The German Ethics Committee, which is described as “a government committee” and which appears to have some sort of legitimacy, has labeled laws against incest “unacceptable” because they “don’t allow the right to sexual self-determination.
This is especially interesting since the European Court of Human Rights ruled in April in favor of the German law making incest illegal. The case was based on the conviction of a man who had an incestuous relationship with his sister that began when the girl was 16 and he was 23.
The committee uses the same old arguments we’ve heard in the gay marriage context.
In case you need a refresher, here are a few snapshots:
fundamental right to sexual self-determination
criminalizing private behavior
incestuous couples are forced to live in secret
individual rights outweigh abstractions such as “family”
2% to 4% of Germans do it.
fundamental freedoms have been violated
must deny their love
“we just want to lead a normal life”
We heard it over and over and over again. Gay marriage would not lead to polygamy. But before the gay marriage deal is fully set, the agitation for normalizing polygamy through the media and legalizing polygamy through the courts is going gangbusters.
We heard it over and over and over again. Gay marriage would not bother anyone. “If you oppose gay marriage, don’t get gay married,” the slogan went. But small business people all over the country have been drug into court because they didn’t want to become unwilling participants in gay weddings in violation of their religious beliefs.
I don’t remember anyone even asking if gay marriage would lead to incest. That seemed too off the wall. But, sadly, the line of argument used to create a phony-baloney claim that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman has no limit to the things it can justify.
The reason for this is simple: The claims about gay marriage have no basis in reality. I’m not talking about the legitimate claims of homosexual people that they are human beings and American citizens and that they should be treated fairly and without discrimination under the law.
I am talking about codifying a fantasy scenario in which homosexual couples are the same as a marriage between a man and woman. Twisting your mind around to force it to think that this lie is truth destroys rational thought. It requires saying that you see what you don’t see until you begin to actually see what is not there.
This kind of delusional thinking, and the arguments on which it is based, lead to a ever-broadening set of delusions. Human beings are categorizing, if-this-is-true/then-this-must-also-be-true kind of thinkers. When the basic if-this-is-true premises of our thinking become tainted with forced acceptance of delusional lies, the ability to respond rationally to anything and everything related to it slides off the table and smashes itself into pieces.
That appears to be what has happened with the German Ethics Committee. I don’t know anything about German governance, but it seems that this committee has some sort of law-making recommendation ability. I say that because German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded seriously to the committee’s recommendation that Germany legalize incest.
I’m guessing that this puts their recommendation somewhat ahead of a vote taken by the ladies neighborhood flower arranging society of Frankfurt.
Will Germany jump on this parade and legalize incest?
Based on Chancellor Merkel’s response, I don’t think that’s going to happen right away. But the arguments are in place and the persistent lobbying has begun.
Unless we shake off this mass delusion, it’s only a matter of time.
From The Independent:
Patrick Stuebing, who was adopted as an infant and met his sister in his 20s, has launched several appeals since being imprisoned for incest in 2008 and his lengthy legal battle has prompted widespread public debate.
Sexual relations between siblings or between parents and their children are forbidden under section 173 of the German criminal code and offenders can face years in prison.
But on Wednesday, the German Ethics Council recommended the section be repealed, arguing that the risk of disability in children is not enough to warrant the law and de-criminalising incest would not remove the huge social taboo around it.
The chairman of the council, Christiane Woopen, was among the 14 members voting in favour of repealing section 173, while nine people voted for the ban to continue and two abstained.
A statement released on Wednesday said: “Incest between siblings appears to be very rare in Western societies according to the available data but those affected describe how difficult their situation is in light of the threat of punishment.
“They feel their fundamental freedoms have been violated and are forced into secrecy or to deny their love.
Brian Cahill, a former director of the San Francisco Catholic Charities, recently wrote an article which was published in National Catholic Reporter claiming that the Catholic Church is headed toward becoming a “shrinking cult.”
