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The Phenomenal Rise and Fall of a Marriage-Based Culture

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Lifelong monogamous marriage is hardwired into the human heart (but so too are anger and lust, its two biggest obstacles). 

Not only Christian and Jewish but all great cultures rest on life-long marriage and cultivate it in their mores: Hindus most especially, but Shinto, Buddhist, Confucian, and, in the main, Muslim too.

Christ taught his disciples that marriage was monogamous. He began his ministry of converting sinners in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. First he overturned Jewish doctrine on marriage and matters sexual:  marriage is between one man and one woman until death. Later he raised the bar again:  adultery (one of the most grievous of evils) is committed even by lusting (in thoughts and desires) after a woman. Lastly, he raised the bar still higher by indicating that “the few” can choose celibacy for life in order to be available for the spiritual service of others (“for the sake of The Kingdom”). 

Other than among Hindus, nowhere has lifelong marriage been more central than in Christianity. 

Over the next millennium more people became Christian, as the map shows.  The most obvious indications of Christianity were external manifestations in buildings and power: church-state interactions, the building of great churches, monasteries, and, in the middle ages, the cathedrals of Europe. While priests, monks and nuns, bishops and popes were the visible actors in all this religious activity, beneath it all a very different structural change was taking place, one that gave tremendous strength in industry, art, finance, politics, and learning: the practice of lifelong monogamous marriage.

With modern social sciences we can see very clearly the immense difference intact marriage makes to children: they are happier (mental health), they are physically healthier, they learn more, they are less troublesome.  They become much better citizens, better spouses, parents, workers, soldiers, savers, builders, and caretakers.  

Over ten centuries as more and more families became monogamous the compounded riches burst forth in great flowering in the early middle ages, yielding great vitality in commerce, finance, building, and arts in what is called “The Renaissance”.

Monogamous lifelong marriage survived the Protestant revolt of the 1500s, at least for the next 250 years. Then came the French Revolution which overturned the public culture of marriage and the private lives of increasing numbers of French citizens. “On September 20, 1792, the French National Assembly passed a decree regulating divorce, which for the first time in France opened the possibility of completely severing marital relationships. … One of the spouses may have a divorce decreed by the simple allegation of incompatibility of disposition or of character.”

Half a century later Marx and Engels formulated targeted marriage again in “The Communist Manifesto”, and Engels  in “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” by which “Any sexual relationship between mutually consenting persons would be possible. What would not be possible would be the security of a life-long marriage. This sexual relationship could not be chosen.”

Thirty years later, Lenin effectively abolished marriage in 1918 with the most lax of “no-fault divorce laws” then in existence, bringing all much closer to Marx’s ideal of the union of individuals being a purely private affair. By 1926 there was so much chaos —  millions of homeless children and widespread female poverty — that reform laws were passed restoring more stability. 

Around the same time as these revisions were being legislated a new Marxist initiative was underway in at Goethe University in Frankfurt Germany: The Institute for Social Research, now known as “The Frankfurt School”. This institute was destined to cause change to the culture, family, schools and even the constitution of the United States.  Its director from 1930 to 1953, Max Horkheimer, sums up their agenda and strategy: 

“The revolution won’t happen with guns; rather it will happen incrementally, year by year, generation by generation.  We will gradually infiltrate their educational institutions and their political offices, transforming them slowly into Marxist entities as we move towards universal egalitarianism.”

When the Nazis bested the Communists for control of Germany, the Frankfurt School faculty, all Marxists, and most secular Jews as well, had to flee the country. Through the mediation of John Dewey, Horkheimer met with the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, who offered The Institute a home and a building at Columbia.  Most of the faculty moved to New York, many taking posts at Columbia and especially in its Teachers College. Many stayed after the end of World War II, Herbert Marcuse being the most famous.  A number were used by the OSS in deciphering and analyzing German war intelligence, some of whom stayed on taking posts in the CIA and the State Department.  The combined diffuse influence of these brilliant intellectuals is hard to overestimate: critical theory (Horkheimer), post-modernism (Habermas), Marxist-Freudian psychology (Adorno and Fromm), sociology (Marcuse, Pollock and Lowenthal).

One of their protegees, Kate Millet, did her doctoral dissertation at Columbia “Sexual Politics”, the book form and her activism making her a Time Magazine cover story in 1970.   She was the leader of the group of feminist intellectuals who formed The National Organization of Women (NOW), which maybe the most influential fruit of all this Marxist scholarship. I have written before on the infamous opening litany of these meetings which signaled their key target — the married father of a family – and their key means: hyper-sexualization of the culture. 

One of the most notable early victories of NOW was “no-fault divorce”, paralleling Lenin in his first move against the family. Though NOW had many other victories, a few laudable, their most destructively influential one has been the network of Women’s Studies Centers at universities and colleges across the country, most supported by government grants.  In 2014 there were 684, all of them dedicated to radical, societally transformative sexual revolution.  The following June-2020 image from the web site of Cornell University’s Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program illustrates the perennial Marxist framing and underpinnings, as Horkheimer’s dream unfolds in America, 75 years after he returned to postwar Germany. 

The most recent manifestation of the Marxist advance against marriage and the family is “Black Lives Matter” who state on their homepage: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable … with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking …”

Conclusion:  It is worth remembering that when Christ formed His first disciples most of the world — in matters sexual – lived polymorphously as Marx, Engels and Lenin envisaged and as we are now living again.  

