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.

My letter to Apostolic Nuncio, Supporting Archbishop Cordileone

by Jennifer Roback Morse 

April 20, 2015

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano

Apostolic Nuncio

Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See

3339 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.

Washington DC 20008

Dear Excellency,

I am writing to convey my heartfelt support for the Archbishop of San Francisco, the Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone. I became acquainted with him when he was the Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego. He is a good and holy man. He united many people from many walks of life and religious backgrounds in our work to pass Proposition 8, defining marriage as one man and one woman. We are still enjoying the benefit of the friendships we developed under his leadership.

San Diego friends, reunite at the March for Marriage, 2013. 

Pastor Jim Garlow, Archbishop Cordileone and JRM 

I am the Founder and President of the Ruth Institute. Our mission is to support the Victims and Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. Many, many people have been harmed by the poisonous ideology of the Sexual Revolution. The Archbishop is doing his part to make sure that young people have the opportunity to at least learn that the Catholic Church offers a humane and coherent alternative to the hook-up culture, the divorce culture and the contraceptive ideology.

I fully support his efforts to make the Catholic schools of San Francisco truly Catholic. He is not asking anything onerous of his teachers and staff. I wish more bishops were as conscientious about protecting the children under their care.

Please convey to the Holy Father that many, many people of all faiths look to Archbishop Cordileone as their champion. We are grateful that he is supporting the traditional morality that we are trying to live by, and pass on to our children.


Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.

Founder and President

The Ruth Institute 

Why Religious Liberty Arguments Aren’t Working

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first posted at on April 16, 2015.

I am a very committed, very public advocate of marriage as a gender-based institution. Many of my fellow proponents of man/woman marriage cite religious liberty as an argument against redefining marriage. While I have great respect for those who promote this view, I must respectfully disagree with their assessment.

The uproar over the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act demonstrates that religious liberty arguments don’t work anymore. I take no pleasure in saying this. But religious liberty arguments are not compelling enough to induce our fellow citizens to sacrifice something they value, namely, sexual liberty.

I can think of three reasons for this.

An increasing number of our fellow citizens do not believe in any god. A substantial number describe themselves as spiritual but not religious.

The American religious situation at the time of the American Founding was quite different. James Madison spoke for most when he regarded religion as “the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it.” When so many people do not regard themselves as having any “duty to the Creator,” the social foundation that made religious liberty appealing or even intelligible, no longer exists.

So, Reason #1 why religious liberty arguments are not working: People who don’t believe in God, couldn’t give a rip whether we religious believers are inconvenienced in our religious practice.

Secondly, the controversies over religious liberty are not about transubstantiation or the Trinity or predestination. We are arguing about sex: abortion, contraception, homosexuality and similar topics.

Our fellow citizens have absorbed and are committed to a particular view about the meaning of human sexuality and its place in our lives. Millions of people have ordered their lives around these beliefs. They are not going to give up those views, in the absence of an attractive alternative.

Reason #2 why religious liberty arguments are not working: we are asking our fellow citizens to give up something they value, without offering anything they value in its place.

Finally, when we talk about religious liberty, we are putting the emphasis on ourselves. We don’t like the HHS mandate because it will harm our religious institutions. We don’t like gay marriage because it goes against our beliefs.

Reason #3 why religious liberty arguments aren’t working: we sound like we are whining about ourselves. No one finds whining appealing.

I honestly think further appeals to religious liberty are not helping our cause. These arguments are not helping the immediate particular cause, such as defending man/woman marriage. Nor are religious liberty arguments helping the general cause of the church itself. Appeals to religious liberty once made sense, but no longer.

We need a different strategy: argue against the Sexual Revolution because it has hurt people.

And I do mean the whole Sexual Revolution. We are tacitly giving a pass to the earlier phases of the Sexual Revolution, by saying so little about them. The only serious exception to this generalization is abortion: the Catholic Church, and more recently, other Christians, have put up a noble fight against the Big Abortion Machine. But other aspects of the Sexual Revolution? Divorce? Contraception? Taxpayer-funded Sexual Miseducation in the schools? Not so much.

It is as if we are saying, “We like the Sexual Revolution just fine: we just don’t like the Gay Parts.” That simply will not do. It is not fair to individuals who are same sex attracted. And, it is intellectually incoherent, since the acceptance of genderless marriage actually depends upon our acceptance of those earlier phases of the Sexual Revolution.

True enough, there is no constituency right now for winning elections on some of these issues. Too bad. That just means we have not made the substantive case on these issues often enough and persuasively enough. The pro-life movement has shown that it is possible to build a constituency for the Culture of Life.

