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How Society Works

How Society Works

Rebuilding America One Father and Son at a Time

Tags: , , , adolescent sexuality, child well-being, children, culture, Dating, family, fathers, feminism, men, men, Pat Fagan, sex, sexuality, Uncategorized, young adults, youth No comments

To do a good job in raising their sons, modern fathers have to dig deeper into the nature of fatherhood, deeper than fathers ever had to in all of human history because of the Marxist feminist assault on “patriarchy”,amplified by technological shocks (the pill, internet pornography, etc.). Because the enemy dug deep so as to understand how to deconstruct society and family(see Shulamith Firestone’s seminal influence on 1970’s feminism: The Dialectic of Sex), men today have to dig deeper still. This may well turn out to be a great blessing because here after, men can pass this deeper knowledge on to their sons and in the process become better men themselves while forming their boys to be even better.  While the father will make the boy, the boy will also make the father. As Seneca said: “While we teach, we learn.” Understanding fatherhood better, men will live it better.

What ironic justice if “man, fully alive” develops as an unintended consequence of feminism. 

During the different stages of his son’s growth into manhood, the father will touch on fives themes repeatedly, going deeper each time, as he judges what his son needs to know and what he is ready to absorb:

  • About the physical and biological facts of sexuality (male and female) that his son will need to know during the next phase he is entering. It is best the son get this information from his father first — not on the playground from other boys nor on the screen from strangers.
  • About the differences between men and women. This is remote preparation for understanding and accepting the very different modes of seeing and experiencing things that are the ways of his mother, sisters, and future wife.
  • About how to choose a good wife.  Prudently prepared and lightly delivered, these nuggets of wisdom will affect his choice of a good wife.
  • About the inner moral struggle that all boys and men have to engage in, deep in their own hearts, on their way to manhood. This is a key point of identity between a father and son: That unique male way of battling to live well. This aspect is the core of a father’s formation of his son.
  • Sadly, about the dangers of abuse and pornography, which will have to be introduced early in a boy’s formation because of their pervasiveness. 

First Phase: Early Childhood

Well begun is half done.

The relational foundation of a boy’s sexuality is his earliest relationship with his father. If this is warm, affectionate and enjoyable the journey is off to a great start.   The demand on the father is one of time and possibly of temperament. Giving his time to his son is his greatest gift, always.  The more and the earlier the better.  As the child reacts with joy and laughter the father is naturally encouraged and rewarded.  The embrace and horseplay that father and child engage in develops his son’s trust and confidence. 

The task is friendship, the method is play: Anything and all that the son enjoys with his father. It can be tiddlywinks or football, drawing or singing, reading or baseball, fishing or hiking. Whatever brings joy to the child.

Also, this early stage is the time that deep friendship is most easily formed.  It will yield fruit in mid-childhood and adolescence when that friendship will be tested by the strains of that phase. 

With such a friendship in place the later phases will be handled with much great ease.

To be continued next week….

To Re-Build Society One Father at a Time

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Boys becoming good fathers is an unchanging need in every generation, else sexual chaos and violence ensue. It takes cultural deliberation to ensure well-ordered male sexuality.

However, Marxist feminism took deliberate lead in the deconstruction of the family in theUnited States, by severing of the father from his family. (Only 46%of American 15-17-year-olds now live with both biological parents).  This absence of fathers is coming into focus as the strongest long-term cause of the now- frequent eruptions of unpredictable forms of violence.

By contrast, a stable society needs fathers who are bonded with their children and who form the sexuality of their sons, so that they, in their turn, build up their own future families rather than tear them apart through uncontrolled sexuality. Malformed male sexuality leads to chaos and to sexual oppression, as the #me-too movement has made abundantly clear. 

The founders of The National Organization for Women (NOW),understood that to mold America in their Marxist image of a “good” society the two universal obstacles to this goal — the traditional (“patriarchal”) family and religious practice — had to be removed. Their brilliance was in seeing how to achieve both without having to resort to government coercion: Sever the father from the family by removing all constraints on the sexual

However, their brilliant success, though destructive, has by now made clear to all that cultural norms on male sexuality determine the level of chaos or order in any society.

