Today at Public Discourse, we are featuring brief responses to Abigail Favale’s essay, "Feminism's Last Battle," by four writers: Erika Bachiochi, Margaret Harper McCarthy, Leah Libresco Sargeant, and Angela Franks.
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.
When gendered embodiment is treasured, maleness and femaleness are understood not as acts we perform, but as our very bodily essence. Being a man or a woman is not simply what one does, it is who one is.
My marriage is an entity with ramifications and consequences that echo outside our home. The same is true in reverse: what happens in other marriages can affect ours. A marriage needs friends, and it can likewise supply friendship to others’ unions.
Sex makes marriage much more than just friendship with “benefits.” The sexual excitement, the powerful bonding, the oneness, the potential creation of human life, even the vulnerability—all of this alchemizes friendship and sexual attraction into marriage. We have been separating sex from marriage for decades now, with foreseeable destruction. This latest innovation adds more fuel to the inferno.
Today, sociology is overwhelmingly dominated by the radically individualistic and gender–feminist ethic that drives contemporary American culture. Yet it was not always so. Émile Durkheim, the Frenchman whom many call the founder of sociology, offered a rigorous scientific and philosophical account of sexuality, marriage, and the family that affirms the traditional view.
A growing number of jurisdictions have taken steps to pass bans on “conversion therapy,” a term referring to efforts or interventions to change or suppress the sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) of persons. These bans enforce a message of expressive individualism—that the only acceptable response is to “affirm” a person’s SOGI—and rest on a faulty anthropology on sex and gender. They infringe upon aspects of individual and group autonomy, and they negatively impact public order, health, and moral considerations.
Even as a woman shapes the child growing within her, the joys and trials of pregnancy are shaping her, sanctifying her, and teaching her how to depend on others during this season of peculiar service.
Should social conservatives embrace large-scale economic programs aimed at subsidizing family formation and childbearing? Is it more effective to focus on long-term economic growth? Are our declining birth rates really cause for concern, anyway? If they are, to what extent can the problem be solved by governmental family subsidies?
The Arkansas legislature knows something the governor apparently does not: hormonal treatment of adolescent gender dysphoria yields little across samples and studies. Transgender youth medicine involves numerous known and serious risks that are already identifiable, while the long-term effects and possible harms of off-label drug uses are completely unknown.
The time has come for people of faith to acknowledge reality and seek a resolution that protects both LGBT civil rights and religious liberty. The Fairness For All Act is a serious effort to reach a sustainable and balanced resolution while there’s still time.
There are far more egregious consequences of the Equality Act than its lack of protections for religious freedom. It celebrates and legitimizes a way of life that is fundamentally destructive, both on an individual and societal level. The Equality Act would not merely alter legal code. It would engender and nourish a burgeoning assault on any who publicly dissent from the new secular orthodoxy.
One feature of Mitt Romney’s Child Allowance proposal has been critically under-billed: the extremely high likelihood that it would reduce the abortion rate. Conservatives arguing that a rise in single parenthood is an unacceptable cost of a child allowance are necessarily arguing, as a corollary, that some of those children instead being aborted is an acceptable cost of the current policy regime. But if abortion is murder, then keeping single parenthood down by murdering the infants is surely not an optimal anti-poverty policy.
Humans are, hands down, the single most fascinating set of creatures on the planet. If you want to understand how humans work, just make a few, sit back, and watch them do their thing.
Surrogacy arrangements are not in the best interests of children. When thinking about whether to legalize surrogacy, policy makers should consider the epigenetic effects of pregnancy, the loss to the children arising from separation from their birth mothers, and the special challenges associated with parenting by commissioning parents.
The lastingness of each person’s reality as male or female is so integral to the faith’s architecture, that to deny it—even to equivocate about it—is to undermine Catholic faith itself. No Catholic institution should risk that effect.
As a post-Trump conservative coalition struggles to define itself, social and religious conservatives should seize the opportunity to step up and play a leading role, making support for families a central tenet of the American right.
Some people don’t consider adoptive parents to be the “real” parents. While it is undeniable that biological parents give their children their genetic composition, the parents who raise them leave an enormous mark on children’s character and spiritual makeup. Over many years, adoptive parents influence their children’s education, the habits they develop, the affections they form, and their beliefs and values. In this way, adoptive parents become indispensable to the identity of the child.
We should endorse true claims of value—especially those related to marriage and the family—and reject specious ones. But discussing different family forms in terms of “privilege” smuggles in conclusions before the discussion begins.
As a recent British court decision correctly affirmed, the puberty blocking treatments being given to gender-dysphoric young people constitute experimental medicine. There is neither demonstrated efficacy nor evidence on long-term outcomes, and the risk of serious harm and irreversible damage is real. The same standards of medicine should be applied to gender dysphoria as other medical issues.
A moral theologian urges Pope Francis to bring his forceful defense of prenatal children into a more central place of his pontificate. It is time to stand up firmly and forcefully for their dignity in a culture which increasingly sees them as disposable things that can be violently discarded.
What if religious and conservative higher education ceased speaking about marriage and family life as an accomplishment and began to treat marriage and children as that which enable human flourishing and a meaningful future?
Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering’s Theology of Home project is a counteroffensive against the dominant feminism of our culture, which has greatly degraded home and homemaking. Their latest book addresses the question of what it means for women to live fruitfully.
How to achieve a lasting peace in our cultural conflicts is the great difficulty remaining for us. We should not paper over important differences. But, as Andrew Koppelman and Adam MacLeod demonstrate, we can discuss them in a conciliatory spirit of friendship.
According to Carl Trueman, focusing myopically on problems with sexual morality often results in misguided responses to the sexual revolution. Instead, we must grapple with “a much deeper and wider revolution in the understanding of what it means to be a self.”
To combat “toxic masculinity,” the APA suggests teaching boys to express their emotions and insecurities more openly. They say components of traditional masculinity such as stoicism, self-reliance, and competitiveness deter men from forming close relationships with other men. But if men really are born less “nice” than women, then our task is not simply to strip away negative social constructs. It is time we stop talking down to boys as if they were dim-witted girls and offer them opportunities to build character and provide meaning to their lives.