The truth is that the Sexual Revolution has harmed millions of people: Children of divorce, whose families were broken up and who never really felt like part of a real family again. Reluctantly divorced people, who wanted to stay married but whose spouse pulled the plug. Heartbroken middle-aged professional women, who “had it all,” except for the children they are now too old to bear. Refugees from the hook-up culture, jaded, cynical, and old before their time. I could mention many other groups of people. They need our help connecting the dots between the lies of the Sexual Revolution and the misery they are experiencing.

I mean no disrespect to anyone. Many advocates of religious liberty have also spoken out against these evils. My point is that bringing up religious liberty no longer strengthens our case: it weakens our case.

Christianity has a viable, humane, intellectually coherent alternative to the Sexual Revolution. Sex makes babies. Children need their own parents. Men and women are different. These are facts: trying to build an entire society around their opposites is inhuman and impossible.

Our society desperately needs to hear this message. Demanding our First Amendment Rights is a distraction. If we religious believers won’t proclaim these truths, who will?

Is it ok to have sex with a robot?

by Jennifer Roback Morse 

(and other questions you thought you'd never hear....) 

So, the Christian Post asked me to comment on this question.  The sum total of my answer: 

"I thought I had heard it all, but robot sex is too much, even for me," Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of The Ruth Institute, responded. "You may quote me on that. Otherwise, I'm not touching it." 

 Jude Law and Ashley Scott as sexbots, Gigolo Joe and Gigolo Jane, in A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) 

The Ruth Institute files a Friend of the Court brief

by Jennifer Roback Morse

The Ruth Institute and I, filed a Friend of the Court brief to the US Supreme Court for the upcoming marriage cases, called Obergefell v Hodges. 

We are not hopeful of a good outcome in this decision. Nonetheless, we filed a brief for these reasons: 

  1. To give the dissenters some ammunition. 
  2. To go on the record, and speak to history. 
  3. We didn't want anyone to say, "We had no idea these things might happen." 
  4. To let children of future generations know that someone was thinking of them. 

Read the whole brief here.



Evacuation from Dunkirk: a continuation of my open letter to San Diego Social Conservatives

My first letter drew some discussion on my Facebook page. That is great. I am glad.

Kirk Jorgenson is not the subject of discussion here. I like Kirk. He ran a good and honorable campaign. A lot of you worked hard for him. I respect that.

Evacuation at Dunkirk June 1940
But now that particular battle is over. We have metaphorically evacuated from Dunkirk. We are safely in the British Isles. Let us regroup and think about our next move.

The enemy holds such a commanding position on the legal and political battlefield that direct combat on that field of battle is highly unlikely to be successful. The Democratic Party, with its commitment to the whole Sexual Revolutionary Agenda, has a super-majority in the CA state legislature. Sexual Revolutionaries control the courts, in California, the federal courts, and at the US Supreme Court.

All of this means the Revolutionaries can change the rules to suit themselves. They already have been changing the rules, in case you haven’t noticed. They like the thin veneer of legality. But they have the power to do what they want.

Increasingly, Sexual Revolutionaries control the CA Republican Party. I realize that this was the turf that some of you had marked out for yourselves in the Jorgenson campaign. It was a noble ambition to try to keep the Sexual Revolutionaries from taking control of the Republican Party in California. I do not think this goal, noble as it is, was within our power to achieve.  And now, it is clear that it is not within our power to achieve.

Leading your troops onto the battlefield to get slaughtered is not leadership. Doing it once is a forgivable mistake. Doing it multiple times, not so much.

It does not follow from this, however, that we should all go home and give up. This seems to be what some of you think. “If we are not engaged in politics, we are not engaged in anything meaningful. If we leave the field to the enemy, we are giving up entirely. We must fight to the last man, no matter the odds. God wills it.”

This is where I profoundly disagree. I think we have allowed ourselves to be lured onto the battlefield that is controlled by the enemy. We have left behind the turf where we can win.

Actually, “fighting” is the wrong metaphor. Yes, I realize that I am using military analogies. I even put up WWII photos. Spiritual combat is a real thing: Paul the Apostle told us about it long ago. So have many other wise thinkers through the ages.  But I think we should not think of ourselves as fighting other people in our culture.

Why? Two reasons, one observable in the natural world, one visible only through spiritual eyes. In the natural order, I will speak candidly. We should not think about “fighting” our enemies, because our enemies are meaner than we are. We will lose, when we play on that turf.  If it is a question of being mean, or fighting, the Christian will always lose. This is the insight that led Nietzsche to condemn Christianity as a “slave morality.”