It appears that this is the latest in a number of salvos Mr CAthill has fired against the Catholic Church which once employed him. When Mr Cahill retired in 2008, he made a glowing statement about his 8 years of service as the Director of San Fran Catholic Charities. His turn toward bitter criticism seems, at least based on his articles in the National Catholic Reporter, to reflect a rather rancorous disagreement with the Church on issues such as gay marriage and contraception.
He refers to these teachings as the “party line” in one article, and criticizes various bishops for having “followed the party line” concerning them.
He bases his conclusion that the Catholic-Church-is-headed-toward-shrinking-cultism on those same issues. It appears, from the tone of the article, that Mr Cahill has a particular dislike of San Francisco Cardinal Cardileone. One of the more interesting points he raises is that, due to the apostasy exhibited by some high school students (as well as a couple no-spined bishops who backed down, I might add) it is clear that the Catholic Church is out of step with high school students.
Using that conclusion — even if it’s true — as a basis for claiming that the Church is headed toward shrinking numbers and obscure cultism is just, plain, daft. Here are seven quick reasons why.
1. First, the claim that the Church is out of step with high schools students is based entirely on the misbehavior of wealthy kids in a few sections of America. We are talking about a few Catholic schools here. There is nothing I’ve seen to indicate that all students who attend Catholic high schools in America are ready to walk out. There is also nothing I’ve seen to indicate that every bishop is as spineless as those this has happened to. Maybe somewhere there is a bishop with the guts to expel the kids and bring in students who actually want the fine future these schools offer. I know a lot of District 89 kids who are stuck in damaging inner-city schools who would be grateful for the chance.
2. Even if every Catholic high school student in America is ready to toss away the Church — which I doubt — high school students have a habit of getting smarter as they mature. This is the first time in my little life that I’ve ever heard or read anyone seriously claim that we should allow high school students to make monumental decisions for our society.
3. The Catholic Church is growing rapidly worldwide, and it is growing the way Christianity always grows: By voluntary conversion. In 2012 alone, the Catholic Church grew by 14 million people, which outpaces the world birthrate.In 1910, Catholics were 48% of Christians worldwide. In 2013, that percentage had risen to 50%. About a third of the world’s population is Christian, making it the largest religious group.
4. The Catholic population is not declining; it’s shifting and becoming more diverse. In 1910, 65% of Catholics worldwide lived in Europe, and 24% lived in Latin America. Due to the rapid rate of conversions throughout the world, these concentrations of Catholics on one area of the globe are gone. For instance, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa was less than 1% Catholic in 1910. Today, there are 171 million Catholics (17% of the population) in that region.
5. The Catholic Church is always counter-cultural because Jesus Christ is counter-cultural. A church that follows the world — much less a bunch of over-privileged high school students — is not following Christ. This fact, despite its inherent capacity to raise difficulties for Christ’s followers, seems to have worked rather well for Christianity as a whole. What began as a mustard seed of 11 bedraggled fishermen, tax collectors and their former prostitute, misfit fellow believers has grown into a world-wide, universal Church. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, you will always find two things: A MacDonald’s and a Catholic Church.
6. The Catholic Church has a two-thousand-year history of standing for the sanctity of human life, the sacrament of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman and the value and power of the family. Somehow or other, it’s survived this counter-cultural prohibition against killing your unborn, exposing your born and dumping your spouse.
7. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said to Simon, You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I don’t now how the “gates of hell” stack up against a group of spoiled high school students and their rich-dad parents, but I’m willing to bet the Lexus that the gates of hell are worse.
Those of six reasons why I think Mr Cahill is wrong in his declaration that the Catholic Church is doomed to irrelevance if it doesn’t get with what’s happening now and change those 2,000 year old teachings to be more simpatico with the teachings of Catholic high school students.
I know it’s hard to deal with these teachings. The cost, especially if you run in the social justice circles of trendy San Francisco, would almost certainly be facing a barrage of insults, jibes and spiteful attacks on your character and good name.
