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.
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 childrenthrough 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 aresingle 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).
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.
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.
The most comprehensive overview of the effects of divorce on childrenuntil 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:
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
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 manwho 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.
Pew’s new report is a landmark study in the sociology of religion, which “—sorts Americans into seven groups based on the religious and spiritual beliefs they share, how actively they practice their faith, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives.” 
What are the seven types or groups? And how many are in each group?
If you want to know where you land within the seven types, go here. For a quick overview of the difference between the types on major outcomes go here. Here is one comparison (frequency of worship:
Keep the following relationship in mind (from MARRI’s own Mapping America) as you study the Pew report on matters family and marriage:
The chart above gives some idea of the link between frequency of religious practice and the importance given to marriage. I note this as a reference point to keep in mind as you study the details below.
What is the relationship between Pew’s seven types and the typical identification by denomination?
As I am Roman Catholic, naturally, I paid attention to how represented Roman Catholics are “Sunday Stalwarts” (13%). [By the way it is very easy to misread this chart: it is not the percent of Roman Catholics who are Sunday Stalwarts but the percent of Sunday Stalwarts who are Roman Catholic). But still, for Catholics it is a poor showing indeed, for a religion which puts so much emphasis on the Mass (as the act of Redemption, and the obligation of weekly worship of God by this means). Compared to Evangelicals they are weak in worship, even if, by the nature of being an Evangelical, one self-selects into a devout group, whereas being Catholic has (in ordinary life) as much to so with what one was born into as it has to what you intend do about it. The biggest showing for “Catholics” is among the Diversely Devout — a strange title for you if you are “Catholic” because devout usually means a high level of faithfulness but not in this case! However, for the Pew typology the Diversely part fits it fits by Catholic norms even as the Devout part fits by Pew Typology norms. But Pew acknowledges the shortcomings of its “clustering” techniques. Even given my concerns the data is very helpful.
What is the relationship between the seven types and family behaviors?
As expected: There is a decrease in impact with a decrease in worship:
What is the relationship between marriage and the seven types?
Given that the next chart does not control for age it is not all that helpful. The biggest issue in “marriage” is the intactness of the biological parents’ marriage between their mid-30’s and their early 50’s, that phase of family life when their marriage has the greatest influence on their children’s future. From the Pew data below, we cannot tell.
It would be nice to figure out where the 7 types tend to fall in the different strata of family structures below. (From the MARRIcollection of 5 thousand chartson family structure from the 1940’s to the present).
The most disturbing finding:
For the future of our nation, the most disturbing finding for me is the following:
From this we see a disturbing polarization outside of the Sunday Stalwarts (who have some balance on the issue). I would be among those who would say (with a major caveat) that it is not necessary to believe in God to have good values and to be moral. I have met many such people. My caveat: it is much easier to be moral and have good values if one practices believes in God enough to worship him in community. I don’t trust the ‘God and Country’ type nor the ‘Diversely Devout’ to build the bridges necessary for a functioning polis or political community, which at bottom is a discourse on political morality. And clearly the remaining groups in the Typology see no contribution from religion to morality. Now that is dangerous! The more the Sunday Stalwarts shrink as a percent of the nation, the more polarized and the fewer bridge builders we will have, leaving more and more of the country polarized. Reason and philosophy will have no place in matters moral!
For the “wonks”: Notes on Motivation and Method from the Pew Report
“Pew Research Center’s religious typology is not meant to replace conventional religious affiliations, but rather to offer a new and complementary lens with which to glean new insights into religion and public life in the U.S.” 
“The typology groups were created using cluster analysis, a statistical technique that identified homogeneous groups of respondents based on their answers to 16 questions about their religious and spiritual beliefs and practices, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives.” 
“In some ways, cluster analysis is as much art as science. The groups that emerge will depend on both the number of groups that researchers specify and the questions that they choose to include in the analysis. What’s more, there is no “correct” cluster solution or any single criteria for deciding which solution is best. Researchers must weigh a number of factors: whether it’s clear why people are grouped together, whether the groups are different enough from each other to be analytically useful, and whether the groups are consistent with what researchers already know about the subject.” 
“In preparing this report, researchers tested several possible solutions – ranging from five to eight groups – and experimented with including larger and smaller numbers of questions.” 
“Researchers ultimately settled on the 16-question, seven-category cluster solution summarized in this report because it has several strengths. First, the solution divides respondents into a relatively small number of groups that are distinct from one another, large enough to permit statistical analysis, and substantively meaningful. Second, all the survey questions that went into the algorithm are measures of religious or spiritual characteristics, making this truly a religious typology.” 
