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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Monday, April 17, 2017
A Child of Divorce Speaks Out on the Importance of a Family
Jennifer Johnson is Director of the Children of Divorce Project at the Ruth Institute. She is an author, whose interests include homeschooling (she homeschooled her three children), children’s rights and family structure issues. She has worked full time with the Ruth Institute since 2010, an organization founded by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse “dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown.”
Johnson’s most recently published work is “Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children.” She recently talked about divorce and its effect on her life.
What is your own personal experience of divorce?
I have a lot of experience with divorce, far too much to ask of any one person in my opinion. My parents divorced when I was three and went on to subsequent marriages, divorces, different children, a lot of back and forth between “two homes,” and a lot of chaos. By the time I was about 22, I had experienced three divorces: my own parents’ divorce and my dad’s two subsequent divorces. I am divorced as an adult and there is quite a bit of divorce in the rest of my family.
How did it affect you, and how have you been able to recover?
That is a whole story that I tell in my Special Report, “Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children”. The short version is that I did not have a family; I was the lone member of my family. The family experience that I had was shared by no other person. I include diagrams in the report to show what I mean.
That experience taught me to suppress my true thoughts and feelings about the original divorce and the remarriages. That chaotic situation taught me to ignore my own intuitions, taught me that letting my intuitions bubble to the surface of my mind was dangerous. Had I examined and revealed my intuitions about all that to my parents, it would have jeopardized my already-tenuous relationship with them. Learning to ignore my thoughts, feelings and intuitions about things that bothered me made me extremely vulnerable once I became an adult. I joined a cult at the age of 19, had an arranged marriage there, and participated and endorsed some horrific abuse and exploitation of others so that I could fit in and not be thought of as an outsider. The cult appealed to my deep need for belonging, for being a full-fledged member of a family.
Anthropologists have a concept that applies here. It is called “liminality.” Limin is Latin for the threshold of a doorway. The threshold is not one room or the other. It is the in-between place between two rooms, or between the outside of the house and the inside. Liminality is the condition of being between states or statuses. Sometimes it is referred to as being “betwixt and between.” When somebody is in a liminal state, they are no longer what they were and are not yet what they will be. The old rules no longer apply, and the new rules do not apply yet.
When my parents divorced, I ceased to exist as a full-fledged daughter in my family, because my family ceased to exist. I never again entered a full-fledged status with either of them. Their divorce and subsequent remarriages pushed me into a liminal state from which I have never emerged. Joining the cult was my attempt to exit the liminal state, to become initiated as a full-fledged member of a family, even if it was an abusive family.
There have been many studies about the effects of divorce on children. What are some of the findings?
It’s bad. It is worse than the average person wants to realize. Divorce shortens people’s lives. That alone should get people’s attention. Plus it increases the risk factors for addictions, not finishing high school, getting divorced as an adult and losing contact with grandparents. Children of divorce report feeling a lack of empathy from their churches, and don’t go to church as much as kids from intact families.
“No fault” divorce came to California in 1969, and the rest of the country soon after. How do you think divorce has affected society as a whole?
In order to talk about society, we need to talk about the mechanics behind the changes of “no-fault.” No-fault changed an important legal presumption in marriage. A presumption is a starting-point, a place where we say, “Here is where we begin, and we can make adjustments to individual circumstances from this place, but we need a beginning point so we always begin here.” Prior to no-fault, the legal presumption, the legal beginning point, was that marriage is permanent. It was viewed as a truly life-long commitment and the family courts honored this, at least in principle. Of course, there was divorce and separation prior to no-fault, but the presumption of permanence was honored by the courts. In order to get a divorce, that presumption had to be overcome by demonstrating why the marriage had failed. Such circumstances included adultery, addictions and abandonment.
No-fault changed the legal presumption. Now marriage is no longer legally presumed permanent by the family courts. The courts get involved in the minutia of family life at the behest of one spouse. One spouse has the power to harness the family court to destroy the family, like wielding a sledge hammer, and the family courts must comply. They no longer side with the family, giving preference to its legitimate claim on wholeness. They side with the person who wants to destroy the family. If the other spouse wants to keep the family together, that person has no legal remedy. The divorce will be enforced in all cases if one spouse wants it.
In this respect, no-fault divorce is like abortion. That might sound like a dramatic claim, so let me spell it out.