But that is what we are called to do. Every day every Christian is called to stand for Christ. The brickbats that may come with this are what Jesus described as our “cross.” I know this cross can be heavy. However, when I look at the price other Christians in other parts of the world are paying for refusing to renounce Christ, I lose patience with all of us pampered American Christians, including myself.
I’ve whined as much as anyone over the nastiness I’ve encountered because of my faith in Christ.
But no more.
I have photos that are branded into my mind of the price other people have paid for my Jesus. It’s way past time for American Christians to get real.
As for those who want to consign the faith to the garbage bin of what was but ain’t no more because it refuses to get with their trendy little sins, pay them no mind. They’re just engaging in wishful thinking.
I’m late to the party.
But then, I often am.
It takes me a while to think through certain events. There are also times when it takes me a while to care about certain events.
The three cardinals — Dolan, Kasper and McCarrick — and their grand slam of confusion is a case in point. I’m going to take their statements/actions one at a time.
Cardinal Dolan and his parade.
It seems that the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade is going to allow a group of gay people to join in the march. It has been noted in some circles that the writers here at the Catholic Portal at Patheos have been — up to now — silent on this subject. I guess they overlooked — or perhaps didn’t like — the commentary by the Anchoress on this subject. For my part, I’ll attempt to add a bit of perspective from fly-over America.
I’ve been writing a lot about beheadings, mass murder and possible war. So, when I read that homosexuals were going to march in a parade in New York (which I hasten to remind you is almost 2,000 miles and a whole culture away from me) I thought, ummm … it’s a parade. Big whooping deal.
Then I heard that Cardinal Dolan was going to be the grand master at this hoe down, and I thought ummm … it’s a parade. Big whooping deal.
Then, I heard the plunk, plunk, plunk of the sky falling in the New York outpost of the faithful Catholic blogosphere and I thought ummm … it’s a New York thing. Big whooping deal.
To be honest, I’m sorta stuck at it’s a parade and a New York deal.
We’ll see how it comes off. If Cardinal Dolan ends up two-stepping down the road leading the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence or some such, I may decide that, in addition to being a parade, it is an embarrassment.
But basically, I’m still kind of caught up in the fact that we’ve got a blood-red Christian genocide going on and that, well, it’s not a parade. Or a New York deal.
Cardinal McCarrick and his newfound universalism.
Cardinal McCarrick attended a press conference arranged by the Muslim Affairs Council and managed to do such a good job of Muslim apologetics that one headline brayed that “Catholic Cardinal McCarrick Embraces Islam.” All in all, it sounds like the Cardinal put on a pretty good show. It might help if he gave another press conference with Eastern Church leaders to show solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. You know; just to even things out.
Cardinal Kasper and his protestantized view of the sacrament of marriage.
My colleague, Dr Greg Popcak already wrote a post about this, so I’ll pick up the salient quote from him. Here it is:
If a Catholic who is divorced and civilly remarried, without a decree of nullity, “repents of his failure to fulfill what he promised before God, his partner and the church in the first marriage, and carries out as well as possible his new duties and does what he can for the Christian education of his children and has a serious desire for the sacraments, which he needs for strength in his difficult situation, can we after a time of new orientation and stabilization deny absolution and forgiveness?”
I’m not any kind of theologian. In fact, I’m only a Christian and a Catholic due to enormous unmerited forgiveness. So, I “get” the desire to let people in, no matter what they’ve done. I also “get” that in this post-Christian world the Church is flat-out counter-cultural. I’m sure that these cardinals deal with the fallout of that counter-culturalism every day when they interact with civic and social leaders in the upper strata.
I’ve had a few doses of that poison myself.
I also “get” that, due to pew-sitting Catholics drinking great draughts of that cultural poison, divorce and remarriage are increasingly a source of alienation for many of the “faithful.”
However, I don’t “get” slam-dunking 2,000 years of Christian teaching in order to make the Church fit in with this fallen world.
