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social science

Sex and the Triple Crisis in Family, Church and State.

Tags: Census data, children, cohabitation, culture, divorce, family, family structure, fathers, feminism, feminists, MARRI, marriage, Pat Fagan, poverty, Prayer, religion, reproductive technology, social institutions, social science, Uncategorized, women, women's health, worship 1 comment

(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 in grave 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 deliberately increasing 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.

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Director of MARRI

Society

family, role models, social science, society No comments

I have spent a life in the social sciences, psychology and sociology, yet it was not till relatively recently that I dug into the work of René Girard. Within his work one fundamental insight stands out: man is an imitator.  This flies in the face of being an American, being modern and being independent. To imitate is to be dependent on another. Though independent people never want to be seen as dependent, this is a major shortcoming, especially when its power is not constantly taught.

It is extremely powerful.  We imitate those we trust, even in small things and even when we don’t know much about the people we rate as trustworthy: In an art gallery we are more likely to go to paintings looked at by others whose  faces seem trustworthy than to pictures looked at by those whose faces don’t seem trustworthy. This happens without our realizing it. The example of those we trust is powerful. We have yet to harness this power of imitation to mold the human soul.  It phenomenon is worth cultivating.

We could help those in society who are being left behind by teaching them, not what to do, or how to do it (evaluation data shows that does not work) but, instead, whom to copy.

Children from the inner-city have few-to-no examples of children who grew up in their neighborhood and made it to college, or who got married. Without others to imitate they cannot imitate. This is the great poverty. Today, many of our inner-city poor have a material well-being way greater than the middle class of the 1960’s, but their real poverty has grown much deeper. Congress suffers the same poverty  and all the mega-social agencies (HHS, HUD, DOE, DOJ, CDC) spend their behavior-improving-money uselessly (and the data show it so, again and again), because of the absence of an abundance of good examples.

When there are no good examples to imitate how do we break the cycle of bad choices made?

Stories abound of good folk who befriended those in need. But good folk don’t present themselves as examples to be imitated but rather are noticed as quietly go about helping. Those who receive the help and those who see the helping often get more from the example of their well-lived lives than from “the help”. I remember a Maryland pastor telling the story of his wife as a young girl. Her family was totally dysfunctional.  All her siblings were in jail.  She, however, was able to take a different path because of a kind couple who lived a on her street. With her parents’ permission, they took her in every weekend and brought her to church with them on Sunday, dressing her up for weekly worship. Those Saturdays and Sundays spent with that couple opened her eyes and she saw what life could be. The seed was sown and she cultivated it throughout her teens and into adulthood.

So how can the single mother break the cycle of single motherhood for her daughters? One way is to find single mothers who have raised daughters who married successfully and imitate them.  How can the absent-father break the cycle of father-absence for his son? They find single fathers who have raised sons who married successfully and imitate them.

But for the inner-city poor these examples may be so infrequent as not to be noticed (only 9% of African American seventeen-year-olds in SE Washington live with their married biological parents, 91 % have a different example). How do we help them?

Netflix could get creative, could do great good with all the profits they are making. Uplifting human-interest stories are always enjoyable. They can make the careers of scriptwriters and directors. Masterpiece Theatre, if it pulled off something like this would bring a totally new meaning to its name.  Bill and Melinda Gates, concerned that their spending may not be achieving as much good as they hoped, might invest in true stories of bravery and goodness and love giving birth to a stronger generation.

In a way, we all have this task of finding, and making known those hidden people who have achieved the worthiness of being imitated in their family life. We need others to imitate if we are to go forward to our next level of being better.  We all love a good story, especially one of rags to riches (and most especially from family relational rags to family relational riches).

Write Netflix or Masterpiece Theatre or The Gates Foundation.

Separation of Church and State

religion, religious freedom, social science, society No comments

I bet there is not a single person in the United States who advocates for a Church established by the State.  We have never had a federal established Church though we had a few state-level established churches in the early days of the Republic.  Thanks be to God we no longer have them. Thus, on the issue of separation of Church and State we have total national agreement and it is a resounding: No, Never.

However, on the integration of government and religion the answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’.

Because we are a democratic Republic we have government by the people, and because all people live out their lives somewhere along the spectrum of religious beliefs at the individual, family and community levels it is impossible to discuss how we govern ourselves and shape our ‘polis’ without discussing and accommodating ourselves to each other’s type, level and practice of religious beliefs. The radical opponents of religious belief and practice are afraid of such free discussion because, though they all claim to believe in science, they are afraid of a scientific debate on the benefits of religious practice to the formation of a good citizenry.  At bottom they are afraid to debate and thus do all in their power to make sure the science does not get into the discussion.  They close it by insisting on the shibboleth of “Separation of Church and State”, a shibboleth because there are no proponents for that cause.