Christians born in the West up until recent times have lived in the comfort of a Christian-molded legal order that protected women and children by expecting, and (where necessary) enforcing, monogamy. That day is gone. Welcome back to a hard and violent world of polymorphous sex, where the lifestyle of a Christian can be dangerous.  

It will take a few hundred years to build a new social order — if there are enough real Christians. It is worth remembering that Christians did not set out to build a new social order. That was a byproduct.  They set out to follow Christ, first and foremost in their hearts, the toughest territory to conquer. He gave them three levels of sexual aspiration: monogamy, purity of mind and heart and, for the few, celibacy for life (though for all, celibacy till marriage).  As Christians gradually abandoned these three interior struggles of the heart, their social structures collapsed around them.  

It is in the heart that the battle is won or lost, the family then won or lost, and the culture eventually won or lost. 

For the good of the child, who from the moment of conception has the right to demand of its parents their lifelong monogamous marriage,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

The Denial of Privilege to Black Children

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The chart below explains why the Midwest would be the prime spot for racial protest, either spontaneous or planned.

This chart shows the rate of marriage among the parents of 17-year olds in each major ethnic group, in four regions of the US: Midwest (MW), South (S) Northeast (NE) and West (W). The lowest marriage rate (extreme left) is where the recent violence has been most intense, the Midwest which includes Minneapolis. 

To understand some of the population dynamics in play a few facts are needed: 

The contrast between Whites and Blacks on rates of marriage is probably greater in the Midwest than anywhere else in the country. 

  • For family intactness Minnesota ranks at the top or in second place in the nation, every year.
  • Yet, the Midwest (which includes Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee) has the lowest rate of black marriage in the country (see the chart above).

Though among Blacks Minnesota Blacks rank relatively high on marriage rates (20%), that is still more than three times lower than for Whites (62% intactness when teens are 17 years of age). 

There is no doubt a vast conspiracy to deny black children their right to the marriage of their parents. Though all ethnic groups suffer, none suffer this deficit more than black children do. 

Asians deny this privilege to their children at a rate of 38%, Whites at a rate of 46%; Hispanics at a rate of 60%; American Indians and Alaskan Natives at a rate of 76%, and Blacks at a rate of 83 %.

All good people must mourn for all these children! What suffering this rejection visits on them!

The solution proposed by marching protestors (government action to end racism) totally misdiagnoses the problem.  Nothing better illustrates the fallacy of this “solution” than a research piece by The New York Times “Upshot” team two years ago.  They did a magnificent portrayal of statistical data with live animation which you can still see here.  Their topic was the anti-black “racism” visible in the much lower upward mobility of Blacks.  However, as our blog pointed out the Upshot team  totally misdiagnosed the underlying causes — even though their own data pointed directly at the problem. They placed the blame on systemic workplace discrimination, but the major cause lay clearly in the breakdown of marriage among blacks, even among very successful blacks. Within the Upshot data Black men in the top 1% of income have a marriage rate lower than white men in the poorest income quintile!  All social scientists who study the issue know that marriage breakdown lowers human capital — the future earnings capacity — of children. Conversely, marriage contributes immensely to upward economic mobility, which the Upshot model also shows if you look for it— but you have to know what you are looking for. The Upshot team leaves it hidden, but the MARRI blog will help.

Black children are the most underprivileged in the nation, even rich black children, when it comes to having their parents marry and stay married.

Who is to blame? Is it God?  He permitted man to fall.

Are His pastors to blame?  Blacks are the most religious-worshipping Christian ethnic group in the States, yet the least married.  Do black pastors preach Christ’s teaching regarding Christian marriage and chastity to black teenagers?  Chastity is the great protector of marriage and children. So many Christian pastors talk much about the need for justice yet avoid this, the biggest justice issue, which also is their mandate from the God they serve.  They can do more than anyone else in the country on marriage and chastity should they have the courage to teach what Christ taught. They are most to blame.

Are teachers and schools to blame?  Public schools ensure Black children are not taught the benefits of marriage and chastity.  The NEA is in total cahoots with SIECUS and Planned Parenthood to bring an unchaste sexuality into the schools, effectively denying children the marriage of their parents, and giving them instead out-of-wedlock-births and abortion, and all the other evils that harm black children: poverty, physical and sexual abuse, crime, and  school dropout, to name just a few. 

With two major institutions arrayed against them on this issue — the church and the education establishment — what chance does the average Black child have? 

Add to this the “professional experts”:  psychologists — and especially developmental psychologists — sociologists, economists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors along with their professional associations. Include the vast majority of professors of these disciplines in the Ivy Leagues and the state universities.    They too (with rare personal exceptions) are part of the same conspiracy of silence regarding marriage and chastity.  By their silence, in effect all these professions suppress the data; they do not transmit it to their students or the public. Such abuse of data is a crime against science. Add the 680 feminist women’s studies centers at US universities and colleges which war against the family patriarch (the married father, be he white or black) and you begin to grasp the vastness of the conspiracy to deny black children their inherent right to the privilege of their parents’ marriage.  

Eventually we come to the parents themselves. Must we also blame those mothers and fathers who deny this right to their children? 

We cannot exclude them, yet, denied education and leadership, how guilty are they? How guilty is the young inner-city girl who is giving birth to her first child even as you are reading this piece?  She has never heard of, much less experienced, nor seen in her extended family or community, the marriage of parents. Who is guilty?  Who is keeping her in slavery?   

Is it Asians? Is it Whites? Hispanics? American Indians?  

