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.


How To Marry an Idiot

by Betsy Kerekes

This article was first posted at Catholic Lane on November 17, 2016.

fool-clown-jesterIt seems many people have marrying an idiot as their goal. The amount of couples getting divorced proves to me that many have already become experts. Sadly, there are still those hold-outs who insist on taking their vow of “till death do us part” seriously even when they get bored with one another or a more interesting/exciting/attractive person comes along.

To those old-fashioned people who care that divorce harms children in drastic, life-altering ways, or who still think difficulties in marriage are worth overcoming rather than throwing in the towel, this article is not for you. You need to get with the times. To the rest of you who wish to join the cultural norm of marrying an idiot and eventually getting divorced only to marry yet another idiot, please keep reading. I will help you find fulfillment.

Here are five steps to get you started:

Continue dating that person whom you’ve already determined you would never want to raise children with or even spend the rest of your life with.


 

Who cares about Mr. Right? Just go with Mr. Right Now. Your biological clock is ticking! Sure, you could break up with this person, stop wasting time, and go find your perfect match, but why take the risk? Do you want to be an old maid for the rest of your life? Ignore that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that’s telling you you’re making a huge mistake. You can rationalize away all his or her flaws. Besides, you can change this person. People always change, especially people with addictions of any kind. They’ll get better once you’re married. Just wait and see.

Speaking of kids, do not speak about kids

As in do you both want them and/or how many? Talking about how you’ll raise them and educate them is a total mood killer. So what if you find out later that one of you wants to homeschool them while the other insists they’d be better off in public school? Or if one of you wants to protect their innocence, while the other says you ought to throw them to the wolves because it will make them stronger! Sheltering is bad for children. Let them make their own choices, form their own opinions. At least agree that you will not form the consciences of your children. That is not your job as parents. But in order to marry an idiot, be sure you don’t agree on these issues. Or better yet, don’t discuss them beforehand at all.

Pay no attention to your mom or your best friend who knows you better than anyone when they tell you this person is not right for you.

Yes, they have an objective outside opinion, but you’re right in there! The warm fuzzies and exciting newness is all you need. It will last FOR EVER. It’s all about your emotion. If you feel good being around this person, that’s all you need. People on the outside looking in just don’t get it. They don’t know you!

Once you’ve successfully made it to the point of engagement, largely because you’ve been together so long everyone just expects it of you, don’t you dare take that marriage preparation seriously.

Doodling while the experts speak or checking your Facebook page is a definite must. That lady going on and on about the importance of finances and how you ought to have a plan for who is doing what and how you’ll handle money—she knows nothing.

And that little test they give but insist isn’t really a test but just a measure of your compatibility—it’s totally a test. What right have these people to question your fitness to marry one another? Their little test will tell you nothing. In fact, just copy each other’s answers. That’ll show those priests and marriage counselors to try to find any areas that you two need to discuss before the wedding. Can’t they see how in love you are? What more do you need? You’re totally ready!

And finally and most importantly, you absolutely positively must live together before marriage.

How else will you find out if you’re compatible? Clearly, playing house is a good warm up for the real thing. It doesn’t in any way mean that you don’t fully trust one another to take the plunge. Sure, there are countless studies saying that cohabitation is bad for your marriage, and that you’re chances of divorce increase drastically. Yes, the National Marriage Project stated “no positive contribution of cohabitation to marriage has ever been found,” but what do they know? You can beat those odds. So what that that’s what everyone thinks and is clearly wrong? They’re not you. You’re special. You’re different from everyone else. Do what feels right and nothing else matters.

Congratulations, faithful readers. If you have followed these five easy steps, you too can marry an idiot.

 

Betsy Kerekes is co-author of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage (Ave Maria Press 2013) and 101 Tips for the Marrying the Right Person (Ave Maria Press 2016). She also blogs at Parentingisfunny.wordpress.com.

 



A Guidebook for Young Adults

By Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

This article was first posted

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

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

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

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


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

by Lindsay Wilcox

This article was first published at atxcatholic.com.

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


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

Photo by Billy Quach

Photo by Billy Quach

Some standout tips are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading.



Top 10 Tips for Marrying the Right Person

by Marcia Segelstein

This article was first published at NCRegister.com on October 20, 2016.