Because religious practice is so beneficial to society it ought to be much more a part of our political discussions. For instance in the Congressional discussion that led to the big, intrusive and expensive initiative called “No Child Left Behind”, on which billions were spent, there was no discussion of the impact of religious attendance on education performance, even though it may be the single biggest variable to effect educational outcomes, and is accessible to all who want it, and is (for the state) an option that costs them nothing.

As readers of this column know, all federal surveys that measure the frequency of religious practice constantly point out that those who worship weekly are, on average, the best citizens in the nation on every measure of concern in public policy, on every measure that makes for a good ‘polis’.   The same surveys also point out that those who worship little to none, on average, are the worst citizens in the United States on all the measures of greatest concern to good government.  This is what science says.  Thus, religious practice ought to be a key component of public policy discussions.  Not only do we have too little discussion of the benefits of religious practice in political debate, we have virtually none.

It is time to begin to change this, and not leave the field to the opponents of religious practice.

Many who give up on faith in God say instead they believe in science.  But they are unfaithful to their faith.  Science points out that the practice of religion is, on average, massively beneficial for those who practice it.  The academy, by and large, is the most anti-scientific community on this issue.  How massively ironic this is. And how indicative of the level of the crisis in education that all are beginning to realize with the academy’s handling of freedom on university campuses.

It is time for citizens to simultaneously affirm the separation of Church and State with a resounding no, while affirming an integration of government and religion with a resounding yes.  For the good of the nation, for the future of our polis, it is time to go on offense.  And George Washington in both his Inaugural and his Farewell speeches makes the same point.

Fatherhood and Responsibility

Mark Regnerus, sex, social science No comments

Today I am an unabashed salesman.

Mark Regnerus, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, has a new book called Cheap Sex which is a ‘must’ for readers of this blog.  It is by far the best book on the intimate relationships between the sexes (from dating to marriage).  Quoting from inside the cover jacket Cheap Sex takes readers on an extended tour inside the American mating market and highlights key patterns that characterize young adults’ experience today, including the timing of first-time sex in relationships, overlapping partners, frustrating returns on their relational investments and a failure to link future goals, like marriage, with how they navigate their current relationships.  Drawing upon several surveys, in-person interviews with one hundred men and women, and the assertions of scholars ranging from evolutionary psychologists to gender theorists, what emerges is a story about social change, technological breakthroughs, and unintended consequences.  Men and women have not fundamentally changed but their unions have.  No longer playing a supporting role in relationships, sex has emerged as a central priority in relationship development and continuation. But unravel the layers and it is obvious that the emergence of “industrial sex” is far more a reflection of men’s interests than women’s.”

For a more in-depth overview of the contents see George Mason Law School Professor Helen Alvare’s review.

The four endorsements on the back of the jacket are from world renowned social scientists. Roy Baumeister, social psychologist, now at the University of Queensland and one of the world’s leading social psychologists says: “This book is utterly fascinating, sometimes disturbing, occasionally provocative, brilliantly thoughtful and always informative ….”  Brad Wilcox, renowned sociologist at the University of Virginia advises “Everyone concerned about the plight of young men in America should wrestle with the arguments in this important book.”  Linda Waite at the University of Chicago, for decades the leading family sociologist in the US, states:  “Regnerus has a breezy, likeable way of telling this fascinating and engaging story.  A great read.” And Anthony Giddens of the London School of Economics, a fellow at Kings College, Cambridge and one of the most cited social scientists alive states:  “A magisterial study of the changing sexual landscape today…. This book will become a standard work of reference in the field.”

Can one get higher praise from the world’s top scholars in one’s profession?  And keep in mind what Linda Waite said: “breezy, likeable, fascinating, engaging … a great read.” You are guaranteed a good an intellectual feast, easily digested.

This book will make a great gift for your pastor, many of the teachers in your children’s’ high school, your physician, and of course, your children who are old enough and many of your friends and family.  If you don’t give it to them make sure they get it.  And make sure your county library carries many copies of it.

But first: get it for yourself and study it.

With an eye to the many love-deprived children of the future,

 

Pat Fagan

Social Science and Education

Census data, education, media, social science No comments

Who are the greatest natural law teachers in America?  They are ‘the whole population of America’. Their behavior and choices teach natural law in an extraordinarily clear way and they record their lessons in the US federal survey system. Simple forms of demographic snapshots of the American population teach a lot about natural law fundamentals.