But the German philosopher/madman was only half-right. Christians are programmed to not fight, to turn the other cheek and to be detached from the things of this world. That is all true.

Where he was wrong is that none of that makes us slaves. We are actually freer than our fellow citizens, locked as they are inside their guilty consciences, their resentments, their sexual obsessions and addictions.

The chaste students with whom I have had the privilege of working over the years at the Ruth Institute have demonstrated this to me. Our students are not involved in all the drama and angst that consumes so many of their peers. Our students are in command of themselves. Hence they are free.

So what is this battlefield that isn’t a battlefield? What is this comparative advantage that we Christians have that our opponents do not have? Where is this field where we have a chance of winning? We must look to the spiritual realm to answer that question.

Which we will do in my next post.

Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D. is founder and president of the Ruth Institute. You can get involved with the Ruth Institute by signing up for our free e-newsletter.

After the Party: An Open Letter to Social Conservatives in San Diego and Beyond

On June 3, 2014, Kirk Jorgenson, came in third in a run-off style primary election for the 52nd Congressional District. He obtained 17% of the vote. Jorgenson had been the favorite of the Social Conservative community in San Diego. 

OK, San Diego Cultural Conservatives. Kirk Jorgenson lost his runoff race for the 52nd Congressional District.

Can we talk now?

I know you feel terrible. I saw how hard all of you worked. I know how enthused and hopeful you all were. But I was never optimistic that he would come in second and thus become eligible for the run-off election in November. Not that I have anything negative to say about Kirk himself. I love Kirk. I love his family. I love the people who worked with him and his campaign. That’s all of you.

But it is time for cultural conservatives to take a sober-minded look at California politics and our place in it. I don’t believe a guy like Kirk ever had a chance.

Warren Buffett and Charles Munger, Sr, funders of legal cases and other abortion causes
The Rich and Powerful of both political parties like the Sexual Revolution. They don’t mind pornography or divorce. They just aren’t all that bothered by kids without relationships with their parents. They don’t mind schools saturated with contraception. They don’t mind abortion on demand, sex education in the schools and “Bathroom Bills.” They are against parental notification and informed consent requirements for abortions.

To take one particularly salient example from California Republican politics: Charles Munger, Jr. Charles Munger, Jr has an outsized influence on the California Republican Party, due to his wealth. He is working to “move the party to the center.” We all know that is code for “giving up the social issues.”

Munger’s father, Charles Munger, Sr. and Warren Buffett bankrolled People v. Belous,the California Supreme Court case that overturned California’s abortion laws, back 1969. Overturning CA abortion law was one step in the process that led to Roe v Wade.

You could say that undermining social conservative values is in the Munger family DNA.

If Kirk had shown any signs of winning, the Elites in California politics would have dumped a pile of money against him in the last week of the campaign. We have seen them do this before, for example in Sherry Hodges’ race in 2012.

What about ballot initiatives? Same story; different method. The whole Entertainment-Media Industrial Complex consolidated their forces to take our Prop 8 electoral victory away from us. Funded by Rob “Meathead” Reiner, the Hollywood Elites and the Legal Establishment took down Prop 8. And the US Supreme Court ended the initiative process for all practical purposes, by refusing to give the initiative’s proponents standing to defend Prop 8 in court. The Ruling Class can overturn any successful ballot initiative at any time, by refusing to defend it in court.

Evacuation at Dunkirk June 1940
What are we to do, my fellow Cultural Conservatives? We must face facts. The Ruling Sexual Revolutionaries, the Sexual Jacobins, hold a commanding height on the political and legal battlefield. It is time to concentrate our forces on battlefields where we have some chance of success in improving our country, our state, our families.

Here in San Diego, and across the country too, our community of religiously serious Social Conservatives has limited resources. We should not dissipate our strength on skirmishes we have no chance of winning.

In WWII, Allied troops needed to evacuate at Dunkirk, after disastrous losses in France. A few short years later, they returned, stronger than ever, and invaded Normandy.

In this great Social Civil War of our time, we need to concentrate our forces in areas that the enemy does not expect. We must go where WE have the advantage over the enemy.

The Ruth Institute has a plan. It is a plan that does not require us to go head to head with our enemies on the political or legal battlefields. It is a plan that recruits and trains large numbers of motivated people to create a mass social movement for social change.