One of the first sermons I heard at the Catholic parish where I would eventually be received into the Church was on the subject of marriage. The priest spoke about the relationship between a husband and wife as being indissoluble. Like siblings or parents and children, he told us, spouses formed a different, but equally permanent, bond with each other. It was as though a light bulb went on for me. “Of course,” I thought. “That makes perfect sense!” It was, simply put, the Catholic definition of marriage.

So while I firmly believe that commitment is the most critical ingredient for a marriage as it’s meant to be, choosing the right partner is pretty important, too.

Jennifer Roback Morse and her colleague at the Ruth Institute, Betsy Kerekes, have just released a new book called 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do. It’s an easy read chock full of great advice.

I’ve narrowed their tips down to my top ten favorites, in some cases combining a few.


1) Pray. Pray for encouragement, guidance, and consolation. Pray that you find your future spouse. Pray for him or her. And, as Morse and Kerekes put it, “If you have no prayer life, get one. Right away. For real. You think life is tough now, searching for the right person? Wait until you have to put up with each other – and kids.”

2) Be friends first. My husband started out as my best friend, so I can attest to the wisdom of this advice. It is, as the book says, “an excellent, no-pressure way of getting to know each other without stress or expectations.” It’s also a great way to avoid the pitfalls of the hook-up culture, where physical intimacy comes first, and emotional intimacy not so much.

3) Keep your expectations real. Fight the inclination to expect fairy-tale romance or love at first sight. Or, as Morse and Kerekes write, “This is real life. Your Prince (or Princess) Charming will not magically appear as you sing to the wildlife in the forest.” Nor will your perfect soul mate magically bump into you at Starbucks. You might find your future spouse there. But there’s no such thing as a perfect soul mate.

4) Don’t waste your time. It’s OK to want commitment. If the person you’ve been dating for months doesn’t exclusively want to be with you, ask yourself if he or she is worth it.

5) Try to imagine the future. Specifically, try to imagine the person you’re dating as the parent of your children. Ask yourself if you can picture him or her as a role model for them. “If not,” say Morse and Kerekes, “move on.”

6) Picture introducing your potential future spouse to friends and family. Would you be proud? Or would you find yourself embarrassed or ashamed of some aspect of his or her character? If so, some reevaluating is in order.

7) Take parents into consideration. Or, as the book suggests, “Evaluate your significant other’s relationship with his or her parents as well as your relationship with your own parents.” Most people have some unresolved issues with their parents. Try to determine if you’re ready to live with the consequences of your loved one’s, and take a hard look at your own.

8) Stay chaste. Sexual activity releases hormones that cause feelings of bonding, especially in women. Your ability to think clearly and rationally about what may be the most important decision of your life will be clouded by a hormonal fog otherwise.

9) Don’t live together. Study after study has shown that cohabitating before marriage is not a good idea. The authors put it bluntly: “Ignore the hype from popular culture: couples who live together prior to marriage are more likely to divorce than those who don’t.”

10) When the time comes, focus on the marriage, not the wedding. Keep Bridezilla in check and take this advice from Morse and Kerekes: “Take a deep breath, relax and go with the flow. This one day, though extremely important, is not as important as the rest of your lives.”




Book Review: 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person

by Terri Kimmel

This article was first published on October 24, 2016, at CatholicLane.com.

101-tips-for-marrying-the-right-person2 In today’s electronic world of tweets and status updates, communicating with brevity is everything. 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do by the Ruth Institute’s Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes speaks to the internet generation in a language and format that keeps up with the frenetic pace.

Being in my mid-40’s I don’t consider myself technically (pun intended) part of the internet generation. Still, even my middle-aged brain has become accustomed to absorbing information in short spurts. 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person conveys timeless wisdom to a time-crunched world. I loved this about the book. It is ultra-concentrated, but penetrates and enriches in a way that is fresh, relevant, and relatively effortless for the reader. It also has a wonderful list of additional resources at the back for those who would like to delve deeper into a subject.

The objective of the book is (from the book’s cover) “Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do.” Written as a kind of prequel to an earlier book by the same authors, 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person impresses me most by the way it fearlessly goes into the dark places that our culture takes single people and meets them there with light, truth, and tenderness.


