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Pillar

Sexuality & Family

The second pillar of a decent society is the institution of the family, which is built upon the comprehensive sexual union of man and woman. No other institution can top the family’s ability to transmit what is pivotal—character formation, values, virtues, and enduring love—to each new generation.

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Popular culture tells us it is often more efficient to outsource routine household tasks than do them yourself. This leaves an important question unanswered, however: efficient at what? 
Because of our fallen and finite nature, we are all burdened with the impediment of concupiscence. But we are not victims or helpless creatures determined in our actions by the imperatives of biology.
The way to foster a loving bond between mother and child is to nurture a wider culture of support and love. It is not fair to children to deprive them of their mother’s womb for their life before birth. But it is also not fair to mothers to deprive them of the support they need to make pregnancy and motherhood bearable. 
These are formidable challenges. But to fully meet them we first need to know what a man is, not just an “adult male of the human species,” but a real man, a “man in full,” a gentleman. It turns out this is a most interesting question to explore—and not an easy one to answer.
Abortion pill reversal is a potent reminder to those who profit from abortion that, if given the option, many pregnant mothers want assistance that will help them choose life.
Dear reader, as you step away from my story, I have two requests: first, believe women when they tell you about sexual violence. And second, recognize that abortion coercion is real. 
When we reject suffering and seek to replace it with artificiality, we miss our invitation to submit to the conditions under which love flourishes. We also lose sight of the meaning and purpose of our existence, which is not to pursue our own comfort and convenience, but to love God and our neighbor, even when that involves sacrifice and hardship.
To get us out of the self-consuming ouroboros of frantically chasing experiences rather than investing in home and relationships will require a greater attention to virtues of thrift, local commitment, and a lower bar for what “living comfortably” looks like. Choosing to do hard things—to start a family, have kids, invest in local institutions, and put others before ourselves—requires a formation in values that lie outside the market. 
Indeed, a person in such a crisis seems like he or she has a deep need for truthful communication. Once more, not every truth needs to be communicated. But the important truths that they are loved, that their life is of value, and that they have much to live for, can only be convincingly imparted by one whose trustworthiness is manifested by his or her unwillingness to speak falsely. The beginning of a clinical relationship seems to me precisely the wrong time to lead by saying what one thinks is false.
Constant supervision thwarts a child’s ability to develop important qualities such as resourcefulness, self-awareness, and perseverance. But independence with a strong inner compass, a compass that is oriented toward the safety and trustworthiness of healthy family relationships, helps children eventually carry that attached compass away from home and eventually calibrate it for themselves.
Risks are essential to human flourishing. By taking measured risks—to our sanity, our financial stability, our perceived safety—we explore the limits of our ability to withstand discomfort, a posture that then allows us to care for others. In this way, well-ordered risk-taking is fundamentally others-oriented.
The belief that childrearing is prohibitively expensive could be understood as a fruit of our collapsing civil society. Some people today don’t even consider that extended family, neighbors, churches, and other little platoons can, at least theoretically, provide real support to parents. They fall into believing that the only places to turn for help are the market and the state. Parents without community support then shift more burden onto themselves.
The public bioethics conversations of the twenty-first century will be much more nuanced and complicated than the abortion debate of the last fifty years. If we want to speak thoughtfully about how these and other technologies are shaping our future, we will need to move beyond a reductionist approach to human dignity.
In spite of all the difficulties they told me—“my body is shot,” “I’ve taken second best in my career, ” but “gosh, I would have one more.” What is this thing, that you could drag yourself through all this hardship and still want one more?
The friendship of husband and wife is founded on an attraction or thrill, but that thrill has roots in the goodness of the other spouse. It should grow into a series of actions that make both spouses better, that cement their delight in each other’s good in a life of mutual beneficence and sacrifice.
The new Alabama IVF provider immunity law, recently praised by former President Trump, will have pernicious national consequences on parents’ rights to hold IVF providers accountable and will negatively affect Republican unity over pro-life issues.
Demographer Lyman Stone projects that, on the current course, as many as one in three young adults in the United States might never marry and as many as one in four will never have kids. That’s a lot of kinless Americans. Given the importance of marriage and family for what Jefferson called “the pursuit of happiness,” this would be a tragedy. So let’s find new ways to make it easier and more appealing for young adults to get married.
I won’t resort to the “be yourself!” platitude or argue that anyone should unleash the waterworks on a first date. However, I will suggest that the relationships (particularly romantic ones) that alleviate despondency cannot be cultivated while adhering to manifestos and maintaining derogatory views of the opposite sex. And that applies to both women and men. 
What should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the question, “How does all this technological tinkering affect the kids?” We are only beginning to be able to answer that question.
Inviting people into joy, both then and now, means also inviting others into possible pain. We must embrace the joys with the sorrows to lead full, rich lives as human beings.
The parallel to vital conflict cases is clear: do not too quickly assume that death is inevitable. Do not too quickly assume that active rather than passive harm needs to be inflicted, even as a side effect.
AntiFems face a dilemma. On one hand, they want to affirm, protect, and promote the distinctiveness of women. On the other hand, they oppose what at present seems like the only viable strategy for achieving that end, the recovery and extension of an authentic feminism. 
The early women’s rights advocates sought to challenge, accompany, encourage, and support their sisters in the pursuit of the good life, in choosing good and rejecting evil. They sought to help them understand that they did not have to be the slaves of necessity, but that they could virtuously choose to undertake difficult but worthwhile endeavors, including the hardships of motherhood.

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