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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: Tuesday, June 04, 2019
by Rev. Ben Johnson
This article was first published February 8, 2019, at Acton.org.
The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why The Church Was Right All Along
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.
TAN Books, 2018. 406 pages.
Reviewed by Rev. Ben Johnson
Keen-eyed analysts have probed every ideological trend threatening liberty – from socialism and fascism to the Alt-Right – with one glaring exception: the revolt against personal responsibility. Jennifer Roback Morse, the founder of the Ruth Institute, capably fills this void in The Sexual State. Building on her previous book Love and Economics, Morse summarizes the sexual revolution in just a few propositions: It separates children from sexual activity and marriage, and eradicates all differences between men and women. This apparent personal freedom expands government by creating new avenues for regulation, increasing the need for means-tested welfare programs, and breaking down the “little society of the family.”
No public program can care for children as fully, selflessly, or naturally as two parents in a lifelong, committed union. From a social standpoint, Morse writes, the genius of marriage as a social institution is that its “extremely minimal legal structure” creates “a largely self-regulating, voluntary system of long-term cooperation between parents.”
Thus, we should not be surprised to learn that totalitarians of all stripes have sought to control the family. Inside the family, people develop loyalties to real people, not the Dear Leader. They develop habits that may not further the interests of the totalitarian State, with its all-embracing designs on every person. Inside the family, people may commit to ideas other than the state-sanctioned ideology.
The new ideology co-opted Marxism’s dialectic of inevitability, now known as standing on “the right side of history.” However, this ideology finds advocates across the political spectrum.
Certain factions of the liberty movement embrace the Liberationist Narrative – something she calls “the Walmart theory of sex” – which celebrates changes to family life for giving us greater choice and agency. “Under a no-fault legal regime, we are freer on the front end” of a divorce or paternity settlement, Morse writes. “But we are less free on the back end, as the State steps in to manage the consequences.” Divorce courts dictate the time and money parents spend on their children, the language spoken in the home, even such mundane decisions as a child’s prom dress. This degree of intrusion into an intact family would be “unthinkable.”
Family breakdown, whether through divorce or illegitimacy, strongly harms children and beckons the government to fill the void left by absent parents. “Increases in the likelihood of poverty, physical illness, mental illness, poor school performance, and crime have all been associated with being separated from a parent,” Morse writes. This elevated risk persists even in nations as committed to egalitarianism and progressive social values as Sweden. Such pathologies usher children into the welfare system where, once inside, a matrix of laws holds them in place. Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and WIC eligibility guidelines disfavor marriage. The cost of family breakdown to the U.S. government alone totals an estimated $100 to $112 billion, Morse notes, adding that studies show the same phenomenon increases welfare spending in New Zealand, the UK, and Canada. “The ordinary tax-paying citizen faces a greater tax burden than otherwise would be the case as a direct result of what, by the Liberationist Narrative, is an increase in sexual freedom,” Morse writes.
Similarly, gender ideology “creates a separation between children and their parents and inserts the State between them,” as the “State sets itself up as the public enforcer of their new identities.” In Minnesota, a school district facilitated a minor’s gender transition without parental notification. Laws now police the permissible use of pronouns.
“Civil libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and open-minded liberals should all be troubled by the actual results as opposed to the supposed benefits of this ‘freedom,’” Morse writes.
References to “class warfare” and “class analysis” may lead some reviewers to caricature the book as a rejection of a free society. Nothing could be further from the truth. Morse, who highlights her “affiliations with all three of the major schools of free market economics,” ascribes changed cultural mores to excusing the libidinous excesses of “the managerial elite”: the nexus of academics, lobbyists, government bureaucrats, thought leaders, and mass media sharing the same narrative. Yet she defines the term by noting:
The managerial class goes beyond the purely class designation in this respect: it’s built upon the idea that society is something that needs to be managed. … Seldom have the privileged classes taken it upon themselves to “nudge” their neighbors and fellow citizens about their eating habits, sex lives, spending habits, personal safety, and even their thoughts. …
Legal historian Joseph Dellapenna observes that the rise of the managerial class was not unique to the United States in the twentieth century. “The managerial class rose to dominance in the U.S. with the New Deal in the 1930s, and has continued to dominate ever since. … Evidence of the transition to social domination by a managerial class can be traced back to the nineteenth century, particularly in England. Nor was this transition limited to western or capitalist nations. In a real sense, the rise of Communism and Socialism was nothing more or (less) than a rise of the managerial class.”
“Ponder that last sentence for a while,” Morse writes.
Somehow, an a historical breed of Christian – especially Roman Catholic – intellectual believes he will capture, sanctify, and redirect the vast apparatus of the State toward theologically approved ends. Assuming an entrenched bureaucracy will simply acknowledge defeat and implement an opposing viewpoint seems naïve, albeit less so than the notion that the State’s coercive power will forever remain in holy hands. Revolutionaries yearn to control the levers of power more than those who believe in natural law, if only because the State need not compel actions that occur naturally.
Morse roots her hope for the future in nature and culture. An entire chapter defends the notion that differences between men and women are real, biologically based, and ineradicable. Each section ends by presenting the relevant Catholic teaching, which she describes as “the common heritage of all Christians.” And she remembers the victims of the sexual revolution in each chapter, showing the very real toll that comes from shunning self-restraint and refusing to deny instant and perpetual gratification. True liberty rests on the foundation of personal responsibility or sinks into the quicksand of the paternal state.
