family

family

A World of Order or Chaos

family, natural family planning, women No comments

Today we come to celebrate the work of Natural Womanhood, whose calling is to tip the world towards the future it needs if it is not to descend into yet more chaos. (A version of this with footnote references may be found on the MARRI site here.)

Every natural family planning method teaches the “how” of going about the marital act but they hide their fundamental purpose: a family built on the unity of wife and husband, and built on the woman’s personal choices. In the world where woman has her full dignity she controls access to sexual intimacy; thus, her desires and her fears take center stage in choosing “how” and when.  But to achieve this she needs her husband’s full cooperation.  With such a husband she has the man every woman dreams of:  one who cooperates with her and honors her at the deepest level – at the level of creating their child together.

One very significant piece of research was conducted on the NFP family but is virtually unknown: Dr. Robert Lerner’s comparison of an opportunity sample of Couple to Couple League graduates with a random national sample of all married couples with children.

Listen to this: On the question of success in raising their families 75 % of the NFP group scored in the “success group” (satisfied, very satisfied and extremely satisfied) while the national average was 6%.  At the other end, the unsuccessful group (dissatisfied, very dissatisfied and extremely dissatisfied), the national average was 69% while the NFP average was only 2%.  Differences such as these are very seldom seen in social science.

The reason, the cause, can be found in another result within the report:

On satisfaction with communication between spouses, 76% of NFP women are Satisfied (Satisfied, very satisfied, or extremely satisfied) while only 5% are Dissatisfied (dissatisfied, very dissatisfied, extremely dissatisfied). Seventy six percent versus five percent is virtually an unheard-of difference in the scientific literature, but I am certain of the cause because during my first three years as a therapist I learned the power of unity in marriage. By my third year of practice, I would not see a child until I could see the whole family (including father).   After a few sessions, keeping the focus off the child and on the whole family, I would suggest “Let us leave the children at home next time,” and then start working on the troubles in the marriage that invariably were a significant part of the picture.  When unity between the couple was restored, 95% of the children became symptom-free without “having to be treated”. The child thrives in the love that is unity between parents. This is the secret of success for NFP couples.

This is the great difference Natural Womanhood brings to the world. It offers a superior world, a world all women wish was accessible to them, a world of unity between husband and wife, where communications are great; where confidence in parenting is very high; where children thrive. And it all begins with sex: a choice between two lifestyles, two types of community, two cultures — two civilizations really–where people belong to each other or one where people are lost and reject each other and their children. The conversation about sex determines the way.

With the way of Natural Womanhood everyone wins: The couple, the child, the next generation, the community and the culture.

Why would anyone not accept this way? Because of the false promises, deceptions, easy “truths” that the “Cheap Sex” offered in contraceptive sexual intercourse — cheap because it promises the greatest of pleasures without Nature’s corresponding price of marriage and of children.  Contraception is inherently deceptive and hides — and never, ever acknowledges its costs, the highest often being the rejection, even the elimination of the child, as well as the relationship cost between the couple.   Everyone pays dearly.

Different women pay the price of myriad biological effects that at different rates, in different ways and with increasing visibility, are causing the bodies of women to breakdown in such illnesses as thrombosis, stroke, glaucoma, as well as breast, cervical, and liver cancers. It significantly increases weight gain, and complications with Type 2 diabetics. It changes brain functioning. All the woman’s biological systems are oriented towards attracting, conceiving, birthing, nursing.  Contraception closes these systems down, and different systems for different women crack under the strain. It is not nature’s way.

It has also brought us levels of STDs unknown in recorded history: We now have at least four “constant epidemics” with 20 million new infections per year, yielding a total of 110 million ongoing infections —- causing such damage as ectopic pregnancy, infertility and irregular bleeding.

The woman’s psychological costs include increased depression and anxiety. It even alters her perception of men leading her to choose a husband she never would have chosen were she not on the pill, or to not like her husband when she comes off the pill.

Ironically, it reduces the enjoyment of sexual intercourse for many women.

What a massive deception of women.

