Home and Family are Not Outmoded. They are Eternal Truths on Which People are Built.

Family

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. 

Dr Alveda King, Niece of Martin Luther King, for Marriage

I was honored to meet Dr Alveda King when she was in Oklahoma for our annual pro-life event at the state capitol, Rose Day.

Dr King is a Pastoral Associate and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life.

She is the niece of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, and the daughter of his brother, Reverend AD King. Her mother is Naomi Barber King.

Her family home in Birmingham, Al was bombed during the Civil Rights Movement, as was her father’s church in Louisville, Ky. Alveda was jailed for her Civil Rights activities. she is the author of How Can the Dream Survive If We Murder the Children? 

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Cardinal O’Malley: The Church Won’t Change Its Teaching on Marriage

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Cardinal O’Malley, who is a member of the Papal G8 that Pope Francis appointed to consider reforms in the Church, says that the Catholic Church is not going to change its 2,000-year-old teachings on marriage.

The Church will not change her teaching on the dissolubility of marriage, he said in an interview with Joan Frawley Desmond of the National Catholic Register. 

He goes on to say that there may be a simplification of the annulment process, which he says “would be a wonderful first step for addressing a crucial pastoral problem for the Church.”

 

The New Zeitgeist: A Majority of Americans Now Favor Gay Marriage

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According to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, support for gay marriage by the American public has jumped from 21% in 2003 to 53% today.

The poll results show that 53% of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, with 44% of Americans opposed. Among those who feel strongly about the issue, 22% strongly favor legalizing same-sex marriage, while 20% strongly oppose it.

Sixty-four percent of Democrats favor legalizing gay marriage, while only 34% of Republicans favor it. Sixty-two percent of Republicans actively oppose gay marriage. Fifty-seven percent of Independents favor it.

Based on comments I’m seeing on Facebook and elsewhere, I would say that this poll is behind the curve and that the public sensibility is moving so rapidly toward acceptance of gay marriage that the figure is higher than this. From my vantage point, it appears that the numbers are growing exponentially every day.

At the same time, even faithful Catholics are tossing the concept of religious liberty and individual conscience aside. They are adopting and repeating arguments that not only obviate the issues, but are baseless sloganeering. We have indeed reached a cultural tipping point.

The good thing in this is that it reflects an end to social and civil discrimination against gay people. Unfortunately, it also means that the conflation of the civil rights of gay people with the redefinition of marriage leaves our society with a long-term fight.

Those of us who want homosexuals to be treated as full human beings and at the same time preserve traditional marriage and religious liberty have a long road ahead of us. To be honest, I no longer see the issue of homosexuals being accepted as full people to be a concern in our society. I think that’s a done deal.

What is a question is whether or not Christians have enough identity in Christ to maintain their fealty to basic Christian teachings in what will amount to government-enforced violation of their values and religious freedoms. The DOMA decision did indeed, as I said at the time, tip over the table.

In this sudden flood of changed opinions, even Christians in public leadership positions are tripping over themselves to stand against their brothers and sisters in Christ who do not want to be forced to participate in gay weddings. A good number of these people will recant in the years ahead. Most of those who do will have amnesia and claim they never said the things they’re saying. Others of them will drift further away from supporting their fellow Christians until they end up putting both feet over the fence and standing entirely on the other side.

I remember the sudden movement that accompanied Roe. I’ve seen the lies and sloganeering, the dominance by the press as it put out what was propaganda. I’ve seen Christians recover from this sudden loss of clear thinking, and I’ve seen others become hardened in it and lose themselves to it entirely. The one thing I’m sure of is that there is no way to know who will fall into which camp.

However, the Roe debacle is a faint copy of what is happening with gay marriage.

Nothing in my memory equals the intensity with which the public has been “sold” gay marriage and the hatred of the Church and religious freedom which has gone along with it. This is a new post-Christian zeitgeist in which the dominant powers of the culture are locked on and targeting traditional Christian values and traditional Christians. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have bought into this and are now promoting it themselves.

It is going to be increasingly difficult for anyone to stay true to Christian values in the times ahead, and I am not talking just about gay marriage. We are not dealing with a fixed situation. This is a moving and constantly degrading target.

What began as “If you don’t support gay marriage, then don’t get gay married” has now become “It is discrimination and hate not to provide services for a gay marriage.” I wrote a post a few days ago about the gathering clouds concerning polygamy, and was astonished by the bold and aggressive support for polygamy that commenters voiced. Polygamy is indeed the new gay marriage.

Euthanasia was once supposed to be limited to terminally ill people who were facing imminent death and in irremediable pain. That argument has been broadened to the idea that euthanasia is about choice and should be offered as a storefront service to anyone, at any time, without question.

We are living in an imploding post-Christian culture.

Americans have been sold lies on a number of issues, all of which have their aegis in a diminution of the distinctness and value of the human person.

I know this is a bleak picture. But it is far from hopeless. The worst aspect of what I’ve described is the seduction of many good Christians by this culture. We have the task of re-converting our lost society, and we will have to do it in the face of self-identified Christians who will fight for and support the anti-Christian zeitgeist. This task is complicated by the fact that Christians who follow Christ’s teachings are rapidly becoming the new cultural hate objects.