[1-6] From the Report.
(With apologies for the length.) As Russell Hittinger wrote earlier this year in First Things, there are three primary societies to which people most naturally belong: Our family, our religious community (church, synagogue, mosque, or temple or meeting house), and our political community (nation or state). He emphasized that all three, for the first time in history, are in deep crisis. In the past when there was a crisis in one, or even in two, the other(s) corrected it.
The simultaneous crisis today in each of the three has the same cause: the sexual gone wild. The fallout within the family is now boringly evident: Most first births out of wedlock, minority of children reaching adulthood without their biological parents married, a norm of multiple sexual partners prior to marriage — even for those who worship God weekly, cohabitation prior to marriage, abortion and divorce.
The crisis in the church is related to sex as well, starting historically, with the Lambeth Conference in 1930, during which the-up-until-then universal teaching among all Christian denominations was ruptured by the acceptance of contraception ingrave circumstances for the protection of the life and health of the mother, which — hardly had the ink dried on the decree — immediately morphed into (without debate) the commonly accepted moral doctrine across Protestant denominations, of the use of contraception to limit family size. By 1950 this was a deeply entrenched pattern. By the 1960’s the crisis on the same erupted in the Catholic Church with a division for many, at almost all levels of the church (but not at the top) between praxis and doctrine.
The children born to all these contracepting parents saw no logical nor practical reason to contain contraception within marriage and, taking it outside, gave us the sexual revolution of the 1960s. That revolution was not only a sexual revolution, but fostered by the cultural Marxists, was a revolution against “authority.” Many churches complied with the zeitgeist, changing, first praxis and then doctrine on divorce, abortion, and cohabitation. With the logical dominoes falling, homosexual sex had to be, and was, logically accepted. Now with multiple religious-moral options, more and more people moved their religious affiliation to less demanding denominations, ceased worshiping frequently while their children ceased worshiping at all.
The emerging recreational sex, naturally led to an abandonment of the worship of God by young adults, and to a loss of attachment to any religious community. It also resulted in the steady erosion of marriage. Thus, the crisis within the family and within religion, are the same: The sexual.
That there is a crisis in the polis – – – the political community of which we are all members – – – is now obvious in the overt refusal of cooperation by the more revolutionary party in Congress. One might say it is akin to a civil war though confined — for the present — to the realm of words (and legal actions). Civil discourse is almost impossible to find. This breakdown is most evident in the debate over the nomination of judges to the Supreme Court and to the Appellate Courts. But this non-cooperation is evident in other areas that impinge on matters sexual, most evidently so, in the issue of abortion but now even at the highest court levels of legal action in matters related to homosexuality. The most publicly forthright, organized display in Congress of a refusal to seek even minimal political cooperation was the behavior of liberal female congressmen and senators during the incumbent president’s First State of the Union speech shortly after his election. These women set themselves apart and aside by an ostentatious show of uniform dress code — white coats — so as to be visible to the nation on television, as pointedly flaunting their refusal of minimal respect when all strive to maintain some semblance of national unity. The day prior, this refusal was presaged in “The Women’s March” whose iconic headgear vulgarly forced all to contemplate the politics of rebellious sex — again with a dress code — this time, not white coats but, pink “vulva hats”.
Any part of Washington that impinges on the sexual has become a nasty place to work, nowhere more than at the Office of Population Affairs at Health and Human Services. The office that runs the family planning/sexual programs of the government. God help anyone who works there who does not comply in their minds and hearts with the radical sexual agenda. They are under intense constant scrutiny and harassment.
In sum, nothing is more contentious at universities, in corporate boardrooms, in bureaucracies, in courts, and in legislatures than the appearance of any item that impinges on the sexual. Everywhere, pollical division and non-cooperation divides the polis.
Why has there never been a crisis in all three societies ever before in history? Never before have so many in powerful places been so insane on matters of sex, family, love between fathers and mothers, parents and children.
Sex, life, love, marriage, children and God are all so intimately linked or decoupled in the thriving of man or in his debilitation, that all functional civilizations and cultures — all — have put tremendous energy, throughout all their institutions, into bringing as much harmony on the society-dependent, foundational issues. In our day instead, we have many in positions of leadership throughout the major institutions (family, church, school, marketplace and government) devoted to deliberatelyincreasing the discord on these issues. A society so divided on these fundamentals cannot stand, as the elite leaders of this revolt understand very well, and have for decades as they worked to this point.
