How Society Works

How Society Works

The Universal Right of the Child to the Marriage of His Parents

children, culture, family, marriage, rights of children No comments

No topic has more power to transform the male-female debate, the chastity debate, the abortion debate, the divorce debate and the feminist debate than the right of the child to the marriage of his (or her) parents.

Every child has this right from the moment of conception.  The child did not ask to come into existence but was brought into existence by the action of two people, a male and a female.[1]

Without his parents’ married love and commitment the child is not going to thrive the way he should.  He is not going to reach his “ordinary” potential.  It is a pretty clear cut case of a one-way obligation.  The child is not obligated to his father and mother — at this stage of his existence.

The adults (sexually mature: as in capable of transmitting life) are the ones with obligations towards the child, towards this new person they have most seriously affected — for the rest of his existence.

However this obligation cannot be enforced by law because the marriage of the father and the mother has to be entered into freely.  It is invalid if forced. So how do we ensure this right of the child?

We do it by culture — by the cult (cultivation) of moral responsibility for sexual acts.  This new person is the main (most serious) consequence of sexual activity.  Sexual intercourse is designed to produce children.  Nature pushes that way with extraordinary force.  It is extraordinarily serious.  The onus on the “actors” is heavy and long-term.

Living cultures get that point across.  That is why they shepherd sexual intercourse into marriage.

Every child has the right to the marriage of its parents —even if the parents do not give it or withdraw it.  The right still stays.  The violation of this right does not take away the right but only makes it clearer than ever.  It is in its absence that we see the effects of its withdrawal: children don’t reach their potential – for learning and earning, for living longer, for being happy, for marrying in adulthood, even for having and raising their own children.

So where do we start to get this right restored to its proper place in society?

One obvious place to start is in the churches.

Can Christian churches teach this?

Would your pastor be willing to say so from the pulpit?  If not why not?

Have you ever heard of such a sermon?

What would its effects be – after the commotion died down and folk accepted the obvious?

Teen chastity would soar.  Abortions would plummet.  Marriage would increase.  Divorce would plummet – at least in the churches. And with all these changes a host of other great changes would follow.

I suspect nothing would have the impact on shaping the culture than a restoration of respect for this fundamental, universal right of every child.

Would you bring it up with friends and see what they say?  What are the obstacles to getting adults to assent to this, first privately and then more publicly among their friends and colleagues?

Let me know what you think and what you find out. Comment below or email me directly at pat.fagan.marri@gmail.com

 

[1] A different essay could explore the rights of the child brought into existence by modern technologies and teams.

 

Will the South Ever Raise Real Men Again

family structure, fathers, religion No comments

Scratch anyone from the South and they bleed regional pride.  But the South is cause for some real heartburn:  It is, simultaneously, both the most religious-worshiping section of the country and the most family-broken section of the county as this map of American family structure makes clear. The whiter  the state (in color below) the less intact the family.

Think of the archetypal Southern man and strength and straight shooting (metaphorically speaking, though the other straight shooting come to mind too).  He is honest, tough, clear-speaking and loyal to his friends.  But the reality is most Southern men are not loyal to their children.  They don’t give them the family they need.  And even if there is a rifle in the back window of every truck shot gun weddings are as much an ancient memory in the South as anywhere else.

The fault may lie deep in the cultural icon of frontier American manhood with its ambivalence about chastity, especially for the single man. Out of wedlock births are common, almost normative.   Even pastors seem to think nothing of it, and say less.

We can have all the cultural debates we like about sexual norms and changing attitudes but the inescapable reality is our present patterns leave boys without fathers present, which gives us more young men without chests who are also cursed with small hearts.  And they in turn will sire more young men with even smaller chests and smaller hearts.  And their daughters: with absent fathers they will quickly find absent fathers for their own children. So we get double barreled single parenthood among their children.

Such is the reality of the white states in the map above.

The South needs a new culture, a new infrastructure: the man with a big heart who has the strength to make friends only with other men who are intent on bedding only one woman: the one each will marry, who will be mother to all his children, and who will likely bury him after a long and good life together.

Is the South capable of producing such men?  Are Southern public schools capable of shaping the minds of boys in that direction?  Even more: are Southern pastors capable inspiring young men to such strength, or are they too without chests even in their own churches.  Can any of them talk about chastity as love and strength?  Reality screams for this course correction, else the South will die a natural death — a natural cultural death.  Where are these modern strong men?  We all need their stories but young boys need them most.