Morse concludes with a 15-point “Manifesto for the Family,” two-thirds of which consists of asking the government to “stop doing things it never had any business doing in the first place.” Virtually unique in political literature, her last three proposals can be adopted only by individuals. Building a “civilization of love” literally begins in each human heart. That private sanctuary, the link between the individual conscience and the fiery flame of divine love, kept the spark of civilization alive after the barbarian sack of Rome, times of plague and pestilence, and through the dark night of atheistic Communism. That flame can outshine the strange fires of fallen passions and realign society according to its light again.
Posted on: Monday, May 13, 2019
Let's mobilize the Victims and Survivors of the Sexual Revolution into a force for social change.
By Jennifer Roback Morse Published on April 22, 2019, at The Stream.
The Conservative-Christian-Catholic hopefulness, even triumphalism, expressed by George Weigel and the late Michael Novak and Richard John Neuhaus, in the 1990’s has evaporated. Couched as a critique of these famous “neo-cons,” Wolfgang’s real point was “Man, we’ve got a mess on our hands. None of our Smart Guys has a clue what to do.”
I sympathize. I’ve been thinking about it too. I do have a plan. It goes like this.
Social conservatives of all religious backgrounds agree: The Sexual Revolution has been a disaster. Millions of people have been harmed. The solution? Organize the Victims and Survivors of the Sexual Revolution into a force for social change.
Let’s do a tally of just a few groups:
Now, you may feel overwhelmed by this list. I look at it and see a potential constituency.
Look at how the post-abortive woman has become a game-changer for the pro-life movement. In the rhetoric of the Sexual Revolution, these women don’t exist. Abortion is no more traumatic or dangerous than pulling a tooth. Yet, we have known since 1990 that 10 percent to 30 percent of women experience regrets over their abortions.* The claim that abortion is a harmless procedure that solves women’s problems is not so convincing when looking out over a sea of “I regret my abortion” signs.
What if you could get 10 percent of those 45 million adult children of divorce all marching in the same direction? Heck, what if you got 1 percent? A social movement with 450,000 committed activists would be a force to be reckoned with. Add in the abandoned spouses, and the women whose contraception failed them or hurt them, add in the people whose cohabitation experience soured, that is a lot of upset people.
So, here’s the plan. Go all in. Talk about all the social issues, not just the gay parts. We need to tell the truths no one else will tell. Guilt-free, problem-free, attachment-free sexual activity is an illusion, not an entitlement. Men and women are different. The sex differences expressed in the human body are significant and not to be tampered with.
Most of all, children need their parents. Children have a right to know their genetic identity and cultural heritage. They have a right to the love and support of their parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy prevents it. These needs of children place legitimate demands on adult society. The sexual culture created by traditional Christian sexual ethics protected those rights. The Sexual Revolutionary culture denies that kids have these rights.
This plan also allows us to sidestep the whole “wrong side of history” business. We can say, “history will show that your revolution harmed people.” We don’t have to be defensive about our religious beliefs either. “History will show that only the people of faith had the sense to realize that something was wrong and had the courage to speak out against it.”
The millions of people who have been harmed by our sexual culture, propped up by the Sexual State, can be a formidable power. But we have to help them connect the dots between the problems they face and the toxic cultural soup we are all swimming in.
The Church should have done this long ago. The Church should have taken a stand against no-fault divorce, sexual propaganda in the schools, and all the rest of the poison. As Catholics, Peter, you and I have our suspicions about why so few of our clergy opened their mouths: They have sexual “issues” of their own. Some of them were/are secret or not-so-secret participants in the sexual revolution themselves.
The Conservative Chattering Class is mostly clueless on social issues. They’d rather talk about the Free Market or the American Founding or anything but Divisive Social Issues. Some of our Catholic intellectuals, the contemporary equivalent of Weigel-Novak-Neuhaus, have good ideas and sound instincts. But eventually, somebody has to get out of the office and talk to ordinary people. Professional Smart Guys tend not to do this.
Don’t get me wrong: We need college professors and policy wonks and think tank guys and media commentators. But at the end of the day, somebody has to step away from the desk, roll up their sleeves and engage the wide swath of the public that doesn’t read First Things.
That leaves people like us, Peter. You have the organizing skills, the people skills, the political instincts. You just need a bigger team, a bigger microphone, and a better plan.
Oh, we do need one more thing: a spine. We need to be willing to have people call us names and be mean. But you and I are already used to that, right Peter?
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get this done. The Survivors of the Sexual Revolution deserve a voice. And when they find it, the political and social landscape will never be the same.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 07, 2019
The Ruth Institute’s first annual Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution (April 26-27, in Lake Charles, Louisiana) was highly praised by participants. All agreed that the caliber of speakers and content (which covered Survivors of Divorce and Survivors of the LGBT subculture) were exceptional.
Here are a few of the comments from speakers and participants:
“The Summit revealed to me many different survival stories which involved deep pain. However, their stories all ended in hope because they turned to God. It also gives me hope to see everyone that attended was united to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Al Chlupacek -- Chemical Engineer, Indianapolis
“Thank you all. It was incredible, and a real shot in the arm. Now we all have work to do. But I feel like at least we know our fellow soldiers in this battle! It’s a rough world out there, and sadly, many of our ‘enemies’ are fellow Christians… It’s a battle from within and without. But I’m so pleased at the depth of intelligence and holiness on display this weekend! God bless you all! And thank you, Dr. Morse! You are a true solider for Christ!” Leila Miller – Catholic author, Phoenix
“This was a very meaningful conference. I enjoyed the scholarship, the personal testimonies, and all the informal conversations and relationship-building in between. I look forward to ongoing conversations with many of the wonderful people I met this weekend. The experience was powerful and inspiring.” Matt F. Johnson – humanitarian and disaster relief, Washington, D.C.