No.  All who deny black children the marriage of their biological parents are the oppressors, be they bishops, pastors, professors, teachers, doctors, journalists, actors, singers, TV producers, governors, police chiefs, or Supreme Court justices. 

It is time for black parents to come together and, out of the experience of their own suffering, and their wounded lives, begin to figure out how to give to their children that which even their pastors are conspiring not to give to them: chastity and marriage.  Government cannot give this, though government can (and should) enshrine in law the right of every child to the marriage of his biological parents.  But only mothers and fathers can give their marriage to their children. Even after a mistake, the poorest parent single can (with heroic effort) pass on to his or her child the ideal of chastity and marriage.  These parents are our hope.

For the good of the child, the future of the nation,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Social Scientists Need to Articulate their Moral Frameworks

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When I see what young adults believe about cohabitation (chart below) I am saddened by how misled they are.  On cohabitation we have plenty of robust data and strong conclusions — multiple deficits for many adults and most children. This is the very opposite to what most young adults think they know.  We also know that young people are more likely to put their trust in science than in other sources of wisdom. Therefore, that they hold these beliefs about cohabitation is damning evidence on the present practical effects of the social sciences. 

https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/11/06/marriage-and-cohabitation-in-the-u-s/

 

Social science education has failed — worse— has misled young adults in one of the most important areas of their lives and in the most important area of their future children’s lives: sexual partnerings. Sociology has failed students and most especially their yet-unborn children.

A bit of fantasy hyperbole will help get the point across:  If geography presently taught that the world is flat, or physics that gravity is magic, the bad effects would be much less than the damaged lives this chart predicts for the respondents.

However, there is a great role for sociology and the other social sciences: They can increase our insights on the operations of human nature, or the laws and principles of human behavior, if these behavioral principles (moral principles) are first articulated. 

Social sciences, without a moral philosophy to anchor the interpretation of data, can be destructive. This chart is major evidence that one of the biggest challenges of the social sciences is to establish the parameters of an effective moral framework, to “duke out” in the data which moral philosophy comports most with the data; which predicts the thriving of man, woman and child. 

More citizens need to demand that practicing social scientists declare their moral philosophical framework!   Then students can judge which framework makes the most sense of the data. 

All robust data point towards behaviors that help people thrive or wilt. It would be fun to hold professors accountable to both the data and their moral philosophies, to insist they reconcile both.  This would lead to greater fun — the greater learning in the classroom.

For the good of the child, especially the child born to cohabiting couples,

 

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Single Parents Seeking Forgiveness and Mercy from Their Children

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As a young friend was about to go to college his father sat him down and said, “I saved myself for your mother.  I hope you will do the same for your future bride.”  He was very grateful to his father for telling him that. It was a great ideal and his father’s achievement and encouragement carried him through many temptations. He is looking forward to the day when he can tell the same to his son. 

The purpose of chastity is to protect the child.  Today, where children are concerned, we are a ‘throwaway society’; we throw our children away and leave others to pick up the pieces. In 2018, of all U.S. children conceived, every fifth child was aborted, while among 17-year olds only 46% were living with both their biological parents. More than half these teens had heard at least one of their parents say: “My happiness comes before yours. Goodbye!” Some even heard both parents say: “Our happiness comes before yours. We are breaking up.”  These massive violations of the rights of children cry out for the adult offenders to seek mercy and forgiveness from their children, else they cannot talk reasonably about chastity, the virtue that will protect the rights of their children’s’ children. 

 Even good single parents intensely dedicated to their children will present a hypocritically conflicted picture of chastity if they don’t acknowledge the bad decisions that led to their single parenting.  Without a deliberate conversation there will be a major obstacle to talking about chastity.  

There are many ways of addressing this, but parents essentially say, “You are precious and are the most wonderful thing that has happened to me, but I brought you into the world the wrong way. I hope you will not make that big mistake. I hope you will have a good spouse, who with you, will raise your children and give them even more love than I have been able to give you.”  With a statement like this a new vista is opened up to the child, and one major obstacle to chastity has been removed.  A difficult but great good has been achieved.

Fathers and mothers who do this benefit immensely.  Their inner psyche will be stronger, more integrated and more at peace with itself.  With this conversation they will have given themselves and their child the freedom to talk about chastity and its benefits in every dimension of their children’s lives: their health and happiness, greater productivity, and especially the greater happiness of future grandchildren. The most foundational lesson in human relationships — chastity is the foundation of marriage which is the foundational relationship in society —  will have been taught. 

When single fathers seek forgiveness and mercy from their children, they change everything. Their apology for not giving them the marriage they deserved changes the conversation, permitting them to discuss why chastity totally protects and empowers the life of everyone involved. With this conversation fathers empowers their children  to think clearly and decide rationally.  

The beginning of maturity is when parents put the child first and themselves second. When we return to that norm, America will be great again, not before. If that day never comes, America will disappear. 

The single mothers and fathers who have these conversations with their children, ironically, are those who can most save America. In our day of materialist self-centeredness, to seek forgiveness and mercy is totally countercultural, particularly for these sexual transgressions. These parents are the ones who will have confronted our biggest stumbling block, are the ones who can break the contagion of unchastity.  

Many of them are themselves victims of their own parents. In our day, victims are most powerful if their cause is just.  Chastity is the greatest justice children need — even before they are conceived. In this epoch in Western Civilization mercy, forgiveness and chastity are now intertwined as never before. 