In both cases, the State sides with one person (the pregnant mother, the petitioner in a no-fault divorce action) to uphold or enforce the action that the person wants (the abortion, the no-fault divorce), while simultaneously providing no legal defense for the other person (the unborn child, the respondent in the divorce action). The individual who wants the action (of the abortion or to be divorced) must be “freed” from every restraint that he does not explicitly want. Even if he chose the restraint at a point in the past, if he changes his mind, then the State’s duty is to free him from it if this is what the individual wants.
In February, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput published a book called, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World. He makes this same point when he says: “Without the restrains of some higher moral law, democracy instinctively works against natural marriage, traditional families and any other institution that creates bonds and duties among citizens. It insists on the autonomous individual as its ideal.”
Thus, as a society, we believe that the State’s duty to the individual is to annul or at least modify his familial obligations whenever he chooses in order to free him.
I’ve heard it said divorce may be a necessity when “the 3 A’s” are involved: addiction, abuse and adultery. Do you agree?
This is a complex question since it touches on a variety of issues. We can talk about it from the State’s perspective or the perspective of individual families. Taking the State’s perspective, we might ask: what is the State’s role in divorce? Should the State be involved? If so, at what point? I would say that yes, there is a role for the State, but to restore some semblance of justice in divorce we need to restore the legal presumption of permanence. I do not know how that should be done. Should we go back to some sort of fault-based system that relies on “the 3 A’s”? Should we at least eliminate the unilateral aspect of divorce and require both spouses to consent to it? I would say yes to both of those questions.
We can also consider the perspective of individual families. Perhaps somebody reading this article is experiencing one or more of those things right now. It is difficult to give blanket advice since each case is unique. Even so, I have heard many reports about couples who recovered from adultery. For addiction issues, help can be found through groups such as Al-Anon.
The good thing about the old fault-based system is that somebody was legally culpable. This person was then penalized by the courts. This deterred bad behavior. For example, if the child is not living with that person post-divorce, then this makes sense. Children should not be living with addicts or with abuse, especially when their other parent is not there to serve as a buffer.
What might you say to couples with children considering divorce when less serious issues are involved?
That triad of your family matters a great deal. It matters to your children, to all of the people around you, and to your grandchildren and the rest of your posterity. So try harder to work things out. I know you’re tired and you probably want to go find somebody else. But your kids need you there, at home. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your situation will beat the odds for your kids. Are you willing to implicitly tell them that you don’t want to live with them for half of their remaining childhood? Because that is what you will be communicating to them if you split up. Do you want to throw away their sense of being your full-fledged child?
You will continue to have a relationship with your spouse even after the divorce, and you will have less say-so in the lives of your children than you do now. Your ex-spouse might bring undesirable people into your children’s lives, and your children will feel pressure to accept and love those people. Some spouses resort to parental alienation tactics, which means that you run the risk of losing all contact with your children for a very long time.
Please do not make the child live in “two homes.” Do not break up their daily life like that. Consider keeping the family home, letting the children live there full time, and getting a small place nearby that you share with your ex-spouse. Each of you takes turns going back and forth between the family home and the other place. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, then please reconsider making your kids do the same. Apply the same standard to your children that you want applied to you.
What help/advice would you offer children of divorced parents to help them recover?
I don’t have any magic words here. Healing is an ongoing process. The first steps were the hardest for me:
I recommend my reading my book for more details about all of these concepts, plus many diagrams that make it easy enough for a child to understand.
Posted on: Wednesday, August 03, 2016
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.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Petition to: Archbishop Charles Chaput of PhiladelphiaThank you for the wisdom and clarity in your Guidelines. We are praying for you!
For the Petition:
Posted on: Monday, March 21, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published March 17, 2016, at The Blaze.
They made this very clear in the U.S., with their big donors and corporate sponsorships. And they are making it clear in Australia too.
Price Waterhouse, the second largest accounting firm in the world, has produced a tendentious study, claiming that allowing the Australian people to vote on the definition of marriage will just be too expensive.
A bit of background for American readers:
Australia still has man-woman marriage, the only kind of marriage that protects the rights of children to their own parents. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stands firmly in the “marriage equality” camp, but has agreed to hold a plebiscite after the upcoming federal election, if he wins.
Now, along comes the Australian office of Price Waterhouse, claiming the proposed special, non-binding election on the definition of marriage will cost $525 million Australian dollars. “Too Much!!” they cried.