Think of the money, time and enthusiasm you spent on this election. And today, what do you have? You have a few bumper stickers and yard signs as souvenirs. Think of what the Ruth Institute and our other friends could have done with that money.

D-Day: Storming the Beach, June 1944
When a military commander is being crushed on the field of battle, what should he do?

Lead the troops off the field in an orderly retreat, so they can live to fight again another day.

On another field.

Join the Ruth Institute on the educational and cultural battlefield.

Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D. is founder and president of the Ruth Institute. You can get involved with the Ruth Institute by signing up for our free e-newsletter.

To Make a Family: an Interview with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

by Marcia Segelstein
This article was first published at Salvo Magazine in September 2012.

While her academic credentials are impressive enough to be intimidating, Jennifer Roback Morse’s demeanor is anything but. She manages the not-so-simple task of being warm and genuinely friendly while speaking boldly and knowledgably about some of the most hot-button issues of the day.

Morse earned her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester, spent a postdoctoral year at the University of Chicago, and taught economics for fifteen years at Yale University and George Mason University. She’s the author of two books: Love and Economics, recently reissued with a new subtitle, It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, and Smart Sex: Finding Lifelong Love in a Hook-Up World.

She is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute, which seeks “to promote lifelong married love to college students by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage.” To that end, Morse is a regular contributor to National Review Online, National Catholic Register, and TownHall, is a frequent speaker on college campuses and at other venues, and maintains a topical and engaging website at the Ruth Institute ( She played a key role in the Proposition 8 battle to uphold the legal definition of marriage in California and continues to be on the front lines of the fight for natural marriage.

Dr. Morse spoke to Salvo about what changed the trajectory of her life, whether she’s optimistic or pessimistic about the future, and what keeps her awake at night.

One of your published biographies says that the experience of infertility brought you back to the practice of the Catholic faith after several years away from it. How did that happen?

Infertility was the first time in my adult life when I couldn’t get what I wanted by trying harder, and being smart, and following all the rules. When it came to something that really mattered to me, I just couldn’t make it happen. And that made it clear to me in a way that nothing else could that I was not the center of the universe, my will was not the center of the universe, and there was something bigger than me out there. So that brought me back to the practice of the faith.

Ultimately, you and your husband did become parents, adopting a two-year-old boy from Eastern Europe and having a baby girl in the same year. How did the experience of having children affect the direction of your life?

My husband and I were able to see from that experience what a difference it makes when you have a mother and a father in a child’s life. Our son, and the other children who came from Eastern Europe around the same time, were dealing with a whole set of issues related to social and psychological deprivation. So it became really clear that mothers and fathers are doing an enormous service to the whole world and that everybody’s taking that for granted. That kind of woke me out of my slumber. There was an entire sector of human existence that was not being taken with the seriousness that it deserved.

I think the whole sexual revolution has been a disaster. But I would never have seen any of that if it hadn’t been for my kids. When you have a child whose needs are as great as our little boy’s were, any fears that might have prevented me from re-examining all the premises of the sexual revolution, all those self-defensive mechanisms, were completely overridden by the desperation of the situation we had. Our son has been a complete gift in that respect. God used that little boy to shine the light on so many things for us and to change our lives in so many ways.

If a young, smart, female college graduate asked you what’s important in life, what her priorities should be, what would you tell her?

In fact, just a few days ago I was talking with a young woman who was a recent graduate of an Ivy League university. She was a very smart woman, a devout Evangelical Christian, married to a really good guy, with a new baby. She talked to me about how conflicted she feels about wanting to be with her baby but thinking that maybe God wants her to be in the workplace, since she has talents and skills. She and many of her friends felt this conflict between their desire to be with their children and their desire to work.

Finally I said to her, “You have just very clearly said that you want to be with your baby. My advice is to go with that. Accept that, for this season of your life, that’s what you’re going to be doing. All the things you learned in your Ivy League education, and all the skills you have, will still be there when your kids grow up and leave home.” It breaks my heart that in our culture we have told women that they should be questioning themselves, or somehow ashamed of themselves, if they want to take care of their babies. That is just wrong.

The stated goal of the Ruth Institute is to promote lifelong married love to young people. What prompted you to start it?

I started it because I could see that there was a need for more than just me trying to get this message out. I could see that women, and men, too, were responding well to what I had to say but there was just way more work to get done than one person could do. And the basis for stating the goal in those terms, which came from the genius of Pope John Paul II, was to stop talking about all the prohibitions of Christianity. So instead of talking about being against divorce or against cohabitation or against premarital sex, let’s talk about what we positively want. His insight was to say that all those prohibitions point to something positive. People want reliable, permanent love. Let’s make people hopeful, because if you’re hopeful that you’re building toward something positive, then it’s easier to say no to things that are in the way. You have to have the positive image of where it’s all headed.