“Thank you Mr. And Dr. Morse plus your team for putting together such a conference. I learned a lot. Thanks also to you all that took time to do papers and share with us your stories. It gives me hope as an African to see the good side of America. You people are amazing. Hopefully we do this in Africa, too? God bless you all.” Ann Kioko, CitizenGO Campaigns Manager for Africa, Nairobi
“I just want to tell you all how very honored I am to have had the pleasure to work with all of you this weekend in this critical endeavor! Mr. & Dr. Morse, you are both tireless in your efforts and I have great respect for you both. Thank you - and the Ruth Institute's extremely capable staff and volunteers -- for showing us all such genuine kindness and hospitality. This weekend will go down in my memory as one of great blessings and fellowship. To be gathered with so many others who recognize the beauty, goodness and critical importance of marriage and the traditional family was a such a true honor and pleasure.” Christy Fitzgerald – Registered Nurse, Case Manager, Hickory, N.C.
“This Summit was a bright moment for recovering from a toxic family culture and beginning to build something better. I want to add my thanks to everyone as well, for sharing your stories and journeys and scholarship and standing for marriage, life and children. Patti and I were both deeply touched by the accounts of struggle and overcoming and finding new life and sanctity in the pain of marriage and parental loss. For me, one of the most fruitful times was also breakfast at the hotel, when I was blessed to, and saw others too, encourage one another and build friendships and mutual support and plot ministry strategies in a fellowship free-for-all. There are not many other places something like that could happen.” Fr. D Paul Sullins, Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute
“I hope everyone realizes just how innovative this was. For all the many ‘pro-family’ groups out there, almost none of them seriously confronts the divorce system, connected issues, and the government machinery behind it. I also noticed other ways in which the various speakers were ‘pushing the envelope,’ and I for one think that we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, from continuing and even increasing the push.” Stephen K. Baskerville, Purcellville, Virginia
“To get the inside scoop on the extraordinary Survivors Summit, be sure to check out the various presentations at the Ruth Institute’s website, and on its Facebook page. Be forewarned that the truth about these problems is not easy to handle. However, the truth shall set you free.” C. Preston Noell, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property, Washington, D.C.
“Don’t sit on the sidelines. Now that you understand the devastation caused by the Sexual Revolution, help us to fight for the family and cultural sanity.” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute
Posted on: Sunday, May 05, 2019
By Thomas Drake
This article was published May 2, 2019, at Tradition, Family, Property
The Ruth Institute organized a much-needed Conference and Awards Dinner April 26 and 27 in Lake Charles, La. The gathering featured an amazing ensemble of scholars, activists, and public witnesses and brought forth the truth that God’s plan for the family is the foundation of every enduring society.
The whirlwind of “The Sixties” brought the destruction of not only institutions and social customs, but the ruin of millions of lives. The stories of survivors of the Sexual Revolution—children of divorce, abandoned spouses, children of same-sex parents, refugees from the homosexual lifestyle—all illustrate the bitter fruits of “free love.”
The conference featured the riveting testimony of Moira Greyland, author of The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon and daughter of the world-renowned sexual revolutionaries Marion Zimmer Bradley (of The Mists of Avalon) and Walter Breen. Personal stories of broken vows, family ties, and social roles gave a face to the dry statistics of social breakdown. These were the results of the moral breakdown of our Church and society.
The child trauma, the clergy sex abuse, and the growing government power are costing us all. This was amply demonstrated by several speakers including Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., a retired professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America, and Dr. Stephen Baskerville.
Dr. Jennifer Morse and her staff of the Ruth Institute rendered a great service by organizing this event. With brilliant scholarship and personal testimonies, it proved that the Church was always right about marriage, family, and sexual morality.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 30, 2019
The Ruth Institute’s Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution (April 27) was a success by any measure. The Summit, which took place in Lake Charles, Louisiana, included Survivors of Divorce and Survivors of the LGBT Culture.
The Summit was preceded by an Awards Banquet the evening of April 26. Those honored were Dr. Robert Gagnon, recipient of the Scholarship Award, and Jeff Morgan, who received the Activism Award. Both spoke the next day.
Moira Greyland Peat, who received the Public Witness Award, was the banquet’s keynote speaker. Author of The Dark Side of Avalon, Moira survived years of sexual abuse by her mother, famed science fiction writer Marion Zimmer Bradley. Many commented that while her testimony was emotionally exhausting, it also provided a necessary antidote to the cliched version of the gay lifestyle pushed by the media.
The Saturday Summit included keynote addresses by Dr. Stephen Baskerville (Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College on How No-Fault Divorce Empowers the State), Mrs. Leila Miller (author and Catholic blogger on The Lifelong Impact of Divorce On Children),
Dr. Robert Gagnon (Professor of New Testament at Houston Baptist University, on What the Church really teaches about homosexual activity)
and Fr. Paul Sullins (Ruth Institute Senior Research Associate, on The Impact of Same-Sex Parenting on children and the impact of the homosexual subculture on clergy s*x abuse).
There were also testimony panels on Abandoned Spouses and Adult Children ofDivorce – and Adult Children and Spouses of gays, lesbians and transgenders, and refugees from the gay lifestyle).
A participant remarked: “These are tragedies the mainstream media, the divorce industry, and the gay-friendly culture do their best to ignore.” Another added: “I’ve been reading about the abandonment, betrayal and trauma of divorce for years. But hearing these speakers made the devastation real in ways that news stories and academic reports can’t.”
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ruth Institute Founder and President, challenged participants to use the knowledge they acquired to help shape the debate over the Sexual Revolution.
“Don’t sit on the sidelines. Now that you understand the devastation caused by the Sexual Revolution, help us to fight for the family and cultural sanity,” Morse declared.