Price Waterhouse economics and policy partner Jeremy Thorpe claimed:
“Overseas examples show that spending on the ‘for’ and ‘against’ campaigns alone can reach over $6 per voter, as happened in California. That’s a huge waste of money that could be better allocated in our low-growth economy.”
He says that like it is a bad thing.
As someone who participated in California’s Proposition 8 vote in 2008, I firmly believe that citizen participation in important social issues is a good thing. How else are ordinary people going to make their voices heard if the elites rule that elections are a “huge waste of money?”
Price Waterhouse really gives away the game with this shocker:
“Momentum from Corporate Australia to resolve this issue is building with over 800 large and small organizations having now signed the corporate letter of support for marriage equality.”
They say this like it is a good thing. Ordinary people who want children to know both of their parents beg to differ.
Now Australian commentators question some of Price Waterhouse’s creative accounting. (Honestly, an accounting firm should be a bit more careful, don’t you think?) I want to point out how the rich and the powerful just love, love, love the sexual revolution.
Please notice: On virtually every issue of the sexual revolution, liberal lites push and promote while ordinary people resist and rebel.
Like corporate Australia, corporate America is firmly behind the whole sexual revolution, supporting “marriage equality” along with “abortion rights” and other bogus inventions designed to privilege adult sex lives at the expense of children’s rights.
If you aren’t sure, ask yourself this: have you ever seen a major bank supporting your local pregnancy care center? But they support Planned Parenthood, though, don’t they? Have you ever seen a major airline supporting a pro-family event, or organization? But they support gay pride parades and the anti-child, pro-adult redefinition of marriage.
Look, I don’t really care about “income equality.” I really don’t. Rich people can have all their fine cars and multiple houses and boats and all the rest. But doggone it, I’m fed up with the super rich and the elite managerial class using their money, power and influence to shove their ideological orientation down our throats.
I know for a fact that ordinary people of America just want to get married, stay married, raise their kids and pass on their values to the next generation. I bet the ordinary people of Australia feel the same way.
Posted on: Monday, January 11, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
First published January 4, 2016, at Crisis Magazine.
The Sexual Revolution was supposed to liberate us from sexual stereotypes. In fact, we have replaced the old stereotypes of gay men with new and even more rigid stereotypes. Perhaps some people regard the new view of gay as more positive and affirming than the old view. But the New Gay Man is no less limiting, impersonal, and ultimately dehumanizing. If a particular gay man does not fit into the narrow politically correct boxes, we can’t see him. And worse, he may not be able to see himself clearly.
So let us open up some options for our brothers who experience same-sex attraction. No, actually, that is not quite correct. Let us recognize the options that already exist. Let us take notice of the variety of ways in which these men can and do live their lives.
Some of the holiest men I know are men who have experienced same-sex attraction as an ongoing inner reality in their lives. They have made a decision not to act on their same-sex desires. Their holiness stems precisely from the challenge this decision presents. They know they need God. And like Mary Magdalene, they love much because they have been forgiven much.
Some men struggle with and eventually conquer their sexual temptations. But some men still struggle with related issues: needing to be the center of attention, inappropriate hostility toward women; undue insecurity around men; general insecurity about their identity; troubled relationships with their fathers. All these concerns can plague the same-sex attracted man, even one who is successfully living a celibate life.
Some same-sex attracted men participate in sexual activity with other men. They do it to varying degrees and at varying times of their lives. Some may have periodic sexual experiences and a “take it or leave it” attitude. Others are full-on sex addicts. Depending on their age and temperament, some same-sex attracted men may be content to partner with one particular person. Others have hundreds of sex partners and are still unsatisfied.
Some same-sex attracted men are empathetic and good listeners, whom women find appealing. Others drip with contempt for women. Still others are just obsessed with themselves, and indifferent to everyone around them. As Oscar Wilde’s wife said of him, “Through all his struggles, he did not learn the one thing he most needed to learn: that he is not the only person in the world.”
Some men engage in same-sex sexual activity for a season of their lives: all-male boarding schools, prison or aboard ships. Some of these men later marry, father children and live conventional lives. Some same-sex attracted men get married without denying that they feel same-sex attractions. They love their wives and are good and faithful husbands and fathers.
Some same-sex attracted men are attracted to younger men, over whom they can exert power and dominance. Others seek out older men in an effort to heal their father-wounds. Some behave in a predatory manner, seeking out vulnerable younger men and even boys, grooming them and gaining their trust as a prelude to seduction.