All that religious worship needs to be harnessed.  Surely there are enough real men in the South to do so.

Sabbath Effects

family, religion No comments

Man is a relational being – and deeply so.  He thrives when he belongs and wilts when he does not.  One day a week, the Sabbath, can do a lot to replenish man.  The Sabbath is meant for God and family – for our most important relationships.  It is “Relationship Day” or “Replenishment Day”.

A great start is “Off to Worship God at Church” followed by family brunch followed by relaxed times with family and friends in the afternoon and, after family supper, a wind-down together in the evening.  If everyone attends to the needs of the others it will be a fantastic time (though the little ones will need much more than they can yet give).  Thus are our two great “belongings” replenished each week.

Of the Ten Commandments God only has two in the positive “Thou shalt” as opposed to the eight “Thou shalt not”.  The two “shalls” are ‘Keep holy the Sabbath day” and “Honor thy father and thy mother”.  God and family are the two big positives.  For the rest He gives great freedom — above the floor of the forbidden.  He does not tell us what to do but rather what to avoid, leaving us free to go about our unique paths in our own unique ways.  But on two issues He insists: the Sabbath and care of parents and family.   On Sundays (or Saturdays for a Jews, Muslims and some others) we take care of both.

Just as our physical body gets tired, our relational functioning gets frayed and needs upkeep and replenishment.  Hence the Sabbath.   And it is powerful in its consequences as every one of the Mapping America charts shows, on all outcomes.   Worshipping God a few times a month does not cut it.  The results are significantly less.  America may think it has become richer over the last few decades but as church attendance has dropped so too has its relational capacity, as anyone over fifty can compare and contrast.  No wonder God commands the Sabbath observance.  Human nature needs it.  Government, business and education all pay a heavy price when it is neglected.

Sound cultures build the Sabbath observance into the rhythm of society.  Dying cultures let it fade.

There have been experiments, mainly in totalitarian regimes, to alter the frequency and spacing of what had been the Sabbath.  But human nature tends to pull back to the fundamental rhythm of once a week.

Man is free to choose but he is not free to choose the consequences: they are built into his choices.  Even his physical DNA side needs the right relational nourishment — The Sabbath with the family.  And the social sciences make this so very clear.

Dear Immigrants: Welcome to Your New Home, Especially If You Are from Africa, Asia or the Middle East

family structure, immigration No comments

Though there are many reasons to welcome immigrants to our country you can now add mental health to the list.  Children of immigrants, on average, have better mental health than the children of their new home/destination country.  Within that group, children of intact married families do best.   The largest, multi-nation-of-origin and nation-of-destination study finds that the intact married family whose members are close and supportive of each other has higher mental health than the average mental health of their destination country.  Asians, Africans and Middle Easterners all outscore the population of their new homes (England, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden).  Though Latino children have better mental health, on average, than children of their new home there is strong evidence that family intactness and cohesion is lower in Latino families than in the other immigrant groups.

Given that the US is now, predominantly, a culture of rejection within the family it is to be expected that intact immigrant families are also mentally healthier than the average US family.

It would be good to find out if immigrants to the US from Asia, Africa and the Middle East have greater family intactness than Latinos and if they also have higher mental health scores.

This European study underscores the fragility of the Latino family, which I, like most others, had always thought meant a strong family culture, at least when they first arrived in the US.  If a young teenager does not have confidence in his family he is less likely to have confidence in himself.  For leaders in Latino community the lesson is obvious: strengthen marriage.

Man is made to belong in family and thrives when he does, no matter what the color of his skin or the culture from which he comes.  It is nice to have the social sciences illustrate a universal law of nature.

The Right of Children to the Marriage of their Parents

children, marriage, parents, rights of children 3 comments

The right of children to the marriage of their parents is foundational to religious practice and to strong cultures.

This much-neglected right of children is critical to the future of nations.  It is a natural right, not a politically conferred right. It arises from the order of nature. It rests on justice, for without their parents’ marriage children are condemned by them to a lesser life. Parents are also condemning themselves, at minimum, to lifelong guilt.

When acculturated the effect of this life is to increase chastity and marriage among young people, reduce (almost eliminate) out of wedlock births, reduce abortion rates massively, and similarly reduce divorce rates among parents.

Aside from the love of God I can think of no other phenomenon that can deliver such powerful consequences.  The child draws our better natures forth from within us.  In every aspect of our lives, the child can transform our potential into reality.   The child even causes adults to turn (or return) to God.

