
"The Sexual Revolution needs the State for one major reason: the premises of the Sexual Revolution are false," Morse declares. "Sex does make babies. Children do need their parents, and therefore marriage is the proper and just context for both sex and childbearing. Men and women are different." The Sexual Revolution requires "reconstructing society" around a rejection of these basic truths, so it involves a great deal of propaganda.
"If you can make people believe Bruce Jenner, the 1976 male Olympic decathlon winner, is a woman, you can make them believe 2 + 2 = 5. If you can make people afraid to say, 'Bruce Jenner is a man,' you can make them afraid to say anything," Morse quips. "The Sexual Revolution is a totalitarian ideology with a blind commitment to the implementation of its tenets, regardless of the human costs."
The book begins with a list of victims of the Sexual Revolution, a topic for a future article. Those victims include children of divorce, spouses who did not want to get divorced, women who waited too long to have children, young women who wanted to abstain from sex, and more. Suffice it to say, the Sexual Revolution has harmed many people.
Morse narrates how the state unleashed the Sexual Revolution, beginning with the Supreme Court contraception case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). The Contraceptive Ideology predated this decision and played a large role in pushing the Court to change the law on contraception.
The author cites liberal attorney Leo Pfeffer and conservative historian Allan Carlson, who agreed that governments will consider contraception necessary once they have established welfare states — in order to prevent the subsidized poor from having children. Tragically, the U.S. government pushed contraception before Griswold, pushing contraception in post-World War II Japan and other foreign countries considered to be U.S. interests.
In the 1960s and 1970s, USAID started pushing contraception and abortion, thinking these "family planning" efforts would help other countries defeat poverty. These policies were also wrapped up with the ugly eugenics movement in America.
In order to downplay the ugly history of eugenics, contraception activists turned to the work of Alfred Kinsey, an academic who claimed that "up to" 67 to 98 percent of American men ha had premarital sex and that 69 percent of American males had at least one experience with a prostitute. His claims were shot down by other researchers, who exposed his shoddy methods. But the Rockefeller Foundation funded his research and sent his crackpot theories mainstream.
Planned Parenthood and its allies enjoyed connections to elites, and helped push the Court in the direction of legalizing contraception for anyone across the country.
Similarly, elite institutions and big donors pushed no-fault divorce, Morse argues. After Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law in 1968, the American Law Institute (ALI), founded with support from the Carnegie Foundation, crafted model legislation to insert the state in between husbands and wives — and favor the spouse who wanted a divorce.
The ALI pushed for decriminalizing private sexual acts between consenting adults, a key plank that struck down states' ability to regulate obscene materials and contraception.
By 1974, all but five states had adopted a form of no-fault divorce.
Morse argues that no-fault divorce positions the power of the state on the side of whichever spouse least wants the marriage to continue. This damages spouses who are committed to the marriage, but it also damages children who do not grow up with both of their parents. It also empowers the government, which now mediates between divorced mothers and fathers.
The author argues that the claim "the kids will be all right" is propaganda. She cites the work of Judith Wallerstein, who found that divorce has a long-term impact on children — damaging their prospects for romantic relationships in adulthood. Similarly, the worries about husbands abusing wives are overblown, as studies have shown that women and children are more likely to be abused in cohabiting relationships than in marriage.
Finally, Morse argues that the government and elites pushed the "Gender Ideology" — long before transgender identity went mainstream — in order to encourage women to be "ideal workers:" "a person who never takes time off, is never sick, whose mental and psychological focus is entirely on the job."
"We've built a society around the premise that our educated women must be permitted to time their 1.6 pregnancies right down to the minute when it's most convenient. But convenient for whom? All too often, it means the convenience of the employers, or the interests of the career path, or of those who hold the student debt which the young woman or young couple must pay down," Morse claims.
The author does not lament the fact that women have entered the "managerial class," highly paid professions which do not involve manual labor. She herself is a member of this class. Rather, she suggests that the pressures of work and the benefits of this class enable people to overlook the obvious differences between men and women.
"People who do manual labor aren't deluded for a moment that men and women are interchangeable," Morse quips. For this reason, men are vastly over-represented in the dangerous professions.
Women's involvement in the workforce need not be connected to the Sexual Revolution's Gender Ideology, the author argues. "I claim the right to participate in the labor market as women, not as men in skirts." She suggests that "educated women would be better off if they accepted that their fertility peaks during their twenties and planned their lives around this fact."
Morse lays out a basic life plan: Women should go to college for a liberal education, not a vocational one. They should et married and have kids early, using their higher educations to be involved in educating their kids. "Let your husbands support you. Trust them. Be grateful for them," and when the children are older, go back for an advanced degree and work.
Tragically, activists are pushing on all these issues and more. Morse discusses same-sex marriage in a chapter on the Gender Ideology. She recalls the battle over California's Proposition 8.
"The 'Yes on 8' campaign was arguably the largest grassroots campaign in history," she writes, noting that California's secretary of state website crashed because there were over 5,000 pages of contributors to the campaign. Yet modern "progressives" "took Proposition 8 to court on flimsy pretexts and rich people's money."