I’m not big fan of the annulment process as it is used today, anyway. I know there are times when a sacrament may not have taken place at a wedding, and I also know that the Church always errs on the side of forgiveness and compassion.
I have benefitted from that forgiveness and compassion. When I accepted Christ and changed, no one else would forgive me. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, not only took me in, but treated what I had done as a thing of the past that did not pertain to me as I am now.
I will be grateful for this loving compassion and forgiveness to the end of my days.
I understand that this deep compassion and desire to forgive animates all that the Church does. But compassion can not overwrite the plain teachings of the Gospels. In fact, it is misguided compassion to try. The compassion that I received was a firm and abiding belief in the power of Christ to redeem sinners, including me.
If the Church had told me — as a number of denominations would have — that it was ok for me to be pro abortion (that was my public sin that others would not forgive) that would have been a terrible injustice to me, a false compassion that would have led me into deeper sign, and ultimately hell.
The Church has the same responsibility to the truth in the area of marriage, divorce and remarriage that it has about abortion.
The Church is bending over backwards to allow people who’ve divorced and remarried to come back into the fold. It does this via a somewhat complicated and terribly faulty annulment process.
As I said, I know that there are times when, for various reasons, a marriage is not sacramental and an annulment is justified. But I honestly believe that those times are much more rare than the number of annulments reflect.
I realize that this is one of the more contentious issues facing the Church today. But the fact remains that the facts remain. I know what I’ve seen. And what I’ve seen is people getting annulments for marriages that
they willingly contracted when they were free adults
they undertook after lengthy premarital counseling by the Church that took place in Catholic Churches
whose vows were given in front of many witnesses and before a priest
were not abusive but were cases where the people simply decided — for various reasons — to get out and go and get annulments so they could try again with someone else.
I know the annulment system is a mess because I’ve also seen people who entered into marriage
when both were drunk during the ceremony and they were both sleeping with other people at the time they married and they both knew it not getting an annulment because they couldn’t get the paperwork filled out.
Add to that, I’ve also seen someone refused entry into the Church because they couldn’t get the paperwork filed out concerning a common law marriage from decades in their past.
The annulment process isn’t working for people who deserve annulments. And it’s chunking out annulments for people who should not get them.
But what the Cardinal seems to be suggesting is to toss the whole thing overboard and shake hands and call it even. In essence, what he’s leading up to is a revocation of the sacramental nature of marriage. I say that because, if marriage is a sacrament, you can’t undo it. Can’t. Not possible.
And if marriage, after 2,000 years, isn’t a sacrament, then what is? I mean, if marriage isn’t a sacrament, then why would Holy Orders, which is akin to it, be a sacrament?
The real problem with all of these actions taken by these various Cardinals is that they are deeply disturbing to the people who actually hold the Church together. I do not mean the hierarchy. I mean the pew-sitting Catholics who believe and try to follow what the Church teaches. It’s a mistake of Homeric proportions to abandon those people and go off chasing after the ones who have left the Church.
Remember when Jesus said, If you do not eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you will have no eternal life within you? His frank discussion of the sacrament of the Eucharist, of which this statement is a part, caused a number of people to abandon Him. They went off muttering about cannibalism or some such.
But Our Lord didn’t go chasing after them and say, Wait a minute, I didn’t mean it that way.
He let what He’d said stand and He allowed them to leave.
If the princes of the Church start teaching that 2,000 years of Christian teaching on the sacraments is up for grabs because it’s an embarrassment to them, we are in big trouble. In truth, sex outside of marriage, including homosexual sex, is a sin. In truth, marriage is between one man and one woman and it is for life. In truth, there are radical differences between Christianity and every other belief system. Christianity alone has the empty tomb and the words that lead to eternal life.
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. There is no other.
On the other hand, it is just a parade and a New York deal, and it was just a speech, and then another speech.