You’ve become a go-to person on the topic of same-sex marriage. People often argue that we should just let same-sex couples do what they want, since they’re not hurting anyone. What do you say to them?

We actually are allowing them to do whatever they want. What we’re not allowing them to do is redefine the institution of marriage to be a genderless institution. We’re not allowing them to take over the primary institution of society, which defines parenthood and defines the relationships between the generations.

Many arguments around this issue are confused between the personal, private purposes of marriage and the public purpose of the institution of marriage. The public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. It’s an issue of justice that everybody in society recognizes, that these two people are the parents of the child and nobody else is. Not grandma or the babysitter or a previous boyfriend, or all the people who might possibly show up wanting to be the parent. No. These two people are the parents of the child. That’s what marriage is designed to do: to attach to the biological mother the man who is the father of her child. And the marriage institution has social and legal norms of sexual exclusivity and permanence attached to it. Those are key features of marriage.

If you look at same-sex couples, both at what they say and their behavior, neither permanence nor sexual exclusivity plays the same significant role. In other words, if you’re in a union that’s intrinsically not procreative, sexual exclusivity is not as important. Once you start thinking like that, you’ll see that everything people offer as reasons why same-sex couples should be “allowed” to get married—all of the reasons are private purposes. Sometimes it’s nothing more than how it will make them feel. It’s not the business of law to make people feel a certain way. When you see that redefining marriage is going to, in fact, redefine the meaning of parenthood, removing biology as the basis for parenthood and replacing it with legal constructions—then you see that there is quite a lot at stake in getting the definition of marriage right.

I just read an interview with a conservative columnist who opposes same-sex marriage but will not write about it because he doesn’t want to offend his gay friends. And I think that applies to many people who are concerned about hurting feelings. What about those people?

Well, my first question to them would be whether they get the argument as to why it’s not a harmless redefinition. Because once you get it, the question is, what are you going to do about it? I would say there are some people that you’re going to offend if you speak out. You have to decide whether you’re going to be on the side of truth or not. How bad does it have to get before you’re going to open your mouth? Marriage has been redefined in Canada. And the province of Quebec came out with a policy against homophobia. In that policy, the provincial government said it was going to work to stamp out not only homophobia, but heterosexism also. Heterosexism is the view that heterosexuality is normal.

Look. Heterosexuality is normal in our species. We are a species that propagates by sexual reproduction. If the government gives itself the power to wipe out a belief that is actually true, what that means is that the government’s given itself a blank check to do whatever it wants. Now they’ve set up a registry where anyone can anonymously report a homophobic act. That means they’ve set up something that will allow people to spy on their neighbors and anonymously make accusations. How bad does it have to get before you’re going to be willing to offend someone at Thanksgiving dinner? What’s going on in Quebec is a very ominous development.

If same-sex marriage were to become the law of the land, what do you see happening? People sometimes talk about polygamy becoming the next shoe to drop.

Oh, the polygamy thing is already in progress. I don’t think there would be any problem removing the requirement that there be only two people to a marriage. My bigger worry is not so much plural marriage as it is plural parenthood and contract parenthood. The real radicals believe that a dichotomy between parent and non-parent is oppressive. What they would like is what they call “intentional parenting.” If you “intend” to be a parent, that’s the key thing. And they’re working to create legal institutions that would allow people to establish themselves as “intentional parents.” So what that means is, instead of every person coming into being as an act of love, people are going to come into being as an act of the will and nothing but the will.

My nightmare scenario is all the different ways that are going to transform what is means to be a parent. It will allow the terms “mother and father” to be replaced by “generic parents,” losing all gender language. These are the things that keep me awake at night. We’re talking about having three and four parents who have divided up the parenting responsibilities among themselves. We’re talking about creating an institution that has parents being primarily something that’s legal, not based on biology or kinship. And I think that’s going to be a nightmare for every little person who gets born into society, even if he or she doesn’t have that happen to them.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?

I don’t think in terms of optimism or pessimism. I think more in terms of theological hope. I try to cultivate the theological virtue of hope, of being hopeful that our Lord will use whatever’s happening for the greatest good. If we are thankful to him and we proclaim his truth in love, we hope he will somehow use that for good. I don’t know exactly how, or how long it’s going to take.


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