A peaceful society will ensure that male sexuality is well-ordered by being well-channeled into marriage.  The dedicated, involved father, well bonded with his children, is the keystone to such a well-ordered sexuality, while his absence is a major gateway to chaos. However, nature does not help fathers as much as it helps mothers.  Something more is needed.

The contributions of both mother and father to this good order are very different, yet very sex-specific. The unique but complementary contributions are most visible in the DNA of their child, as each sex contributes its half to the double helix. In the relational domain each sex also makes similarly different but complementary contributions. 

Feminist ideas have suppressed the most obvious of differences between a man becoming a father and a woman becoming a mother. She is swept along by her biology: once conception takes place biology takes over (unless a woman overrides biology by having an abortion). In the beginning of the child’s new life this biological control is so small it is imperceptible, but soon makes its power visible in gestation, giving birth, and lactating.  The father who attempts to develop a bond with his child anyway near as close as the mother has nothing like her biological “assists.” For him it takes an act of his will. He has to choose to act and follow through with responsible action. This deliberately-constructed closeness is the foundation of his later ability to channel his son’s adolescent sexual drive into honoring women not exploiting them.

This choice by father to deliberately form an individual relationship with his children puts in place the keystone of the well-ordered family, which in turn is the building block of the well-ordered society. Sound societies have cultural patterns that guide the male to make this choice while shaming those males who do not, because it is an unchanging need in every generation that boys become good fathers, else sexual chaos and violence ensue.

The next two blogs will focus on the steps a father needs to take to form the sexuality of his boy, so that his mature son will honor women, be a faithful husband and a dedicated father.

Teen Romance and the Future

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With our first romance we saw the world in a whole new way because of the one who was absolutely wonderful, and who thought the same of us. 

During our early teens, we began in earnest, the journey of our inner life in earnest, an inner life complicated by our sense of how others regard us, which in turn affected how we regarded ourselves. No wonder teenagers are confused and confusing.  Many of us spent the rest of our lives trying to reconcile how we value ourselves with how others value us.  A lucky few learn early on that this reconciliation is achieved only by being courageous — by being true to oneself and true to the other at the same time. With that insight anyone can begin to build the good relationships that are at the heart of our existence.

Parenting and education are important because this insight does not come naturally. Nothing shapes us more that the intimate relationships that are imposed on us, those with our mother, our father and our siblings. These foundational relationships we do not get to choose.

Apart from these imposed relationships lie the relationships we do choose — our spouse and our friends.  By these choices we mold who we become. Without direct instruction, however, we are unlikely to learn this.

Such instruction can impart deep wisdom – that through my friendships I can become the self I am happy to be. Even deeper: that my value as a person — being a person as opposed to being someone’s tool — is reflected most in my friendships. Few are taught this explicitly.  It is definitely not taught in the sex-ed imposed on teenagers today. It is its sexual potential that gives romantic friendships their energy. They are important relationships on the journey towards marriage and those relationships we are going to impose on our children.

As mankind moves towards conquering extreme poverty (and there is talk of achieving this by 2030) our relational needs will come roaring to therefore, because our high-tech mode of increased productivity is being purchased at the high price of attenuated relationships and fewer real friends.

Some, aware of the ‘thin-ness’ of how we have produced antidotes, such as the work of Virginia Satir who started a “relational revolution” in psychotherapy that has spread to virtually all dimensions of the applied social sciences; in philosophy with the work of Leonardo Polo; in the theology of the body of John Paul II; in economics with the rediscovery of “the fourth law” of the voluntary redistribution of goods in the work of John Mueller;  in business with the customer-service-approach of William Bowman of CUA’s School of Business.  In neurological genetics, a recent breakthrough illustrates the capacity of  stress— the relational life of a father—, to change the DNA of his child.

We all can contribute to building a relationally-centered-civilization by celebrating teen romance — the first deep experience of “intimacy and otherness.” This is a pivotal point in the formation of the heart and mind, when young adults learn we are made more complete through this relationship, especially if it is one in which I am true to myself and true to the other. Soon, Valentine’s Day will be here, giving us our annual opportunity to impart this attractive wisdom to the young generation.