I am a child of divorced parents. I remember how my past created anxiety for me when I was preparing to get married. Jennifer and Betsy, the authors, tackle this issue head on. “The long-term effects of divorce crescendo in young adulthood. . . . Don’t be discouraged if either of you is a child of divorce. Instead, give this risk factor the seriousness it deserves. Get some help for whatever issues you may have.” Such candor and clarity would have been a comfort to me as I was preparing to get married.

Boldly addressing topics that our politically-correct culture often overlooks or ignores, the authors meet the reader where he/she is on the issue, explain the pitfall, and give friendly and easy-to-understand advice. There is no hesitation to “go there” on the tough questions. They even acknowledge that men and women are different! Scandalous, right? Who does that anymore? Tip #82 in the book says, “Be aware that a long-term cohabiting situation often puts women at a disadvantage compared to men.”

It’s a fascinating read even for someone like me who has been married almost a quarter century. Having read the book I feel better equipped to mentor the people who frequently ask me questions about marriage and/or parenting. (Having nine kids makes me a default resource in the minds of a lot of people.)

One of the sections is a list of “Do Not’s” followed by a brief explanation. Here’s a sampling of topics: “Ladies, Do Not: Dress like a floozy”; “Do Not: Date Someone Just to Annoy Your Parents”; “Do Not: Agree to marry someone because it’s expected.” It’s the kind of book that I could pick up, browse through for just a few minutes, learn something valuable, and then put down until later. I think this format will appeal to those in marriage preparation ministry, both priests and lay people. It’s the most user friendly marriage prep book I’ve ever seen.

The book is divided into several sections, starting with tips on finding the right person. It moves through discerning while dating/courting, into considerations about cohabitating, followed by a section on what to do if you’re already cohabitating. It ends with questions to ask yourself right up to the wedding. “Ask yourself one last time: Do I feel at peace with my decision to marry this person?” Every step provides insight based on the combined wisdom and experience of forty-five years of marriage of the authors who represent two generations and two very different sets of life experiences.

Jennifer Roback Morse, the founder of the Ruth Institute, has a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and taught economics at the university level. She tells us in the book that she cohabitated with her husband before marriage saying, “Not all my expertise in this area is book learning. I can attest that the research I report in this book is true.”

Betsy Kerekes is a homeschooling mom of three young children, a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the editor and director for online publications at the Ruth Institute. The two very diverse points of view, joined by fidelity to truth and the common objective of mentoring those seeking a strong marriage, combine to create a depth of strength and wisdom that is valuable to anyone seeking a long-lasting, holy, happy marriage.

I truly loved everything about this book. I plan to recommend it to my pastor and the director of family life in our diocese. It’s also now on my list of books to give engaged couples, along with books by Christopher West, Gregory Popcak, and Natural Family Planning information. If you know of a couple wherein one or both do not like to read self-help books, this book is exceptionally easy to read and stuffed with good information. I think it’s an appropriate alternative resource to longer, more involved reads.

My favorite thing about 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person is that it is thorough without being tedious. My daughter married two years ago. I remember her telling me that she was disappointed with marriage preparation. She wanted topics to talk about. She also told me that she felt the priest who was leading her preparation was at a loss because my daughter and her fiancé were chaste and not already living together. The priest told her she and her fiancé were anomalies. The beauty of 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person is that it covers all the bases. My daughter would have found it useful.

I highly and enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone interested in helping marriages succeed.


101 Tips for a Happier Marriage

This book is great - simple, achievable hints for a better relationship.

by Tamara El-Rahi

This article was first published August 16, 2016, at Mercatornet.com.

It’s not often that couples are in unhappy relationships because of big things like star-crossed fates or the fact that their families are feuding. More often than not, it’s the small things that come between two people – and isn’t that a shame?

Sometimes I observe a couple and wish they knew certain simple things that would really enhance their relationship. Which is why I am a big fan of the book 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage by Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes: because it’s literally 101 little and achievable things that make a big difference if implemented in a couple’s day-to-day life.

The different chapters offer a handful of hints that come under various topics, such as “Adjust Your Attitude,” “Get It Done Without Drama” and “Appreciate Your Spouse.” I can’t list all of my favourite tips as there are just so many good ones, but here are a few that stood out to me, as well as my thoughts on them:

Tip #5 – Enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings, but don’t feel cheated if they go away. Feelings are fleeting. “I like the way I feel with this person” is not enough to sustain a marriage for a lifetime.