The entire Summit will be available on podcast and YouTube soon.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family in the public arena and build a Civilization of Love. Click here for more Information on the Ruth Institute.
Posted on: Monday, January 28, 2019
By Tyler O'Neil
This article was first published October 4, 2018, at PJ Media.
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 overhyped 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 get 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: Monday, January 14, 2019
by Paul Sullins
A review of: Regnerus, Mark, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
This article was first published at humanumreview.
Cultural norms—the tacit, taken-for-granted expectations that structure human society—adapt to institutional and technological change. In our day, as the life tasks and realms formerly integrated within marriage—sex, intimacy, shared residence and meals, childbirth, raising children, economic sharing, and career planning—increasingly uncoupled from that institution, the related norms shift. When, as in America today, most children experience the dissolution of their parents’ relationship, the norms of mating and parenthood implicitly shift from the prospect of stability to the prospect of instability. When less than ten percent of women experience sexual onset within a permanent relationship, the norm shifts from regarding virginity with admiration to regarding it with ridicule. When more than half of births to women under 30 occur outside marriage, the norm of “first comes marriage” shifts to “marriage comes second”—if marriage comes at all.
In his book Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus argues that this shift in marital and mating norms has now extended to sex itself. Bringing to bear an impressive array of data, including Regnerus’ own large survey of over 15,000 Americans (called the Relationships in America [RIA] survey project) and over 100 interviews conducted for the book, he ably demonstrates that “cheap sex is plentiful—it’s flooding the market in sex and relationships—and … this has had profound influence on how American men and women relate to each other, which has in turn spilled over into other domains” (29). In case we need to be convinced, he presents detailed data and evidence that young Americans of marriageable age (ages 24‒32) engage in sex relations more quickly, casually, frequently and with more variety than ever before. Waiting until marriage is becoming a rare option; many do not wait until the second date. Or even the first date. In the RIA data, Regnerus reports, over a third of men and a quarter of women reported that they had sex with their current or most recent partner before the relationship actually began (97). Like text messaging has replaced, for young Americans, the intrusive investment of time and interpersonal energy in an actual phone call, Tinder and the hookup has rendered almost quaint the notion of investing time and interpersonal energy in an actual date. If you think that this is a description of the commodification of sex, you are beginning to get the idea.
Sex has become cheap, explains Regnerus, not because it leaves young people feeling cheap or is less desired by them—in fact, quite the opposite—but as a matter of hard-headed rational social exchange: “Sex is cheap if women expect little in return for it and if men do not have to supply much time, attention, resources, recognition or fidelity in order to experience it” (28). This definition follows the little-known branch of sociology known as “sexual economics,” which analyzes sex relations on the model of a transaction in which a man offers his resources—summarized above as “time, attention, resources, recognition or fidelity”—in exchange for sexual access to a woman’s body. The popular formula which says that men give love to get sex, while women give sex to get love, expresses roughly the same idea. But sexual economics goes further, analyzing the sum of these transactions as a kind of mating market, using the tools and concepts of classical economics to expose what many would call cultural insights.
In the mating market of young Americans, explains Regnerus, well-documented gender differences show that men are largely the source of demand for sex, while women function as gatekeepers controlling supply. Sex has become cheap not because demand has decreased—male sexual desire is reliably constant—but because supply has become much more plentiful. The key drivers of this change, he maintains, are not cultural or even sociological, but something more fundamental: technological change. Since the 1960s, and particularly since the turn of the present century, norms of sex and marriage have been upended by the confluence of “three distinctive technological achievements: 1) the wide uptake of the [birth-control] Pill as well as a mentality stemming from it that sex is “naturally” infertile, 2) mass-produced high-quality pornography, and 3) the advent and evolution of online dating/meeting services” (11). The Pill has eliminated the perceived risk of pregnancy, thereby greatly lowering risk which had formerly inhibited casual sex relations, particularly for women; Tinder and similar online meeting sites have increased the supply of willing short-term partners, particularly for men; and ubiquitous pornography allied with masturbation (“the cheapest sex” ) has made sexual experience available for men (and for women, but mostly for men) without even troubling to find an actual partner.
The result of these technologies is that women’s gatekeeping power is largely undermined in the sexual exchange. If men give love to receive sex, and women give sex to receive love, then in today’s mating market, young women must give much more sex in exchange for much less love.
The young women who do so, in the vast majority, are not reluctantly lowering their moral standards (though they may have other reasons for reluctance), but conforming to a new standard, a shift of norms, as abundant non-fertile sexual experience has become for them an assumed social fact. “[Cheap sex],” Regnerus observes, “is a presumption, widely perceived as natural and commonsensical, and hence connected by persons to expectations about their own and others’ future sexual experiences (as similarly low-cost). It has become normative, taken for granted” (30). In the popular mentality and cognition of today’s young Americans, sex is for fun, not for procreation.
Many of the developments Regnerus documents were predicted 25 years ago, in the influential analysis of modern sexuality presented in Anthony Giddens’ 1992 volume The Transformation of Intimacy. Giddens, a pre-eminent Marxist sociologist who is the longtime Director of the London School of Economics, proposed that the emergence of “plastic sexuality,” i.e., sexuality freed from the needs of reproduction, reflected a fundamental transformation in the constitution of sexual relationships. Sexuality, love and eroticism were increasingly being shaped by aspirations for personal fulfillment, sexual attraction (and repulsion), and psychic needs, and decreasingly by collective control imposed by the state, tradition or moral norms. The result was a restructuring of sexual intimacy, not around marriage and family or any social or moral norms, but around what Giddens called (ironically, to Catholic ears) the “pure relationship,” which is “a social relationship which is entered into for its own sake, for what can be derived by each person from a sustained association with another; and which is continued only in so far as it is thought by both parties to deliver enough satisfactions for each individual to stay within it.”