But it has been so from the beginning.  Other religions tend to be much less forgiving on family and sexual violations. Some are downright brutal. But for Christians Christ set the standard on chastity-intertwined-with-mercy:  the woman at the well with her “five husbands”; Mary Magdalen; the woman caught in adultery and His challenge “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” 

To forgive is divine.  Single parents who seek forgiveness and mercy gift their children and society with large doses of the divine.

Western Civilization can be rebuilt fastest by such single parents, and none more powerfully than the most dispossessed: single Black and Hispanic mothers and fathers of the inner city. They could bring so much strength to the rest of us. In this way they can be like Christ and His Father, the founders of Western Civilization, founded on a crime much worse than unchastity – the murder on the Cross, a murder committed by all those who would later be part of His civilization. Single parents who ask forgiveness and mercy can lay His foundation anew, by bringing chastity afresh to their children. 

Those who oppose them really favor murder. 

For the good of the child, the future of mankind,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Standards at Home During Lockdown?

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“Should we lower our standards during lockdown?” they asked me during a video conference with fathers. My intuitive answer was “No, but we change them.” 

 ‘Lockdown’ is a tremendous opportunity to teach children how to deal with serious unknowns. They will face many in their lives: choosing a spouse, buying a home, caring for their first-born, facing unemployment, suffering through a major illness, or moving to a new country. All these are life-altering challenges never experienced before where mistakes could be costly. Lockdown is rehearsal time.

Because they want to teach them how to use their heads — how to reason — savvy parents use questions to help children think things through for themselves.  

A key to survival is learning the difference between needs and desires, something most adolescents never get to recognize and articulate. Needs tend to be few; desires are endless. In ‘lockdown’ we take care of reality first. While imagination thrives on desires, reason thrives on reality — and gets the work done. 

Savvy parents also encourage their children to remove obstacles for others in the family and for their friends.  The child who sees the connection between removing obstacles and becoming a leader is already wise. 

Lockdown can be a blessing, a dress rehearsal for some of life’s more serious challenges.   

For the sake of the child, the future of the world.

 

Pat Fagan

Deliberately Suppressing Reason

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Western Civilization began when Socrates died for the integrity of reason. 

Fast forward to Communism, Nazism and modern feminism.  They suppress reason and see the man of integrity, for instance Solzhenitsyn, as their most dangerous enemy.  Here in the United States, feminism is the great suppressor of truth.  And it has many dedicated allies and even more cowardly collaborators. Allies include The National Teachers Association, Planned Parenthood and SIECUS, and all the national associations of the “helping professions”: The American Medical Association, The American Psychological Association and all the others. Cowardly collaborators —those who stay silent — include leaders of the clergy, high school principals and teachers and most college professors: a powerful collection of corrupting elites.

The great truth suppressed by them all is this: “Every child, from the moment of conception, has the right to the marriage of his father and mother.”

Aristotle, Socrates’s “intellectual grandson”, defined man as a ‘rational, conjugal animal’. Every human is born conjugal – male or female, made for conjugal union.  Conjugality (the union of male and female) gives us the primary political society, freely established by the vows of one man and one woman to each other, for the building of their own polis, their own family.

To enter into sexual intercourse is to embark upon such a polity — even if a young couple deny that is what they are doing. Denying it does not change the reality of it, even if the promises and premises are deliberately avoided. It is their action that establishes a “polis building” whether they like it or not, which most of them don’t when it becomes a “forever” reality in the inconvenient new person inside the woman.  

We have vast educational systems devoted to distorting the innate capacity of teenage boys and girls to grasp that unmentionable but so needed truth: “Every child has the right to the marriage of his or her father and mother.”  Billions of dollars go into teaching young adults (they are adults – they can give birth) how to copulate without being conjugal, without being appropriately political (polis building).  All instruction that denies the truth of that right of every newly conceived child violates the students. Thus, our public schools are now a massive system of child abuse (of unborn children) and of teenage sexual abuse by corrupting teen morals.

The American constitutional system cannot survive this malforming of citizens.  Why do you think marxist feminists fight to the last ditch for sex ed?  Because it undermines our constitutional order by teaching teenagers to violate their conscience — their capacity for moral reasoning.  The more that happens, the more gullible they will be, and the more easily led as voters or as “representatives of the people.” Having killed millions of their unborn children, they are more easily led into killing other freedoms.  We came close to it with the Colorado baker who resisted being forced to bake a particular form of cake; with Catholic nuns being forced, publicly by our President to distribute contraceptives, and by a Supreme Court nominee under sexual slander attack.  All these assaults on our freedom concerned the conjugal nature of man and woman. Most frightening was the number of citizens abetting these injustices — constitutional issues centered on the conjugal nature of man.

Most young Americans (and Swedes, Irish and Australians) now create their polis only to wreck it.  More than 50 percent of firstborns in the US are born out of wedlock. This is the reality of the building block of the American political order today: wrecking itself at its most fundamental level.  Marxists love the pattern for it is the demise of the US Constitutional order. Priests and bishops are silent on it, college professors abet it, and discussion of it in public and private high-school classrooms is not possible.  Courts have to defend it, for the Supreme Court said it is constitutional! Congress and state legislators pay big money to sustain it. We are a nation that forms its citizens to turn against their own children. 

How do we turn this around? The work is monumental but simple: we re-found our nation and, even more broadly, we re-found Western Civilization.  We do this by bringing universal moral reasoning into the conversations about sex between young males and females attracted to each other. There is nothing more political than their sexual union. To paraphrase the famous line of House Leader, Tip O’Neill, “All politics are local […very intimately local].”  