Two Major Reports on Sex Gone Wrong: Among Parents and Among Priests

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Most people will not think of the recent Census data on Parental Raising of Children in Different Family Forms as an illustration of “sex gone wrong”—- but it is.   The child is the product of the sexual intercourse of the parents and the impact on the parents will last till the end of the lives of the parents… much better and benign effects when they “get sex right” in intact marriage, and much more onerous for them (and their children) when they don’t “get it right.”   The chart below shows that the proportion of parents “getting it right” diminishes over time, from 63% at the birth of children,  to 46% by the time the child is 17.

The second report is also about sex going very wrong for a very small, but extraordinarily influential, portion of celibate Catholic clergy.  Fr. Paul Sullins, Research Associate at the Ruth Institute and retired Professor at the Catholic University of America, has reanalyzed the John Jay Institute data, United States Catholic Conference data and Los Angeles Times data to yield the clearest report to date on what happened, its extraordinary decline, and now a possible inching back up again among that few who cause disaster. 

Here are three key charts from within the report for your study and your own conclusions.

The power to procreate is like nuclear physics of the atom: it is massively powerful when released — for good, or for evil.  And as everyman knows, no one is immune from sexual corruption, it is time for us all to reform and turn from “defining deviancy down” on matters sexual, to raising the bar higher again.

Sex, Fathers, and the Future

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The total population of North, Central, and South America is less than a billion.  Europe’s population is much less.  Africa’s population is about one billion.

In the last 100 years the world has eliminated one billion children through abortion. In other words, whole continents. World War II was a walk in the park compared to this. The US alone has aborted 58 million infants (the total  population of the US as it came into the twentieth century,  and almost the same as the total populations killed in World War II, the bloodiest war in human history.  The “body-count” in the Holocaust pales in comparison to this, US-only “body count”. Clearly, we “do sex” wrong.  Humankind has never, ever,  “done it” so wrong. 

In the US, for children who survive pregnancy and make it to birth, most of their parents cannot stand each other enough to live their lives together and raise their children to adulthood.  Slavery has returned to the US—in the form of sex trafficking.  Pornography addiction (to some degree or other) is almost universal among young men. Cohabitation is the majority’s choice despite the widespread knowledge of its bad effects. STDs are “through the roof and are now mega epidemics — having been epidemic for decades.  Motherhood is frowned upon in the academic world and most business put up with mothers only because they are forced to if they want female workers.  The list could go on and on— and that is without going near what is being taught and not taught in churches— of all denominations! 

As a society we have really lost our way.  Leaders in all institutions have lost their way or their courage. There are some who know how to “do it” but most don’t, or are afraid, and public schools and academia are not only totally lost, they lead down the wrong and debilitating path — even in the face of overwhelming data. Proof?  Just look around you.

Where do we start to rebuild? 

This rebuilding starts with men — with fathers in particular. 

The fundamental correction involves all fathers taking back from everyone else the sexual education of their sons. Mothers need to do the same for their daughters. However,  the sine qua non is that fathers become the sexual tutors of their sons, because, given the nature of males, men have much greater and difficult task to achiever bringing  their sexual impulses under total control.

The program is simple: Every father worthy of the title, wants his son to end up happily married to the girl of his dreams and wants to show him the way to pull that off.  This is what fathers do: make men out of their boys.

Now that presents a difficulty because most fathers, today, have not achieved that status or have lost it: they are single or married to some other woman.  Thus, they are quite handicapped in giving what they do not have.  However, let us leave that major difficulty to the side for the time being and focus instead on what has to be achieved: Lifelong marriage of a boy to the girl of his dreams.

As a nation— as a culture— we either go for this or we break apart into factions, because sex — at every level of social organization, from the couple to the polis— either powerfully binds us together or powerfully splits us apart. Those who do not go for the gold of lifelong marriage,  ultimately, are prepared that our nation be split into pieces.  Too strong a claim?  What happens to families after divorce?  Multiply that by millions and then by two or three generations and then you have a nation and culture falling apart.  The choice is not just and individual choice it is a political one (in the pure sense of the polis). 

How men handle their sexuality is at the bedrock level of society.  This is something the Marxist Feminists understood very well, though for nefarious applications.  