After Proposition 8 passed and the people had amended their constitution, California's attorney general refused to defend it. The people's will failed thanks to an effective pocket veto. in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), the Supreme Court ruled that proponents of ballot initiatives like Proposition 8 could not defend such laws in court, enabling Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) to resume same-sex marriage in the state. Now-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) performed the first same-sex marriage after this ruling.
As with Proposition 8, wealthy liberals continue to push Sexual Revolution issues, particularly abortion and contraception. George Soros and Warren Buffett continue to fund abortion groups, and they use their money to "shape political institutions so they can use the government to recreate the world in their own image and likeness," Morse alleges.
Importantly, the book notes that contraception carries health risks for women, and some studies have shown that hormonal contraception is as likely to cause cancer as smoking. "Smoking has been all but banned, tobacco companies have been sued, and smokers have been socially shunned," Morse writes. "By contrast, the government actively promotes the use of hormonal contraception while the media plays down the risks."
Abortion, often considered an alternative should contraception fail, also carries tremendous health risks to the mother, which medical associations keep secret for political reasons, the author argues. She also notes that wealthy donors funded abortion activists who convinced the Supreme Court to strike down Texas regulations treating abortion clinics like any other medical facility.
"When the people of Texas, acting through their duly elected state legislators, enacted health and safety legislation for abortion clinics, the elites of society knocked it down," Morse declares.
"The Sexual State" makes a compelling case that state power and wealthy elites pushed the Sexual Revolution, and people should fight back. While Morse does address LGBT issues, her book mostly focuses on the negative impacts the Sexual Revolution has had on family life, harming faithful spouses, children of divorce, and many others.
Morse, a Roman Catholic, presents a very Catholic view of these issues and champions the Catholic Church's approach. Her book was ill-fated to release shortly after the sexual abuse scandal broke, but her points still stand.
The book may be too polemical, but it raises important questions about the hidden harms of the Sexual Revolution and who benefits from this humongous social change.
"The Sexual State" is an important book for libertarians to wrestle with, as it presents a compelling case that big government benefits from the Sexual Revolution, and that marriage and family would help weaken the power of the state.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 02, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published October 1, 2018, at National Catholic Register.
Division. Accusations. Cover-ups. Family breakdown. Family secrets. Chaos in our families, in our country, in our world and in our Church. What is an authentically Catholic response to all of this? Prayer, of course. But how to pray and what kind of prayer?
Father Richard Heilman, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has organized a super-charged Catholic event: “Rosary Coast to Coast.” This event has it all: a sense of history, a universal reach and, of course, the most distinctively traditional Catholic devotion, the Rosary.
Oct. 7, the day of “Rosary Coast to Coast,” is the feast of the Holy Rosary. This feast dates back to the high-stakes Mediterranean Battle of Lepanto, which took place Oct. 7, 1571. European Christian forces were vastly outnumbered by the Ottoman forces. Pope Pius V called on everyone to say the Rosary. The sailors and soldiers prayed. So did the entire city of Rome. Miraculously, the Christian forces won the battle, and the city was saved.
Last year, the people of Poland encircled their entire country with prayer At last count, more than 1,000 sites are registered in the United States and in 39 countries. In the U.S., prayers will begin at 4pm Eastern, including at a big rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Around the time I first heard about “Rosary Coast to Coast,” I had noticed several families here in my local Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, having marriage problems. These were good, devout families, not those whom I would have expected to be having problems. (Because of my work defending the family, people confide in me.) I thought to myself, “The Evil One is slinking around causing trouble, even in our dear little devout diocese.”
I decided to get the Ruth Institute involved as the local organizers for “Rosary Coast to Coast” here in our home base of Lake Charles. We made this decision for two reasons. First, even though we are principally an interfaith scientific and educational organization, we are very much aware of the spiritual, even demonic, nature of the attacks on the family. What could be more unnatural than a mother thinking it is good to kill her own child in the womb? What could be more heartbreaking than a family torn apart by divorce, with the children coping with the day-in and day-out struggle of living in two separate households? What could be more irrational than an attack on the human body itself, resenting the differences between male and female, and even denying the reality of sex differences? What could be more genuinely evil than young people being abused by their pastors and then finding that authorities protect the perpetrators, not the victims?
These tragic crimes are so deeply entrenched in our society, there is no natural reason to be hopeful. We are not going to solve these problems on our own, no matter how much scientific evidence we produce. We need Divine assistance.
Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries of Fatima, reported the words of the Mother of God. “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” Sister Lucia added, “Don’t be afraid, because whoever works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.” Then she concluded: “Nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
The other reason we got involved is that we knew the people in the community of Lake Charles would love it. South Louisiana is the “Catholic Buckle” on the Bible Belt. The Catholic ethos is very much alive here. Catholicism is part of the Cajun identity.