The Child (our future) has paid the highest price. Modern levels of child victimization are now so massive it is hard for the mind to grasp, and beyond anything ever experienced in human history — all because of sex gone wrong through contraception, which, without exception has invariably led to massive human deficits — starting with abortion, even in nations where it is outlawed.  Today, across the globe, 60 million new human beings are killed in the womb each year.  This is akin to deliberately repeating the total killings of WWII every year.

For those who live, in the US, by age seventeen, 54% live in a family without their biological mother and father living together — with all the concomitant weaknesses that brings in every major task in life. Most damaging of all is their diminished capacity and likelihood of belonging to a spouse and to their children in their own adult lives.

The biggest price for the man is that he is rejected by his woman (70% of the divorces and most of the cohabitations) after which he has less to live for.  And his father-absent sons, will in turn, become child-absent fathers in their time. These fathers die younger, sadder and lonelier, with addictions leading the way as the immediate cause, and suicide trailing a bit behind.

The community pays in the massive social costs of out of wedlock births, abortions and divorces, and these, not just at increased levels but at “culture shock” levels.  The sexual revolution of the 1960’s, the pill, has given us a severed nation where more than half of seventeen-year-olds now live in families where one of their parents has split.  For African Americans 83% have split.  The cost in the loss of human talent is astronomical, an absence compounded by its replacement by increased crime, poverty, addictions, mental illness, ill heath, educational failure!

Compounded over generations (now multiple generations for many) this is leading to increased victimization of children.

At the global level we see the depopulation of developed Western nations.  Europe is slowly dying, but by history’s timeline, very quickly. Northern Italy is the prime exhibit, where the child now has no brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles or cousins, where the future must belong to foreigner because the inhabitants are disappearing.  The same is playing out in Holland – which is likely to become a majority Moslem nation in your lifetime. God blesses those who give Him children; even God cannot bless those who do not exist!

The price to the body politic is an atmosphere of increased rejection, hostility, disunity and irreconcilable goals and factions.  Scapegoat-seeking is rising quickly: “You are the cause of this set of victims, for it cannot be me. And — if I get to say it first: you are the cause.”  This is the sound of a marriage breaking up. It is also the sound of a body politic breaking apart.

Culture pays the price in the death of romance — and with that the debasement of the arts and entertainment, along with the erosion of worship of God and the unleashing of lust, anger, hatred and violence. All the data show this.  And it all begins with sex gone wrong — with sex gone deceptive — with sex gone contraceptive.

Paraphrasing Longfellow we can say: “The wheels of nature grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small.”

Contraception has given us a world into which no sane adult would freely choose and only a diabolical architect would design. The world has been duped and deceived —- by the father of lies. But nobody believes in him anymore, so he continues to win.

Natural Womanhood offers a different world.

There is a trinitarian nature to human relationships — but it all depends on which trinity we put in place: the positive one or the negative one; the other-oriented one or the self-centered one.  The third person every sexually active couple deals with, inviting into or banishing from the conversation, is the child. One triad, the inclusive one, is like a three-atom molecule in stable orbit, the other, the excluding one, is composed of two atoms colliding with the third.  It is unstable and very dangerous as we have just listed.

We know and need not duck the reality that such stable couples are most often, though not exclusively, found among those who worship God regularly.

Though by now virtually every educated person knows that adults and children thrive most in the always-intact-married-family, but virtually no one knows that the same source of data – the US federal survey system — also shows, always, that the adults and children who thrive most also worship God weekly.  The royal road to thriving is the two great loves of marriage and the worship of God.  That NFP couples also often illustrate is thus no wonder.

And here is what they set in motion:

Without realizing it NFP couples openly teach the fundamental likeness of man to God in their conversations about intercourse, for they acknowledge the presence of the child, waiting eagerly on the sidelines, to be called into the ”game of life”, waiting so intensely it takes huge effort to keep him there till beckoned.  But when The Natural Woman and her husband call, that child is welcomed with a love that makes this new trinity on earth an image and likeness of  the Trinity in heaven — at least a beginning likeness.