Some same-sex attracted men are deeply ashamed of themselves, and wish they could change some or all of their behavior. Others are totally shameless.
We don’t really know why some men experience same-sex attraction and others do not. Most likely, there are a number of factors operating in different people to different extents and in different combinations. Some men may have become sexually fixated on men after being molested at an early age. Some men may have experienced parental influences that drove their sexual desires in a particular direction. And yes, it is possible, though not proven, that some people were indeed, “born that way.”
In fact, the significance of that phrase, “born that way,” can vary considerably. For one person, it may be the truth as he experiences it. For another, it may be a permission slip to engage in behavior he could not justify otherwise.
And coming from the lips of a narcissistic predator, it could be nothing more than a pick up line: “You were born that way. You can’t help it. It is ok. Doing this with me, letting me do this to you, is your true self, your path to happiness.”
And the most manipulative of all the seductive whisperings from a predator to his prey, “God made you this way. He wants you to be happy. You should do this with me.”
What do these beliefs have in common? The idea that there is one and only one valid form of expression for each person who experiences same-sex attraction is a form of moral determinism that robs the person of meaningful choices. Likewise, the “Born That Way” belief suggests that once a person discovers an inkling of same-sex attraction, he need not engage in any further moral deliberation. Both beliefs are a kind of Calvinism without grace, a terrifying prospect, even for—or maybe especially for—a Calvinist.
As a Roman Catholic, I have no patience for Calvinism, with or without grace.
It should be obvious that it is a disservice to use a single word, “gay,” to describe all these people. Calling oneself or another person “gay” does not do justice to the full range of choices regarding how to view himself, how to behave, and how to relate to other people that each man possesses.
So who benefits from these ideological straight jackets? The Sexual Revolutionary ideologues of course. No doubt they are recruiting more foot soldiers for their political crusade. But foremost on their mind is a desire to promote more self-indulgent sex. They owe the other person the courtesy of revealing what they are signing up for. A sleight of hand of this magnitude is manipulative, not liberating; dehumanizing, not uplifting.
This is why I avoid the term “gay.” I urge you to do the same. Let’s give our brothers the dignity of seeing them as they really are: men.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 27, 2015
By Dr. Jeff Mirus
This article was first published October 14, 2015, at CatholicCulture.org.
I mentioned two weeks ago that Living the Truth in Love from Ignatius Press is an important book, and that I would have more to say about it. Having now read each of its score of theoretical, testimonial and pastoral essays, I am even more convinced that everyone concerned about the “gay revolution” should read them as well.
I learned something valuable from each one of this winning combination of writers, who possess personal, academic, therapeutic, medical and pastoral experience with same-sex attraction. But to my surprise the essay which had most to offer me personally was Jane Hallman’s “Do No Harm: Considerations in Supporting Youth with Same-Sex Attraction.” Hallman pointed out that young people who experience SSA are already likely to feel “different”, as if they do not “belong” owing to problems in their affective development. Therefore, if they experience anger and rejection as they try to discuss their difficulties with friends, parents, family members and other significant adults, it only exacerbates the problem. Hence her title: “Do no harm.”
In particular, common parental reactions, such as scorn and denial from fathers and “How can you do this to me?” from mothers, will almost inevitably alienate the child even further from a healthy affectivity. Instead, all who love the child must continue to accept him or her with love, including a continuation of habitual displays of affection, such as looking pleased rather than distraught when the child seeks to spend time with the parent. The focus needs to be on taking the child’s experiences seriously while maintaining a clear moral instruction which distinguishes feelings (which generally arise unbidden) from sins. This is the best context for other appropriate steps, such as counseling.
The Way Forward
There is no one best way for a same-sex attracted person to deal with his or her disordered affectivity. As with other disordered affectivities (including, really, all the inordinate attachments which constitute temptations in our lives), bringing them under control is largely a process of prayer, sacramental life, sound spiritual direction, helpful insights and encouragement from others, trial and error, sin, and repentance—all leading over time to self-mastery.
Sometimes God intervenes with a particular gift of grace which removes even the temptation that this (or any other) cross entails. This point is made by Robin Beck in her personal testimony entitled “Why Maintaining Biblical Language Matters.” She recognizes the importance of confidence in Christ’s ability to make of us a new creation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). At a certain point in committing herself to Christ, Beck experienced freedom from all of homosexuality, both “the behavior and the desire.”