Feminists and lots of other women are clear on what they don’t want men to do sexually, and they are right!  But they are NOT clear on what they want men to DO. And without a clear destination anyone is lost. So, feminists, though correct in their attacks on predation, are totally wrong on the nature of sex. There is only one destination that makes sense of sex: Sex is meant for marriage and procreation— procreation within marriage— both entwined.  There are lots of secondary derivative purposes and benefits but these two, procreation within marriage,  are non-negotiables if we are to avoid social chaos, and if justice is to be done to every child, and if we are to be a people who want justice for every child.

Maybe the biggest natural barrier to achieving this justice is a universal fact about being male: for every man a huge portion of females are physically attractive to him— and will remain so throughout his life, no matter his marital status. Men see, and immediately register, the beauty and attractiveness of every female before they know anything else about her. And if a man permits himself to pursue that attraction to its logical end (intercourse) he can be in big trouble for the rest of his life, and worse still, he will have caused chaos in the lives of the woman, her extended family, his own extended family, and in particular, and most disastrously, will have severely damaged the children that result from that intercourse (either eliminating them in abortion or leaving them with split parents for the rest of their lives – and  the grandchildren’s  lives.

The only way that sexual attraction can be properly handled is by channeling it towards one person only — the future bride.  Finding her is a long and delicate process for which a good father is the best guide, by far.

The journey to the bride starts in childhood.  It used to start in adolescence for most of human history but now, with pornography being universally and aggressively obtrusive, it starts for boys around age seven or eight, because with his first exposure to it he is beginning to go down the right path or the wrong path.

(By the way – I am all for the death penalty for pornographers. The human suffering unleashed by pornography is so large it is beyond comprehension.)

Back to the task:  fathers now have to begin tutoring early if they are not to be too late.  By age 7 or 8 it is already urgent and assumes a good level of affection between father and son for this next phase to be successful.

The good father lets his boy know (despite his son not yet being interested in girls) that he wants him to end up as a great young man with a beautiful young wife who will be his companion and best friend for life.  Even the father who has failed to achieve this for himself can lay this out for his son. 

Gradually – and differently for each son – he leads him to understand the fundamental complementarity between male and female; that this complementarity between his mother and father brought him into existence and an even greater complementarity and unity between them is needed to raise him to be a great young man.  The father reminds his son that he exists because he, his father, used his sexuality to bring him into existence!  (This is a most powerful lesson each modern boy needs to hear from the lips of his father.  Without this exchange a father is neglecting the growth of his son).  He lets his son know that his father, and he alone, is the one to guide his son in teaching about sexuality and that his son should take it from no one else unless his father says it is OK.  He even goes so far as to teach his son how to demand this as his (the son’s) right in the classroom and any other place.  He teaches his boy how to be a modern warrior — and gentleman — in these sexually hostile times.

The father paints, repeatedly, the goal of the great woman to be won over – by his son being a great man. He teaches him that in this domain “like attracts like!”  He cannot have a great woman without being a great man. It is impossible.  (At the same time the boy’s mother is teaching the same lesson to his sister).

 The father teaches his son that along the way there are many traps and snares for every man; that there always has been and always will be.  The first snare that modern boys confront is pornography — new, modern and powerful  in its intrusiveness and alluringness (that is what makes it a snare).  The father tells his son (at the appropriate time) how he combats his own temptations to look at pornography.  He does it in a way that invites the son to lean on his father for help whenever that struggle is present – and it will be.  The father promises to protect him within the home and at school but tells him he has to learn how to protect himself when his father is not around.  And he reminds him constantly that all this is for the sake of that wonderful girl he is going to win some day.  The purer his heart the stronger it will be and the more easily she will sense it and be attracted by it. And he in turn will be able to recognize a woman with a similarly pure heart – ready to give it to the right man but only to the right man and only to one man!

Anybody with an ounce of sense will agree with the above. Anyone who  does not is an enemy of children.  Harsh? Yes — but true and fundamental to a just and peaceful society.

In all my years working with couples and families, with data and research,  with evaluating programs and trying to figure out how best to help couples and families, I have concluded that nothing is more fundamental in the cycle of life and of  nations than that the father be the one to induct a boy into sexuality.  No one else.  All else is fraud — dressed up no doubt, but fraud.