And they do love it. We announced the “Rosary Around the Lake,” a plan to meet on the shores of Lake Charles and go as far around the lake as possible. We encouraged people to organize “decades” and sold T-shirts to go along with that idea. Get 10 blue shirts for every one gold shirt (the colors of the local university). We sold more than 500 shirts before the deadline. We will probably get many times that number of people to come out for their Blessed Mother if the weather is good.
And we have good reason to expect good weather. We have a fantastic “Good Weather Committee.” The school children are all praying for good weather.
We are also doing our best to include our non-Catholic neighbors. I know for a fact of a few of our dear Baptist friends will be present. When people ask me, I tell them to pray in whatever way they can in good conscience. (I am also teasing them a little bit, as you can see with these billboards now on display around Lake Charles.)
In Lake Charles, this is an initiative of the laity. But our clergy have been very supportive. Lake Charles’ Bishop Glen Provost will attend and will lead the Apostles’ Creed. The clergy around the diocese have promoted the event and have encouraged people to attend.
When the dust settles after Oct. 7, we will all go back to our ordinary occupations. But we will not be so ordinary. We will have a renewed commitment to stand up for the truth in our own lives, in our country and in our Church. I have no doubt at all that Mary will be delighted. I am sure her Divine Son will speak to each of us in the privacy of our hearts and show us what we can do to help.
One more thing: I received a communication from a pro-family activist in Romania. He had reached out to me about some of our materials. They will be having a referendum on the definition of marriage. Guess when the vote will take place? Oct. 7.
I have no doubt at all that the Mother of God and her Divine Son will have something to say about that vote!
Posted on: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
For more information, contact: Elizabeth Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the eve of tomorrow’s Judiciary Committee hearing, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., observed: “Those who say this increasingly contentious nomination isn’t about abortion are dead wrong. Of course, it’s about abortion.”
The head of the Ruth Institute and author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives, explained, “The abortion regime, which seeks a complete disconnect between sex and babies, can’t stand on its own. It needs to be constantly propped up by the Sexual State, in this case, the courts.”
Morse elaborated: “The abortion lobby claims it wants women to be able to ‘control their fertility.’ This claim is disingenuous. What the Abortion Lobby really wants is a world where sex and babies are completely disconnected, and sex without babies is an entitlement.”
“This is not the real world,” Morse continued. “That’s why the State, specifically, the judiciary, is needed. Ordinary people, acting through their legislatures, have enacted numerous common-sense pro-life measures. But the Abortion Lobby cannot abide these regulations, no matter how modest they may be.”
“Abortion supporters are terrified of Roe being ‘repealed piecemeal,’ as they say. That’s why they’re fighting the Kavanaugh nomination so fiercely. They need justices who will support their agenda.”
Morse concluded, “We hope the public will see through the media circus these hearings have become. Most normal people don’t want to live with a government committed to the fantasy that everyone is entitled to unlimited sex without a live baby ever resulting.”
The Sexual State, Morse’s latest book, was released in August by TAN Books. Dr. Morse, who has a passion for helping young people avoid the perils of the Sexual Revolution, is a popular campus speaker.
For more information about The Ruth Institute, visit http://www.ruthinstitute.org/.
For more information about The Sexual State, visit https://thesexualstate.com/.
Posted on: Monday, September 24, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published August 28, 2018, at Crisis Magazine.
The clergy sex abuse and cover-up stories have created a linguistic challenge for faithful Catholics. Over 80 percent of these clergy abuse cases involve predatory sexual activity between adult men and younger men in less powerful positions. Some Catholic commentators refer to these cases as “gay” to distinguish them from “pedophilia.” Their intention is sound: the “pedophilia” label has frequently been a way to deflect attention away from abusive homosexual conduct. I, however, maintain that we should avoid the word “gay,” and even the word “homosexual.” Former Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s bombshell revelations about sexual abuse and the network of cover-ups raises the stakes. We really must get the terminology right.
[Photo: Pope Francis with Cardinal McCarrick, Vatican Media]
Daniel Mattson wrote an important book, “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay.” He outlines the philosophical, theological, and pastoral problems with the “gay” label. I add to Mattson’ arguments an additional consideration. “Gay” is a losing term for us.
At this moment in history, the word “gay” is loaded with positive associations. The word “gay” means young, fashionable, intelligent, and witty. “Gay” might also mean a weak, victimized, innocent waif, so psychologically vulnerable he might commit suicide. This perception is so prevalent that health care professionals are not supposed to even mention the health risks of “gay sex.”
Speaking of “gay sex,” what exactly do gay men do together? The images we have been presented suggest that all they do is hold hands, cuddle, and kiss. We never imagine “gay sex” to include rectal bleeding or intense pain or rectal incontinence or adult diapers.
In this respect, the “gay” image resembles the other sanitized images created around the Sexual Revolution. No-fault divorce involves two sensible mature people mutually deciding to “move on.” Children of divorce always “get over it.” No woman ever regrets her abortion. And so on.
All these claims are false.
When today’s mainstream journalists hear the word “gay,” they might picture a confused but basically innocent teenager. They might picture this teenager being bullied by classmates or scolded by adults. These benign associations with the word “gay” have been carefully crafted over decades. In fact, this is one place where the word “gay” properly applies. We can accurately describe the people who created these images, as the Gay Marketing Men.