But—again, as with other trials that come to us through God’s permissive will—most of us are not healed in this way, but through a patient struggle to conquer sin without completely eliminating temptation. For this reason, many will find Daniel C. Mattson’s witness more helpful: “Total Abandonment to Divine Providence and the Permissive Will of God”. There are also testimonies from Joseph Prever (“The Curse of the Ouroboros: Notes on Friendship”), Eve Tushnet (“In This Our Exile”), David Prosen (“Breaking Free”), Doug Mainwaring (“Married and Same-Sex Attracted: Are We Hiding the Light of the Gospel under a Basket?”), and Bob and Susan Covera, whose “From Pain to Peace” explains their journey as parents of a same-sex attracted child.
Incidentally, one fairly common thread throughout the book is the importance of the Courage and EnCourage apostolates, founded by Fr. John Harvey and continuing under the leadership of one of the editors, Fr. Paul Check. This apostolic work has helped many men and women deal with the challenge of same-sex attraction in accordance with a sound spiritual life and a true Christian anthropology.
What We Know and What We Don’t
New challenges invariably lead the Church and her members to a fuller and more accurate understanding of and response to the problems each challenge represents. In the present case, it has been necessary to explore the philosophical and theological dimensions of Eros along with the biological and psychological developmental factors that might incline a person to same-sex attraction. This need is addressed by the sections of Living the Truth in Love which deal with theoretical knowledge and pastoral care.
For example, Rachel Lu addresses the question of sexual identity in “Eros Divided: Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Homoerotic Love?”. In addition, although Bob Schuchts may be too quick to claim an almost miraculous process of healing in Christian therapy, his emphasis on “Restoring Wholeness in Christ” is clearly important to the kind of self-knowledge and spiritual growth which must be part of any healing process. Deborah Savage explains what she believes is “At the Heart of the Matter: Lived Experience in Saint John Paul II’s Integral Account of the Person”. My favorite natural law theorist, J. Budziszewski, explains how we can make important connections through “The Conversational Use of Natural Law in the Context of Same-Sex Attraction”.
Msgr. Livio Melina studies a much-contested issue: “Homosexual Inclination as an ‘Objective Disorder’: Reflections of Theological Anthropology”. There is even an essay on “The Healing Role of Friendship in Aelred of Rievaulx’s De spiritali amicitia”—a work which some of the witness essays mention as well—by Dennis J. Billy, C.Ss.R. All of these authors are impressively credentialed in their fields.
In the pastoral section (after learning from Dr. Hallman to do no harm), we find careful considerations of the psychological and medical aspects of same-sex attraction. Again, the titles are indicative. Timothy G. Lock explores “Same-Sex Attractions as a Symptom of a Broken Heart: Psychological Science Deepens Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity”. And Timothy Flanigan, MD details “HIV and Other Health Risks Associated with Men Who Have Sex with Men”.
Two essays map out the cultural background underlying the way we deal with same-sex attraction. Jennifer Roback Morse’s essay, “Understanding the Sexual Revolution”, explains what old hands have long known about the tactics used to break down traditional sexual morality, an analysis which will put things into perspective for those new to the struggle. Peter Herbeck insists in “Our Prophetic Moment” that only a strong and vibrant Catholic proclamation of the vision of Christ for the human person and human sexuality can possibly make a positive difference. Accommodation is deadly.
Edited, introduced and concluded by Fr. Paul Check of Courage and moral philosopher Janet Smith of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Living the Truth in Love not only covers many aspects of the subject but also permits the expression of a variety of slightly different (but always Christian) viewpoints on how best to deal with same-sex attraction—both personally and in counseling. As Janet Smith states in the preface, “We believe that some of the differences are matters of prudence, and others perhaps are more serious. We include different positions because we believe it is important that we remain in dialogue with those who share important foundational views.”
This actually makes the book stronger. Whether there will ever emerge a single paradigm for best addressing same-sex attraction by those who are morally committed to chastity as enjoined by Christ and the Church, it is clear at this stage that one size does not fit all in terms of successfully coming to terms with SSA and integrating it into a thoroughly Christian life. I found myself more indebted to some contributors than others, but let me say again that I benefited from all of them.
For those who are not otherwise genuinely expert in the problem of same-sex attraction (which is the vast majority of us), I would venture to say that, after the publication of Living the Truth in Love, it has become irresponsible to hold forth on this subject based on gut feelings. Do not risk your credibility! Before addressing same-sex attraction again, read this extraordinarily apt, fascinating and incomparably convenient book.