Given this, I think it is time for another Revolutionary War.  This war is not fought with guns (though, if it is not won there will be a war with guns).  It is the revolution by which fathers take back from everyone else, no matter who they are (teachers or clergy),  the sexual education and formation of their boys.  

We all love appropriate battle cries, such as New Hampshire’s “Liver Free or Die”.  The one every father needs close to his heart (and on his lips when need be) is “Keep your hands off my son’s sex!”

 If we get enough fathers taking “sex ed” (it really is sexual malformation)  back out of the schools (public and private, denominational or secular) we can change America. If we don’t we lose it.  

Too simple? No, no matter the difficulty of doing it.   I see nothing more foundational than this in the cycle of human existence, handed on from one generation to the next.

(By the way, this is the ultimate reform the Catholic Church needs to rectify its own house on sexual ethics for all vocations—for marriage, priesthood, religious celibacy or single lay life.  It was the “program” proposed in plenty of time by Pope Pius XII back in the 1950’s.  It is a pity of historical proportions that Catholic bishops and religious teaching orders did not take that to heart.)

May fathers take back the formation of their sons’ sexuality from everyone else!  It belongs to no one else.  If anyone wants to do any “sex ed” let them help fathers and mothers do it  — and most of them will need help to do this well.  But any other forms of sex ed is only adding to the problem.  Proof? Just look around you. 

It is already very late.  It is time to start this New Revolution. 

Taking Care of the Low IQ Poor

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Raj Chetty’s work, carried by The New York Times and now The Office of the Census, has made Americans more aware of the proportion who stay stuck at the bottom of the income scale.

From the work of many but especially Charles Murray we know that the bottom 10% is largely composed of those of low IQ… those with an IQ lower than 80.  They are not too bright. And in today’s more and more complex world they are at greater and greater disadvantage through no fault of their own.

The Army refuses to take anyone with an IQ in that category, so that route, effective for many as a first step up and out, is closed off to them.

Many groups help the “mobile” sector of the poor.  But the low IQ group is stuck and with little help and increasing isolation, abuse and crime. This was well depicted in the TV series “Wired”.

The need for community: A place to belong to with close others all around.

In a different era, in different political regimes such as the Middle Ages in Europe, but also in Asia, smaller communities were much more aware of these slower folks.  The good lord of the manor took it as his duty to provide for these — often by support of monasteries, but also by the provision of basic simple (though back-breaking) work. 

 Family and extended family has always been the primary source of support and is so today. But for the poor, family is now fragmented, sometime multiple times (multiple fathers for one set of children by the same mother).  The welfare state aids and abets this arrangement, essentially fostering fragmentation rather than unity and community.  Without marriage, community is virtually impossible and functional community is non-existent.

Those who are less gifted need, more than anyone else, family and community to whom to belong.  But for this they also need leadership capable of building community — of fostering belonging.

Our political order makes such virtually impossible.  Out wealthy and gifted live far away from the poor and the slow of intellect.  They feel no obligation and have absolutely no ties of relationship with or responsibility for them. 

They need help and leadership.

Leadership implies hierarchy.  An acceptable hierarchy is possible only under accepted norms of “the good”, i.e. shared moral norms.  As the good community can only exist upon good family life, a trusted hierarchy for community leadership necessitates a sound set of values, norms or principles around family issues, i.e. sexual issues.

Where can the poor find leadership anchored in a sound set of sexual issues today? In the same place they have always been found: in their places of worship. The worship of God always leads to sexual order —marriage, chaste living, fertility and putting family obligations first: to spouse and to children.  Well it always used to. Today a number of religious groups deny the need for chastity before marriage.

The welfare state does not promote nor address these issues. Our wealthy leaders (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg), if they believe in these values (and the personal lives of some seem to indicate they at least believe in marriage if not in chastity), are afraid to talk this way in public.

So, our low-I.Q neediest— those who most need leadership and a guiding culture—- have neither.

 But one source still seems probable and, in many areas, provides some of the leadership: the churches.  But, sadly, so many inner-city churches do not lead nor preach marriage for the poor and therefore not capable of developing community for the poor.  While chastity for the poor is unheard of. 