I believe this explains the reluctance of many in the media to address the clergy sex abuse story as forcefully as a story about men preying on women victims. The terms “predator” or “domination” or “exploitation” do not register in connection with “gay.” In the average journalist’s minds, these words are associated with “toxic masculinity” or “conservative Christian.”
Catholic friends, we are not going to be able to dislodge these slanted images, no matter how loudly we yell about it. The protective moat around “gay” is too wide and deep. The Gay Marketing Men have spent millions of dollars and countless hours fashioning this picture and securing it firmly in the public mind.
Some Catholic commentators use the word “homosexual” in an effort to sidestep the term “gay.” I don’t think this strategy avoids the problem. Historically, the term “homosexual” was invented in the nineteenth century to “medicalize” what had previously been considered a moral or behavioral issue. Medicalizing behavior doesn’t help our cause. Besides, the word “homosexual” without qualifiers doesn’t buy us much help from the general public. It just makes us look out of date, like people who still use the word “Negro.”
Does that mean we throw up our hands and give up? Certainly not. I propose a different approach that gives us a better chance of success.
Instead of the word “gay,” use the most descriptively accurate phrase possible in the context of what you are trying to say. Instead of “gay sex scandal,” try this: “male on male sexual predation.” Sometimes, the most appropriate strategy is to use a long, clunky, but highly descriptive phrase like, “a powerful man with deep-seated attractions to males used his position of power to exploit younger men under his authority.” No one could conceivably confuse this word-picture with the teenaged boy who may have feelings he doesn’t understand.
In some cases, “pederasty” could be a good term to use. The Gay Marketing Men have not sanitized this term, and “pederasty” is distinct from pedophilia. (A “pederast” is a man who wants and has sex with adolescent boys. I had to look it up.)
The term “same-sex attraction” proposed by members of Courage, is a particular instance of the general policy I am suggesting. Dan Mattson and David Prosen and others argue that the gay identity is an inaccurate, self-limiting description. These men reject the term “gay” to eliminate a ton of philosophical and theological baggage.
The current torrent of embarrassing sex scandals is actually providential for the long-run health of the Body of Christ. We have the chance to offer authentic Catholic witness of authentic Catholic teaching to a desperate world. To succeed, though, we must be careful with our language. We can’t say or imply, “All gay men are predators,” because it isn’t true. At the same time, we cannot let anyone else say or imply, “All gay men are innocent lambs,” because that is not true either. And we will need at least some help from journalists who don’t necessarily share all of our views.
We can restate Archbishop Viganò’s explosive revelations without ever using the words “gay” or even “homosexual.”
“Men who do not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church, nevertheless swore allegiance to the Church, and accepted positions of power, authority, wealth, and influence. They used those positions to indulge themselves sexually, to favor their friends, and to advance their careers. Among their preferred forms of sexual indulgence were the abuse of little boys, the seduction of teenaged-boys and the harassment of young adult male subordinates.”
No one will ever mistake this description for an appealing kid on a TV sitcom. No one would dream of saying these perpetrators were “born that way.”
When we use the word “gay,” we are doing battle on the field chosen by our opponents. By contrast, when we use other terms, we give our listeners a chance to think about what we are saying, without all the noise associated with the terms “gay” or “homosexual.”
“Gay” is a political word, a marketing word, a propaganda word. We don’t need to use it. So let’s quit using it.
Posted on: Saturday, September 22, 2018
Commenting on the recently released report by the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, President of the Ruth Institute and author of The Sexual State, said, “Record rates of sexually transmitted disease are another tragic consequence of the Sexual Revolution.”
The CDC reports that in 2017, there were 2.294 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. This is the 4th consecutive year these numbers have gone up. In 2013, there were 1.75 million cases of these three sexually transmitted diseases. In 2014, the number had grown to 1.8 million. In 2015, the figure was 1.94 million, and in 2016, 2.094 million cases were diagnosed.
Dr. Morse comments: “Each of these figures was the highest ever reported in that particular year. Given the state of society, we can expect them to continue to rise, with no end in sight.
“The answer of the ‘experts’ is more funding for health care and more sex education – as if we haven’t yet reached the saturation point.”
As The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along points out, the culprits include a hook-up culture, and the idea that “everyone is entitled to the sex life they want,” including sex outside marriage, casual sex, sex at an early age, multiple partners, etc.
Morse notes: “There was a time when we understood that the only ‘safe sex’ is abstinence before marriage and faithfulness in marriage. As long as we treat sex unseriously, as long as we try to divorce this most intimate act from morality, sexually transmitted diseases will be a growing disaster.”
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse has a passion for helping young people avoid the perils of the sexual revolution. She is a popular campus speaker.
For More Information, contact: Beth Johnson at email@example.com.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Jennifer Roback Morse sees a whole collection of “social issues” as, in reality, one giant issue: what is the meaning and purpose of human sexuality?