One of the clearest collection of these behaviors, choices and correlates can be found in our Mapping America series but also in the work of a number of other centers such as Bowling Green University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research,  The Austin Institute and The Institute for Family Studies.

But the vast majority of the teachers of social science (university professors and their related journalists) are overwhelmingly dis-eased (ill at ease) folk when it comes to the most fundamental aspects of natural law and they suppress the data.  Though their profession is based on seeking truth from observable facts, most social science professors do not like the truths that emerge, most especially that religious worship is very good for man and society.  By and large they themselves do not worship nor practice any religion.

My grandfather, a small-farm farmer in the midlands of Ireland had a saying:  “Those educated blackguards are the worst blackguards.” In America, we might say they teach post-truth – “an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. ”

Why call these post-truth social teachers ‘blackguards’? They violate their own intellects, their own sacred things (science), and they cheat their customers (their students).  They suppress free speech on campus and in academic journals, and have violated academic freedom in hiring practices.  All this as they march to the fore on all the “hate group” issues of the moment.

My grandfather would ask “Why would any parent pay for that?”

However even in our “post-truth” era the American people will continue to teach uncomfortable truths and we will have their teachings recorded in every US federal survey completed.  The data are there for the ages, before, during and post ‘post-truth’.  The mission of the social sciences will survive this self-inflicted trauma.  It is buried in the data.

PS: ‘Post-truth’ was the Oxford Dictionaries’ “word of the year selection” for 2016.

Caring and the Culture

caring, social science No comments

Professor Richard Weissbroud, Harvard faculty director of Human Development and Psychology in the School of Education, recently presented data on children and their parents which leaves him very disturbed about the culture we have built, including the culture at Harvard.  It is well worth watching.

When ranking personal achievement vs. personal happiness vs. being a caring person only 20 percent of our children rank ‘being a caring person’ as the highest goal — a drastic drop from prior generations.  But when their parents rank their goals for their children, being a caring person is ranked in first place by a significant majority.  However when their children are asked what they think their parents chief aspirations for them are most (60%) think their parents want them to be achieving rather than caring. Only 15 % think their parents rank ‘being a caring person’ as #1.  Finally most parents in ranking other parents think other parents rank achievement over caring.  That is most parents think other parents are the problem.  However their children see through that and most put their parents in the same place as all the other parents.

His conclusion: we no longer foster being caring.  This holds true even at Harvard for Harvard.  He concludes: “…it is one route [as to] why we are living in such a fractured, polarized and nasty and uncivil political and civil time in this country.”

Though professor Weissbroud sees the powerful and positive role of religion — which is great to see in an eminent academic — he very clearly does not want to advocate religious practice.  Instead he says we must seek a secular, non-religious way.

My conclusion:  He is a caring social scientist doing great diagnostic work who drops his science (and really becomes less caring) when it comes to intervention. Ironic.  But, as he said, Harvard has its shortcomings.  Sometimes caring takes courage.  However it would be tough, especially at Harvard.

Social Science

abortion, mental health, social science 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demographics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quantitative Social Science

children, marriage, social science No comments

The social sciences, well done, cannot but illustrate the way God made man, or the way man is designed by nature.  ‘Well done’ means methodologically well done: well informed by statistical, mathematical and logic sciences.

While man is free to choose he is not free to choose the consequences; they are built into the choices made.  The social sciences can observe his choice (e.g. the choice to abort, or to marry, or to finish high school) and the consequences that flow from these choices.  In this they illustrate some aspects of natural law in action (moral law in action) by making the connection between choice and consequences.

Longitudinal surveys (where the same people are tracked over time) are the most valuable for good social science.  In them one can observe the choice and measure the pathway the person set in motion and the consequences that ensue over time, even over a life time if the survey continues long enough.

Of course, over time myriad factors modify such pathways.   Sometimes new choices are choices that deliberately reverse pathways: by overcoming an addiction; by divorcing; even by remarrying the person they divorced!

What these instances illustrate is the difficulty of ‘PROVING’ causation, in the layman’s understanding of X choice caused Y outcome.   Rather than supporting a determinist view of man, the social sciences support a “modifiable” view of man.  For most of us this comports with our commonsense knowledge of ourselves: we can change, but only gradually in most instances.  And quick changes most often evaporate rather quickly too.  Desirable changes are growth in virtue, which happens slowly and only with repeated acts, repeated over long periods.  Bad habits can form much more quickly as many addicts can attest.