Many will answer “But we practice birth control.”  That does not remove the reality of the polis-building nor its obligations once contraception fails – which it does very frequently.  Babies still get conceived, as abortion clinic providers know, and as many mothers, married and unmarried, know.  Nine percent of all babies born (not conceived—born) are conceived by women on birth control.  

What a dangerous period in American history in which to be conceived: sixty-two million babies aborted since Roe vs Wade; only 46 percent of parents of American children today fulfil their obligation of marriage for their children while 54 percent of children have been violated very seriously (by divorce and out of wedlock birth) by at least one of their parents.  We massacre our own children in abortion even as we fret about the injustices involved in immigration and stop our economies cold because some may die from corona virus.  Justifiable yes, but totally irrational when we massacre more babies during this very same period.  

In a reasonable society it would be trite to say: “Sex is a very serious issue for the survival of the nation.” But it is verboten in today’s public discourse — from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times

The Constitution was designed for rational conjugal animals, not for animals who refuse to be rational or conjugal.  It is unsustainable in today’s irrational setting.  The generation that gave us the Constitution was an amazingly learned and rational generation.  The book-publishing center of the world was then London.  Most of the books printed there ended up in America, which fact caused Edmund Burke to take the American Revolution very seriously. These were rational men taking revolution very seriously. Today the law faculties of Harvard, Yale, Chicago and Stanford laugh at the most rational of ideas that every child has the right to the marriage of his father and mother. Being sophists, they, too, would condemn Socrates to death.

Throughout the whole animal kingdom, including the rational conjugal animal kingdom, on matters sexual it is the male who leads, who sets the pace by pursuing and winning the female. The female wishes and waits (even if she signals desire).  It is young teenage men who can re-build this once-great nation, by being rational and conjugal simultaneously. The young men who want their own families to be good and strong will build them in binding cooperation with the women they deem worthy of their life’s work.  These men have hearts to give but will keep them for that one woman only and then proclaim it in front of the whole world before entering into building their families. It is worth remembering that this country was made possible by men so young.  George Washington’s soldiers were on average between 20 and 25 years of age. Today’s young generation is asked to take up arms but instead of rifles to fight with reason and integrity. 

To renew and save itself and its Constitution, America first needs the oldest, most universal political oath: “I take thee as my lawful wedded wife. —- I take thee as my lawful wedded husband.”  These are the words that will save America. One good man with one good woman at a time.

For the good of the child, the future of America and the world,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D. 

PS Next week’s blog will be on the need to balance the justice due the child (this week’s blog) with the mercy needed for the offending parents. How does a nation cultivate mercy while it is failing so badly in justice?

A Virus More Deadly Than Corona Has Burrowed into The Brains of Americans

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Though the Corona virus infects many more that it kills, its deaths are painful and scare the living daylights out of us.  But another virulent virus has taken over the minds and hearts of 75% of America: an indifference to marriage. Most Americans now think family structure does not matter. Yet family brokenness kills, disables, rapes, murders, impoverishes, abuses and debilitates many, many more Americans than Corona virus.  This virus of indifference, literally, breaks families apart. This “immunity to marriage” will mean America’s fall from strength. During the reign of terror of the Corona Virus, this other virus will have killed many times more Americans. By far. A recent report by Pew Research Center illustrates how deeply this indifference has taken hold:

The views of the elderly (aged 69+) towards marriage are the most alarming of all.  Rather than being the most supportive of the intact family (what I would have expected) they are among the most indifferent — likely because they have children and grandchildren who are in family structures that are not intact.  Quite naturally they want no barriers between them and their offspring. 

Of all the developed nations in the world the US has the highest percent of children living in single parent homes.  China, on the other hand, despite many problems in matters sexual and family, has one of the lowest.  The implications for the human capital prospects of both economies are enormous… and heavily tilted in China’s favor! 

Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad:   Not only is the US falling behind on how it treats its children, it thinks it does not matter!  

Weep and pray for the child, the future of the nation and the world, Pat Fagan

The High Calling of Fatherhood

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W. Jesse Gill, Psy.D.   www.facetofacemarriage.com

The single most important thing you can do as a father is to understand and embrace your calling as one who loves and leads your children.  The influence of fathers reaches further into the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren than we may have ever realized.  Modern neuroscience and Attachment science, the most comprehensive research literature on human love, clearly reveal the impact of parent-child relational patterns on every aspect of a child’s developing mind and body.[1] A father’s relationship shapes his child’s impressionable heart and mind in powerful ways.

For good or for ill, a father’s treatment of his children leaves an indelible imprint on their intellect, physical health, and central nervous system functioning.  A father’s relational pattern with his child will go a long way towards building that child’s sense of self, capacity to trust, ability to empathize with others, and settled confidence in him or herself to engage life on earth.  Dads who demonstrate consistency and faithfulness will also point their children in the direction of their Heavenly Father.

This direct connection was clearly illustrated when Christ taught us to pray to God as “Our Father, who art in Heaven...”   How can children conceive of a benevolent, just, and generous Heavenly Father if their earthly fathers were negative, stingy, or out of control?  Conversely, children whose earthly dads embodied wisdom, tenderness, and strength will be many steps further along in their ability to take steps of faith for their own personal walk and to also share God’s love with others.

Far more than being providers to our children, or even protectors of their lives, our role as dads is one of making internal maps in the hearts and minds of our children.  These maps guide our children in knowing how to trust, whom to trust, how to be vulnerable, and how to be compassionate.  We build these maps through the power of Attachment.

