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.


Retreat offers hope and healing for survivors of family breakdown

by Leslie Fain

First posted on Catholic World Report December 29, 2016

Catholic News Service photo

When we think of the “least of these,” whom Jesus exhorted us to defend and aid, several groups easily come to mind: the poor, the unborn, the disabled. One often overlooked group is adult children of family breakdown. The non-profit Ruth Institute is striving to help that group with a new Healing Retreat for Family Breakdown, launched recently in Louisiana.

“There is a wealth of social science data that people can turn to to see what happens to individuals as a result of family breakdown,” said Jennifer Johnson, associate director of the Ruth Institute. “Let’s take one—divorce. We know that children of divorce are more likely to grow up and experience their own divorce as adults, [compared to] kids raised with their own married mother and father. We know that kids of divorce suffer academically in a variety of ways, they lose contact with grandparents, they feel a lack of compassion from their churches. We know that divorced men have a higher rate of suicide than men who’ve never been divorced.”


“Divorce impacts the Church because children of divorce are more likely to be non-religious when they grow up,” Johnson continued. “Family breakdown is expensive for society, since intact families reduce the risks for so many negative outcomes, for both the children and the adults.”

The Healing Family Breakdown Retreat is a half-day program featuring presentations by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, and Johnson, as well as small-group breakout sessions, meditations, and prayers. It debuted in the Diocese of Lake Charles in October to a full house, which included several priests and religious. Thanks to the success of this retreat, the Ruth Institute will offer a second retreat in the diocese in February.

The Healing Family Breakdown Retreat focuses on those who have suffered from various forms of family breakdown, including divorce, growing up with a single parent or cohabitating parents, and third-party reproduction, among others. Participants are encouraged to look at family breakdown from the child’s perspective. The goal, according to remarks made by Morse at the retreat, is to create a “lasting and Christ-like movement to end the agony and injustice of family breakdown.”

Father D.B. Thompson, a priest for the Diocese of Lake Charles and retreat attendee, said outside of this program or private counseling, he has not encountered any services, groups, or retreats for children of divorce, adult or otherwise. He said this was unfortunate, as children tend to be the most impacted group in a divorce.

“Divorce creates a wound in a child’s heart, even an adult child’s heart, because it breaks apart a foundation for that child,” said Thompson, himself an adult child of divorce. As a Catholic priest, he said, he believes ministering to adult children of divorce is important because Christ wants to bring healing to every heart.

Johnson said the pain of family breakdown can be misunderstood by those who haven’t experienced it. “I have reason to believe that many people think silence equals approval,” said Johnson, who herself experienced family breakdown as a child.

“When kids grow up outside an intact family, and they don’t speak out about it, people around them seem to think that the kids’ silence means that they approve of it. I’ve found that speaking about my dismembered natal family has been extraordinarily difficult as it creates a double bind.”

Johnson said she didn’t want to hurt her parents, “so I remained silent as a self-protective mechanism, even though I really needed the freedom to speak to them about how hard it was to live as I did.”

As a result, one challenge Johnson and Morse had in creating the retreat was to pre-emptively tackle any defensive reactions some of those participating might have.

“Much of our legal system and culture is set up to promote a view of freedom that is at odds with family obligations,” said Johnson. “When somebody has been tempted to embrace that view of freedom, and has built their life around it, they can feel defensive when they hear that their ‘freedom’ has negatively impacted other people, in particular their children. At the Ruth Institute we call this ‘the guilty conscience problem,’ since it blocks people from understanding what is happening, from making amends, and from moving on to promoting a more just view of freedom.”

“We don’t want people to feel defensive, and so we make it clear that it’s not entirely the individual’s fault,” Johnson added. “The legal system, culture, and prior family experiences play a role. ‘No man is an island,’ and this adage certainly applies to our issue. Speaking for myself, I am a child of divorce—multiple divorces, in fact—and am also divorced as an adult. It is true that I am culpable to a certain extent, perhaps even a large extent, but it’s also true that the deck was stacked against me, so to speak. I made many mistakes, but in some respects I was doing the best I could with what I had. I’m sure this is true in many, many cases. Nobody needs to feel defensive, but they do need to be willing to see their own role in what happened.”

Johnson said the Ruth Institute is patterning their movement after the pro-life movement. She points out that some of the strongest advocates for life are those women who have had abortions but who now regret it and warn others of the consequences of abortion. Along the same lines, Johnson said the goal of their organization is to educate those who have been affected by the Sexual Revolution so they can find healing and repent of any part they had to play in family breakdown. Then those who have experienced the pain of family breakdown can also help others find healing.