Posted on: Wednesday, August 26, 2015
This disk includes the renowned and chilling talk, "What did you do to help the bishop?" recorded in Oakland, CA, about our likely future if same sex marriage were enacted. Many of the things she predicted in 2010 have already happened! The disk also includes testimonies Dr. Morse gave before the Rhode Island State Legislature and the Minnesota State Judiciary committee.
Order your copy here.
Posted on: Monday, July 20, 2015
This article was first published July 9, 2015, at The Federalist.
Some same-sex marriage supporters say redefining marriage will strengthen it. Others say it will destroy marriage. They can’t both be right.
Some who support same-sex marriage argue it will strengthen the family. For example, President Obama said this on June 26, 2015 regarding the SCOTUS ruling that made same-sex marriage legal across the United States: “This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land… It’s a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other.”
Others take a very different view. Masha Gessen, for example, is an author who is perhaps most well-known as being an expert on Vladimir Putin. She was honored at the State Department in June 2014 for her gay-rights activism in Russia. She is a same-sex marriage supporter who believes the institution of marriage should not exist. She had this to say about marriage in 2012 at a writer’s conference in Sydney:
Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist….
I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally… I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.
Obama’s view is not compatible with Gessen’s view. How do we know which is correct?
If somebody wants to destroy marriage, would they support a policy initiative that strengthened marriage? Of course not. Thus, Gessen really does believe that same-sex marriage will harm if not destroy marriage.
Second, Gessen’s goals are coming to pass as a result of same-sex marriage. Here are two examples. In response to a lesbian marriage and custody dispute, California enacted a bill that allows a child to have more than two legal parents. Gessen correctly argued that man-woman marriage is not compatible with her desire for an unlimited number of legal parents for children. Same-sex marriage has accomplished this goal in California. The state of Alabama tried to abolish marriage licenses as a response to same-sex marriage. Gessen wants to abolish marriage, and abolishing marriage licenses is a step towards abolishing marriage.
Remember Gessen’s desire for five legal parents for her children? Let’s examine how much damage to the family is already possible before same-sex marriage came along. The following diagram is not hypothetical. This is a real-life situation.
Locate the oval that says, “Older half-sister.” This diagram is based on her experience. She has her mom (Wife 1) and dad—those two are her legal parents. She also has three step-parents: one step-dad and two step-moms (who are labeled Wife 2 and Wife 3). This looks quite fractured, doesn’t it? But consider that several popular cultural ideas made this possible:
Gessen advocates that all of the adults should be legal parents, not just the natural mother and father. So instead of the older half-sister living between (only!) two homes from the time she was three years old, she would live between three or more homes. Would adults ever choose to spend years living like that? Of course not. That is one example of the new kind of family breakdown.
Another example: after what he has said about his father’s absence from his life, would President Obama choose to be raised as a child in a lesbian marriage? I can’t see how he would, since he has spoken about how painful it has been to live without his father. He has made remarks about the importance of fathers on more than one occasion. In 2013, for example, he said: “I was raised by two wonderful grandparents. But I still wish that I had a dad who was not only around, but involved, another role model… That’s why I try to be, for Michelle and my girls, what my father was not for my mother and me.”
I commend President Obama for being that kind of man for his family. When a child is raised in an intact home with his married biological parents, it’s like winning the lottery. But fewer and fewer kids have access to that kind of life. Why? One reason is that kind of life creates demands that may go against the adults’ sexual identities and sexual desires. That’s what marriage is about now: to affirm adults in their identities and their choices. What happens to kids is an afterthought.
Gessen was raised with her own married parents, and I’ve never seen her state that she wished it were otherwise. She wants to destroy marriage as an ideal, not only for her own children but for everybody’s children. President Obama was not raised with his married parents. He has lamented the absence of his father and he wishes to strengthen marriage.
Gessen is correct about same-sex marriage and Obama is not. When will same-sex marriage supporters realize they’ve been naive?
Posted on: Monday, July 20, 2015
An interview of Dr. Morse by Zoe Romanowsky at aleteia.org.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse believes we are experimenting with vulnerable children.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, the court heard testimony from adult children who grew up in same-sex relationship households. The Washington Post ran a piece about this just before the SCOTUS ruling.
On one side were the advocates—those who claim to be living proof of the words Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote when the federal Defense of Marriage Act was struck down two years ago: that the law as it was “humiliat(ed) tens of thousands of children” being raised by gay parents.