Although marriage, through the rise of the romantic love complex, had played a major role in the rise of the pure relationship, eventually the connection between love and sex via the pure relationship would undermine marriage. Women tended to lead, while men lagged, in the present and future development of such relationships; they were therefore the most advanced, in many ways, among lesbian couples. Regnerus examines Giddens’ predictions throughout the book, partly as a kind of guide, and partly as a foil to his own analysis. He finds that most of Giddens’ predictions and insights hold up well, although he is less positive about them than Giddens may have been, as evidenced by the fact that what Giddens called a “pure relationship” roughly corresponds to what Regnerus calls “cheap sex.”
For women, the Pill has reduced the ability to form a good marriage by splitting the mating market into parts: at one extreme, persons looking for casual sex with a minimum of strings, and at the other extreme, persons looking to marry. Consistent with the sex differences already noted, Regnerus notes, “there are more men in the sex corner of the pool than women, and more women in the marriage corner of the pool than men” (35). Due to the imbalance of males in the sex corner, although sex is cheap for men, it is still much easier, as we all know, for a woman to have casual sex, if she wants to, than it is for a man. As Regnerus points out, men looking for a no-strings sex partner often come up short, but “[w]hen women signal interest in [casual] sex, men pounce” (35). But at the other end of the pool, where there are far more women than men who are interested in the “expensive” sex of marriage, men dominate the exchange.
Since women are less likely to marry a man with lower education and earnings than themselves, the pool of men available to marry has grown even smaller as women become, on average, more highly educated and employable than men (another, less direct, effect of the Pill). The result is that women who want to marry struggle to find a marriage partner and some will fail to do so. Others may settle for a less than optimum partner, which contributes to increased rates of divorce—the large majority of which are initiated by women—and relationship churning. In this way, cheap sex directly lowers the quality and duration of marriage.
But the effect of cheap sex on women is dwarfed by its effect on men. A central concern of the book, pursued in a chapter with the same name as the subtitle, is that “cheap sex has transformed modern men …, undermined and stalled the marital impulse, and stimulated critics of monogamy” (191). This is more than just a matter of the proverbial milk and cow effect. Shorn of the need to offer significant resources in exchange for sex, cheap sex has not just lowered men’s interest in marriage, but more importantly their marriageability: that is, their economic and social capacity to marry, or to attract a marriage partner. The rise of underemployed and underachieving young men in the past 15 years has been a widely observed trend, puzzled over by a spate of books across the ideological spectrum, from Hanna Rosin’s left-leaning The End of Men to Lionel Tiger’s right-leaning The Decline of Males. One largely overlooked reason for the lassitude of young men today, Regnerus argues, may be cheap sex. “Cheap sex, …”, he writes, “does little to stimulate the [men] of our modern economy toward those historic institutions—education, a settled job, and marriage—that created opportunity for them and their families” (154). Faced with no need to attain a higher education or well-paying job in order to attract a woman, many young men lose the motivation to attain a higher education or well-paying job at all.
It gets worse. Because marriageability and productivity are closely allied, the decline of marriageability resulting from cheap sex has also reduced young men’s general social productivity. On this point Regnerus cites the sexual economists Baumeister and Vohs: “giving young men easy access to abundant sexual satisfaction deprives society of one of its ways to motivate them to contribute valuable achievements to the culture” (152). The Freudian idea here is that sexual deprivation energizes the development of civilization. Catholic thought arrives at the same place by a different route, affirming that as marriage (the only proper realm for sex) contributes to the common good, when men fail to contribute to marriage they also deprive the common good of valuable accomplishments. In this way, however understood, cheap sex beleaguers not only men and marriage, but society more broadly.
The overall effect of this book is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Each well-documented fact, each clinical insight, contributes to the growing realization that marriage is in more trouble than is currently imagined, and in a way that is not likely to recover very soon, if at all. By the end of the book it has become clear that the analogy of market exchange, which has helped to explain male-female interactions throughout the book, has now become the defining reality of sex relations for young Americans. As Regnerus explains, it is not just that “marriage … is in the throes of deinstitutionalization” (195) but that cheap sex is in the throes of mass-market commodification, becoming “a synthetic compound of our Western penchant for bigger, cheaper, better, diverse and more—an ironic postmodern intersection where Wal-Mart meets [explicit sex advice columnist] Dan Savage” (197).
Shed of transcendence and uniqueness, disconnected from larger life goals or relationships, cheap sex has become a rationalized commodity, discounted even further for being mass produced in bulk. Cheap sex has become junk sex. Like McDonald’s burgers—the prototypical rationalized commodity—it has become a kind of ersatz product which can be obtained ever more quickly, cheaply and reliably, and which is tasty and attractive, but not very nourishing as a steady diet. Regnerus, citing Wendell Berry, terms it “industrial sex”: “Industrial sex, characteristically, establishes its freeness and goodness by an industrial accounting, dutifully toting up numbers of ‘sexual partners,’ orgasm, and so on, with the inevitable industrial implication that the body is somehow a limit on the idea of sex …” (198). Regnerus sums up the accounts from his interviewees of “orgasmic experiences, partner numbers, time in pursuit, exotic accounts, one-night stands, regrets, pain, addictions, infections, abortions, wasted time, and spent relationships” as metrics “of an industrial sex whose promises consistently exceeded its deliveries” (198).