Confusing leadership is … well … confusing. In times such as these, it can be frightening. It seems to be almost impossible for the American bishops to give clear teaching on what is in fact the 2,000 year old teachings of the Church for which they claim to speak. They’re trying so hard to be loved by everybody that they trip over their own eagerness.
That scares people who’ve paid a great price to follow the Church, and it angers them. I think the best way to deal with that is to remember that it has always been so, and it will always be so until the Lord comes again. Your task is to stay faithful, in spite of it.
As for the New York parade deal; I just hope that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence stay away.
What is it about Elvis?
Decades past his death, his magic remains. Is it the smoky eyes, the unique voice and style? Or is it the good guy, the gentle, deeply-spiritual soul that behind those blue, blue eyes?
I think it was and is the whole package. Elvis was American and his story was the story of much of America at that time, only writ large.
His family suffered during the depression, clawed their way out of deep poverty after World War II, and Elvis himself took off like a meteor, right along with his country, in the 50s. Elvis was energy and maleness, wrapped in basic decency and kindness. He was us, as we were then.
He must still be us on some level. Why else would his image and his story continue to captivate so long after his death?
The Identical is a bit like Elvis himself, in that it is based on good people making hard decisions in tough times. The Christian ethos of Elvis the man runs throughout the story in a deliberate but unselfconscious way.
The story uses an Elvis look-alike as its main character and is based — very loosely — on the fact that the real Elvis had a twin brother who died. I’ve read that Elvis felt the presence of this brother throughout his life.
In the movie, both twins survive, but one of them is given up for adoption, due to hard times. Both boys grow up loved and cared for by parents who adore them. The adopted child ends up experiencing something I’ve witnessed in adopted people I know: The call of a heritage that doesn’t quite fit the family they love and that cherishes and loves them.
We are ourselves from the moment of conception. This innate self is shaped by and reacts to the environment in which we are raised and live. But no matter the environment, this innate self will always win out at some level.
A person who has a deep and abiding talent for, say, music, will feel the call of that talent, no matter if he or she is raised by a family of people who are tone-deaf and without rhythm or not. This difference between the adopted and the family that adopts them is a fundamental expression of the innate person they are.
It has nothing to do with loving their parents or being loved by them. It does not change the fact that this is their family. But it does mean that adoptive parents will raise happier adopted children if they give space for the real person their child is to emerge in healthy ways.
The Identical is a tale of adoption, and the striving to be oneself in a sphere that doesn’t quite fit.
It is also a story of love and grace.
Because love has the power to make all things right between people. And grace from God is the transforming agent that lifts love up.
I had an opportunity to see a preview of the The Identical. I recommend the movie. It has a fine cast, topped by Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd. It demonstrates the maturing of Christian entertainment that is beginning to occur.
Ray Liotta puts in a beautiful performance as the adoptive father. This performance sharpens the movie’s dynamic and gives it power. He manages to create a character that is both a stern and a loving man; someone who is full of human weakness but who is also deeply and absolutely honorable and loving. His character is balanced by Ashley Judd’s performance as the gentle Southern mama.
It is no easy trick to give artistic dimension to good people. Any painter will tell you that the light is the hardest — and most important part — of the image.
Liotta pulls The Identical together and makes it tick because he achieves that.
The Identical will open in theaters this weekend. I’m taking my family to see it. I recommend you do the same.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
In a world beset with narcissistic -isms, Christianity is the one light.
Every other philosophy, sooner or later, gets around to death. But the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is a message of life. And that light of life and love not only illumines our deepest darkness, it plants hedges around our most pitiless impulses.
In a world where the power to kill helpless human beings is labeled “compassion” or a “human right,” both compassion and human rights become matters of definition, and the defining is done by those who want to kill at will. What is in fact, monstrous, we call good. And what is in fact good, we call monstrous.
Christianity, with its unyielding call to life and love, is the light that shines in this darkness. And the darkness hates it.