The poor, like everyone else, no matter their income, education or IQ, need marriage and chastity and bear the same consequences as everyone else.  One could say they need it even more.  The joy of a life with a good wife or husband is within reach of every class, rich or poor.  And for the poor man or woman, the greatest joy is their simplest and frequently their only one: helping each other by going through life together even when it is so tough.  Such a poor man with such a wife is really a very rich man.

 May we find it within all the human resources of the richest nation on earth and in history, the people who can lead the way forward for our slower brothers and sisters.

Neither the welfare state nor the elite (including the media which is under the control of the elite) teaches or leads this way.  Good relationships need community and prayer and worship (see Mapping America) much more then they need material goods.

 This richness will be brought to the poor by those who love God and love His poor.  And where it is happening it is almost exclusively through them.

We need a religiously base Peace Corps for our inner city poorest — and least bright…those with an IQ below 80: a good 10% of our population.  We had our past versions of this: religious orders of priests, nuns and brothers and the Salvation Army.  The middle ages had monasteries.  The 21st century needs its own new form of this perennial solution, its own from of dedicated, organized, effective love.

It will come.  Keep an eye out.  

Black Americans Losing Their Freedom

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Most Black Americans are less free than their ancestors under Jim Crow laws.  They no longer can marry and stay married.

Most Black Americans today grow up in broken families and suffer their parents rejecting each other.  (Other ethnic children do also, but less so.)

Compare the Black Family to the Asian American family over the past decades:

[To explore this further go to The Decomposition of the American Family Over Time by Henry Potrykus, formerly with MARRI. If you go there: Click on the words in gold to get what you want to see.]

Parents pass on a lot to their children, one of the strongest being social capacity. This learned complementarity between husband and wife is the great strength that keeps on giving… across generations. The rejection between husband and wife also keeps on giving — more brokenness across generations. The more splitting in a family’s history, the more the children will split. 

Where did this loss of freedom come from? Was this something imposed on Black Americans? Imposed on their church-going families? Where did this rejection virus come from? How is it so endemic even among church-goers?

And keep in mind, this is one Black parent rejecting the other. It is not imposed from outside. 

If Black leaders can build unity in the Black family, they can solve, not only their own problems but also white, Hispanic and Native American too.  Such leaders will become national heroes. 

How is this done? We can put men and women on the moon. But we do not know how build marriage for a lifetime. How do Asian Americans do it?  Can they transfer it? 

The five richest men in America, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all have intact marriages. If their combined funds could find the solution — nothing  would yield greater dividends to the nation nor restore to Black Americans the freedom most of them have lost.

The Power of Stories for MARRI

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Social Science data does not produce a warm and fuzzy feeling. It is quite cerebral. At times this causes me some significant professional problems. Now is one of those times.

We at MARRI have a number of donors looking at our work. They like it, but they are not sure of its impact. So, I am coming to you to ask for a favor: Not a donation of money, but something likely much more valuable to me right now: A story.

I ask you for a story (or two) about MARRI data: How it affects you, how you have used it.  Have you had others take a look at it? Use your own experience in simple terms.  It can be as long or short as you wish.

You have no idea how important your story might be for us. Please help by sending your story to:

marri.research@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director of the MARRI Project
Catholic University of America

When “Sacred and Sexual” Are a Toxic Mix

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In my thirty years of dealing with data on marriage and worship I have never come across anything like what I discuss today:  the interface between worship and sexuality for teenage boys and girls whose parents have divorced or remarried.  On all other outcomes measured,  the more people worship, the greater their benefits and the lower their deficits, but not here.

For a teenage boy, the removal of his father from his home through divorce, has volcanic effects on his relationships with girls if he worships God weekly.  For a girl it is not so much the removal of her father that has the worst effect on her  but the replacement of her father by another man if she worships God weekly.  These two related upheavals viciously subvert the effects of their worship of God, because the more they worship God, the more they violate Him — by violating others — in that dimension at  the heart of life, the sexual.  No wonder God really hates divorce.[1]

From the US federal data system, (the largest national data system in the world) we know that those who worship God weekly do best on every outcome, and those who worship Him least (“couple of times a year” or “never” ) do worst on all outcomes.  This holds for both adults and for children and therefore for the population in general.

