The way to rebuild our nation is to do what all good men
have always done: raise their sons to be great husbands and fathers.
As his newborn son is placed in his father’s arms for the
first time, the young father (even if he cannot formulate the words) says to
give you my heart always and give you my time early in your life— to bind you to me with affection (when it is
easy to do). On this foundation we will
build the rest. Nothing else compares to this, not a successful business, nor
great honors —-nothing else — except loving your mother.
greatest task is to make a great husband and great father of you.
I will teach you what paths to walk so that you will desire to be good.
In your growing years I will be your guardian and protector.
I will protect you from sexual abuse.
I will teach you how to protect yourself from sexual abuse.
I will protect you from pornography within our home.
I will teach you how to protect yourself from pornography anywhere you come
I will teach you how to treat your own body.
I will teach you how to regard the bodies of women.
I will teach you how to listen carefully to women and hear what they
I will teach you how to treat
all women, so they will know you are a man of good intentions.
I will teach you how to spot and win the sexual battles that will take
place inside your head and your heart.
I will teach you why you should not masturbate. (Your wife will thank
me — without ever telling me).
I will teach you how to have the sexual control you will need for your
I will teach you how to date well, and how to select and court a great
wife from among all the beautiful women you will meet.
My little one, because of all of this you are going to make a great man
As men put this into practice, by taking sex-ed out of the
schools and back into the home where it belongs, all of society will adapt
around this strategic shift. By exercising
this basic natural right, every father will cause society to rearrange itself around
his actions — in ways that restore social order.
The solution is simple though taxing: Fathers raise their
boys to be great husbands and great fathers.
Three phases are foundational to a sense of well-being throughout life: The child’s early experience of his mother, the teenager’s decision about sex and God, and the newly wedded couples agreement on suffering. The first and last involve the two most important persons in his life. The middle- the teenager’s decision -is personal, private and alone, or alone before God. All three phases shape life way into the future by shaping the individual’s capacity for the wellbeing of spouse, children, friends, family, and colleagues at work.
The child who experiences the constant attention and affection of a self-giving mother during the earliest phase of life, is blessed beyond measure. That mother is giving him a great introduction to “reality as a pleasant place to be.” Life is good, life is warm, life is full. Well taken care of, that baby is ready to take life on! Depending on the mother’s capacity, both from within herself and from the environment around her (her own early experience of her own mother, her husband, her home, her support from family and friends), she fills her child’s emotional heart- his relational “cup”- full, half-full or quarter full. Less than full means the child will have a corresponding limp in human relationships for the rest of its life– without realizing it.
In a recent conversation with friends who live in Spain we mulled the mother-child dilemma in that country where almost all married women are expected to return to work four months after the birth of the child. Many fear that moment because of the pain of leaving their child so soon. By any research calculus, four months with mother is way too little as a norm. Spain is undermining the relational capacity of its children and guaranteeing fragile marriages and difficult parenting twenty-five to thirty years from now.
It cannot but be that most Spanish children will limp relationally to some extent, but it will be hard to spot because most other Spaniards will have been similarly affected. For almost all Spanish couples — even the middle class and higher — a culture of shame exists for husbands if their wives do not work. (The poor and the working class can’t afford the luxury of such shame.) Caring full-time for children at home has become rather socially unacceptable. In Spain, the marketplace is more honored than the child. The market now significantly shapes Spanish children’s relational capacities.
The next period to shape life takes place in the inner sanctum of each teenager’s heart. Between the age of fourteen to sixteen most teenagers decide very privately which path they will walk on matters sexual – ‘adventurous’ exploration of sexual relationships, or chaste abstinence until marriage. The other decision, rather interlaced with the first, is whether they will walk with God or without Him. Should they take the both paths the wrong way, they set themselves up for much unhappiness, broken relationships, even broken marriages, thus visiting suffering on their future children and grandchildren. Some learn their mistake before they go too far down the road. Others find chaste abstinence is possible, especially with friends who walk the same path and who go to God frequently in worship. Oh this “it takes a village” helps a lot. Though chastity leads to significant prosperity and happiness in marriage and family for decades to come, most teenagers are not aware of this, nor that, though they are free to choose, they are not free to choose the consequences, that the consequences are hardwired within them.
The third period bridges the year before and after marriage. The most basic wisdom young couples need concerns suffering. Their orientation to it shapes their future. Those who expect life together to involve some suffering and are prepared to back each other up (“for better or for worse”) will survive and thrive. Those who premise marriage only on “happy ever after” (our modernist norm) are in for a quick disillusionment, one that ends many marriages. The best definition I have come across of a great marriage is “a couple with the capacity to solve an emotionally dividing problem”. Stated differently: a couple who can confront the suffering that life throws at them and figure out how to move towards a solution they agree on.
Though all the social science dots are not yet fully connected across the three periods, enough of them are to link the first period to this last. A husband and wife whose mothers “filled their cup” in infancy are much better formed to be great problem solvers together.
Which brings me back to poor Spain! It takes the national wisdom of a child-friendly culture to deal well with family, love, suffering and children. St John of the Cross, who helped reform religious and institutional life in Spain in the late 1500’s and whose writings are explored by believers of all faiths, is one of the great teachers of the connection between love and suffering. Spanish life could do with a re-infusion of his insights. Then the rest of the world would learn from Spain, for many Western nations, and many good couples, struggle, during the first phase of the child’s existence, to solve the dilemma of mother, child and marketplace.