This attraction — I cannot call it love, for love is not in it — to ever deeper darkness grows from our most selfish impulses. It creates an upside down world based on language mis-used that demands that everyone — everyone — accede to the lies of manufactured definitions of our finest words. Killing, we are told, is a “right” of the killer, as in abortion is a “right.” Murder is compassion, as in euthanasia is compassionate. Genocide is godly, as in the bestial behavior of Boko Haram and ISIS.
In this upside down world of lying definitions, we can pretend that homosexual couples are the same as a man and a woman, is the same as groups of people consorting sexually, is the same as … whatever. We can label the deliberate killing of people who are slightly different from the norm — such as those with down’s syndrome — a moral necessity. We can reduce women and children to commerce with surrogacy and egg harvesting, sex trafficking, prostitution and porn and call it variously, freedom of expression, creation of families and, once again, the “right” of the purchasers.
Whatever our dark desire to degrade, exploit or kill other people, we can use our facile gift of language to construct a lie to convince ourselves that it is good.
This darkness slides over all life like sludge from a tar pit. It seeks, always, to take us back to the time before; before Christ, even before Abraham. It wants to take us back to the time when we used our big brains in the service of our reptile brains without the hedgerow of Christian teaching to fence them in.
Without God, without Christ, we are capable of anything. There is no bottom to our depravity, no end to our malignant craving for self-gratification. Because we are not animals. Or rather, we are not animals entirely. We are made of the same dust of this earth as any other living thing on this planet. But we alone of all the life on this planet teeming with life have the breath of God within us. We know that we are creatures. We know that we are finite and temporary.
And, if we will admit it, we also know that there is an Other, a being outside ourselves, greater than us, Who is both infinite and eternal. Our inchoate longing for this Other can haunt us. It can drive us to brittle anger and rageful hate that sends us screaming through our years, leaving a past of toppled lives behind us.
The terrors we weave of our unsatisfied longings for God and our refusal to live in the light of His life are the terrors that only a living soul, a creature made in His image who rejects that image in an irrational self-deification, could devise. We are not just animals. We are cathedral builders and bomb builders, poets and beheaders, we are slavers and freedom fighters, abortionists and mothers who lay down their lives for their child. We are the men who protect their families, and the men who kill their families. We are destroyers and builders, killers and nurturers.
No animal possesses this grandeur of good and bottomless capacity for evil. We do.
That is our darkness. It is the darkness of freedom that runs so frantic that it becomes a prison. We are, and we have always been, free. We are not spiders who spin the same web from one generation of spiders to the next. We are free. We can create. We can destroy. We can reject this Other, this God Who calls us but will not force us to love Him. We can even create alter-gods of our own devising, bastardized versions of the real God in whom we attempt to deify our deepest darkness.
The Light of Life that is Christ is the only beacon in the darkness of the hidden places in our own souls. The Gospel message is the message of life. Christianity is the religion of life.
The darkness fights to overcome it with weapons that appeal to our vaunting need to be our own gods. It uses our great facility for language, our enormous creativity, to shape the lies, excuses and bogus philosophies of false belief and disbelief that become tools for tearing down our common humanity and the walls of our civilization.
But the darkness, however many it pulls into its quagmire of lies, never overcomes the Light of Life. This Light shines through us, through ordinary weak and willful Christians who are as afflicted by the fallenness of this world as any other human. We are different in that, though we stumble on the path, we know the Way.
Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, is the bulwark against the forces of death. It shines the light of Life into the darkness of abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, egg harvesting, surrogacy, human trafficking, the destruction of the family and the whole range of degradations, humiliations, and destructions of the human person who is made in the image and likeness of God.
The howling hatred which is directed at Christians and Christianity is the rage of those who wallow half alive in the sludge and do not want to be awakened from their nightmare. Christianity is the religion of life. It defends life in this world, and, to those who are willing to accept Christ, it gives eternal life in the next.
We are not made for the sludge pits of evil that so many of us call home. We are eternal beings who are made for the Light.