This is the great reality that Natural Womanhood offers this child just conceived, the one cell zygote being shuttled by follicles down his mother’s fallopian tube to be lodged in her womb, there to grow into the baby that will soon upend her life and her husband’s forever, transforming her into a beautiful mother with a new fierce purpose in life while transforming him into a determined father, provider and protector.

Consider this: This newly conceived infant, at this point not even known to his parents but only to the Trinity, but drawing on the universal experience of the whole human race could say to his parents:

“I need your marriage, your growing unity, to become the person God intends me to be.  He has made me dependent on that love, which also happens to be the path for you to become the mature persons you must become— if I am to become the person I am meant to be.  From here on out, all three of us are dependent on this marriage. From here on we are a trinity.”

And we all are to worship God, at minimum, weekly if we are to become the person we are meant to be.  All human history, in all cultures across the globe, across all times, teaches this lesson. This way, together, we three can become much more the persons He wants us to be, so that we can be together with Him, after we have walked the full length of the path of life.” 

Natural Womanhood has appeared at its appointed time. By now many know about NFP, but barely and inadequately.  However, the deception of “Cheap Sex” is now more unmasked if only because the suffering it brings is more visible.  Furthermore, both social and biological sciences are on your side, because — when well done—they cannot but illustrate the way God made man.

But keep in mind that modern woman’s great conflict is the child.  Deep in her bones she knows the child is the price of happiness, but who can show her the way, and where does she find the man worthy of marrying her?

Because we all are created as imitators we have no choice but the wrong one if we do not have attractive people to imitate. Natural Womanhood is great work and must point to those worth imitating.  You are called to be great storytellers, called to build a new civilization worthy of a future by being worthy of the woman and the child.

I am sure God is with you as you set about your work.  May you experience His presence and His help, and enjoy heaven with those you help get there.

The Hidden Economy that Love and Mothers Generate

economics, family, marriage, mothers No comments

In his book Redeeming Economics, John Mueller, of The Ethics and Public Policy Center, formerly  an economic forecaster with many Fortune 500 clients, traces the suppression and the loss of the Fourth Law of Economics – the law of distribution.  This law had been well known to economists of the Middle Ages when the study of economics boomed — along with the boom in the European economy   (Adam Smith tried to reduce the laws  to one, failed, and ended up with two, but suppressed two.) Others since have added back the third.  The fourth has yet to be “rediscovered”, if one does not count Mueller’s work.   The distribution of the income of a firm, a family or an individual goes a very long way in adding to the economy of the firm, family or individual.  One basic example is how much spending vs saving vs charitable giving goes on. Some in the family often forego their share to take care of others (the law of the gift — of redistribution, freely undertaken).  Charitable giving at the right moment can make a huge difference to the life of someone in need; saving to send a child to college or to private school is another form of the gift.  There are myriad.  But going to the family level is the mother at home raising her children is involved in multiple gift-giving all the time and Nobel Laureate Gary Becker says makes a greater contribution to the economy than her husband working out in the marketplace.   That mother has a hidden and powerful effect on the money her husband brings home to the family.  She can make it go much further if she is wise.  The husband who has such a wife is much wealthier than the husband with the same income but a wife not as wise or selfless.  With a little thought you can identify women on both sides of this divide.

How large is that mother’s contribution?  We get some idea from the research of a colleague of mine at Catholic University, Dr. Sophia Aguirre.  Drawing on multiple federal economic surveys she demonstrated that when the mother goes out to work she has to reach pretty high levels of income to replace the lost “amplifying redistribution” effect, as well as making  up for the extra costs involved in going to work (clothes, transportation, increased taxes and  child care to name but a few).  Aguirre’s conclusion: “Yet, we also find that for the most part, the net income is [on average] economically insignificant.  Furthermore, the results suggest that the lower the income and the education of the secondary earner, the higher the probability of the net contribution to the total income of the household to be zero, or possibly negative.”