This article was first published August 23, 2018, at Catholic World Report.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is releasing a new book, The Sexual State, published by TAN Books. The theme of the book is summed up by its subtitle, “How elite ideologies are destroying lives and why the Church was right all along.”
Dr. Morse is founder of the Ruth Institute, “dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown.” She is a Catholic author, speaker, and academic; her Institute “has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.” She is married with two children (one adopted from Romania), and regularly speaks at religious and pro-life conferences on the Christian view of marriage and sexuality, and the ill effects of the Sexual Revolution. She lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
She has a doctorate in economics and taught at Yale and George Mason University before leaving academic life to care for her two children. She reflected, “Having my own children changed my perspective. It showed me how much children need their parents.”
She recently spoke to CWR about her new book.
CWR: What prompted you to write The Sexual State, and what do you hope readers will get out of it?
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse: I have been on the front lines of public policy discussions surrounding the definition of marriage, surrogacy, and above all, the impact of the Sexual Revolution on children. I felt it was time to pull all the pieces together in one place. I hope readers will see that what seem to be a whole collection of “social issues” are really one giant issue: what is the meaning and purpose of human sexuality?
CWR: Why did you choose to title the book The Sexual State?
Morse: I am convinced that the Sexual Revolution did not just arise out of nowhere, like a hurricane blowing in from the Gulf. The Sexual Revolution is the creation of rich and powerful ideologues who need the help of the State to achieve their fantasy ideology.
CWR: The subtitle of your book is “Why the Church was right all along.” Is the timing of this subtitle poor, considering that we’ve begun another round of revelations about clergy sex abuse and cover-ups?
Morse: It is a sorry situation, isn’t it? What I meant to say in that subtitle is that the Church’s teachings are correct, and have been all along. I did not mean to imply that every person in the leadership of the Church is doing the right thing. Most reasonable people would agree that if all prelates lived according to Church teaching, we would not be in this mess. We could trust and respect them, as we would really like to be able to do. In that sense, the Church’s teachings are daily being proven correct.
CWR: Who do you think ought to read The Sexual State?
Morse: The Ruth Institute has been developing the concept of victims and survivors of the Sexual Revolution for the past five years. I mostly wrote the book for them, to give them the visibility and affirmation that they deserve and need. I include among the victims children of divorce, reluctantly divorced people, post-abortive women, refugees from the hook-up culture or the gay lifestyle, as well as their family and friends who have been watching in horror from the sidelines.
People such as therapists, teachers, clergy, and others in the helping professions will find insights that will help them assist their clients and patients. Silencing the victims has been a key part of the sexual revolutionary strategy. The Sexual State will help the helping professions see just how pervasive the social “gas-lighting” really is.
I also believe the book should be read by all Christians who hold to the orthodox, ancient teachings of the Church on marriage, family, and human sexuality. The views that are currently considered “Catholic” were once the common beliefs all of branches of Christianity.
And, the book is for all activists for any of the social issues, such as life and marriage issues, who will find clarification and support in this book. This includes anyone who is fed up with being called a bigot, or who refuses to be silenced by sexual radicals.
CWR: Explain what you mean by the ideology of the Sexual Revolution.
Morse: The Sexual Revolution consists of three interlocking ideologies:
The Sexual State devotes a section to each of these ideologies. I give a brief history of how it came to be embedded in law. Above all, I illustrate the extensive propaganda that supports each of these ideologies.
CWR: How did you personally begin to recognize this ideology and devote yourself to combating it?
Morse: This has been cooking in my brain for a long time. I returned to the Church in 1980s after a 12-year lapse. I left the Church over sexual issues at the age of 20. I came back over sexual issues, when I realized the Church was right. I had only a dim idea of just how right the Church was, though.
It was the experience of adopting a two-year-old boy from a Romanian orphanage and giving birth to a little girl in the same year that gave me the key insight of my life: kids need their own parents. All the things we had to do to help our son develop and overcome the losses he experienced just kicked in naturally for our little girl. At that time, I was teaching economics at George Mason University. I realized: holy cow, if kids don’t have the time and attention of their parents, we can’t have a society.
That was the key idea of my first book, Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village. When I wrote that book in 2001, I was worried about divorce and day care and single parenthood. Those problems have not gone away. Instead, the forms of family breakdown and separating children from their parents have grown more intense and permanent, things like third-party reproduction and same-sex parenting.
If children don’t have a right to their parents, no one has a right to anything. I will never stop talking about this.
CWR: What about adoption? You’re an adoptive parent. How can you say kids are entitled to their biological parents?
Morse: Adoption is a wonderful back-up plan if the biological parents can’t be there for their kids for some reason. The fact that adoption works reasonably well most of the time does not give us license as a society to separate children from day-to-day contact with fit parents. This kind of separation routinely takes place in divorced and single-parent households, and we seem to think this is perfectly okay. I will never say it is okay, no matter how often it happens.