When sex becomes this cheap—affordable to all like a Big Mac—, marriage by comparison becomes prohibitively expensive, like a five-star dinner affordable only to the select few. The problem industrially cheap sex presents for marriage is not only that fewer young men will marry—that process is well advanced—but that fewer older ones will marry as well. The metrics of good industrial sex listed above by Berry and Regnerus omit, not by accident, the most important measure of good sex relations in Catholic and traditional thought: children. Older men, more than younger men, have typically eventually settled down to become more open to marriage for the sake of children and family. If, in their minds, sex is really for fun and not for children, and women can have and raise children without their lifelong commitment, there is little need for them ever to step up to parental responsibility, nor for women to demand of them that they do so. In the era of cheap sex, men (and women) who in the recent past may have married for these very reasons (and then perhaps divorced) are increasingly likely never to marry at all.
To make this point Regnerus presents the above figure (146), which shows, from Census data, the proportion of young Americans who have not married by the age of 35. Strikingly, just since the turn of the century, that proportion has risen by almost 20 percentage points, from a third of young Americans in 2000 to well over half of them today. At the turn of the century, by the age of 35, over half of young Americans had married; today, over half remain unmarried. For decades, even though younger Americans have increasingly deferred marriage, by the time of their mid-thirties the vast majority of Americans had eventually married. Figure 5.1 suggests that that cultural pattern no longer holds. Regnerus attributes this change to the fact that the new norms of cheap sex are still diffusing gradually throughout the population:
[M]any people are marrying because they are still following the cultural practices of their parents and grandparents, even though historically compelling reasons—like babies, financial and physical security, or the desire for a “socially legitimate” sexual relationship—no longer hold. … The next generation, today no older than teenagers, will wonder why they should marry at all. (147)
The picture Regnerus paints is a grim one, not because marriage will fully disappear—marriage rates will remain high among the wealthy and the very religious—but because the rise of cheap sex and its consequences are the result of technological change, which is generally irreversible, rather than social or cultural trends which may recover. After several generations of predicating sexuality on effective infertility due to the Pill, as Regnerus points out, “a return to the patterns witnessed prior to the ‘sexual revolution’… is very unlikely” (8).
And yet. In a world of commodity sex, industrial sex is not just emotionally unsatisfying, as Regnerus observes, but may contain the seeds of its own destruction. Literally. The logic of the sexual economics which Regnerus deploys so well can be maintained only by treating children as an externality to coupled pleasure, the cost of which, like polluting smokestacks in an industrial market, is largely ignored. But children are not merely external to sex: they add distinct value to the exchange. Children, of course, do not negotiate or offer any exchange goods to the sexual partners who may produce them. But more than marriage, it is the prospect and eventual presence of children that, like religion, lifts the perspective of sex partners from the present experience to the future, not only a future state of society in which their children can thrive, but also the future beyond the horizon of their own lives. Children personalize sex and endow it with meaning, an exchange to be sure, though one that may be better understood in terms of gift, rather than a sexual economics based on transaction.
The value of children is pertinent, because what Regnerus does not address is that the Pill’s promise of reliably preventing conception, which he, like his study subjects, accepts largely at face value, is false. As a matter of simple fact, hormonal birth control fails to prevent pregnancy in actual use at a rate—between 10 and 20 percent of the time in most studies—unacceptably high to be reasonably considered a foolproof method of preventing pregnancy. The effect of the Pill, then, is not technological, as Regenerus holds, but symbolic, because as a technology, it clearly fails to deliver. Like mythology, young Americans believe in the efficacy of contraception because it enables and explains the hypersexualized world in which they have been socialized. More than a few discover, after much pain and regret, that that world is a lie.
The mythology of the Pill’s infallible bar to conception is maintained only by the prospect of the efficient elimination, through widespread legal abortion, of the children who slip past its provision. This is not a new social dynamic. Children inconveniently resulting from illicit sexual liaisons have long been cheapened, considered “illegitimate” and denied the recognition and care of their natural parents. Today’s bastards are the “unwanted” children, who comprise about half of conceptions in America, who are denied both parental and social recognition before birth and are routinely subject to death. One could say—and many do—that the technology of abortion completes the technology of effective contraception, but this ignores the inconvenient externality even more blindly. Cheap sex is enabled only by cheaper children; and the low value placed on unwanted, unborn infant life is not a product of technology but of a culture, possibly reparable, that has forgotten what it means to be human.
 Anthony Giddens, The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies (Stanford University Press, 1992).
 Ibid., 58.
 Ibid., 154.
Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. is a tenured Associate Professor at the Catholic University of America and a Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute. His most recent book is Catholic Social Thought: American Reflections on the Compendium (Lexington).
Posted on: Tuesday, January 01, 2019
The Sexual Revolution of the sixties is portrayed as a rebellion against the Establishment. It was a spontaneous love fest that allowed youth to do their own thing in an atmosphere of serendipitous freedom. Women were liberated from past oppression. It set in motion other movements that advanced ever greater sexual freedom.
At least, that’s the official story.
Few people tell the other side of the story. This woefully skewed portrayal overlooks the millions of damaged lives. The revolutionary upheaval of the sixties radically changed America for the worse. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along is a book that challenges these myths and sets the record straight.
The book reflects the author’s academic background. It’s convincingly documented and logically presented. But it reads more like a battlefield report from the frontlines of the Sexual Revolution. She manages to insert the very real human element into the debate by passionately reminding readers of those whose lives are even now being destroyed by the myths introduced in the sixties. Dr. Morse wants to destroy these myths once and for all.
One key myth is the Sexual Revolution as a spontaneous movement of liberation. It was and still is a war with all its characteristics. There is nothing haphazard about it. It has two sides engaged in a deliberate battle for the hearts and souls of Americans. There are massive casualties in this unbloody Culture War that has polarized America for the last decades. And it is not over.