In other words, the net contribution of most mothers to the family income is not great, unless she is very well educated and can command a significant income ($100,000 +, ten years ago when the study was done).  Though this is disappointing news for many, looked at differently it is fantastic news for most:  The mother at home makes enormous economic contributions to her family and multiplies the income her husband brings home – and that does not even address the huge educational, psychological and social benefits of her presence to her children and their future earnings capacity (which was the basis of Gary Becker’s insight of her contribution to the economy being much greater than her husbands.  That conclusion depends on the time frame used to judge her contribution.  In a world of quarterly reports that contribution is totally missed.)

Now back to John Mueller: At a recent conference when he presented on the major insights of “Redeeming Economics” I asked him how much of the economy is hidden by the law of redistribution (the law of the gift, which among other gifts includes  the mother’s contribution at home).  His public answer: “About 50%”.  That is our GDP is twice as big as we think it is.

Mueller’s analysis and Aguirre’s analysis coming from totally different perspectives end up in pretty much the same place.  Mother virtually doubles the family’s economic benefit!

If one were to include the costs to the economy of increases in crime, addiction, school failure, ill health and mental illness — all resulting from “anti-gifts” — the absence of the gift of marriage to the children — with the depletion from the economy (crime, stealing, robbery, fraud, and all costs that would be avoided were all children raised in married families), this changes the picture yet more.

There is a long research road to hoe before this basic insight will be absorbed by the academy, by economists, by professors and their students, by legislators and those interested in wealth (investors and bankers), but the preliminary evidence is very, very big.

It is amazing how learned we can be yet how ignorant at the same time.  No wonder economics is the “dismal science” when it leaves out 50% of its field, all because it leaves out the gift of love in its most basic form: married family life.

Pat Fagan

Culture and The Success Sequence

family, marriage, society, success sequence No comments

Culture and the child are interdependent. Another significant recent report by Professor Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia makes the case, yet again, in a study for the American Enterprise Institute.  Both the parents and the child benefit if the child is born after the parents get married.

“Even millennials from low-income families are more likely to flourish if they married before having children: 71 percent who married before having children made it into the middle or higher end of the income distribution by the time they are age 28–34. By comparison, only 41 percent of millennials from lower-income families who had children first made it into the middle or higher end of the distribution when they reached ages 28–34.”

But seeing that the overall culture and cohesion of the US has significantly decreased, where do young folk go to imbibe the culture that guides them on these paths of human flourishing?  They need to find local mini-cultures, communities where the traditional elements of strong cultures are present and strong: married families, children, worship and prayer, all tied to happiness, neighborliness and mutual support.

And where will they find those local mini-cultures?  My grand-daughter and her mother were at a nearby parish for a soccer game and found the families there to be fun and involved and both hoped that some friendships might be nurtured.  However, they also found those local families to be so engrossed in each other they were not concerned to invite others in.  But behind the “exclusion” was the presence of a strength: local families taking intense care of each other.

In this mini-community, my daughter witnessed what the early Christians were known for: “See how they love one another!”  Local communities like that are needed to help those lost but looking.  It is important that those in such solid communities spot and welcome those who are seeking to join. (By the way, my granddaughter is doing fine: she has plenty of friends and her family is a member of a vibrant parish).

Our culture will be rebuilt one house of worship at a time.  By feeding the universal and fundamental need-to-belong, even financial benefits gradually accrue. The success sequence for millennials (one could say the sexual success sequence) is much the same as it has been for generations.

The Source and Power of Human Capital

family, family structure, human capital, marriage, religion 1 comment

Human Capital drives material and financial capital, across all the economies of the world.  That is why Harvard ranks so high: it “puts the best finishing touches” to the highest human capital it can lay its hands on (young people with high scores – who tend to come from good families) so their graduates can make the most of the future material and financial resources at their disposal.

 

But what is the source of human capital?   In three words: great long-term relationships.

 

The most fundamental of all relationships is that between our parents.  Nothing shapes the person as does his parents’ marriage (or lack of it).  Asian Americans have the most enduring marriages — and the highest achieving children in the US.