Three phrases were shared with retreat attendees at the beginning of the event: “I am sorry this happened to you”; “You are not alone”; and “This is not all your fault.”

Andrew Casteel, who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood and is an adult child of divorce, said those phrases were the most important things he took away from the retreat. “It’s like an opening conversation we can have with our family,” he said.

Johnson said focusing on the three phrases also helps retreatants to look at their situations more objectively, and less defensively.

Felicia Borel, who works for Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church in Lake Charles, said the retreat helped her see how growing up in a home where there was divorce and remarriage shaped her future. Family breakdown in her childhood led to single parenting, divorce, and remarriage, as well as combining families in her adult life, she said. Family breakdown in childhood “affected choices I made, and that, in turn, affected how I parented my children,” she said. “So, without being able to go back and change the past, how do I help my adult children make better choices?”

Borel said the retreat helped her to understand challenges in her adult children’s lives. “It helped me put things in perspective as far as how I parented them and what’s happening now. It’s easier to begin to work on a relationship with a little bit more knowledge,” she said. “It’s given me a new perspective on how I can approach healing a relationship with an adult child. Knowing the things my adult child is going through, I can see I’ve participated.”

Mary Thomas (a pseudonym), who is divorced and lives in the Diocese of Lake Charles, said she attended the retreat in order to gain the tools to help others who have experienced family breakdown, including her daughter, who is now grown. “She seems to be doing very well, but I’m still concerned there is a part of her I’m sure wishes her parents would get back together. I’m told by adults who are in their 30s and 40s they wish their parents would get back together.”

As part of the retreat, participants were asked to focus on someone who has been affected by family breakdown, and pray for that person. Although she initially went to the retreat to help her adult child, Thomas said she was surprised to find herself praying for her ex-husband, and considering how the sexual revolution has impacted him.

“I started thinking about him, and how lonely he is,” Thomas said. “He doesn’t have the support I’ve had. It struck me, too, to learn how much an injustice it is for children not to have a good relationship with one of their parents.”

One part of the retreat that several attendees mentioned as eye-opening was when Jennifer Johnson displayed a family diagram representing the Holy Family, with a triangle connecting Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Johnson compared that diagram to diagrams of what broken families look like, once a divorce and remarriage occurs.

Father Thompson was among the attendees who found the diagrams helpful.

“What is the shape of the intact family? It’s a triangle,” he said. The diagrams illustrating the broken families show the children from the original families are outside of that triangle, he continued. “It doesn’t mean I had a terrible childhood,” but the reality for the children from a previous family is they are standing outside of the newly formed family in a very real way, he said.

The Ruth Institute will host a second retreat in the Diocese of St. Charles in February. Those interested in hosting a retreat in their dioceses can contact the group via their website.

 



Press Release: 'Go to Confession' Campaign

 

For immediate release:

“Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins! So, go to Confession!” –Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Ruth Institute launches ‘Go to Confession’ Campaign

(March 14, 2017, Lake Charles, LA) During this season of Lent, The Ruth Institute has launched an online and billboard campaign encouraging people of all faiths to make things right with God. “Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins!” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse stated in announcing the campaign. “That is why have launched a series of billboards and social media messages urging people to go to confession!”


Even in cases where one person has the major responsibility for fracturing the family, all family members can benefit from going to confession. “The injured parties may need help with bitterness, anger, emotional paralysis and many other issues. The grace of confession can help them,” Dr. Morse explained. “And of course, it goes without saying: if you have injured your family through addiction, abuse, adultery or desertion, go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you in the confessional and wants to forgive you. If you can’t tell him, in the person of the priest, that you are sorry, how are you ever going to be able to face your ex-spouse or your children?”

“Our ‘Go to Confession’ campaign reminds people that God is merciful and He will forgive us. What better time than during Lent?” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute said.

The Institute launched a billboard campaign in Lake Charles, LA, with messages: “Jesus is waiting for you,” “Sin makes you stupid,” featuring St. Thomas Aquinas (who loosely said that), and “Party’s over. Go to confession,” with an image of Mardi Gras debris. “Lake Charles is in the heart of Cajun Country, the Catholic buckle on the Bible belt. If we can’t publicly urge people to go to confession here, where can we? And the world desperately needs this encouragement.”