As always, it is the poor who suffer most, and who will suffer even more. For all family life today is much costlier, less productive and less enjoyable than it should be, but especially so for the poor — even as they are used and show-cased as victims by the same elite leaders of the revolt.
Our national fertility — a big sexual issue — is far removed from that of a well-functioning society. For instance, if were no abortions there would not be a Social Security financial crisis today, nor a looming Medicare crisis. Over the next 10 years these programs will gradually shrivel, if not suddenly implode (economists seem to lean towards implosion, barring some global reform in global currency standards). The contraction has already begun as the elderly on Medicare can tell you. And, they have already been flagged that less will be forthcoming and that they must become accustomed to picking up more of the tab (which they had pre-payed).
More than most nations throughout history, we were blessed with the freedom to choose, but we were never free to choose the consequences. Consequences are built into the nature of the choice made, into the sexual and relational nature of man, as the demographics of America — Mapping America — repeatedly illustrates.
To thrive man needs two great loves: The love of his closest neighbor (spouse, and children— sexual love in its fullest expression) and the love of God (minimally expressed in weekly worship).
Is a crisis correction possible?
Of the three societies that we all occupy, the one with the capacity for quickest reform is the religious. Despite all its bad press, some of it, and more to come, no doubt, well deserved — but by no means all, particularly the latest — a close observer will notice the pace of reform within the Catholic Church in this country. It has been gathering steam, not in a way that makes front-page headlines, but more hidden in its deeper reaches. Hopefully the same currents, driven by the same issues (dysfunctional sexuality and its fallouts), are bringing about similar reform within other denominations and faiths.
Addressing the issue of church reform, John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, in a recent letter to the university community, quoted St Catherine of Sienna, who was the major stimulus for a reform at another time of deep crisis: “Eliminate the stink of the ministers of the Holy Church. Pull out the stinking flowers and plant scented plants, virtuous men that fear God.”
The road ahead: First the reform of the religious institutions leading in turn to the reform of marriage and the family (all freely undertaken by free adults), which reformed over time, will alter our political behaviors and lead to a reform of the body politic.
The sooner the better for every child yet to be born, every one of whom will thrive or wilt depending on how much a diet of the two great loves he is fed.
Recent national and international data hit home hard on matters connecting life, love, and death. Good news is, the way forward is clearer because the contrasts are sharper.
The Washington Post has mapped the changes: over the last decade the nation has shifted from lower (blue) to higher (red) rates of suicide.
There is a link between sexual intercourse, suicide and depression: Back in 2003 Robert Rector and colleagues at the Heritage Foundation illustrated the clear link between sexual activity, depression and suicide attempts, among teenagers. A few weeks ago, the California Surgeon General released a report on a very significant increase in serious sexually transmitted infections, and this week the CDC reported significant increases in suicide rates.
In the past, in Mapping America, we reported that enjoyment or fear are significantly influenced by the presence or absence of marriage and worship.
It’s common to hear complaints of how horrible it is that in certain cultures and religions, polygamy is respected and normal. We hear an outcry that it attacks woman’s dignity and reduces them to objects. But have those who are raising this outcry ever stopped to question whether their own sexual behavior may be reducing their human dignity?
Where is the difference, when men and women in Western society embrace sexual activity with whomever they please, whenever they please, leading to multiple sexual partners by the time they are thirty? The difference between the culture of the traditional family, based on a lifelong sexual relationship with one person, and our present culture is in the way sexual conduct is viewed, practiced, and taught. My question today is this: Have we ever considered that we might be living in a polygamous society?
As Pat Fagan points out, in the Western culture of polyamorous sexuality, family life is just one option among many other lifestyles. This culture treasures sexual freedom, meaning whatever is desired by the partners (two or more partners, as the case may be). It wants to eliminate religion and suppresses its public manifestations, attacking religious freedom. One’s moral code is individual and consequently relative; anyone should do as he or she pleases, not only sexually but in any arena of life (so if I need to kill an unborn child, I should have that right). In short, the idea of freedom is to have no constraints imposed on you, to have a carefree life.
The consequences of this misguided view of “freedom” range from HIV and unwanted pregnancies to child depression and adolescent suicide. Yet they are never seen for what they are: the results of sexual license.
On the other hand, a monogamous way of life defends marriage to one person of the opposite sex for life. In this culture, family life benefits not only the spouses but the children and community. Couples who are married report being happier; children who grow up in intact families are more likely to grow up mentally stable, to finish college, and to delay sexual activity, as MARRI research explains in 162 reasons to marry.