God’s Attachment Design  At the moment of our first breath on the planet we are helpless and in need of care.  God created a bonding process which links us in tenderness, playfulness, and safety to our parents.  This bond is called Attachment, and it ensures that we will be cared for.  The Attachment bond is co-created between a parent and child.  The child cries out for help, and the parent responds.  The parent smiles and warmly soothes, and the child rests in this warmth.  Attachment science shows that our brains and nervous systems are prewired to receive loving responses from our parents.  Parents are also primed to care for their young and to receive profound satisfaction, spiritual enrichment, and emotional growth by doing this.   We are literally created for connection.[2]

Therefore, children who receive the attentive gaze, tender touch, and consistent emotional responses from their parents will be strong emotionally and even have better health.  A settled confidence is forged in the hearts and minds of children who have received those experiences of being consistently seen and known, touched, and accurately responded to in times of need.

This settled confidence is called Secure Attachment, and it has two key ingredients:

  • Safe Haven– Secure children have internalized a sense that they are “not alone”, and so they don’t worry about abandonment. From countless experiences of being seen and attuned to emotionally, they have a confidence to reach for help in times of need from trusted ones in their lives.  They not only ask for help, but they grow to be adults who are accessible to others in need.
  • Secure Base– Secure children have an assurance of the presence of their parents, and so they are confident to branch out and explore the world. They launch out in ever increasing circles, starting with their own nursery and leading to the larger world around them.  From this launch-point they accomplish great things and take important risks vs. shrinking back in fear. Emotionally they are also capable of self-exploration, because a parent took the time to help them know and understand their emotional landscape through mirroring and emotional attunement.

Simply put, securely attached children know that they are loved.  They have tangibly experienced love in ways that reassure, comfort, and strengthen them.  As a result, they are less self-absorbed, more confident, and more capable of empathizing with the needs of others.  From a spiritual standpoint, they are one step closer toward knowing the God of the universe, who sums Himself up in one word, “love”.[3]

Such children are more confident in their souls as well, like a “weaned child”[4] they have found rest.  They will confidently rest in the presence of God.  They will branch out from this place of rest to do all that God has called them to do, motivated by love and secured by the promise,

My presence will go with you and I will give you rest”.[5]

Naturally, the branching out of children extends further when they reach adolescence, but securely attached adolescents still maintain open and trusting communication with their parents as they encounter the broader world.  These teens are also more capable of healthy dating relationships.  Boys who were secure with Dad and witnessed him being kind to mother, will have a map for healthy ways to treat a young woman.  They will have more compassion, versus objectifying women, and will be able to regulate their sexual impulses better as a result.   Girls who received the affection of their fathers will not have an empty space which is susceptible to teenage male advances.  These girls will also have a map for what they will and won’t settle for in a young man.

Dads help Children know God the Father.

Fathers are vital in teaching children about God.  A father who himself knows the abiding presence of God will be confident to release and entrust his children to God’s care.  Dads who are tenderly affectionate to their children will help instill the tangible awareness of both Secure Attachment and the love of our Heavenly Father.  And children who receive consistent emotional support from their fathers, will not only believe that their fathers are accessible, but they will also be ready to believe in a God who cares for them personally.

Fathers who are generous with their children will see powerful fruit in their children’s lives.  As they are generous with their time, attention, and resources, their children will develop a mindset of God’s abundance.  Jesus wanted us to see God the Father in this light.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”.[6]

Children who regularly experienced their fathers as being attentive to their needs will develop an attitude of hope.  Such children more readily believe that, “My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory,[7]  because they have experienced this from their earthly fathers.

We can see other ways that this hopeful expectation can align with faith, the kind of faith that Jesus desired for us.  In Luke, He told us a parable so that we “should always pray, and not give up”.[8] This was the story of the persistent widow who basically nagged the “unjust judge” until he gave her what she petitioned for.  We are challenged to bring our petitions before our Heavenly Father through this parable.  We might also chuckle when we think about ways that our own children persistently nag us for things, and we can utter the words of Christ to one who was petitioning Him, “great is thy faith!”. [9]

Of course, there are many times that we must set limits on our children, and this includes times when they are nagging us.  But it is interesting to think about ways that our response to our children’s petitions will influence their faith, their confident expectation of fulfillment from God.

The Blessing of a Father’s Gaze     Children who receive the face to face attention and gaze of their fathers will deeply know their worth.  We only gaze tenderly upon those who are precious to us.  Our look of delight lets our kids know that they are valued and protected; that they are the “apple of my eye”.[10]  We do this through laughter and playfulness.  We share stories, and lessons, even something as simple as asking them to tell us about their days.

My oldest child gets the greatest joy out of making me laugh, and my youngest is jubilant about being able to play a game with me.  So, take time to play with your child.  It can be something as simple as playing catch or having a tea party.  Affirm them for their efforts and tell them how much you enjoy spending time just with them.

We all know people who spent their whole lives wishing to hear that their fathers were proud of them.  It is a tragedy to go a lifetime without this.  You might be one of those people.  God knows, and He sees.  His great desire for you is that you would no longer feel “deserted”, and you name will no longer be called “desolate” or neglected; “for the Lord will take delight in you”.[11]

Hope for You and the Next Generation         Perhaps you are reading this, and the concept of God delighting in you seems completely foreign.  You may have been deprived of the experience of a father’s blessing.  Worse, you may have been horribly mistreated by your dad.