You can view a sampler of the Mapping America results, or the whole demographic collection, but for brevity sake a few examples of the general pattern of effects follow.  That pattern is  invariable: the worship of God is  correlated with good effects while  decreasing worship correlates with bad effects.

But for the hapless teenage sons and daughters of divorced or remarried parents life is different.  (Hapless in that they had no control over what the “fleeing or expelling” parent did and are the passive recipients of the experience of divorce handed them by a parent or both parents.) 

For boys here is the chart from Add Health Wave II, using the largest sample of teenagers  of any federal survey (14,738 sample size).   When the full sample is looked at from the major categories of worship and family structure the results follow the normal pattern:

However, with boys who worship weekly in father-absent divorced families we get the very opposite:

The more they worship God the more they sexually violate girls.   For girls who worship weekly, it is not divorce, but remarriage that looms large in violations:

Comparing boys and girls side by highlights the disturbed psyches of male and female teenagers:

The “sexual intercourse with the opposite sex” is much greater for boys than for girls.  The effects of these trysts are powerful: their future marriages are much more likely to break up within five years, as the following chart shows:

Nowhere in the social sciences have I seen outcomes like these.  In this sole instance, the most frequent worship of God is correlated with an increase in a serious evil by Christian standards, keeping in mind that the majority of these weekly worshipping teenagers being Christian. 

 Had all these teenagers been granted their fundamental human right — to the marriage of their biological parents[1] — the violation of girls would be  much less.  The loss of chastity for girls would have been enormously reduced just by the normal human strengths that are conferred (socially constructed in today’s parlance) when the local community is composed of intact families that worship God weekly. From the chart immediately above it is reasonable to conclude that for from intact marriages where the family worships weekly, trysts above the red line would likely not have happened.  And with only one sexual partner (the average in this data for those in intact marriage families that worship God weekly), should they have gone on to marry each other (not uncommon in the 1950’s and earlier) their marriages would most likely have endured – because they would have been monogamous! 

Combining the two charts immediately above, we get some idea of the intergenerational impact of divorce on society, through its impact on the sexual behavior of the boys and girls affected.  Furthermore, the damage is intergenerational. It goes on and one.  The grandchildren of the divorced parents are much more likely to be subjected to the same experience over and over…though by then many families will have stopped worshipping God (divorce dumbs down the rate and type of worship that the family engages in[2]).   Given present family structures (see chart immediately below[3]), it is no wonder we live in a era of sexual chaos.  And it is not the teenagers’ fault.

What is it about divorce that seems to make the worship of God toxic? From myriad studies we know that the father’s role is paramount in the formation of sexual integrity in his sons and daughters.  But when he takes his sexuality outside the marriage, and especially when it is disrupts altogether through divorce  “all hell breaks loose” in the sexual core of his children. Surprisingly, the more frequently they worship God the greater that “hell” is.

A Freudian perspective helps makes sense. Though the boy may not be aware of it,  tension mounts within him when he goes to worship God the Father while his earthly father has abandoned him.  He seeks release by copying his earthly  father: leaving one woman to bed the next —  again and again. The more he comes to God his Father, the more women he will bed. Where else in human behavior does the keeping of one commandment increase the breaking of another?  What evil dynamic is in play?  Anger at God turned into exploitation of women?  Insights into that dark world fail me here.

The toxic mix of the father’s (or mother’s) shattering of marriage — the most sacred and sexual of earthly covenants— on his children, coupled with his children’s weekly journey to God the Father, yields a witches brew.   There is a real need to solve this mystery — depth psychologists working closely with pastors who have a special heart for these wounded teenage boys and girls.