We were (and are) good parents to our son. But I could see that for my boy the best thing would have been that none of this had ever happened to him, and that he could have been with his parents. What he went through in that orphanage never should have happened. That is why I say, in the absence of an unavoidable tragedy, kids are entitled to a relationship with their natural, biological parents. And all children, and hence all adults, are entitled to know their identity. That rules out the falsified birth certificates such as some adoptees and all children of anonymous donor conception receive from the State.
CWR: You say that the elite are pushing the ideology of the Sexual Revolution on the broader population. Who are the elites, and what are some of the ways they advance this agenda?
Morse: The “elites,” as I use the term, include the rich, the powerful, and the influential, in any field of endeavor. People like Warren Buffet and George Soros in our time, and John D. Rockefeller III and Katherine McCormick in times past, have financed the spread of the ideologies. Academics produce and promote the research. Entertainment elites like Harvey Weinstein create the propaganda. Their motives are varied but include the fact that some of them are making money, and some of them desire social permission to do what they want sexually without fear of social sanction. And let us not forget: some of them are just plain old-fashioned population controllers.
I also sometimes use the term “Managerial Class” to call attention to how much damage has been done by the college-educated, inflicted on those lower down on the socio-economic ladder. It is a scandal, really.
CWR: You cite the Catholic Church as the one large international organization combating the ideology of the Sexual Revolution. How would you sum up the Church’s view of sex and family life, and how does it contrast with the ideology of the Sexual Revolution?
Morse: Pretty simple, really. Start from the proposition that kids need and deserve their own parents and reason logically from there.
In other words, you end up with traditional Christian sexual morality. There is more to Catholic theology of marriage, of course. But at this moment in history, protecting the basic human right of every child to a relationship with both parents is an achievement worth celebrating.
CWR: What are your thoughts on the 50th anniversary of the release of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which restated the Church’s opposition to the use of artificial contraceptives?
Morse: God bless him a thousand times. We needed that. The contraceptive ideology convinces people that sex is a sterile recreational activity, with reproduction thrown in as an afterthought for people with quirky lifestyle preferences. Without that core belief, the whole Sexual Revolution goes down the drain.
CWR: Does the sexual misbehavior of prominent figures in the Church make it more difficult for the Church to proclaim her teaching on sexuality and family life?
Morse: No kidding. We now know why so many clergy refuse to preach or teach on the sexual issues, and why so many dioceses have a lackluster record in this regard. There are way too many men using their position of authority and respect in the Church to pursue their private sexual purposes.
However, this makes it even more important that faithful Catholics take up the challenge of educating themselves, living the Church’s teaching, and sharing it with others. We can’t wait for the clergy to put their houses in order.
CWR: How do you think the many stories of sexual misbehavior by prominent people that have been coming out recently are related to the ideology of the Sexual Revolution?
Morse: You know, for the longest time, I did not want to deal with sexual abuse. I told myself, “sexual abuse has been around since time immemorial: it is not really fair to blame it on a 20th-century ideology. Besides, I have enough other victims and survivors of the Sexual Revolution to deal with.” And if I’m honest with myself, I have to say that I put off dealing with sexual abuse, because the topic is just upsetting and awful and icky.
But now I see that the Sexual Revolution really is profoundly implicated. The Sexual Revolution provides “cover” for predatory sexual behavior. After all, the bottom line of the ideology is that sex is an entitlement. Who believes that, I mean really believes it? The rapist, that’s who. The already-powerful are further empowered to take what they want sexually, because we are all convinced it is nothing more than a sterile recreational activity with no moral or social significance.
It is actually an astonishing situation. Everyone in society believes they are entitled to sex. No one seems to believe that they might someday become the “prey” rather than the predator. We can now see that “consent” is a pretty flimsy basis for deciding when sexual activity is appropriate. I mean, consent is certainly a necessary condition, but it is not a sufficient condition. The starlet on Harvey Weinstein’s proverbial casting couch may have consented in some sense. But most people can now see that “consent” under such circumstances is nowhere near an adequate standard. Too few people are willing to think through what the alternative standard of “appropriate” sexual conduct would be. That is why the women in the pink pussy hats are not going to get to the root of this problem. They are not willing to let go of the ideology that drives sexual abuse. They don’t want to give up their pills and pornography.
Fortunately, the Church has been thinking about this for a long time, despite the dreadful deeds of some in our hierarchy.
CWR: When will your book be released, and how can people get a copy of it? How can they follow the activities of the Ruth Institute?
People can sign up for our free weekly newsletter. We are talking about these issues regularly, and there is really a lot going on. My colleagues on the Circle of Experts also have a lot of valuable information from a variety of disciplines, which we share on our Ruth Speaks Out blog.
We generally post something funny on our Facebook page in the afternoon. We do that to relieve
some of the grimness associated with this topic. Come over and have a laugh. Stay for the substance of our work.
Posted on: Saturday, September 08, 2018
By Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published September 3, 2018, at National Catholic Register.
COMMENTARY: Faithful Catholics can change some of the incentives the hierarchy has been allowed to operate under.
I know you are upset. I’m upset. The revelations of perverted men using the priesthood for their own purposes has shaken everything we thought we could count on. Most proposals for reform require cooperation from the very same people who have already failed us. These ideas still leave us, the ordinary Catholic in the pew, at the mercies of men we no longer trust.