The monogamous culture also treasures the worship of God, which strengthens relationships, education, and psychological wellbeing. In addition, the culture of monogamy defends universal moral norms, the freedom to pursue the good, and the defense of human life.
So what kind of society do you want to live in? What kind of culture do you want your children to grow up in? I would like to live in an environment where my moral code is protected and defended, where education in virtue is present in our schools, and where the defense of life and marriage is unquestioned. I encourage you to take active part in this lifestyle and become an example to others who have never acknowledged the importance of marriage and commitment. The monogamous culture does far more than our Western polyamorous society to uphold human dignity.
On February 13th,New York Timescolumnist David Brooksexaminedthe current trends in sociological study that have displaced economic and cultural determinism as the primary explanation for the weakening of the American social fabric. He explains that regardless of the origin of social disorganization – job loss, government growth, or abandonment of traditional norms – it continues through the generations. Disruption causes more disruption and weakening social fabric within certain communities can be tied not primarily to sweeping moral decay or the recession, but to sociological factors on as small a scale as a child’s attachment to his parents. “It’s not enough just to have economic growth policies,” he writes. “The country also needs to rebuild orderly communities.”
This trend points to a third route between the extremes of building the Great Society and subsidizing atomization. Sociological studies in the past several decades regarding crime and reasons for delinquent behavior have largely drawn from Social Control Theory, outlined by Travis Hirschi in 1969. In his seminal work,Causes of Delinquency,Hirschi broke with the preceding scholarly consensus by claiming that both delinquents and those who have not committed crimes share the same disposition to delinquency, but what differentiates them are their social bonds and relation to conventional society that constrain their baser passions. The sociologist named attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief as four essential aspects of a person’s development. Deficiency in one or more of these values can weaken one’s social bonds and, as many subsequent studies drawing from Hirschi’s theory have shown, lead to delinquent behavior. The key to social disruption is breakdown in relationships.
Brooks writes that in order to “rebuild orderly communities,” orderly people need to be cultivated. While the columnist proposes sometimes using the government to build “organizations and structures that induce people to behave responsibly,” these structures do not have to be created by tax codes and mandates to provide individual incentives to behave. Rather, the family structure can provide such an incubator for responsible citizenship. As the fundamental “orderly community” and basis of civil society, the family shapes a child’s belief in the norms around him, his attachment to others, and involvement in and commitment to the community.
“Social repair requires sociological thinking,” says Brooks, and the sociological data consistently has revealed the significant role the intact family can have in reweaving the disintegrating social fabric. However, sociological thinking must be done within the correct paradigm. Patrick Fagan, director of theMarriage and Religion Research Institute, states that “Sociology done well cannot but reflect the way God made man.” A correct anthropology in light of our state as fallen creatures must inform attempts at “social repair.” Sociology is reflective, but cannot be fundamentally reparative. Repair begins with grace from outside us that constrains our passions and reorders our will to what is good. The family is one means of such grace, and the data cannot help but reflect the goodness of this first structure.
Ms. Copeland concludes that “Christianity may have brought monogamy to Europe and many other places, but those cultures succeeded because monogamy happened to suit them. In other words, as far as social evolution is concerned, the best form of marriage for a given society isn’t really about what’s moral, but what works.”
Libby Copeland’s concluding statement (that monogamy is best for society because it works, not because it is moral) gets the causation backwards: Monogamy works because it is moral. Christ gave his disciples tough standards in marriage– so tough his disciples’ initial reaction was “In that case, it is better for man not to marry.” Nevertheless, Christ prevailed and his disciples embraced this moral doctrine — and gave it as a gift to Western Civilization, not because it works (though it does), but because Christ so instructed (and still does, though Christians today on marriage — as in many times in the past on different aspects of Christ’s teachings — are very lax in obeying and following him).
There is a unity in Christian teaching, and its fruits come out repeatedly, in myriad ways: the good of women, of children, of the poor, and of the sick are just a few (and all its fruits are good for society– though, again, this is not why they are done). Monogamous marriage is just another in a long list of gifts to the West, and to mankind at large. We took it so much for granted we never realized it, until it started to fade. But ultimately it is not marriage that is failing, but Christians. Marriage of its nature does not fail — people flourish in marriage, when they live it. It works, but it takes moral effort. Christians would say it takes more at times: lots of grace and effort.