[1] Malachi 2:16 

[2] See Fagan, P and Suanders, W:  The Universal, Inalienable Right of the Child to the Marriage of His Biological Parents,  BYU Journal of Public Law, Vol 32, Issue #2, 2018.  (Just released, not yet available online.  Online journal site:  https://digitalcommons.law.byu.edu/jpl/all_issues.html)

[3] See Fagan, P.  and Rector, R  “The Effects of Divorce on America”, (2004), The Heritage Foundation (summary).  Full article available at   https://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/fagan-divorce.htm

[4] You can derive this chart and 5,000 other charts  by using the tool box / dashboard at http://marri.us/decomp-family/

Family Disruption and Child Wellbeing

Tags: , , , , child well-being, children, depression, divorce, family, intact family, MARRI, marriage, Pat Fagan, social policy, youth No comments

The most comprehensive overview of the effects of divorce on children until then was a 2012 synthesis paper I wrote with Aaron Churchill. For this blog I composed a short review of the more recent literature on divorce using the National Institute of Health’s Library and database. The simplified results confirm and extend the findings of the 2012 paper:

Parental disruption of the family leads to increased levels and diverse forms of depression (very noticeably in China) and anxiety, earlier death and serious illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, increased rates of cancer and stroke, and other somatic symptoms, such as atopic dermatitis. Ironically, the divorce of parents also decreases the likelihood of taking the medicine needed to treat personal illness and increases additional poor health behaviors (smoking, alcohol use [including early drinking], and unhealthy eating [obesity]). These effects, especially depression, persist into adulthood for offspring of divorced parents. For children who are already depressed (linked likely to family unhappiness) depression deepens with the divorce of parents and episodes of serious depression become more frequent and sometimes morph into bipolar depression.

When parents divorce, a child’s world is shattered. For some children it is a slow disintegration. For others it is cataclysmic in its suddenness.  The depth of the wounds is much the same, though the variety of wounds is myriad and, though patterns abound, each wound is unique and idiosyncratic in its effects on the mind, heart and soul of each child, even when a grown adult.

With divorce, the very center of the child’s universe has imploded. Yes, the child has to pick up the pieces and get on with life,  but they are pieces, a poor substitute for a wonderful whole. If the marriage of parents is the rich soil in which children thrive, then divorce leads them to a perpetual depletion diet.  The rich nutrition of love and unity is bleached out of their food. Different events — a visit to a friend’s home, a scene in a movie, a line in a song — reminds them all the time that they no longer eat steak every day but rather a thinner soup that they just have to get used to. No matter how much divorced parents try they cannot deny their rejection of each other, nor the wounds that rejection causes: They have made their child’s universe crooked. Granted in many cases it is one parent who did the shattering.  Given the effects on his or her children such a person has become evil by doing so great an evil. Hard words?  Just read the effects above in the italicized paragraph again (and they are only partial; for the full list read the full paper).

As laws have shifted away from protecting citizens from harm, by forbidding evils and punishing wrongs, legislators have turned instead to “policy making”. This shift really took off with the sexual revolution and the divorce revolution. The more they aided and abetted the storm (passing no-fault divorce laws), the more effort they have to put into minimizing the damage: This is much of “social policy.”

It is disheartening to read research articles on the effects of divorce on children. The vast majority of studies encourage social policy to reduce the damage done to children by divorce.  Virtually nowhere is there a push for efforts to save couples from divorce, to rebuilding broken marriages or even (especially) those on the rocks. The mantra instead is one of conflict reduction… It is better that the children live in a home with less turmoil.  No one talks of a rebuilt home, a rebuilt marriage.

I know a man who is one of the great healers of “bad marriages”.  He may be  the greatest.  At one time he was working in a family court (a divorce court) in a large Mid-Western city. After he had demonstrated his skill by resolving  some awful relationships the judges gave him access to those waiting for their day in the divorce court. Soon, about half the divorce-seeking couples were going away HAPPILY reconciled. But that cut into the incomes of their divorce lawyers. In response, the divorce lawyers’ lobby got rid of him by having the legislature threaten to significantly cut the family-court’s budget. There is a special place in hell for the lawyers who pulled that off, and also for those behind the no-fault divorce revolution (read Jane Anderson’s 2014 on the effects of divorce if you think that too strong).

Next week I will delve into the effects (visible in the Add Health data) of divorce on boys. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the social science literature: The divorce of parents plus the worship of God turns boys into sexual predators.  

After this delving into the dark side, I feel like a good shower and a good drink, or something even better to revive the heart.