Man thrives when he is loved, and needs love most especially when he is young so that he grows straight up and is not bent over by the burden of neglect. A mature adult grown on love is then capable of giving love in more abundance, 10-fold, 50-fold or a 100-fold. When such a man or woman becomes a father and mother they can now give love and begin the cycle again. As we have seen again and again, those in the intact married family are those most likely to give in abundance, not perfectly but in most abundance.
Therefore, the society of the future that will thrive most is the one with the most children growing up with the most love. Thus the basic model of the thriving society is one that has more along three axes, the two axes of love and the axis of more children. The more society worships, marries and has children the more it thrives — in everything.
The reverse model gives us much less good and much more weaknesses when there is less marriage, less worship and less children.
But with this negative/reverse model we are beginning to see that we get much more than “just less”.
Mary Eberstadt, in her recent critique of emerging patterns of violence across campuses and other places in the US, is getting quite close to Rene Girard’s insights on the role of violence in society, and in starting new civilizations. From the ‘almost-lynching’ of Charles Murray at Middlebury College earlier this year to the many similar incidents which have multiplied since then, she is highlighting an emerging violence new to our society, one that Charles Murray points out is going unpunished. Professor Marsha Kinder of USC seems to suggest we are at a tipping point in saving or losing our society.
Going back to our reverse/negative model it occurs to me that what we are really seeing are the noxious weeds that are growing in the advanced de-Christianized section of America which is now in search of the new idols it needs to make America newly ‘sacred’ in its own terms. In a very Girardian manner campus society (students and professors) is acting-out basic instincts of violence and hatred, testing their new “theology” as they search for victims to be successfully blamed and sacrificed.
Society’s laws, which attempt to contain violence, are undergirded by religious beliefs in turn undergirding the moral code that informs that code of laws. Christianity, over the centuries, not only gradually contained violence but unmasked it through the Crucifixion. In that event the totally Innocent Victim was sacrificed but in so permitting Himself to be murdered overcame and exposed, for all future citizens of the world, the evil nature of violence and in the process made all innocent victims His closest collaborators across time and place.
There is a new rage loose in America that any rational person fears. Should our leaders fail to contain this violence it will likely end in the murder of an innocent victim somewhere. The violent part of America will continue to seek its “evil victim” who, by definition, is innocent in the eyes of Christians, but guilty in the eyes of the haters who marshal a Christianity-based victimology to condemn this ‘culprit’. Cardinal George saw this phase coming some time ago, when he reiterated and republished his lesson a year before his death:
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
According to Girard all other cultures got their start with a foundational violent event, the murder of an innocent victim in which all the onlookers partook. If successful in making the victim “guilty” the mob’s hatred is assuaged, and the event becomes sacred to their history.
The ‘reverse/negative model’ fills the vacuum with hatred. Keep an eye on the emerging raw hatreds and violence, the noxious weeds that fill the vacuum created by generations who worship God less and less. This is very new phenomenon in America and the nation’s rescuers will have to be endowed with a special genius.
There is a very simple fact that social scientists have neglected to make clear to the country: Only a fraction of our children are fully nurtured, relationally, because of the breakdown in family structure over the last fifty years: Children in single parent homes get a one-love diet while children in always-intact married families get a three-love diet.
Only one adult love is present in the single parent family while three adult loves are present in the always intact married family (the love of mother, the love of father and the love between mother and father). The love between mother and father is especially powerful. It makes a big difference in their lives and to the social infrastructure of the county. One set of adults can bear a lot more weight and traffic than the other. For instance: just one of the many critical tasks is the modeling of living in a world of male and female where both cooperate on serious and significant tasks. The child raised in the single parent family has less chance of learning that. These are uncomfortable facts, but facts nonetheless. And they have huge consequences.
Some will object, with good reasons, that the single parent family can produce strong adults–and many do. But, on average, the children of single parent families do not become as strong as adults as do the children of married parents (even as single parents often give heroically of all the love they have). This is tough for many to take and in academia many still deny it. It is a sad and strange phenomenon but many social science professors are quite anti-scientific; they deny or avoid the disquieting data as a form of short-sighted ‘kindness’.
On average the single-love diet cannot deliver what the three-love diet does. How do we as a society move from the single love diet to the three love diet for all children? The answer: restoration of a culture based on – bear with me — chastity. Without a culture of chastity society does not get a culture of strong marriages. Folk may laugh but there is no alternative and savvy parents, single or married, work hard to transmit this to their children for everybody’s sake—for the young folk’s own future, the future of the grandchildren, and for a more peaceful old age future for the grandparents.
What makes it possible for an adolescent to come up with such a resolve? How do we grow such young people? Parents cultivate it be they married or single by telling the truth about the relationship between chastity and life-long love between a man and a woman. And the data show that teenagers (deep down) welcome their parents when they raise these issues.
Single parents have a tougher task here, and it is therefore one of the most critical projects for our society. There is a need for a movement among single parents, a movement to raise chaste children, chaste teenagers so that they will have the happiness of being at the wedding of their children, and their grandchildren. Such a movement needs alongside it a solidarity movement of everyone else to cheer them on and help them. This is the infrastructure work we need most if we are to have future citizens who can take over running a country.
It is amazing how sex, children, marriage, chastity and the future are all intertwined. It is time for all families to link together to pull this off for the next generation. Everything else in society is connected to this. Everything.