But this right now gets universal silent treatment.  In public discourse, it is absent. In rights discourse, it is absent.  In the classrooms of universities, law schools, high schools, middle schools and even of seminaries it is absent.  Most debilitating of all, it is absent in churches, synagogues and mosques.

But we all need it. Every baby born needs it to thrive.  Every teenager needs it to help motivate sexual control; every dating couple needs it so that they can freely cross the winning line of marriage; every married couple tempted by divorce needs it, so that they repair their marriage and grow in the strength needed to be lifelong spouses.  Children make adults of their parents.  They draw them out of themselves and on to heights of virtue they would not attempt without their children.

The nation’s future needs it because in its absence it is growing citizens without chests.

It is a right that cannot be enforced by government directly, for marriage must be freely chosen.  Therefore the institutions of religion, family and education must be to the fore in teaching and thus “enforcing” this right.

Slowly and steadily, the nations with such a culture will survive and thrive. Those without it will wilt, be overcome and disappear.

It is powerful in its consequences. It is foundational natural law, and reminds me my high school headmaster’s favorite quote: “The wheels of God grind slowly but they grind exceeding small.” Or as Richard Feynman put it:  “Nature cannot be fooled.”

 

Manners, American Style

Dating, feminists, manners No comments

Back in February I wrote on the single most important chart in all of the social sciences (to date), which illustrates the relationship between chastity and the stability of marriage: Those men and women who had no sexual partner other than their spouse had, by far, the most intact marriages.  When I first saw that data graphed in an Excel chart the thought that jumped immediately to mind was:  “Those Mediterranean cultures (that insisted on chaperoning) knew what they were doing.”  This week I read an article on good manners, American style, which illustrated one of the ways we Americans did the same in our culture:  “How to Treat a Lady: Reclaiming Manners between Men and Women” by philosophy professor John Cuddeback of Christendom College.  I recommend it highly for reading and dissemination.

“Women are to be reverenced, always and just because they are women.…The nature and dignity of woman may remain something of a mystery to most men.”

Women are always a mystery to men mainly because we are so alike in so many ways, as feminists rightly remind us. But we are also different, deeply so in body, in our ways of relating, and especially in the ways our brains work, which means we process all our sensory data somewhat differently.

Radical feminists don’t like any attention given to “differences between men and women” and thus don’t like a culture of manners between men and women.  I remember the first time I was rebuffed for opening the door for such a woman.  However men can disregard these instances except when a radical feminist needs her dignity acknowledged a different way.  In voicing her issue she is still saying loud and clear she wants her dignity acknowledged.

But radical feminists have made it a bit more difficult to do that when they insist on the right to abort their babies.  It is more difficult to see the dignity of killing 50 million American children.  But real gentlemen can look beyond even that to the potential mother still within.  It is that potential which confers so much of the mystery and beauty on woman.  Men, by treating women with the manners our grandfathers had, can take leadership in wooing women back to a culture of love and awe.  Enjoy Cuddeback’s article and maybe you know some young men who would read it. It is a building block for the culture we are rebuilding.

Who Guards the Guardians in the Social Sciences?

abortion, mental health, social science 2 comments

A First Things article berating pro-lifers for overstating the findings on abortion provoked this blog on free speech in the social sciences particularly regarding two-abortion related topics 1) abortion and breast cancer regarding which the First Things author incorrectly stated there is none, and 2) the effects of abortion on the mental health of the mother which the author correctly opined is often overstated by pro-lifers.

Regarding abortion and breast cancer: there is a clear connection but not for all abortions. It seems to be triggered by second trimester abortions, not first trimester abortions.  Once the biology of breast development is understood this impact make sense.  We need much more careful research (which we most definitely did not get from NIH, nor the American Cancer Society, nor The American Psychological Association). Political correctness (cultural Marxism) reigns supreme in the academy when the contentious issues of life and sexuality are in play.

For a review of the research on the effects of abortion on breast cancer, see this critique of all the major studies used by ACA, NIH and APA to make their conclusions: Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer

The better read for most folk is the summary of the article, unless one enjoys digging into extensive, detailed critiques, a tedious task for most laymen. However when publicly taking NIH to task on research negligence as happened in its infamous and stacked conference on the issue, and when taking on the APA as well, one must be careful and precise.

One of the signs of likely robust scholarship on the “natural law” side is that their controversial studies are ignored. Opponents cannot respond in open debate without giving exposure to the research.   The media, sharing many of the same prejudices, do not report them either.