What can we do for ourselves? I’m going to put on my “economist hat” here: We can change some of the incentives the hierarchy operates under.
One positive development is that more witnesses are coming forward to testify. Just as the #MeToo movement gave courage to people harassed in the private sector, people are telling their stories of abuse in church settings. We are getting a clearer picture of the constraints victims and whistle-blowers are operating under.
Why don’t the innocent priests tell? Why doesn’t the church secretary or housekeeper who sees something amiss tell someone? For that matter, why don’t the victims themselves tell? We are finding out why.
The victims fear no one will believe them. Think of poor “James,” the now 60-year-old man who revealed his story of being abused by Father Theodore McCarrick for 20 years. “James”tried to tell his parents. They did not believe him, against the word of a respected priest. James began getting into trouble, doing alcohol and drugs. The family thought Father McCarrick could straighten him out. They encouraged him to spend more time with their son.
James was 11-years-old when this began. He was a little boy. His entire childhood was spent with no one listening to him.
We also have heard from what we might call indirect victims, including whistle-blowers and innocent clergy. Potential whistleblowers fear retaliation. They maylosetheir church-related jobs. Their reputations may be slung through the mud. The priests are telling their stories, too. We are learning the pressure they face to conform. We’ve heard of whistle-blowing priests who were essentiallybanished. Some good and holy menare living under the thumbs of corrupt superiors, including bishops, seminary rectors or heads of religious orders.
What if these victims, whistleblowers and innocent clergy knew that somebody had their back? What if the church secretary knew someone would give her another job if she got fired after telling what she knew? What if seminarians knew they could call someone who would show up at the seminary and make a stink? What if someone had listened to James instead of scolding him and sending him to his room without dinner?
This is what we can do: Listen to the victims. Even if you cannot do another darn thing for them, at least you have affirmed them that they are not crazy. We have no idea how much that might mean to someone. That is why I wrote up thispetitionfor “James” and other victims of abuse. It just says, “We believe you.” It is not much at this late date. But better late than never. Sign it.
You are now officially an activist. Take the next step. Listen to the whistleblowers and innocent clergy. Be prepared to support them if they need it. I’m not talking about a pat on the head. I’m talking about giving a job to the housekeeper who gets fired. Offer the extra bedroom in your home to the innocent priest whose bishop “sends him away.” Write a letter of reference so the poor guy can get another job.
Recently, I have encountered several seminarians from different dioceses, heading back to school at different seminaries. In each case, I looked the young men straight in the eyes, and handed them my business card. “My personal cell number is written on the back. If there is any hanky-panky in your seminary, I want to hear about it.” In one case, the young man’s mother was present.
Okay, I’m just one person. But what if every seminarian went off to school with a few phone numbers in their pockets? These actions may not sound like a big deal. But a bunch of little things can add up to a big deal indeed.
If abusers thought they would get caught, would they be less likely to abuse? Yes, obviously. If the witnesses who are potential whistleblowers knew they would be supported by faithful Catholics, would they be more likely to blow that whistle? Yes, obviously. If the guys doing damage control thought the whistleblowers had alternative sources of support and employment, would that fact reduce their ability to silence the whistleblower? Yes, of course.
All this points to one thing: Being the backstop, the backup plan, providing the alternative support system means that we are changing the incentives under which the Church operates. We don’t need anyone’s permission. We don’t need a decision from the bishops’ conference or an intervention from our state’s attorney general. We can just make it known that we are ready to help.
The one thing economists know is this: People respond to incentives in a systematic and predictable way. We can’t solve everything. But that is no reason to do nothing. It is a reason to do what we can. We can stand prepared to make nuisances of ourselves. In a nice and respectful way, of course. But a nuisance just the same.
The collective unwillingness of the laity to make a stink has been part of the cultural milieu that has allowed these wounds to fester. I believe this is called “clericalism:” undue deference to the clergy. We can put a stop to that, no matter what the bishops’ conference does.
Maybe you can’t picture yourself stalking a bishop’s home or office, like a dogged journalist should. But surely you can picture yourself listening to someone, supporting someone, reaching out to someone. Start right now. Call that seminarian or former seminarian. Call that person you knew years ago who tried to tell you something that you didn’t want to hear at that time.
Your material support may mean the difference between the person telling what they know or remaining silent. Your willingness to listen may be a psychological lifeline to someone who feels isolated.
Let the chattering classes keep chattering. You and I can become part of the listening, supportive Church. And we will make a difference, no matter what the bishops do or don’t do.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 04, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published July 11, 2018, at Crisis.
Scott Hahn is a prolific Biblical scholar with a huge fan-base among orthodox Catholics. He doesn’t need my help promoting his new book,
The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of Social Order.
But I need some help from him. I need his help convincing my pro-marriage policy-wonk friends that our defense of marriage needs spiritual and theological
arguments, along with natural law arguments, because what we are doing isn’t working.