Our great dignity is that of all the creatures and living things on this planet, we alone are free. God sets before us each and every day life and death. We can chose the life of His Light. Or we can chose the death of our many false gods and self gods.
It is no accident that the powerful ideas of the value of the individual, the splendid notion of inalienable human rights and the essential equality of all human beings came into existence within Christendom. Such ideas could not have come to fruition anywhere else. Only the Light of Christ, the enlightening mustard seed of Christianity which teaches that there is neither Greek nor Jew, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus, could have grown and blossomed into the progenitor of the idea of universal human rights.
This is not a Western notion. It is a Christian teaching.
Even the hairs of your head are numbered.
If you have done it for the least of these you have done it for me.
Blessed are the poor.
If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that you may have life and that you may have it abundantly.
Christianity is growing rapidly throughout the world, even as we are moving into a new age of martyrdom. It is growing the way it always has: By voluntary conversion. People who are attracted to the Light, who hunger for Life, are drawn to Jesus because He is the Light and the Life.
Christianity is the religion of life because Christ is the Light of Life.
And the darkness will never overcome Him.
A long time ago in a land not so far away, married couples often stayed married to one another, despite their disagreements and problems “for the children’s sake.”
It was assumed that destroying a child’s home would damage the child. Underneath that assumption was another: Children have a better start in life when they are raised in their own intact families with their own biological parents.
Along came the 60s and this notion of staying together “for the children’s sake” was tossed in the cultural ashcan alongside civility, honor and a belief in the common good.
The Me Generation wanted to opt out of all the constraints that came between it and its essential drive to all-out me-firstness. “It’s better to be from a broken home than to live in one,” was the new slogan. It was put up there on the living-by-slogans billboard just below the “quality time” slogan concerning child rearing.
We didn’t, we were told, have to concede to the onerous demands of full-time child-rearing. We could drop in once in a while for “quality time” and this “quality time” would be so incredibly powerful in shaping the child’s character, values, morals and overall mental health that it would wash away the deleterious abuses of being ignored and shunted around for the bulk of the child’s life.
It was magical stuff, this “quality time” — the elixir of having it all without the need to feel guilty about short-shrifting our young.
Ditto for being from broken homes rather than living in them. It was, we were told, oh so much healthier for a child to live part of his or her life in a tranquil, albeit it lonely, home without Dad, watching tv, and later, playing video games, while Mom worked, and then to shuttle off to Dad’s tranquil homespot to watch more tv and, later play video games, while Dad worked.
“Blended” families and live-in boy and girl friends became the new normal. After all, if it makes Dad/Mom happy, then it must, by definition, be good for the kids. Or so we were told.
A child who gets the wondrous experience of counseling their bereft parent over their broken hearts about the guy/gal who dumped them, who wakes up in the morning, never knowing who’s going to be sharing the parent’s bed down the hall, who has to dip and dodge from the advances and abuses of boyfriends and girlfriends, who finds themselves suddenly saddled with steps — stepparents, stepbrothers, stepsisters, step grandparents — of all types and then, in a year or two, finds themselves without the steps once again, is, in the parlance, “growing up fast.” After all, the new new normal says, they’re going to have to deal with these things someday, anyway. Right?
Believing that all this is good for kids requires a bit of willful neglect of the obvious. First, we have to overlook the adults that these kids become. We need to stare right past the drug addiction, insect sexuality, near psychopathic way they treat one another and their increasing inability to form families and raise children of their own.
Second, we need to stop believing that there is any connection between their total lack of respect for marriage as an institution coupled with the abject willingness to see it destroyed and the fact that these young people grew up in cold, chaotic circumstances with child parents who failed at every personal value except selfishness and self-indulgence.
I know that someone is going to raise the specter of violence and abuse in the home and the need for divorce in those circumstances. That happens. And when it does, it really is better for a child to be from a broken home than to live in one.
The interesting thing is that violence and abuse in the home are not going away. Divorce has not ended it. Domestic violence is escalating. Why? You’d think that if divorce was the answer to it, domestic violence would be moving toward extinction.