The second area of study — the effects of abortion on the mental health of mothers — is mixed: There are many who are affected and many who are not. Why such is the case is likely a fruitful area of research already underway at the Marriage and Religion Research Initiative at The Catholic University of America under Dr. Paul Sullins, whose published research on this topic is worth reading.

The next stage of Sullins’s research will tease out the different effects of “wanted” vs “unwanted” abortions. The operating hypothesis is that one expects to see quite a difference in the emotional responses of the mothers.

Using the social sciences to cast light on human nature demands research care and researchers’ humility.  Before the data is in and replicated, everyone on both sides has to be tentative about his projections.  There will be many lessons for both sides.  Human nature is not as simple as we tend to make it, nor is it made in the way we often wish it were.

However, one thing I have learned in 45 years of working in this broad domain: there are extraordinarily few in the pro-choice “opposition” who are interested in the unvarnished truth, very few. But they do exist. Dr. David Ferguson of New Zealand comes immediately to mind.  But he too found great difficulty getting his (pristine) first piece of research on abortion effects published. For years he and his research team experienced almost automatic acceptance and publication in top British medical journals of research from the Christchurch Health and Development Study, one of the world’s “gold standard” longitudinal surveys. When they first investigated the effects of abortion they suddenly found their research unwelcome and blocked. In the article above, Fergusson (a “pro-choice” man) states:

These findings [of significant harm] are inconsistent with the current consensus on the psychological effects of abortion. In particular, in its 2005 statement on abortion, the American Psychological Association concluded that ‘well-designed studies of psychological responses following abortion have consistently shown that risk of psychological harm is low … the percentage of women who experience clinically relevant distress is small and appears to be no greater than in general samples of women of reproductive age’ (APA, 2005). This relatively strong conclusion about the absence of harm from abortion was based on a relatively small number of studies which had once or more of the following limitations: a) absence of comprehensive assessment of mental disorders; b) lack of comparison groups; and c) limited statistical controls. Furthermore, the statement appears to disregard the finding of a number of studies that had claimed to show negative effects for abortion. (Cougle et al., 2003; Gissler et al., 1996; Reardon and Cougle, 2002)

Such a statement in a well-regarded journal was, and still is, quite extraordinary. It reveals the anger of a truth-seeking scientist with the abuse of his beloved science. By the way, the APA publication he referred was the APA’s submission to Congress.

The situation today has not changed and is likely worse. The suppression of truth, even in reporting the research, is now a hallmark of the mainline scientific associations when it comes to the contentious issues of life and sexuality. This is a crisis within the social sciences. When scholarly exchange and critique is suppressed the science has metastasized and is destroying itself. However, it is so bad now on some topics I suspect the better-minded politically-correct social scientists will soon begin to revolt.

A side note: Google Scholar is a useful resource to find published articles in most areas. I expected to find the Fergusson article (above) there, but it is not to be found. His later articles which find lesser effects on women as they age are carried. Cultural Marxism, political correctness, may be operating in Google Scholar too, a disturbing characteristic for a much-sued “gateway” to research.

Patrick Fagan, Ph.D.
Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Initiative at The Catholic University of America
see www.MARRI.US for more overviews (by no means comprehensive) of the research on abortion.

The Most Powerful and Influential Teachers on Earth

family, fathers, marriage, mothers No comments

Last week we saw the powerful effects of two great teachers: the church and the state and the need for both to be fundamentally aligned if one is to have a peaceful and prosperous society. But in terms of power and influence, nothing compares to parents in shaping their children’s view of life and capacity for life.

From the moment of birth the mother has the capacity to orient her child positively to “reality” by making those first moments, days, months and even years enjoyable and welcoming.   Dying young soldiers often give testimony to this by calling on their mothers, instinctively harkening back to the great welcome into life even as they exit it.  By contrast, very troubled mothers can lay the foundation for psychosis if, rather than welcoming their child, they make those first experiences horrendous, and the child protectively retreats to a safer place within itself, cutting itself off from this dangerous world it has just entered.  Therapists later do their limited best to draw the person back out again.

Increasing attention has been drawn to the influence of fathers.  They shape the sexuality of their children by the way they relate to the mother of their children, for that is the primary sexual relationship in the family.  We know all sorts of other good effects such as the more they read to their children the quicker they come to read and love books.  The more time he spends with his children the more they thrive.  President Obama talked of this a number of times.

But what nobody talks about in the media is the effect of the parent’s marriage on their children.  A good marriage is more powerful than a good mother or a good father taken singly, much more.