Dr. Morse identifies three offensives on this battlefield which she calls the Contraceptive Ideology, Divorce Ideology and Gender Ideology. Each has its philosophy, generals and foot soldiers.
Each offensive is part of a single process in a broader plan of destruction. Each needs the other to survive and progress. Contraception separates sex from childbearing. Divorce separates sex and childbearing from marriage. Gender Ideology eliminates distinctions between men and women. Dr. Morse traces the history of these offensives, attacks their weaknesses and reveals their tactics and catchphrases.
The Sexual Revolution never was a revolt against the Establishment. It was and is a revolt by the liberal Establishment against Christian morals. Indeed, such a massive, meticulous and carefully planned revolution could not progress without bad elites from decadent institutions to carry it forward. This Establishment forms a liberal culture that creates the myths, spreads the fashions and molds the opinions that eventually pressure all to conform to their ideological mindset. It pushes the more moderate elements of society toward its goal of total, unrestrained sexual license.
This revolt can also be documented and traced by the currents, media and figures that have long pushed this agenda forward.
Such an effort would never progress but for a cooperative State. Throughout history, revolutions are always carried out with State sponsorship. Even the States that the revolutionaries want to destroy often participate in their own destruction. The Sexual Revolution needs the vast resources and platform of the Sexual State because “the premises of the Sexual Revolution are false,” Dr. Morse claims. All the machinery of government must be brought to bear to override human nature. To assume the State is neutral in this great battle is the height of naiveté.
To avoid the battle, many try to frame the debate in a way that discourages resistance. It is, for example, very easy to simplify everything by turning it into a class struggle between rich people who stand to profit from the revolution and poor people who are its unfortunate victims. There is this “who profits” side to the present war (the George Soros connections), but Dr. Morse carefully avoids turning it into the center of the debate.
There is also the temptation to take a fatalistic approach of throwing in the towel in the face of such overwhelming opposition. It is easy to blame everything on social forces that determine history and thus throw off any personal responsibility to oppose them.
We should also not flee from the problem. There is no “Benedict Option” in this war in which all are in some way combatants. Dr. Morse is an activist not content to watch the enemy advance unopposed. The final chapters of the book contain powerful, practical suggestions for those who want to fight.
Wars have sides that need to be defined. There can be no illusions. Morse claims America is facing “a world at war with our bodies, with all creation, and with God.” It is a “war on the human race.”
The stakes are indeed high. This war has its human agents, but it is a battle of good and evil, truth and error. The Sexual Revolution is only one important part of the overall war against what little remains of Christian civilization.
Those who defend Christian morality are entirely disproportional to the fight. A lone individual would be rightfully discouraged from such a challenge. However, Dr. Morse reassures the reader that “the Church was right all along.” The Church has the answers, which are laid out very clearly in the chapters refuting each ideology.
Of course, not only has the Church been right all along but it has been fighting the world, the flesh and the devil all along. The Church has weathered other storms throughout her long history and always wins in the end.
The present Culture War is no different. This particular war is violent and brutal. However, it will be defeated. The Sexual Revolution is one of the most important components in this war. Dr. Morse’s battlefield report provides a much-needed perspective to clear the fog of war for those in the trenches.
Posted on: Thursday, December 13, 2018
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On Friday, October 7, a group of students at the West Point, Virginia, high school staged a peaceful protest in support of a teacher who was fired for referring to a female student who “identifies” as male as “she.”
“Absurd as it is, we shouldn’t be surprised by this,” says Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. “What’s called transgenderism is a movement that can’t succeed without the raw power of the state behind it.”
Among other “transgender” victories, California now allows “nonbinary” (refusal to be identified by gender) as an option on drivers’ licenses. Some hospitals don’t designate a newborn by sex. Genitalia is no longer enough to distinguish male from female.
In her book, The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives, Morse notes that the Gender Ideology (a key component of the Sexual Revolution) “separates individuals from their own bodies, which are regarded as unreasonable constraints on one’s freedom and self-determination.”
Thus, says Morse: “All differences between men and women, including seemingly natural differences, can be reconstructed with enough re-engineering of human biological hardware and social cultural software. The modern Sexual State will, of course, be on hand to ensure that the entire society conforms itself to each individual’s newly chosen identity.”
In this case, through the unanimous action of the West Point school board, the Sexual State could end up destroying the career of a dedicated teacher for refusing to endorse the Gender Ideology.
The Ruth Institute calls for the reinstatement of the teacher in question, who should not be punished for recognizing reality instead of entering the fantasy world of gender choice.
For more information on The Sexual State: https://thesexualstate.com/
For more information on The Ruth Institute: http://www.ruthinstitute.org/
To schedule an interview with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on: Monday, December 03, 2018
by Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.
This article was first published November 2, 2018, at Crisis Magazine.
“It’s time to face up to the harms the Sexual Revolution has caused. Whether you’re male or female, straight or gay, young or old, religious or irreligious: what kind of a world do you want to help create? A world in which every child has a legally recognized right to a relationship with both parents? Or a world in which some children have these legally recognized rights and others do not? Or more radically still, a world in which no children at all have legally recognized rights to their own parents?” ∼ Jennifer Roback Morse, The Sexual State, 2018
“We could talk about the Obama administration passing a federal law forbidding any state from voting to defund Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. This is a perfect example of the Sexual State at work, implementing the fantasy ideology of the sexual revolution. They cannot implement that ideology without the help of the State’s power to coerce and propagandize.” ∼ Jennifer Roback Morse, The Sexual State, 2018
Genesis tells us that man was created “male and female.” The Sixth Commandment forbids adultery. Not all men and women beget children but all children have two parents, one a father and the other a mother. Both the family and the state are “natural” institutions logically flowing out of man’s nature. Christ told the disciples to let the little children come unto him. Human Life International estimates that, in the last 40 years, the world has witnessed 1.72 billion abortions of human children. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What happens when these fundamental principles or standards are rejected? As a direct consequence, we have witnessed a logical declination from the original good into a parody of it that is anything but good.