It seems a contradiction for me to say that the situation is far from hopeless in the same paragraph in which I describe fallen away Christians using their nominal Christian identity to attack Christian values. But it is inevitable that a good many of our fellow Christians will fall prey to this and become voices of destruction within our churches and religious communities.

The important thing to remember is that it will sort itself out in time. Those who stay true will become stronger in their faith and closer to Christ.

I’ve lived this.

Those who follow the culture will lose themselves to their little g gods. Those who follow Christ will become stronger in Him with a deeper and ever-empowering faith. We’ll become bolder, more fearless witnesses for Him personally, and our numbers will grow as we do it.

We’re not going to lose in the long run. The outcome of this battle is already decided.

I’m going to talk more about this in the future. We’ve got a fight ahead of us.

All I’ll say for now is that it is apt that we have come to this pass at the beginning of Lent.

From Public Religion Research Institute:

Executive Summary

Support for same-sex marriage jumped 21 percentage points from 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, to 2013. Currently, a majority (53%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, compared to 41% who oppose. In 2003, less than one-third (32%) of Americans supported allowing gay and lesbian people to legally marry, compared to nearly 6-in-10 (59%) who opposed.

How Does the Definition of Marriage Affect the Future of Our Society?

The link to this article comes Kate O’Hare, who is a contributor at Catholic Vote.

Ryan Anderson gave testimony concerning the socio-political issues surrounding how we define marriage. The owners of the video ask that it not be shared, so I’m going to link to the Catholic Vote article that contains it here.

Scroll down to the bottom of the article to view the testimony, which is a tour de force of marriage arguments. I think it is well worth watching.

 

Anniversary: No Posts Today

I’m celebrating my anniversary today. That means no posts. I’ll be back in full form tomorrow.

Pope Francis: Marriage is the First Sacrament of Humanity

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As we would describe it here in Oklahoma, Pope Francis said a mouthful.

His comments on family life have been spot on. Here are a few from a discussion he gave Friday to the XXI Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family:

The family is the “community of life,” the “natural center of human life,” the “engine of the world and society,” and the “place  (where) you learn to love.”

Each of us builds his own personality in the family.

In the family a person becomes aware of his own dignity and especially if his education is Christian, recognizes the dignity of every human person.

Marriage is the ‘first sacrament of humanity.’

A society that abandons its children and marginalizes the elderly severs its roots and obscures its future.

From News.va:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called the family a “community of life with its own consistent autonomy”, and that it is the “natural centre of human life”, “the engine of the world and history”, and the “place you learn to love”.
He was speaking on Friday to participants of the XXI Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Assembly has been looking at the theme “Family, Live the Joy of Faith” and also marked the 30th Anniversary of the Holy See’s 1983 Charter on the Rights of the Family.

“Each of us builds his own personality in the family, growing up with their mother and father, brothers and sisters, breathing in the warmth of the house,” Pope Francis said. “In the family, a person becomes aware of his own dignity, and especially if his education is Christian, recognizes the dignity of every human person, and in a special way, that of the sick, weak and marginalized.”
The Holy Father reminded the participants the family is based on marriage, which he called “like a first sacrament of humanity”.
“In marriage, we give ourselves completely without calculation or reservation, sharing everything – gifts and sacrifices – trusting in God’s Providence,” Pope Francis said. “This is the experience that young people can learn from their parents and grandparents. It is an experience of faith in God and mutual trust, of profound freedom, of holiness, because holiness pre-supposes giving of yourself with faithfulness and sacrifice every day of your life!”
The Pope then spoke briefly about two stages of family life: childhood and old age.
“Children and the elderly are the two poles of life and also the most vulnerable, often the most forgotten,” he said. “A society that abandons children and marginalizes the elderly severs its roots and obscures its future. Whenever a child is abandoned and an old person is marginalized, is not just an act of injustice, but it also demonstrates the failure of that society. Taking care of children and the elderly is the only choice of civilization.”

Pope Francis: Three Words for Married Life are Please, Sorry and Thank You


Pope Francis spoke about families. The temporary quality of modern life cuts us to pieces, he said. But marriage gives us courage.

I’ve found this to be true in my own life. The one person I can always count on is my husband. Marriage provides stability and security that people cannot find in any other human relationship.

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Shacking Up, Gay Marriage and Now Wed Leases: Is Marriage as the Larger Culture Lives It Dead?

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Shacking up, gay marriage and now wed leases.

Given all this, I’m inclined to say as so many people do these days Why bother?

A reader sent me a copy of the Washington Post opinion piece excerpted below. The author, who is a divorce attorney, suggests that, given today’s revolving door marriages, we just set up marriage as a lease arrangement and forego all that “til death do us part” nonsense at the get-go. He sees it as a simplification of the court-laden bitterness of today’s divorce culture.