A common mistake that people make is assuming that the way they feel in a moment is all that matters - but feelings change from day to day. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to catch some episodes of the latest US season of The Bachelorette; seeing her base her decisions so much on the way someone made her feel over their other qualities. My feelings towards people can change when I’m hungry, for goodness’ sake! Feelings are good of course, but love more than anything needs to be an act of the will.


Tip #10 – Take responsibility for your own happiness. Your spouse does not really have the power to make you happy or miserable. You have a choice about how to react to what your spouse succeeds or fails to do.

This is something that many people struggle with – I sure have! I think that after the joy of falling in love, people expect that it’s their spouse’s job to always keep them that euphoric. Talk about pressure! No-one is perfect, so expecting your spouse to be will just leave you disappointed. Owning your happiness (or seeking it in God, for those who are religious) is so important for your relationship satisfaction.

Tip #35 – Practice giving to your spouse. “I’m getting up to get a cup of coffee. Can I get something for you?”

I love this one! No-one is happy with contributing 50-50; or counting how many good deeds they do in comparison to their spouse. Happiness comes from “100-100” – both giving their all and thinking of the other first; instead of focusing on what they’re getting: which too often becomes a focus on what they’re not getting! I know I always feel cherished when my husband brings me a snack or a drink when he went to get one for himself.

Tip #37 – Always speak well of your spouse, both in private and in public. Badmouthing your spouse to others makes you look either disloyal or foolish, or both. Say nothing if you can’t think of anything positive to say.

I’m sure you’ve experienced it – socialising with a couple as one lists the other’s bad habits in a passive-aggressive manner, as you awkwardly try to laugh it off or change the subject. Or catching up with a friend to hear her complain endlessly about her husband – not in a constructive way where she’s looking for advice, but rather in a “men are so stupid” way. Let’s be honest: these scenarios are pretty cringe-worthy. Unity is so important for a couple’s relationship to be strong! If you have something critical to say, it should be dealt with behind closed doors, and then you should move on instead of hanging onto resentments. Not to mention that the way one speaks and thinks of their spouse is how they end up relating to them – hence best to keep it positive!

97 more great tips like this to be found in the book! And for those who aren’t yet espoused, 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person is due out this October.

 

 


Does Sex Have Meaning? (And Who Can Really Say?)

by Ryan C. MacPherson, a Ruth Circle of Experts member

Book Review: On the Meaning of Sex, J. Budziszewski
ISI Books, 2011; 145 pages, $27.95

Reprinted with permission from the author from The Family in America. 

Noah Webster was no intellectual slouch. Proficient in the languages of the ancient Near East as well as of modern Europe, he painstakingly compiled the etymology, orthography, and signification of 70,000 words for the great American Dictionary of the English Language published in 1828. A product of his times, but also a product of one of the best intellectual traditions humanity has mustered in all of time, Webster did not hesitate to follow the guidance of natural law when defining terms that refer to humanity in its personal, social, and political manifestations. Webster defined sex as “the distinction between male and female,” male as “pertaining to the sex that procreates young,” and female as “noting the sex which produces young.” And marriage? “The act of uniting a man and a woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and a woman for life . . . for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.”

Two centuries removed from Webster, many people now reject his definitions as being too morally restrictive, too narrowly traditional, too out of step with the hodgepodge of Facebook status updates, YouTube videos, and MP3 downloads that shape personal identities today. Indeed, for college students such as “Harris,” the question no longer is whether Webster got the definition of “sex” right, but whether “sex” has any meaning at all.


Harris is certain that sex is meaningless. And yet, Harris is just as certain that the factories for human reproduction depicted in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are appalling. In the opinion of Harris’s philosophy professor, J. Budziszewski, Harris must be confused. How can the student say that sex has no meaning and nevertheless find it appalling that procreation has been separated from sexual intimacy and performed by a factory in the absence of parents? With this puzzle Budziszewski begins a book of philosophical inquiry, entitled On the Meaning of Sex.

Although Budziszewski does not turn to Webster’s Dictionary (he does not even cite it once), the conclusions he draws align with such wisdom from the past. Making such conclusions palatable to a postmodern audience is, however, a formidable challenge. Professor Budziszewski might be one of the last people on earth crazy enough to attempt just that—and with a fair amount of success.