This makes it harder to be securely attached and to pass along the benefits of Secure Attachment to your children, but it is still possible to do.  Research literature describes people who have grieved for the losses they experienced as children, made a coherent narrative of their experiences, and forgive the parent(s) who harmed them.  These people were not raised with Secure Attachment, but they have worked hard to develop an “Earned-Secure Attachment” style. [12] Accordingly, they break the cycle of passing insecurity along to their own children, through the power of their own courage and compassion.

I have been privileged to work with many clients who accomplished this and were able to give their children the emotional safety they never had.  Attachment is God’s design and provision for us this side of heaven.  I believe that He desires to partner with those who wish to heal and forgive.  The very process of healing can also draw us closer to Him, as we come to Him with our pain and need.  The psalmist knew this to be true:

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.

I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.[13]

If you long for God to reveal this to you, I urge you to take a step of faith toward Him.

Father God, I need you to make it real to me how deeply you love me.  Settle me in your secure love for me.  Just like I want to show this kind of love to my child, I need to know it deep down inside of me.  I can’t do it alone.  I boldly ask you to give this to me, first for myself, and so I can give it to my child.”

I believe that God will honor this prayer.  He wants to show us His love, first for ourselves, and so we can give it away to our families. What a glorious testimony this is!  We can break cycles of insecurity that we were subjected to, and we can see God’s goodness in our lifetimes.  By faith we embark upon the transmission of security in our children and in our children’s children.

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.

            They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your

            wonderful works.[14]

I know that my dream for my children is that my “ceiling” for love, ministry, and accomplishments would be the foundation from which they launch.  I also know that I can’t do it in my own strength.  I don’t have what it takes to be a good husband, or a good father.  But I lean back into the One whose strength is made “perfect in my weakness”.[15]

Strength for the Journey of FatherhoodIf you are weary in the journey of fatherhood, don’t give up.  Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”[16]

He longs to be your Safe Haven, your resting place.  “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks…. he increases might. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint”. [17]

It is only by going to Him repeatedly that you learn to be attached; that you become attached to him. Attachment takes sustained relationship … on earth and in heaven!  As you come vulnerably and confidently before the Lord with your needs, you will grow deeper in faith and foster a deeper love in your home.  It has been my professional and my own personal experience that God ordained marriage as a key means by which men grow in Secure Attachment with God and with their families.  This is just one of the reasons I wrote the marriage book listed in the references below.

As you are growing in Secure Attachment, for yourself, and for your children, remember that your wife longs to support you.  Reach out and share with her.  She’s probably been waiting for years to hear more of your inner workings.  God can use her love for you to be another tangible expression of secure love as you grow in this process.  As you lead these acts of confident and vulnerable reaching out, you will create a deeply loving family environment which nourishes your children, your marriage, and you.

————–

Dr Jesse Gill is a clinical psychologist who practices in Hershey PA.  He may be reached through his website  www.facetofacemarriage.com  

 

[1] Johnson, S.M. (2019).  Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Individuals, Couples, and Families.  The Guilford Press, New York, NY.

[2] Gill, J. (2015).  Face to Face: Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage.  Westbow Press: A division of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, Bloomington, IN.

[3] John 4:8

[4] Psalm 131:2

[5] Exodus 33:14; NIV

[6] Matthew 7:9-11; NIV

[7] Philippians 4:19

[8] Luke 18:1 (NIV)

[9] Matthew 15:28a, KJV

[10] Zechariah 2:8

[11] Isaiah 62:4; NIV

[12] Roisman, G.I., Padron, E., Sroufe, L.A., & Egeland, B. (2002).  Earned-secure attachment status in retrospect and prospect.  Child Development, July/August, Vol. 73(4), 12-4-1219.

[13] Psalm 27:10, 13 (NLT)

[14] Psalm 145:4,5; NIV

[15] II Corinthians 12:9

[16] Matthew 11:28, 29; NASB

[17] Isaiah 40:28-31; NIV

Insights on Leadership

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As we see our leaders’ responses to the pandemic, we are constantly appraising their performance. A virus, that tiniest of God’s creatures, exposes our leader’s strengths and weaknesses.

The book “The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership” first published 22 years ago made a big difference to many in business.  Its most profound impact on me was the distinction the author makes in it between power and authority.  Power is dominion, the capacity to hire and fire, promote and demote, etc. Authority is the capacity to influence. It exists in a totally different realm of human relations.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn had no power inside the USSR, but his authority was so great the powers-that-be had to exile lest he undo their power, which he eventually did.  

A person with authority has great influence. Often those in power have little.

The author, James C. Hunter, poses the question: Did Mother Theresa have much authority? Did she have much power?  Which parents have authority with their children? Is it the same as having power over them? Do they always have both power and authority?  When do they begin to lose power? How do they lose authority?

Who has had the most influence on you in your life? Would it be true to say that person had the most authority of all the people in your life?  Why did that person have so much authority with you? 

 Whence comes such authority?  Hunter suggests (and it has held up for me) that the one who has served best has the greatest authority. The parent with authority (seen particularly after children have left home) is the one who has served the most. That is why most mothers have more authority (influence) with their grown children than most fathers. 

Thus, the boss with authority is the boss who serves his people best.  The better he serves, the more authority he gains.

Which leaders are growing in influence as they handle their response to COVID-19?  Are they those who are serving best? Are they gaining in influence? 

We are all called to servant leadership, or magnanimous humility .  at different levels. Our most important leadership role is with our children and our spouses …that team we brought into existence, one with vows, the others in cooperation with The Creator.  Our relationship with our spouse is interesting to study. For happiness, does power count? Or does authority? 