I think one reason violence in the home is on the rise is this bizarre method method of child rearing that amounts to buying our kids stuff, driving them to activities and ignoring them as people while we do whatever else pleases us. I think it is giving us adult children who are exactly the kind of people we have raised them to be.
Each generation of children we are producing with these methods is less able to commit to other people and raise a family of their own than the generation before it. They exhibit a kind of internal chaos that I think reflects the chaos in which they were raised.
We’re not only producing whole generations of young people who cannot commit to one another and love one another and then commit to and love and raise children of their own, we are also producing young people who are marked by profound alienation and rage. We are, in short, getting the kind of adults that abusive homes produce. Are our current child-rearing practices abusive to children?
Oh yes. I think so.
We were deconstructing family at a massive rate long before the debate about gay marriage reared its head. When demands for polygamy follow on the heels of gay marriage — and they will — we will just slide further into the abyss right behind it because we have no cultural center to hold us.
There is only one way to reverse this trend. You must do it yourself. You must, to paraphrase Ghandi, be the change you want to see.
That means you must commit to your wife or husband; you must cherish and protect them. You must put your family, your spouse, your children ahead of everything else.
I know this will sound like blasphemy, but you need to put your home and family ahead of your career, your craving for “fun” and your desire to live life as a perpetual adolescent. You need to take care of the people God has entrusted to you before you do anything else.
The way to stop this is for both men and women to stop putting me first and put their families first. It is not enough for wives to be good wives, or husbands to be good husbands. We are male and female. That is the human race. And both men and woman have a responsibility before God to put the welfare of their spouses and their children above every other consideration.
This is drastically counter-cultural. You will get a lot of flack for doing it. Men will be called some of the pejorative names used for women if they don’t go along with the fellas about things such as sleeping around, and going out on the town. Other men will do this to them ruthlessly. I’ve witnessed it for years in my life of working with 90 men.
Women will be told they are “wasting their lives” if they stay home with the kids. When I was a stay at home mom, I had more than one person look me right in the eye and tell me I was “wasting” my life. When I ran for office again later, I also had people chide me for trying to come back when I should not have left in the first place.
The truth is, as my grandmother used to say, misery loves company. Why should a bunch of men care if their male coworker doesn’t go out to the stripper joints with them after work? Why should they turn aggressive and ugly and tell him he’s “whipped” because he loves his wife and family while they do not love their wives and families?
Who’s the real man here? Is it the braggart good-for-nothing who dishonors the people he has stood before God and promised to protect and defend, the strong individual who stands up under the verbal hazing and honors his promises with his fidelity?
By the same token, who is wasting her life? The woman who builds people, or the woman who builds widgets?
You have one life. In this free country of ours, you can spend your life how you chose. At the end of the span, when you are like my Mama and cannot do for yourself, do you want to be wrapped in the love and care of grateful generations, or do you want the cold hardness of the alone?
When you look back over your life, do you want to view a wasteland of broken relationships, crazy and dysfunctional offspring and nothing much worth claiming, or do you want to see a life that gave life, that nurtured and loved and created? Do you want to see strong people going forward into tomorrow with your love in their hearts?
When you stand before God, what will be the sum total of the great gift of years that He gave you to spend?
Home and family are not outmoded ideas. They are eternal truths on which people are built.
James Foley’s family and friends celebrated a memorial mass for his life in the family’s home parish this weekend. His funeral mass will be in October, on his birthday. His parents said in an interview I posted earlier that they did not expect ISIS to return Mr Foley’s body.
Watching these videos makes me proud to be an American, and a Catholic.
For more details about the memorial mass, check out Deacon Greg Kandra.
This video starts with a small bit from James Foley’s Memorial Mass and moves to a longer discussion about the British Jihadists, one of whom is thought to be the James Foley’s murderer.
James Foley’s Memorial Mass
James Foley’s parents speak of praying for other hostages.