As part of legal briefs in the Obergefell case, some of these adult children shared their experiences of feeling marginalized, less-than, and unwelcome because their families weren’t recognized as "real" families.
Others who oppose gay marriage and were also raised by same-sex couples told their stories, too. One of them was Katy Faust who was raised by a gay mom in Portland, Oregon. Although Katy’s father remained involved in her life, when she began to reflect on her childhood and became a mother herself, she became convinced that no child should be deprived of a mother.
Robert Oscar Lopez also gave testimony. A professor at California State University at Northridge and an outspoken critic of gay marriage, he believes same-sex parenting can even constitute child abuse. In July 2013, he wrote:
"Single-parenting and divorce have always been understood as a breakdown of the married mom and dad ideal, but the demand to view same-sex parenting as “normal” imposes a silence on children about the wound caused by the loss of one parent or the other."
Lopez has also said that he believes many adult children of same-sex parents like himself feel the way he does, but don’t speak up in order to protect their parents, "whom they love despite their ambivalence."
The Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage is now a reality, but the question remains: How does same-sex marriage change the rights that children do—or should—have as it relates to their parents? Do children have a right to know and be raised by their biological parents? Is marriage an institution designed solely for adults, or do children’s rights factor into it—and what exactly are those rights?
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, president and founder of the Ruth Institute, an organization that promotes life-long marriage, says that what the Supreme Court has done with its decision is say that there is no necessary connection between marriage and natural parenthood.
"Marriage has always helped assign parental rights. So when a baby is born, the mother is the person who gave birth to the baby—that’s the typical rule—and then after that we answer "who’s the daddy?" by saying the mother’s husband; he’s presumed to be the father of the children the women gives birth to during the lifetime of their union. With marriage now a genderless institution, we have broken that connection between marriage and parenthood. Children don’t have natural parents anymore; they have legal parents."
Morse says the idea that children have the right to know their biological identity, or to receive support, care and identity from their biological parents, is now in the process of being written out of the law.
Some may point to adoption as a clear example of children being raised by non-biological parents where ties to biological parents are often completely severed, In adoption, however, the loss the child has experienced is recognized and acknowledged and it is understood that his or her new parents are stepping into the shoes that biological parents can’t fill for one reason or another.
"Adoption is a child-centered, child-oriented set of legal rules, rather than adult-centered. And that is the difference between adoption and third-party reproduction," says Morse.
With same-sex marriage, it’s now discriminatory to say that the ideal family arrangement for a child is with his or her biological parents.
Related to this is the issue that Professor Lopez brought up: a child's right to both a mother and a father. With marriage "equality," it is now discriminatory to say that a child is better off, or has a right to, both a mother and a father.
In the interview above, Dr. Morse says married gay parents is a societal experiment and we shouldn’t be experimenting on children, especially those who too often have already experienced the profound loss of their natural parents.
"What I see happening rhetorically, and probably even legally, is people saying that biology isn’t all that important; that we need to break our social belief in bio-genetic parenting as the norm. I think this is a very dangerous place to go. I think it’s just wrong for adults to say children have no right to their natural parents."
Posted on: Friday, July 03, 2015
Posted June 26, 2015 at catholicexchange.com.
In an unsurprising but still disappointing decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Obergefell vs Hodges that states may not define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Many Catholics, along with other people of good-will who believe marriage is intrinsically related to men, women, sex, and children, are asking, “What next?” Let me offer a proposal: Go back to the basics.
How We Got Here
In the span of twenty years, redefining marriage to include homosexual unions went from being opposed by both political parties and a supermajority of the American electorate to being a position that must be embraced lest one be branded a bigot. How did this issue move forward so quickly? My opinion is it is the necessary outcome of previous redefinitions of marriage. Or, the tsunami we see today started with an earthquake that rumbled decades and even centuries earlier.
In 1644, John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, published another work called Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. In it he argued that England should change its laws based on Catholic canon law that prohibited divorce. According to Milton, marriage was not an indissoluble union that comprehensively unites men and women. Instead, its purpose is to promote “the apt and cheerful conversation of man with woman, to comfort and refresh him against the evils of solitary life.”
Notice how this parallel’s Justice Anthony Kennedy’s definition of marriage in Obergefell:
Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there. It offers the hope of companionship and understanding and assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other.