 

Some would contend — from the data — that one’s relationship with God is even more powerful and fundamental.

 

But really the question is: “Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?”

 

In the strongest families both relationships are present and the longer they are present the better the result – in all that the sciences measure.

 

The closer these relationships are, the stronger they are.  Close relationships, with God, spouse or children, demand care and nurturance. Ask any husband.  Ask any wife.

 

This is love – not romantic love, but enduring love.

 

The source of human capital is love: love of God and love of one’s closest neighbors: spouse and children.

 

The more generations these relationships have been in place the deeper and stronger the human capital.

 

That is what makes for Harvards, and economies and civilizations.  Love.

 

Thus, Africa is a growing civilization (religious practice is growing fast) while Europe and the US are diminishing civilizations.   The first is growing love more.  The latter are depleting love continuously.

 

Fifty to a hundred years from now the great migrations will be into Africa not out of it.

Difference Between the Individual and the Person: Proposition

family, individuals, persons, rights of children No comments

The difficulty with sociology is that it mainly deals with individuals and rarely with persons (though Mark Regnerus’ latest book, Cheap Sex, does both).

An individual is one among many.  A person is unique – unique to those who know him and relate with him.  Thus we are unique to our mothers who tend to know us better than anyone else, at least in our early years, and likely always in our fundamental personality.  We are unique to our spouses whether blessed with a good marriage, or not.  Sometimes a special friend knows us best for we have revealed more of ourselves to them than to anyone else.

We know we have individual rights — both universal rights and political rights unique to our citizenship.  Universal rights belong to all.  Individual political rights belong to those on whom they are conferred by the polis, by the community acting as a political entity.  Universal rights cross all borders; political rights are confined within political borders, and even within groups within these borders.

But do we have any personal rights distinct from individual rights?

Strangers I meet on the street are individuals to me and have individual rights I must respect.  But they are not yet persons for me, though they are persons to others.

However they are very much persons to their mothers, in whose womb they grew, whose eyes first looked into theirs and saw their first smile of “happy to be with you”.  Most of them are very much a person to their fathers, in a relationship that might rival that with their mother, if they are blessed.  Then with their siblings if they are blessed with a happy family life. And so the circle of person-ness extends outwards through close relationships.

If I have an enemy – one who wishes me ill – that changes my sense of myself and I am a different person because of that relationship. I know evil in an intimate way.  That makes me a different person.  If I have many enemies that shapes me into yet a more different person.

I may be blessed with many loving relationships.  I may be cursed with many personal enemies.

My relationships do not make me an individual.  I was an individual before I had any personal relationships.

What I am makes me an individual.  Whom I relate with makes me who I am.  The more loving relationships I have the easier it is for me to relate with others and with myself.   The more negative relationships I have the more difficult it is for me to relate with others and with myself. Our relationships amplify or detract from our ability to harness our capacities for good.

Are there any loving relationships to which I have a “right” — relationships which the other person has a duty to provide to me?

I posit there are three.  Everyone has a right to the loving relationship of their mother in the early years of our life. And the same is true of his father.  These two beings (father and mother) brought us into existence and thus conferred all the burdens of existence as well.  And to bear these burdens, to thrive in an ordinary, basic, human way we will need their loves.

But  we also need their love for each other because without that milieu of mutual love we cannot become fully the ordinary person we are constituted to become.  Just as it would be inhuman for my parents to deprive me of the oxygen I need to breath so too it is inhuman to deny me the atmosphere of love I need to become a person capable of relating well and intimately.

And because this is a universal need, a universal situation for every newborn, it is a universal right — a most appropriate “ask”. Universally is it a most appropriate “demand” of every child, a demand of the man and the woman who brought him into existence.

In the end, the very end, the most valuable reality I bring into the next life  is the web of loving relationships I have built; and the greatest concern I will have are the bad relationships I have caused.  I am what I have made of my relationships.  In the end only love endures.  Or hate.