For starters, the account of Harris demonstrates that “sex means something to us even if we don’t admit to ourselves that it does.” From this modest foundation—to which even the Harrises of the world find themselves assenting, however reluctantly—the good professor proceeds to build a case for three other claims: meaning is not arbitrary, human nature is not an oppressive construct but the “deep structure of what we really are,” and “human will isn’t something separate from human nature.” The course is thereby charted to discover what human nature is, to discern how human nature relates to the meaning of sex, and to conclude how the human will ought rationally to approach the topic of sex.

Of course, an author must first ask whether anyone else cares—for whom would it be worth writing on such topics? Budziszweski has three audiences in mind. He writes first for his own generation, the sexual revolutionaries of the 1960s, with the hope that “perhaps we can do better with our children’s children than most of us did with our own.” He also writes for the current generation coming into power, which has begun to recognize, for example, that divorce and cohabitation put children at risk, whereas lifelong marital fidelity provides children with the best upbringing as gauged by a variety of statistical measures. Finally, Budziszewski hopes to alleviate the burdens that his own generation has placed upon today’s young people. His philosophical style, however, makes the book accessible especially to broadly read individuals who have a grasp of the liberal arts, sufficient at least to appreciate his allusions to Aristotle, Dante, and Freud. Readers who shy away from such erudition will at least appreciate some cameo appearances by Katharine Hepburn, Mother Teresa, and Naomi Wolf—a diverse crowd to be sure.

In two simple sentences, Budziszewski conveys his straightforward thesis: “we aren’t designed for hooking up. Our hearts and bodies are designed to work together.” Or, more positively stated: only in celibate singleness and faithful marriage do the heart and body truly maintain integrity. Budziszewski defends his appeal to the natural design of human sexuality with an analogy from medicine:

Consider the young glue-sniffer again. How should we advise him? Is the purpose of his lungs irrelevant? Should we say to him, “Sniff all you want, because an is does not imply an ought”? Of course not; we should advise him to kick the habit. We ought to respect the is of our design. Nothing in us should be put into action in a way that flouts its inbuilt meanings and purposes.

What, then, are the inbuilt meanings and purposes of sexual union? The Harrises of this world, once they come around to admitting that sex has meaning after all, generally settle upon pleasure. Budziszewski disagrees. “Sex is pleasurable,” he acknowledges, “but there is nothing distinctive about that.” What, then, distinguishes sexual intercourse from other pleasurable experiences? Objectively, sexual intercourse unites two persons as one and has the potential to generate a third person, their child. Therefore, the inbuilt meanings and purposes of sexual intercourse are unity and procreation. And if this is the case, then traditional sexual mores serve as rational, and preservative, commentaries on human nature: “Honor your parents. Care for your children. Save sex for marriage. Make marriage fruitful. Be faithful to your spouse.”

Budziszewski goes a step further. Not only does he find a rational basis for the traditional values of chastity and fidelity that maintain a tight connection between marriage, sex, and childbearing, but he also claims a natural rationality for the distinctions between men and women that were taken for granted in times past but now are everywhere denied. Summarizing physiological research conducted over the past few decades, he concludes that men and women differ in far more than just their genitals. “Our brains are even more different than the rest of our bodies,” accounting for cognitive and emotional distinctions that enable an individual man and an individual woman to form a complementary pair. As for the old nature-nurture debate, Budziszewski sides strongly with nature, while acknowledging that each culture adds nuances to how men and women live out their gender differences.

Regrettably, Budziszewski says next to nothing about homosexuality, potentially rendering his argument out-of-date amid the rapid accommodation to same-sex “marriage” that several state legislatures and public officials have made during the two years since On the Meaning of Sex was published. On the other hand, what the book does discuss has relevance to the controversy over the public status of same-sex relations. For example, a chapter on love articulates the connections among objective meaning, human nature, and human will rehearsed earlier by noting that “although we are more than bodies, we are never less than bodies [and] . . . the distinctive thing about sexual love is that it desires the joining of polar, corresponding bodies.” Only one man and one woman can truly unite as one flesh, and only such a union has the potential for procreation. The unitive and procreative dimensions of sexual love thus have a specifically heterosexual orientation.