My first thought was that the guy deserves a couple of stars for innovative thinking and his willingness to legislate himself out of a job. But then I thought that he’s probably as sick of doing divorces as every other attorney I ever met. Setting up wed leases for his clients (His suggestions would require quite a bit of personalized legal tailoring for each couple.) would probably end up being, if not as lucrative as a high-dollar divorce, still a good living for an attorney, and without the need to Xanax.

So, I guess he’s not being entirely selfless.

However, he has put his finger on the truth of what is happening in our society.

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We’ve trashed marriage to the point that it no longer means much of anything. Gay marriage is the end of marriage as a legitimate institution. Now the flood gates on redefining marriage are open and you can bet that a lot of garbage is going to trot through them. Of course, none of this would have happened if heterosexuals hadn’t trashed their marriages (and their kids, homes and finances along with their marriages) for so many years.

Christians who want to follow Jesus instead of the world are going to have to make a decision about their marriages. Are they entering into Holy Matrimony, which is a life-long union on which God rains down sacramental graces? Or, are they entering into an elastic “so long as we both dig it” legal contract endowed by the state with nothing much but a lot of misery and legal gas?

The truth is, marriage, as it is practiced today has nothing — and I mean nothing — to do with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as Jesus created it and as the Church has provided it for 2,000 years.

Which is it Christians?

Have you and your spouse entered into a Covenant before God Almighty that bonds you together in sickness and health, for richer and poorer until death does you part? Or are you just play-acting with some legally created contract that you can breach or nullify anytime there is sickness or poverty or you just don’t feel like it today?

For centuries, the legal definition of marriage corresponded closely enough to the Christian understanding of Holy Matrimony that the two could function almost as the same thing.

No more.

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In today’s brave new world, “marriage” is a legal construct. At best, it is a contract. At worst, it is a sham. Many times it is both — a sham contract.

Holy Matrimony, at least as the Catholic Church and some other denominations do it, remains unchanged. Outside of those churches that still treat marriage as the life-long Covenantal relationship between a man and a woman that God intended, there is no Holy Matrimony in our society today.

Christians who want to follow Jesus are going to have to learn to make this distinction, first in their own lives, and second as they regard the “marriages” in the wider world. There are things that redefining the law cannot change, and this is one of them.

True marriage, which, to distinguish it from the legal contracts of the wider society, I have decided to call Holy Matrimony, is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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It is up to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, if you want to be married in the eyes of God in Holy Matrimony, or you want a legal contract for sex and shared finances. If you want Holy Matrimony, then you must begin with the Church as the cornerstone of your marriage. By that I mean you must be married in the Church and you must make Christ the head of your home.

I do not think it will be possible for Christians to be the light the world so badly needs if we continue down this path of half Christian/half worldly.

More and more the world itself is demanding that we, as Joshua demanded thousands of years ago, choose this day whom we will serve.

Choosing to follow Christ begins in the individual heart, and it is first acted out in the home. The creator of home is Holy Matrimony.

Everything else is dead legalism.

From the Washington Post:

We all know that far too many marriages end in divorce, yet this institution does not adapt. Indeed, most Americans today want to expand conventional marriage to include same-sex couples.

So why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?

Marriage is a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime — one lifetime to be exact, that of the first of the spouses to die. Generally speaking, that is a long time for any partnership. People, circumstances and all sorts of other things change. The compatibility of any two people over decades may decline with these changes to the point of extinction.

In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage — a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.

Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

The One Person

Marriage

Everybody, it seems, is writing about what not to do if you want to stay married.

Everything I’ve read so far, which you can find here, here and here, is good advice.

But is staying married a matter of the things you don’t do?

I hope not. Because I am convinced that there is a lot more to a happy marriage than what you don’t do, or, for that matter, just “staying married.”

Did you notice my choice of words? I said “a happy marriage.” The goal of life — and marriage is life — should not be to just stay with someone. Marriage is a relationship that sustains. As such, it is about trust.

There are many levels of trust. When you leave your purse sitting on your desk at work without worry that your co-workers are going to riffle through it, that’s trust. When you drive through an intersection believing that none of the other cars are going to ram into you, that’s trust.

But married trust goes a lot deeper than these superficial trusts that make it possible for millions of people to live together in a society and function independently dependent on one another.

The trust of marriage involves that one flesh thing the Bible talks about. Your husband or wife knows you in a deep-down, all-the-way-through kind of way that precludes simple definitions of trust. You bind yourselves to one another at a spiritual level that goes deeper than any other relationship you will ever have, even and including relationships with your parents and the children you create with one another.

This person, this one person, is your helpmate, friend, lover, love and the steadying hand under your arm when you are shaky. That goes beyond simple lists of don’ts, even though it does include them.

You may not sleep around. You may not hit, disparage, gossip about or abuse your spouse in any way. Because, stupid, you and your spouse are one flesh. What you do to them, you do to yourself. Make them miserable, and you will be miserable, too.

So, rather than give a list of things you shouldn’t do, I want to give you one thing you must do if you want a true marriage that lasts: Love your husband. Love your wife. Cherish them and treat them as if they were your life’s companion; the one person you will share your days with all the days in this life that you have.

Because that’s exactly who they are.


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