Dr. Morse added. “Guilty consciences make it harder for us to move forward and to resolve the issues caused by our sins, or the bitterness we’ve held onto from the sins of others.” Find the Ruth Institute’s ‘Go to Confession’ images on their website here, here and here.

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.

Reply to this email if you’d like to interview Dr. Morse further about this unique and beneficial ‘Go to Confession’ campaign.




Archbishop awarded for defending Catholic teaching on marriage against ‘misuses’ of Amoris Laetitia

This article was first posted March 2, 2017, at Lifesitenews.com.

Archbishop Alexander Sample

February 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Ruth Institute has sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, congratulating and thanking him for his defense of Catholic teaching on marriage.

In his Pastoral Letter, “A True and Living Icon,” Archbishop Sample had stated, “The indissolubility of marriage is a precious and essential teaching of the Church, revealed by Jesus and cherished in our unbroken Tradition… The marriage bond is indissoluble because the Gospel covenant is indissoluble, for the sacrament signifies Christ’s permanent union with his Church.”

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.

Dr. Morse stated, “We are particularly encouraged that Archbishop Sample addressed three possible misuses of Amoris Laetitia. Misuse One: Conscience Legitimizes Actions Contravening Divine Commandments. Misuse Two: Under Certain Conditions Divine Prohibitions Admit of Exceptions. And Misuse Three: Human Frailty Exempts from Divine Command. Time has shown the Archbishop’s foresight in this area, as many people, including people who ought to know better, are making these very mistakes.”

Jennifer Johnson, Director of the Ruth Institute’s Children of Divorce project stated, “We are so grateful for Archbishop Sample’s clear teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. We hear from people who have been harmed by family breakdown, literally every day. Straying from Jesus’s teaching on the permanence of marriage has devastated millions of children and deserted spouses. We want the Archbishop to know these wounded souls deeply appreciate his words.”

To read the Ruth Institute’s full Commendation, go here. To read the Archbishop’s statement, go here.

 



It’s Time to Make Marriage Great Again By Redefining Divorce

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published July 23, 2016, at The Blaze.

Earlier this week, the Ruth Institute sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

Our letter thanked him for “his clear teaching on marriage, family and human sexuality in the Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

With all the excitement of the political conventions, why would we spend our time sending flowers to an archbishop? We want to shine the spotlight on the positive things people are doing to build up society.

Figurines of a bride and a groom sit atop a wedding cake. (AP/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)

Figurines of a bride and a groom sit atop a wedding cake. (AP/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)


The archbishop’s guidelines restate the Ancient Teachings of Christianity regarding marriage, family and human sexuality. These teachings are obscured today. No less a theological heavy weight than the mayor of Philadelphia castigated the archbishop, saying the Guidelines were un-Christian!

To be fair to Mayor Jim Kenny, we have to admit that the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has caused worldwide confusion over Catholic teaching on marriage. Yelling at the pope has become a new cottage industry among tradition-minded Catholic writers. Pulling his words into a sexually indulgent direction has become a cottage industry among progressives of all faiths. And trying to parse out what he really meant has been a full employment guarantee for everyone.

Rather than getting involved in all that, we want to call attention to people who are implementing the unbroken teaching of the Church in a vibrant manner. Focus on what we know to be true and good. Archbishop Chaput’s Guidelines provide a clear and practical statement of ancient Catholic teaching, in the spirit of genuine mercy, incorporating language from Amoris Laetitia.

I believe that these teachings are correct, good and humane. I founded the Ruth Institute for the purpose of promoting those teachings to the widest audience possible. I don’t believe these things because I am a Catholic. On the contrary. It is precisely because I came to believe in these teachings that I returned to the practice of the Catholic faith after a 12-year lapse.

Let me discuss just one issue that has caused a lot of hand-wringing in the past 2 years. Jesus told us very clearly that remarriage after divorce is not possible. If attempted, it amounts to adultery. Why? According to Jesus, Moses only permitted a man to issue a bill of divorce because of “the hardness of your hearts.” (This is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, in case you were wondering.)

At that point, he could have said, “So, I’m going to eliminate this appalling male privilege and allow women to divorce their husbands, exactly like Moses allowed men to divorce their wives.” However, he did no such thing. He didn’t extend the male privilege. He eliminated it entirely. “From the beginning it was not so,” referring back to God’s original plan for creation. “I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” One of the “hard sayings” of Jesus, no doubt. But pretty darn clear.