But the most powerful marriage is the one that includes weekly worship of God.  Such a marriage is the most powerful teacher and educator of children in every measured aspect of human life.  The following is a snapshot of the national picture for the US, by family structure and frequency of worship.

Forget about Japanese schooling or German schooling or British schooling.  They are all good but don’t hold a candle to the father and mother who are married and worship God weekly.  They are the “tiger mothers” and “super dads” all wrapped up in one loving package.  They are the most powerful educators on earth.  And they can be found across the globe. But talked about nowhere.  Strange.

How Society Works: Two Teachers Who Often Clash, Sometimes Seriously

church, state 1 comment

Society has many teachers but the two biggest ones are the state and the church (shorthand for religious practice).  When they are fairly well aligned on moral issues society goes smoothly.

The Church teaches a universal morality (one that holds for all men at all times).  Reflection shows an enormous unanimity across cultures and religions on most of the tenets of morality as C.S. Lewis demonstrated in his essay “Illustrations of The Tao.”  The State teaches a state morality in the laws which forbid specific evils and protect specific goods.  Chaos comes when the state and The Tao are in conflict. Such are the clear lessons of history.

Both teach but in totally different ways.  The State teaches its “government morals” through the force it is prepared to use in arrest, judgment and punishment (from fines all the way to death).  The Church teaches by word but even more by example and most powerfully when both are combined (or most disastrously when word and example contradict each other).   Its most effective teachers are those who are obviously happy, peaceful and kind.

Both institutions have a very close relationship with evil.   The Church, at its best, inspires one to repent. Roman Catholics are quite used to this close encounter with evil in the confessional with their secret revelation and repentance of personal evils ranging from small faults to heinous crimes.  Other religions have their own form of repentance. The state, on the other hand, has a different intimate relationship with evil, in those it condemns to punishment.  For many prison is hell today, not because of the punishment, but because of their close encounter with truly evil people.

In a well-functioning society the church’s core competence is in leading individuals to lives of goodness and virtue, while the state’s core competence is in containing evil.  They both take on other tasks but these are the sine qua non of their roles in society. Thus the saint (the ‘ordinary’ everyday person of wide virtue) is the church’s best product (and its best preacher) while the brave soldier and just policeman is the best embodiment of the state.  By the nature of goodness the saint is very idiosyncratic while the good soldier or policeman are of the same mold. The first is very relational, kind and adaptive, the second are very instrumental and treat us all the (much) same way.

The church’s competence is in growing, the state’s in protecting. Society thrives when they both teach much the same lessons when what needs to be grown is also what is protected. (Hence the deep chaos-causing nature of laws permitting abortion).

How can the two be brought into alignment?  In democracies the only way is conversion of individual minds and hearts.  In dictatorships alignment is achieved by force.  So that leaves the United States with only one way to go: conversion.   We know who the best persuaders are, but are there enough of them?  Are we growing them?

MARRI’s User-Friendly Demographic Tool

Census data, education, family structure, income, MARRI, poverty, sexuality, single parents, social science, welfare No comments

Over the next few weeks we will introduce you to different tools and resources in the MARRI website.  Today we introduce you to a tool that permits you to pick out the charts you want to see at the national or state level (your own state for instance) on a number of outcomes such as poverty and welfare.

These graphs chart the changes in the American family from 1940, just before entry into World War II,  to 2013.  This is a charting of the change in American culture over time, from one of significant belonging within the family to a culture of significant levels of rejection within the family.

You can analyze these trends by
•    The nation or by any particular state;
•    By total population or broken down by ethnic group;
•    By male or female or both combined;
•    By adult or children or both combined;
•    By outcome: family structure; education (but this not for children), poverty and welfare.

There are a total of 500 charts in the tool. All the data is from the Office of the Census, drawing on decennial census data and annual survey data.

To pull up the charts that are of interest, you click on the appropriate tabs on the dashboard.  When you click on a button it will turn either blue or gold.  Gold indicates the variable you are picking.  Blue indicates a tab is turned off.  Gold is on; blue is off. Thus if I wanted education outcomes for all adult males (only) in the state of Utah, the tabs for Utah, adults, males and education would be in gold, everything else would be in blue.

By playing around with the dashboard and you will quickly see how it works.  It may take a second or two to function as the tool is “in the cloud” not in your computer.

Occasionally you will find blanks where we do not have data for a cluster of variables, e.g. on education attained for children.

Enjoy the tool, and spread the word, particularly to students!