The social sciences are social – to state the obvious, but an obvious truth forgotten most of the time by most of us, especially we Americans and those who hew to a radical individualism.  Man is deeply relational and needs the support of those around him to keep doing what he does.  If we change our social environment (those we relate to) we can change our behavior more easily.  Thus to become holy some choose the company of others determined to achieve the same and enter a monastery, or deliberately choose a spouse who is intent on the same goal.

But children, the most socially dependent of all of us, do not get to choose their own company, their parents, their siblings, nor the neighborhood they live in.  So it is rare for them to rise above the average behavior of their surroundings. It is possible but it is rare. How rare: check out the bell curve.  Most are in the middle, very few at the extremes.

Being deeply relational we are most easily influenced when we are young. Hence parents’ concern to choose good schools, especially schools where the behavior of the other children comports with what they would like to see in their own.  Good teachers in poor neighborhoods are thus some of the most valuable people in a nation: the ones who help those parents who are trying to give their children a leg up. They are the unsung heroes of the social infrastructure.

Good parents are careful to seeks and choose modifiers of their children’s’ behavior (or more precisely), they choose the environment (the social relationships) that will shape their children’s’ behavior.

Thus good parents (along with good teachers) are the “investors” in the future. They are the ones who work to have their children surpass them, to rise further in the next generation, not only in education and income (a common desire of parents) but in virtue and strength, in love, chastity and fidelity. That is how the social infrastructure is built and rebuilt.

Thus the social sciences, in their own way, inform us about the moral dimension of man’s behavior: about good and bad behaviors (though that language is too strong, too politically incorrect for the majority of social scientists; desirable / undesirable, functional / dysfunctional are more acceptable labels).  But no matter the labels, the social sciences tend to flush out those conditions in which man thrives or wilts and the pathways thereto.

Thus they are in the service of the good and the true.  It would be nice to say they are in the service of the beautiful but even for those who love the social sciences that may be a bit of a stretch, for the beauty of good people is hard to see behind the numbers and graphs of the social sciences.  Maybe such capacities will emerge in the future, but for now readers of the social sciences will have to do with merely the true and the good.

Monogamy and Chastity

divorce, pre-marital sex, sexuality, social science No comments

By now, regular readers of Faith and Family Findings are familiar with the data on family structure and its impact on everything important to a functioning society.  On every outcome measured, for adults and children, those in an intact family do best on all the positive outcomes we desire for ourselves and our children (education, income, savings, health, longevity, happiness, sexual enjoyment, intergenerational support) and have the least incidence of all the negatives we hope never afflict our children (crime, addictions, abuse both physical and sexual, poverty, illiteracy, exclusion, ill health, unhappiness, mental illness, lack of sexual fulfillment).

Thus family structure is exceedingly important to society and a return to intact marriage is a sine qua non for a nation or for families set on rebuilding themselves.

Given that, consider the implications of the following chart on the intactness of marriage at the end of the first five years of marriage:

What this chart shows is the probability of intactness of family after the first five years of marriage– given the number of sexual partners of the spouses have had in their lifetime. Using rounded numbers:  95% of those who are monogamous, that is only one sexual partner in their life time —i.e. only their spouse–95% are still in an intact marriage after the first five years. But for the woman (national average) who has had one extra sexual partner other than her husband (almost always prior to marriage) the percent drops to 62% and with two extra partners it drops almost to 50%.  Thereafter it plateaus.  For men it takes five sexual partners to reach the same level of breakup.

When I first saw this phenomenon in the 1995 data (the above is 2006-2010 data) my immediate reaction was “Those Mediterranean cultures that had chaperoning during courtship knew something about human nature, family life and intergenerational stability.” They ensured Mediterranean family was on the three-love diet.

Chastity and monogamy are foundational to the intact married family, and thus to the prosperity and success of a nation.  Hence my conclusion that this chart is the most important chart in all of the social sciences.

A culture of monogamy is critical to a thriving nation or a thriving culture.

A culture of chastity is foundational to a culture of monogamy.

Thus the cultivation of chastity is central to a robust nation and a robust culture.  Chastity is an old term but now out of favor even among Christians, given the impact of political correctness i.e. cultural Marxism. However it is the accurate label for the virtue or strength behind the data.

For the impact of monogamy at a more causative level check out the work of JD Teachman on Google Scholar  or his CV and you will be able to thread the impact of monogamy in an admirable corpus of cumulative scholarship that is one of the great contributions to research on the family.

Though the above chart is purely correlational – it is demographically descriptive of America, of what is happening between our couples who get married.  One chart cannot prove chastity is causative (go to Teachman and others to tease that out) but it sure indicates where causal strength (or weakness) can be found.