(And please: don’t trouble me with that so-called loophole, ok? The real innovation in modern no-fault divorce law is that it allows an adulterer to get a divorce against the wishes of the innocent party. No sane person can argue that Jesus provided that “loophole” to allow the guilty party to validly remarry.)

The Church teaches that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive communion because she is trying to implement this teaching of Jesus. A civilly divorced and remarried person is living with, and presumably having sex with someone, while still validly married to someone else. If the first marriage is still valid, the second attempted marriage is not valid, and is in fact, adulterous. What is so hard to understand about that?

You know who really understands this concept, who intuitively “gets it?” Children of divorce. Kids look into their parents’ bedroom and see someone who doesn’t belong there. “Who is this guy in bed with my mom: my dad is supposed to be there.” Or, “who is this woman in bed with my dad? My mom is supposed to be there.”

At the Ruth Institute, we know there are situations in which married couples must separate for the safety of the family. But we also know that those cases are by far not the majority of cases. No-fault divorce says a person can get divorced for any reason or no reason, and the government will take sides with the party who wants the marriage the least. The government will permit that person to remarry, against the wishes of their spouse and children.

This is an obvious injustice that no one in our society will talk about. The children of divorce are socially invisible. In fact, I bet some of them felt like crying when they read my paragraph above quoting with approval, what might have gone through their little minds. Many of them have never heard an adult affirm their feelings that something dreadfully wrong and unjust took place in their families.

Jesus knew. Jesus was trying to keep us from hurting ourselves and each other. And the Catholic Church has been trying to implement Jesus’ teaching. You may say the Church has been imperfect in her attempts and I won’t argue with you. But I will say that no one else is even seriously trying.

Political campaigns come and go. Political parties come and go. In fact, nations themselves come and go. But the teachings of Jesus are forever. What we do about marriage and children and love reveals what and whom we truly love.

That is why we congratulate Archbishop Charles Chaput for his guidelines. We wish the Archdiocese all the very best. Make Marriage Great Again.


Petition: Archbishop Chaput

Petition to: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia

Thank you for the wisdom and clarity in your Guidelines. We are praying for you!
 

 
The Ruth Institute and its global network of followers congratulates and thanks Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia for his clear teaching on marriage, family and human sexuality. The Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are the work of a compassionate pastor who loves the souls under his care. These Guidelines will assist the priests, deacons and laity in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to reach out with genuine mercy and justice to Catholics, and to the wider community, who are hungry for the truth.
 
The publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has caused worldwide confusion over Catholic teaching on marriage. Archbishop Chaput’s Guidelines provide a clear and practical statement of traditional Catholic teaching, in the spirit of genuine mercy.
 
We are particularly encouraged that these Guidelines are comprehensive, dealing with all the major issues encountered in pastoral care of the family. The Archbishop addresses the problems of 1) married couples, 2) those who are separated and divorced but not remarried, 3) those who are separated and divorced and have a civil remarriage, 4) those who are cohabiting and finally, 5) those who experience same sex attraction.
 
The Ruth Institute dreams of the day when every child will be welcomed into a loving home with a married mother and father. We believe every child has the right to a relationship with both natural parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy prevents it. We believe every adult without exception has the right to know his or her cultural heritage and genetic identity. The Philadelphia Guidelines represent an implementation of the ancient teachings of Christianity and of Jesus Christ Himself.
 
These teachings protect the interests of children, as well as the interests of men and women in lifelong married love.
 
The Ruth Institute sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to the Archbishop as a sign of our support. We join our prayers with these roses in a spiritual bouquet of appreciation for the Archbishop and blessings for all the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
 
Read the Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia here.

For the Petition:

Dear Archbishop Chaput,
 
We thank you for the wisdom and clarity shown in your Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. We pledge to pray for you, your priests, deacons, seminarians and all the people of Philadelphia as you go forward to implement these guidelines.
 
Sincerely yours in Jesus Christ,
(your name)

 


The Church Has Been Right on Divorce All Along

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first posted at Crisis Magazine on January 27, 2016.

 

shutterstock_338781074

I would like to weigh in on Ross Douthat’s on-going dialogue with theologians employed at nominally Catholic institutions. Like Douthat, I am not a theologian. However, we don’t have to be theologians in order to be good Catholics or people of good sense. I think us “amateurs” can contribute two very solid points that the theologians sometimes seem to overlook. We can point out that Jesus was and is the Son of God. And we can point out that he was correct about divorce. We cannot make these two points too often.