Recognizing that love may (and often does) involve strong feelings, Budziszewski finds a particular exercise of the will even more intrinsic to love, namely, “Marriage rests on a . . . radical assumption: that promises can be kept.” Marital love is “a permanent commitment of the will to the true good of the other person.” That commitment manifests itself in the bodily union of a man and woman as one flesh and in their mutual fidelity, which protects not only each other as spouses but also the children whom they thereby might conceive. Indeed, the commitments of individuals to remain celibate while single and of married couples to remain faithful to each other protect the entire society from a host of emotional and immunological traumas while also providing the best possible foundation for the maturation of children.

So far, Noah Webster would have agreed. Why, then, does Budziszewski seem to be among such a minority today? (By his own admission, he could lose his university job for teaching in the classroom what he has published in this book.) The final chapter suggests that as a culture becomes farther removed from Christian theology, it loses its understanding of human nature and the meaning of sex. “Human love,” concludes Budziszewski, “makes sense only in light of divine love.” The imperfections of human sexual love suggest a more perfect model toward which we fumbling mortals strive. More particularly, the existence of love itself testifies something of God’s nature: if God’s love is eternal, and love is relational among persons, then God must eternally exist as a plurality of Persons, namely, the Holy Trinity confessed by Christians.

Budziszewski’s final claim in favor of Trinitarian Christianity risks alienating other partners in the broad Judeo-Christian and natural law traditions. But self-alienation, argues Budziszewski, is precisely what the Harrises of this world already have, for they lack a genuine knowledge of their own nature as sexual beings. If the unitive and procreative nature of human sexuality points not only to marriage but also to God, then let it be so, says Professor Budziszewski.

 

Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D., is author of Rediscovering the American Republic (2 vols.) and Senior Editor of The Family in America. He serves as chair of the History Department at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. This article is republished with permission from The Family in America, the Journal of the Howard Centre for Family, Religion & Society.


 


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.


 

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)

 


Kinsey Institute's Commerical Connections

An alert reader of the Ruth Institute newsletter pointed out a financial connection between the Kinsey Institute researcher on the latest "study"and the sex lubricant industry. I'm not making this up. 

The "study purported to show that virgins are too old-fashioned to have any friends or marriage prospects. I took down that study here. The home page for the Researcher, Amanda Gessleman shows that she has received a grant from KY Brand Power of Touch., a product of the Reckitt Benckiser corporation. They are evidently, also working on a project called The Touch Initiative. 

Now, I am well aware of the power of touch. My first book Love and Economics, was about attachment disorder, which showed the power of touch in the lives of infants My second book, Smart Sex: Finding Lifelong Love in a Hookup World, had a whole section on oxytocin, and its power to build bonds between sex partners. 

However, I think that accepting a grant from a lubricant company, that is promoting a massage oil product is going just a touch too far. From the company's press release: 

 

The survey was the result of a partnership, called the Touch Initiative, between the Kinsey Institute and K-Y, a leader in sexual well-being and intimacy for nearly 100 years. The survey was a first step for K-Y towards achieving its vision to build intimacy in and out of the bedroom by creating special moments between couples. “We’re very proud to partner with The Kinsey Institute on The Touch Initiative, which is committed to better understanding the power of touch and how it impacts couples’ connectivity and overall well-being,” says Rachel Sexton, Senior Brand Manager for K-Y. “We look forward to leveraging our collective heritage to understand how a little touch is all it takes can help inspire couples to gain more intimacy in their lives.”


As part of getting couples to connect more, K-Y is also introducing new K-Y® Touch®, a 2-in-1 massage crème and pleasure gel. The touch-activated massage crème and pleasure gel is designed to magnify the skin’s sensitivity and deliver a gently warming sensation that builds with every caress, so that couples can slow down and truly feel their partner’s touch. The K-Y Touch product is available nationwide for a suggested retail price of $14.99

 

To be clear, the Touch Initiative does not have anything directly to do with the "study" I critiqued, which was called, "Has Virginity Lost Its Virtue? Relationship Stigma Associated with Being a Sexually Inexperienced Adult."  However, the Kinsey Institute cozying up to commerical interests kind of makes you wonder about their integrity, doesn't it? As if we needed any further reason to wonder....

h/t Regular Ruth Reader: Ken Hydinger

 

 

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