Jennifer Roback Morse’s new book, The Sexual State, is a lively and forceful examination of where we came from, where we are now, and where we ought to be on matters of human life. The book presents a complete argument, based on empirical evidence, about how divorce, contraception, abortion, the gay lifestyle, and gender neutrality fit together in a descending sequence of laws and practices that, enforced by the state, have set an elite class against the normal good of normal human beings.
Morse’s Ruth Institute maintains one of the most thorough and insightful web sites in political and cultural affairs about all issues that concern family life. Her two previous books, Smart Sex and Love & Economics, have already demonstrated Morse’s mastery of the economic, moral, and spiritual sides of womanhood, of the needs of children, and of what the state can and cannot do. Morse writes with verve, often with justifiable anger, with a wealth of personal experience about all sides of family life. She is herself married with two children (one is adopted), has a doctorate in economics, is a debater, and a speaker on college campuses and at legislative hearings. The book is replete with examples of what she has in mind. The reader soon realizers that she knows what she is talking about, the good as well as the awful.
The book details the step-by-step overturning of the classical Judeo-Christian view of man, woman, child, and family. Though she does not cite them, her study is reminiscent of Chesterton’s two books, Eugenics and Other Evils and What’s Wrong with the World, wherein elite intellectuals used coercive state power to impose a completely distorted view of man, woman, and child on unsuspecting citizens. The title of her book, The Sexual State, emphasizes the role that government force played in imposing a distorted view of human sexuality onto all phases of human life.
The book is divided into three parts: the Contraceptive Ideology, the Divorce Ideology, and the Gender Ideology. Alongside these ideologies, Morse presents the alternative Catholic view on each of these three topics. As such, the Church’s position has proved to be the only one that can protect individuals and families from the radical reconstruction of sex and family that has been imposed upon us, although Morse is aware that many Catholics in practice are in agreement with the activities of the Sexual State.
Morse argues, correctly, that we should begin our analysis with the needs of children, not with the autonomous adult who has been the focus of modern analysis. A child does not come into the world with an immediate ability to fend for itself. A marriage of one man to one woman is the best context in which a child should come into the world and be cared for as it develops. Each child needs his own father and mother. The child’s well-being depends on the integrity of this parental relationship. The first question to be asked of legislation and of marriage itself is not what adults need but what the child needs. The ongoing physical existence of mankind depends on the begetting of future generations.
The first step in undermining family life was the undermining of the marriage union. Morse pays a good deal of attention to how divorce affects the welfare of children. Modern no-fault divorce laws have failed to take into consideration the effect of the divorce on the children of the couple. Wealthy men favored no-fault divorce since they could easily afford the cost of separation. For women, divorce has usually meant poverty even though they initiate divorce more often than men. But for the children it has meant an undermining of their world, and of their confidence in who they are. The notion that children of divorced parents will not suffer is simply false.
The second step in undermining the family is contraception. Divorce separated husband and wife. Contraception separates sex and children. Safe sex meant, or was intended to mean, that we could indulge in sexual acts without worrying about pregnancy. It turned out, in practice, that contraceptives did not prevent births but in many cases caused an increase, especially in births to the unmarried. The separation of sex and children made it possible to think that children did not need their specific parents, i.e., a father and a mother. The campaign to make same-sex “marriage” equivalent to that between a husband and wife ignored the child’s need for his own parents.
Gender ideology is the third source of separation. Here, our souls are separated from our bodies: We are not bound by what sex we had at birth or by its relation to the other sex; we could, it is claimed, have a female spirit in a male body. It is our right, not nature’s or God’s, to decide what we are; if I, though male, want to be female, it is up to the state and everyone else to enable me to be what I make myself to be; the body that we possess at conception and birth has no relation to what we are; and we need to be liberated from the idea that what we are points us in the direction of what we ought to be.
The main burden of this book is to show how these separations worked their way into the public order and from there into the lives of every person. Morse maintains that an interested class, in conjunction with the state’s offices and the courts’ coercive powers, imposed these deviant ideas on human beings. The cost in terms of both money and human wellbeing has been enormous. Knowing how these ideas have victimized people, Morse offers a manifesto of proposals on how we might return to normalcy. Basically, it is to undo the damage by getting the government out of the family.
I am not sure that class analysis is the best framework in which to propose a return to a more healthy family relation. Aristotle’s virtue ethics and the corresponding political institutions in the state seem to be a better context. What Morse calls class is really what Aristotle called oligarchy. In any case, the state support of these aberrant ideas about the family has resulted in a thorough undermining of what is the best way to deal with our children and the parents who beget them.
The book carefully outlines the history and development of these ideas that subvert healthy family life. This book, along with Leon Kass’s Leading a Worthy Life and Robert Reilly’s Making Gay Okay, form a basic trilogy to explain the causes and origins of the deviation from the good that we see everywhere in modern life, both public and private. One cannot go away from the Morse book without a deep concern that the Church itself is no longer fully reliable in defending the needs of families in the modern world. Even so, the book is enormously helpful in how the issues we must face are carefully laid out. There will be no change for the better until we see why change is both necessary and possible. The Sexual State offers an unsurpassed analysis of how we arrived where we are and how we can begin to reverse course.
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