Anyone who is blathering about Jesus being limited by his knowledge and his social context, does not really believe that Jesus is God. Such people are not Catholics or Christians of any kind. I don’t care whether they teach at an institution that calls itself Catholic. Jesus is who he claimed to be. If he wasn’t the Son of God, he was a fraud or a nut-job. As C.S. Lewis pointed out years ago, the so-called “moderate” or “middle-ground” is completely illogical.

 


 

Even if one does not accept the claim that Jesus was and still is who he claimed to be, we can evaluate the soundness of his teaching about divorce. I believe the evidence shows that he was correct about divorce. The American experience with no-fault divorce since 1968, proves this beyond any shadow of a doubt.

No-fault divorce removed the presumption of sexual exclusivity within marriage. When adultery is no longer considered a marital fault, who benefits? The adulterous partner. Think about that: the law takes sides with the adulterous party. The so-called “exception” clause in Matthew 19 is completely irrelevant. No serious person of any Christian denomination believes that Jesus intended to allow an adulterer to run off and remarry their new sweetie.

No-fault divorce also removed the presumption that marriage would be permanent. This harms children. We know this from a vast amount of social science evidence. The committed Sexual Revolutionaries are well aware of this evidence. They are also aware that the continued “progress” of their movement requires that none of its negative consequences be reported or even acknowledged.

So we take the kids to therapy. We give them medication. We have chipper features like “Blended Family Friday” to celebrate positive stories.

After forty years of this, the kids can now speak for themselves. The adult children of divorce number in the millions. I have lost track of how many people have told me, “Dr. Morse, you are the first adult I have ever heard say that divorce is hard on kids.” At the Ruth Institute, we have a blog called “Kids Divorce Stories.” When we give the children of divorce a chance to speak, we get an earful.

Of course, Jesus foresaw all this. In Matthew 19, verses 3-9, is his well-known and much-analyzed dialogue with the Pharisees about divorce. But the scene shifts in verse 10. The disciples exclaim, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.”

I like to imagine what went through the mind of Jesus at this point. Being the Son of God and all, he could instantly picture millions of intimate moments for millions of people across time and space. In the split second between the time the disciplines whined at him that this was too hard, and his reply, Jesus may have pictured the wounds that children would experience from the loss of their parents’ love for each other.

He saw the little flower girl at her mother’s remarriage, silently heartbroken: her mother’s remarriage means her mother and father will never get back together again. Jesus saw the teenaged boy, watching his mother have a parade of boyfriends through the house. The boy is simultaneously protective of his mother and disgusted with her.

Jesus saw boys and girls going back and forth between their parents’ homes, never feeling completely at home in either place. Jesus saw their mother and her new husband having new children together. He saw them hang the photos of their new family on the wall. Jesus saw the hidden pain the children of the original marriage would feel when they see those photos, and never see photos of their complete family in either parents’ home.

Yes, in that split second, Jesus knew perfectly well that his new commandment for marriage was revolutionary. And he saw that it was good.

He basically told the disciples, “You’ve got your choice. Lifelong fidelity to one woman or lifelong celibacy. Get over it, buckaroos.”

I know that many people have gotten divorces that they regret. I realize that many spouses did not want to get divorced in the first place. I know many of these people are wounded, and perhaps bitter. The Church knows it too.

The Church has something for all of us: the confessional. Go to confession, even if you were the wronged party, the abandoned spouse or the innocent child. The grace of the confessional helps us let go of our woundedness, and move forward in love. After all, Jesus wants us to love even those who have harmed us. He gives us the grace to do what may seem to be impossible. And of course, if you yourself provoked an unjustified separation or loss of love between yourself and your child’s other parent, you absolutely need to go to confession.

In short, the Church is far more reasonable and humane than her self-styled “progressive” opponents. This is the deepest reason that the Church should not change its teaching: the teaching is good. The evidence is all around us.

The Catholic Church is the only institution that has even attempted to stand up to the modern Sexual State. Even the Catholic Church has not done enough to provide justice to the millions of abandoned spouses and children in our country, as Stephen Baskerville has pointed out multiple times on this site. It would be tragic indeed, if the Catholic Church abandoned her ancient and still-relevant teaching, at the precise moment that it is obvious she has been right all along.