But if this can’t be achieved in marriage, Milton says, a divorce is justified, and history has adopted his thinking. In 1969, California governor Ronald Reagan passed the first state law allowing for no-fault divorce. Through the new law, couples did not have to prove one partner committed a fault such as adultery or abuse in order to end the marriage. Instead, as Milton argued 300 years earlier, a marriage could be ended simply because both people had “irreconcilable differences.” Women could now easily escape marriage, or what feminist Betty Freidan at the time called “a comfortable concentration camp.”
Throw in the new birth control pill and you had the perfect storm for changing the public’s view of marriage from being an institution for the benefit of children that is anchored in permanence and sexual exclusivity to one that is ordered toward the benefits of adults and is anchored in whatever makes them happy at the moment. It’s not surprising that if the point of marriage for opposite sex couples is to fulfill one another’s happiness, that the courts and public opinion now feel that same-sex couples should have a right to this happiness as well.
Indeed, Kennedy writes in Obergefell:
[T]he right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. The intimate association protected by this right was central to Griswold v. Connecticut, which held the Constitution protects the right of married couples to use contraception.
Consider also what self-identified gay columnist Andrew Sullivan (who married another man in 2007) wrote back in 2001:
Surely the world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50 percent divorce rates preceded gay marriage. It was heterosexuals in the 1970s who changed marriage into something more like a partnership between equals, with both partners often working and gender roles less rigid than in the past. All homosexuals are saying, three decades later, is that, under the current definition, there’s no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is simply an anomaly—and a denial of basic civil equality.
What do I mean by “go back to the basics?” I mean we call Sullivan’s bluff and go back to the“1950s” view of marriage as being ordered toward a permanent and sexually exclusive bond that is good for the spouses and for any children those spouses may produce.
An End Run Around Bigotry
The biggest obstacle I face when I speak on this issue is the accusation that my position simply represents hatred against individuals who identify as being gay or lesbian. That’s why I like to borrow a phrase from my friend Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse: “When it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage, let’s focus on the marriage part.”
My ultimate concern is that redefining marriage again will lead to the erosion of marriage as a social institution. Indeed, some of the advocates for redefining marriage have even admitted that their support of this movement is predicated on destabilizing the institution of marriage as a whole.
For example, Irene Javors, the former president of the pro-redefinition group Freedom to Marry, writes, “In my view, if we gained access to marriage, the whole institution could be turned upside down. For that perverse reason alone, I wholeheartedly support our right to marry” (The Future of Marriage, 143).
Of course, defenders of redefinition will say that opinions like Javor’s are representative of only a few wild-eyed academics. Everyone else just wants same-sex couples to have the same freedom to love as opposite-sex couples. Alright, then let’s take them at their word and invite those who disagree with us about what marriage is to join our campaign to build up a culture of “marriage.”
We can ask them, “If you believe in marriage (however you may define it), would you join me in opposing laws that allow divorce for any reason? Will you uphold the sexually exclusive nature of marriage and condemn the rhetoric of people like Dan Savage who support “monogamish” relationships that allow for consensual infidelity? Will you stand with me in recognizing the harm caused by the millions of fathers who walk out on the children they have helped procreate? Will you fight for a child’s right to a relationship with the mother and father who brought him into existence?”
Now, some of these redefinition advocates will be on board with this approach (people like Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution come to mind), but don’t be surprised if others worry about how more regulations on divorce will “keep people from finding love.” Indeed, Julie and Hillary Goodridge, the couple whose marriage was the first to be legally recognized by a high court back in 2003, are now divorced. Or don’t be surprised if moral opposition to polyamorous relationships and surrogate parenthood, be they heterosexual or homosexual in nature, is said to represent a “close-minded” and “judgmental” Christian attitude.
The benefit of this approach is that it’s “bigot proof.” No one can say that in promoting the lifelong or sexually exclusive nature of marriage I am working against a vocal minority’s rights or engaged in outright hatred of some group of people. Sure, those who want to divorce and remarry for any reason or have sexually open marriages will feel under attack, but they won’t be able to defend their actions as being a part of their sexual identity. They will have to explain why society is better if it treats marriage licenses like municipally regulated dating certificates.
As long as opposition to so-called same-sex marriage is perceived as an attack on people with a particular sexual identity, we won’t make any appreciable headway in defending marriage. Therefore, we must double down on fighting for marriage’s permanence and sexual exclusivity, both in our arguments in the public square and in choosing to value permanence, sexual exclusivity, and openness to life in the privacy of our own homes.
This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at Catholic Answers.
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