Which brings us back to the tasks that virus has set in motion:  Who is leading well in government? In journalism? In public health? In business? In the schools which serve your community? 

It is an exercise worth doing – for our family’s sake.

For the good of our children, may we earn authority in their eyes.

Pat Fagan

 

“Duking Out” the Future of Our Children in the Data

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The Problem

We have a very serious problem in the public health scientific community.  Its model of youth development that shapes public policy is failing visibly in critical areas.

It is high time that this policy-shaping our youth be guided by science-well-done. Lives are being wasted. Diseases are running rampant. Nations are dying. Economies are weakening, being starved of young workers who start the new families of the next generation, all because of the influence of this model.

Two world class institutions champion this model. The first is Sweden’s social welfare/cultural ministry-youth policy/foreign office. The second in Atlanta, GA, is the Center for Disease Control. Its Division of Adolescent Health (DAH) directs US national youth policy on all matters sexual.

Both Sweden and CDC/DAH are highly professional, are generously funded and have long-stablished policy and research centers with enormous prestige and influence across the globe. Their models have been adopted by the UN and the World Health Organization.

Yet both are failing seriously; very publicly so.

Competing with the Swedish/CDC model is the natural law model, embraced by hundreds of millions, from many different religions, across the globe. At their core, the Natural Law Model and the Swedish/CDC Model differ in their view of the sexual nature of man.

Each leads to very different sexual outcomes such as the fertility and STDs outcomes focused on here.  The Swedish/CDC model has a bio-tech based strategy (dependent on contraception), the other is nature-compliant model (a “green model” if you will) that relies on education and relationships to form superior sexual attitudes and habits. It has for two millennia rejected biotech approaches to sexual behavior because they alter human attitudes, thinking, feeling, interacting and behaving.  

As covered in recent blogs Sweden’s fertility strategy works well in driving down fertility rates but not in restoring them once they go below replacement — a spreading and most dangerous phenomenon with more nations joining these ranks yearly

CDC’s failure is most visible in STDs, with the United States most infected state for HIV right outside its back door.  We have covered this before in earlier an blog.  California has many STD epidemics raging for years now, mainly among youth.  There are other areas of failure, but this is the most concrete and visible.

The Need

The time has come to vigorously challenge these “culture incubators” (Sweden’s words not mine).  To challenge, not with rhetoric or policy impositions but in the data.  Other models of youth culture exist each with its own positive outcomes. The model at the other end of the spectrum from the Swedish/CDC model is the traditional Christian one (or the natural law model), a model followed by millions of  families across the US, across Europe and the world. It is a robust and hallowed model with a different but proven track record. It is a worthy model to yield clear contrasting data outcomes that can inform the decisions of all whether they embrace the model in its totality or not.

The Suggested First Step

Form two social science teams of world ranking caliber, each to represent the case of its model and ensure proper use of the data commonly available to both teams (so there is no argument about data sources). Both teams would critique each other’s method prior to undertaking their studies. This will keep both sides honest and also increase the quality of the work. 

Why do this.

The closed-shop-science of Sweden and CDC is failing in fertility replacement and in STDs control and diminishment. These are not the only issues of concern in youth policy, but both are public and pressing. The need to find much better solutions without resorting to “more money for more of the same” is urgent. Doing fundamental research is the first step in a sound strategy. The honest way is to foster robust challenges to each model. Both sides will learn a lot from each other – the purpose of the square-off.  

The public needs to be informed, not manipulated.  Crises can come as quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic or gradually as with the looming fertility crisis which moves at a glacial pace but also with a glacier’s flattening power. 

A well-informed populace tends to make better decisions over time.  The closed-shop monolith model used by Sweden and Atlanta is not leading to a well-informed citizenry, but to an institutional complacency that is visibly dangerous. 

The Needed Areas of Comparison 

There are key outcomes that will shape the final judgement on which model works best. Because each model will have its own favorite outcomes and both sets need to be measured by all. Here are some key measures that the natural law / traditional Christian model would want measured:

  • Incidence of monogamy vs other numbers of sexual partners.
  • Sexual restraint during adolescence (chastity / abstinence) as an ideal to be striven for. 
  • Life-long marriage as a goal.
  • Frequency of religious practice.
  • Financial costs each model incurs, personal and public.
  • Educational attainment levels.
  • Longevity.
  • Degree of intactness of the family
  • Sense of community belonging.
  • Sense of family belonging.
  • Degree of isolation/ anomie.

Some of the outcomes by which a model is rated superior or inferior to the other include:

  • Fertility rates
  • STD rates
  • Virginity at marriage
  • Number of sexual partners 
  • Fidelity within marriage
  • Longevity of marriage
  • Rates of divorce
  • Children living with both biological parents
  • Abortions
  • Out of wedlock births
  • Miscarriages 
  • Health of the female reproductive system/ organs
  • Male sexual health
  • Male sexual self-control
  • Male sexual violence or abuse
  • Female sexual violence or abuse
  • Offspring as victims of violence or abuse
  • Intergenerational family intactness (marital stability across generations)
  • Rates of anxiety or depression in childhood, adolescence, middle and old age
  • Educational attainment

There are other outcomes that the Swedish/CDC model will want to add. 

These two crises (fertility and STDs) make visible the need for a world class face-off that will enrich the social sciences and show citizens how to influence their children’s behavior. It is time for the competition to begin. 

For the good of the child,

Pat Fagan Ph.D.