 



Laity Should Act When Clergy Won’t

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first posted October 22, 2015, at crisismagazine.com.

Sturt Krygsman divorce

Let’s face it: The 2015 Synod on the Family is a mess. I was one who gave Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. I now have my doubts about him. And I have no doubt at all that some of the men surrounding him are either heretics or lunatics or both.

The real question for us as lay people is this: what exactly can we do about it? We do not have full information about what is going on over there. Giving advice to cardinals and bishops is not likely to work. Screaming at them even less so.


As faithful lay people, we believe all that the Church has taught about marriage, family, and human sexuality. We do not want to see the Church water down that teaching, or surrender to the Sexual Revolution. It would be tragic indeed, if she did so now, right at the moment when the wisdom and beauty of her ancient teaching is becoming daily more evident from experience.

So what are we, as faithful lay people, to do about this? What has the best chance of cutting through the noise and having an impact?

To answer this question, let’s back up a minute. The Sexual Revolution has harmed millions of people. Just to take one of the issues most immediately before the Synod: divorce and unmarried parenthood.

  • About 1 million children per year have experienced their parents’ divorce, every year since 1972.
  • Over a million children have been born to unmarried parents, every year since 1988. In 2008 alone, 1.7 million children were born to unmarried parents.
  • By 2010, about 20 million children were living in single-parent households.
  • These are just the children in the United States. Many other developed countries have similar rates of family brokenness.

We now know that kids are not “resilient.” They do not “get over it.” We know this from decades of careful research. We know if from experience. In fact, according to Judith Wallerstein, author of a 25-year study on the long-term legacy of divorce, the impact of divorce on children does not diminish with time. It “crescendos” in young adulthood, as they try to form relationships and marriages and families of their own.

Kids need their own parents. I learned from my experience as an adoptive mom, a foster mom, and a birth mom, all kids want the same thing. They want their parents to be there for them, and be appropriate parents. No matter how old the kids are, no matter what their parents have done, all kids of all ages, long for their parents to get it together and be good parents.

The Sexual Revolution has taught us that adults are entitled to have the sex lives they want, with a minimum of inconvenience. What we never hear anyone come out and say is: “And kids have to accept whatever the adults chose to give them.” You don’t usually hear people blurt out that last part, because we would be too ashamed of ourselves.

The Sexual Revolution promised fun and freedom. It delivered hurt and heartbreak. With the possible exception of a handful of predatory Alpha Males, everyone in society has been harmed: men, women and children, rich and poor alike.

I will let you in on a secret: the reason kids keep getting separated from their parents is because the victims, the kids, are not allowed to speak for themselves. As children, their parents expected them to accept whatever was going on around them, without complaining. And children, eager to please their parents, fearful of losing the parents’ love, kept quiet. Even as adults, the children of divorce and the children of unmarried parents, are expected to keep quiet, and go along with the program.

Silencing the victims has been crucial to the success of the Sexual Revolution. If you doubt me, consider these facts:

  • The state of California just passed legislation requiring pregnancy care centers to announce that they do not do abortions, and to post signs telling women where they can get abortions. Why? The Revolutionaries cannot stand the thought of women seeking alternatives to abortion, or regretting their abortions. Women who do not fit the “narrative” must be silenced.
  • The Huffington Post has a regular feature called “Blended Family Friday.” Their stated purpose is, I’m not making this up, “Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!” Is there a comparable site for children of all ages who were miserable in stepfamilies? To the best of my knowledge, the Ruth Institute’s Kids Divorce Stories is the only thing remotely like it.
  • How about all the career women, who put off having children for too long? I estimate that there are over 500,000 women with Masters degrees or more education, who have impaired fertility. What does the Sexual Revolution have to offer them? Commercial third party reproduction, a complete separation of sex from love and reproduction, is supposed to make up for all the losses we experience.

The solution is for all the victims of the Sexual Revolution to speak up, and tell the truth about how they were harmed. Telling that truth is the first step away from being a victim, to becoming a survivor. Anyone of us can take that step.

What does this have to do with the chaos over at the Synod? Most of the bishops know perfectly well that the Church’s teachings are good and humane. But they too, have been reluctant to speak out, and to preach this good news. Why? Because they are afraid of us, the laity!

True enough, many faithful people have been trying to support them all along. But look at it this way: if the souls wounded by the Sexual Revolution were visible, we wouldn’t be having this fight at all. All decent people would abandon the Sexual Revolutionary ideology in a heartbeat.