Preparing for the Rebuilding of America (and Western Civilization)

child well-being, family, happiness, human capital, marriage, religion No comments

A few years ago I met Don Renzo Bonetti, parish priest near Verona, Italy. He is the founder of a family movement, The Great Mystery Project (“Mistero Grande” in Italian).  He said he was “forming the families who will rebuild Western Civilization after it collapses” and wished me luck with my work in the social sciences, which he thought could play its own role (rather limited) in this rebuilding.

Western civilization is collapsing very quickly — silently in Italy and other European countries, as they gradually disappear, demographically, before our eyes — raucously in US.  Our debate may be the first stage of the next great awakening.  It is not yet a response but there is a widespread awakening to the level of the crisis and a growing desire to do something about it.

The solution, the rebuilding of America, will be aided by our deepest roots as a nation, which are not in our being a particular people or race but in the ideals of freedom, articulated by our Founders as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   But these ideals alone will not be enough to carry the day.

Many institutions need rebuilding: schools, universities, media, movies, and churches. The reform needed for our ideals to flourish again in these will never take hold without the first and most basic reform – the rebuilding of our families.

Such rebuilding of the family is most likely to happen within communities of worship, because it is there that our national experts in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are most to be found: the intact married family that worships God weekly.

Where is life most abundant?  In the intact married family that worships God weekly.  Where is death most absent? In the very same place.

Where is liberty most abundant? Where are children free? Where are women and men most free to achieve the good they desire?  In that same place.

Where are people happiest?  In that same place.  The data is incontrovertible.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness occur most in the intact married family that worships God weekly.

This is the place where the two great loves are most present: love of others and love of God.  And these loves are both the seed and the soil of the rebirth of America.  These families know what to do and they are the most likely to help. This is America’s “Great Mystery”, its great resource.

Spread the word.

 

Pat Fagan

Chastity and the Future of the First Amendment

chastity, children, culture, family, religion No comments

The family is the most sexual of all organizations. But given the sexual chaos of modern times, new families who want to succeed in their task of child-raising must quickly find a community of other families of like mind.  They are most likely to find such families at their place of worship if the sexuality taught there is a family and child centered sexuality.

The data show (see chart below later) that central to family sexuality is an ethos of chastity, necessary for marital unity and stability and out of which flow myriad benefits.  Without chastity the family is no more a thriving family than a monastery without celibacy is a monastery.

Chastity is now central to the public argument for religious freedom because such families need their freedom of association and freedom of action to raise the next generation to live the same strong family life.  They need freedom to teach their own way of life: marriage till death do us part, and raising their children to do the same.  Much as the Amish fought and won their freedom of association and way of life, so too other religious communities are now finding they too must fight and win a freedom which they had assumed was theirs without asking.  It had been so.  It is no longer.

If we want our religious freedom we have to be able to make the argument for teaching chastity as a way of life, not as a “risk reduction strategy”.  Chaste family life is easy to defend in the public debate because it is far superior to all other ways, by any measure of human thriving.  Teenagers (who have yet to experience life and learn its hard lessons by experience) need to understand that there are lifelong consequences for “sowing wide oats”, as the most important chart in all the social sciences makes clear:

They need to be very familiar with the data (with the lessons of life experience) that the totally monogamous couple (only sexual partner ever: their spouse) is the least likely to divorce – by far. And that one third of women who have had only one other sexual partner (normally before marriage) are likely to divorce within five years, and that those who had two such sexual partners (other than their husband – again most likely before marriage) have a fifty percent chance of divorce within five years — and that half of their children will be raised without their father present.

Chastity may be difficult but it is central to a family-centered life.  And it is also central to justice for children.  There is no free lunch on this issue, not for teenagers, adults nor for society itself.

If churches and parents do not make the strongest case possible for the chastity-based family (and on its fruits and benefits it is an easy case to make) they will not get their religious freedom.

The rest of society may think such families are weird (despite the data) but they will likely respect them for the path they have chosen.

The future of the First Amendment rests on the freedom to teach the centrality of chaste family life.   We will not win I if we are ambivalent or shy.

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

children, culture, family, marriage, rights of children 3 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.

 

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.

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.