Losing the Public Policy Argument
No serious person can deny it: marriage, the institution of one-man-one-woman-for-life, is getting clobbered in public policy debates. I’ve been involved in pro-family debates for a long time and I’ve used plenty of social science data and logical reasoning. I’m convinced the secular world needs more than secular arguments.
We have lost the male-female requirement for marriage. We have lost the presumptions of permanence and sexual exclusivity. And day by day, the natural common-sense constituency for lifelong married love is eroding. People who cheerfully voted in favor of man-woman marriage ten years ago, now refuse to admit it. Have their opinions really changed that much? Are they afraid to say what they really think? For whatever reason, we no longer have the constituency we had even a few short years ago.
We could blame rogue Supreme Court justices for the Obergefell decision, but we can’t blame no-fault divorce on the courts. Legislatures enacted no-fault with nearly no resistance in state after state. Vast bureaucracies have emerged to enforce custody plans and financial settlements. No major religious body has offered any serious challenge.
What are we saying in defense of marriage? I was in the trenches of the Proposition 8 campaign in California. We were not supposed to bring up the Bible. We were not supposed to talk about homosexuality at all, and we certainly were not supposed to bring up gay sex. The campaign organizers encouraged us to say, “kids need a mom and a dad.” But one would look in vain for any official statement from the Prop 8 campaign that “kids need their own mom and their own dad.”
This rhetorical strategy was good enough to win Proposition 8 in California in 2008. By 2012, the proponents of de-gendered marriage had adapted to our arguments. We never adapted to theirs. We started losing and have yet to recover.
We’ve got plenty of people defending religious liberty, but we do not have nearly the institutional support for explaining why our churches believe what they believe. Seldom do we hear even the churches themselves explaining why homosexual practice is wrong, or why man-woman marriage is the only real marriage. Heck, today, we can hardly defend the obvious proposition that men and women are different, and that male and female are genuine categories.
I have come to believe that a big part of our problem has been fear: we are afraid to get into the additional issues that a full-throated defense of the ancient Christian teachings would involve. If we say, “kids need their own mom and dad,” we will have to confront the millions of kids who lose contact with a parent due to divorce or unmarried parenthood. If we say, “third party reproduction is intrinsically immoral,” we will have to confront the non-gay uses of sperm and egg donation and surrogacy. If we say, “men and women are different,” we might have to confront the entire Feminist Establishment. And if we dare to say, “gay sex is wrong,” we might just have to say that there are moral limits on sexual activity, even adult, consensual sexual activity. And once we say that, oh boy, we really have opened the door to a complete confrontation with the entire modern sexual revolutionary structure.
Dr. Hahn is not afraid of any of these issues. He doesn’t talk about all of them in this book, of course; that is not the point of the book. But one can easily surmise that he won’t flinch in the face of tough questions. His theological position, based on Scripture, tradition, and, yes, reason and evidence, is coherent. Many of our non-religious positions are not internally consistent. So, how “practical” does that make us when this is what we put forward?
Losing the Hearts of Married Couples
Even more importantly, Hahn’s analysis shows that the natural law arguments for marriage are not enough to sustain the love of married couples. We can explain the value and benefits of marriage all day long to our non-religious neighbors. And of course, we should. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that rational explanations are enough. Reason alone will not keep our marriages together when the going gets tough.
As Dr. Hahn puts it:
If we only aim for a society built just around natural marriage, denuded of divinity and sacramentality, we might achieve it, but not for long. Even if we all had a perfect (secular) understanding of permanence and exclusivity and openness to life—and even if divorce and artificial contraception were banned by law—we would find the expectations of marriage impossible and intolerable.
Without the healing power of God’s grace, our brokenness would immediately reassert itself, each person’s in its own unique way. The resulting new feedback loop would gut the renascent culture of marriage: the living out of marriage would degrade as people cut corners and ignored strictures, which would in turn degrade the norms we fought so hard to establish (pp. 127-128).
Social science supports his point. Regular religious practice is a “protective factor” against divorce. This is our nerdy way of saying that couples who go to church regularly are less likely to divorce. Regular religious attendance during adolescence is correlated with lower chances of divorce in adulthood. As Dr. Hahn puts it: “Marriage without God is possible in theory, but not in practice.” We do our young people no favor by dodging this point.
Besides, no one wants to hang on to a sinking ship. Young men especially, thrive on living up to a worthy challenge. Dr. Hahn gives them one:
Let’s avoid surrendering essential first principles and compromising the faith for short-term reprieves. We’re probably not going to witness any spectacular mass conversion to sanctity in our lifetimes, so let’s be heroic in accepting short-term humiliation—only an apparent defeat—without compromise (178).
In The First Society, Hahn delivers the theological insight we’ve come to expect from him. In the process, he delivers a practical program for defending the family in our hostile secular world. No more confining ourselves to “scientific” or “natural law” reasons for our beliefs. While there is nothing wrong with those reasons, they are not enough. We have been leaving our best player, Jesus, on the bench for far too long. Dr Hahn says, “Now is the time to speak Catholic truth with clarity and boldness.”
I completely agree.