While it is awful that so many people have been harmed by the Sexual Revolution, we are undaunted. We are turning that very horror into an advantage: millions of us can testify about the false promises of the Sexual Revolution.

The elites in media, academia, law, and government cannot silence all of us. If everyone who has been harmed by the Sexual Revolution spoke out about it, we would change the world.

And eventually, even the most reluctant of the Catholic bishops might get the hint that the Church has been right all along, and find the courage to say so.

(Illustration credit: Sturt Krygsman)



Dear Heterosexual Community: Your Kids Are Hurting, Part 2

by Jennifer Johnson, Associate Director

How savvy are you about step-families? Do you understand the structural similarity between step-families and same-sex marriage? Take the Step-Family Quiz to test your knowledge.I created this quiz as an engaging way to help defenders of marriage understand the cultural blind-spot that we have about step-families. Of course anybody is welcome to take it. But it is geared towards those who believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman. By the end it should become apparent why I have focused on marriage defenders. There are five questions and their answers, plus a bonus question at the end.

1. Which group was the first to claim there is “no difference” between the intact family founded on natural marriage and other family structures?

  • a. Heterosexuals
  • b. Homosexuals

2. When was that claim first made, and what form did it take?


3. You may recognize the following photo as being from a famous TV show:

brady bunch

If you do, set that aside for a moment and pretend you are a casual observer. You notice this family at church, at a restaurant, or at a sporting event. Can you tell if this was an intact family, or a step-family? Name the visual clues that helped you make that determination.

4. One of these families is an intact family. The other is a step-family. Which is which? Name the visual clues that helped you make that determination.

step family

Bush Family

5. One of these families is an intact family. The other is a step-family. Which is which? Name the visual clues that helped you make that determination.

blended family huffpo-b

My Family c 1969

Here are the answers:

1. Heterosexuals.

2. Early 1970s with the TV show, “The Brady Bunch.”

3. It is a step-family. There are no visual clues to help the casual observer discern that this is a step-family.

4. In the first photo, we see two men as the parents. Since two men cannot procreate together, that is the visual clue that this is a step-family. The taller man is the natural/legal father of both children. I believe the girl was adopted during his marriage to the boy’s mother. The other family is an intact family.

5. We see a man and a woman in each photo. Since men and women can procreate together, it is harder for a casual observer to discern which is which. The first is the step-family. The second is the intact family. (Yours truly is the child in the second photo–that’s my first family.) In the first photo, all of the children are the woman’s from a prior marriage.

Bonus Question:

6. From the child’s point of view, what is the structural difference between the two step families shown in questions 4 and 5? Most marriage defenders argue against the former quite vehemently and are largely silent about the latter. But from the point of view of the child, how different are they? Here are the photos again:

step family

blended family huffpo-b

Answer: from the child’s point of view, they are not as different as might be imagined. Consider these similarities:

  • In both cases, we see three “positions” in the family: 1) the natural parent, 2) that parent’s children, 3) a new marriage partner who is not the children’s other natural parent.
  • In both cases, the children do not have a single full-time home, but the adults do.
  • In both cases, the child’s other natural parent has been “photoshopped” out of that half of the child’s life and somebody new was “photoshopped” in.
  • In both cases, the children have two male figures (the bio father and the step-father), neither of whom are full-time fathers for the children.
  • Reverse the idea: If the first photo showed a lesbian marriage, and if the second photo showed a man with his kids and his new wife, then in both cases the children have two female figures (the bio mother and the step-mother), neither of whom are full time mothers for the children.

Might these similarities explain why the younger generation favors same-sex marriage? Perhaps their experiences (or the experiences of their friends) do not match our rhetoric. By not embracing arguments that defend the rights and legitimate entitlements of children, are we missing an opportunity to reach the younger generation? Given that 1,000,000 kids annually experience their parent's divorce, I think so.

How did you do? Thanks for taking the quiz!

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Upcoming installments:

I may continue to address the cultural blind spot we have in regards to step-families. Have not decided. If I do, then this will be the next installment.

Either way, after that we will examine the actual structure of step-families, with diagrams. This will make it clear that they are not remotely same as intact families.

After that, we will explore how the widespread acceptance of the step-family structure has weakened our ideas of “mother and father,” how it has weakened the idea of “two” parents for children, and the way these dovetail with the structural changes required to embrace same-sex couples into the institution of marriage.

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