“Post-revolutionary men and women are living in ways that are profoundly unnatural for the ineradicably social creatures that we are; and many are suffering as a result, at times without even knowing the name of what ails them. This preoccupation, and the desire to do something about it, continues to shape my work.”
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.
Borrowing a family policy prescription from Helsinki or Budapest is bound to disappoint. A distinctly American family policy platform must be seen as expanding choice, not constraining it, and working with our national character, not trying to reshape it, all while understanding family as the essential institution in society, one that stakes an unavoidable claim on our public resources.
While the average engaged Catholic continues to show signs of making peace with progressive trends in sexuality and relationship behavior, the same is not true among the clergy. The type of man who completes seminary intending ordination is more conservative about matters of sexuality—as well as other markers—than those who enrolled 20, 30, or 40+ years ago.
Today, white-coated professionals tell parents of children with gender dysphoria: affirm your child’s trans identity right away or prepare for suicide. Are those really the only two options? For a movement that decries the binary, its commitment to this false dichotomy is relentless.
The issue of abortion cannot be reduced to the narrow question of the status of the child in the womb. The answers rest upon broader assumptions about what it means to be human. If we are to believe those who defend a right to abortion, it is nothing less than the power to end the life of her unborn child that guarantees a woman her humanity—that is, the autonomy befitting her status as man’s equal. That is a denial of what really makes us human: our natural dependence upon, and obligations towards, one another.
That motherhood and childhood begin in pregnancy is highly embarrassing to liberal anthropology. The physical and genealogical dependence of children on their parents attacks the thesis that we are isolated individuals rather than members of families that precede and survive us.
In light of the vocations issue and concerns about privacy, a policy that significantly intrudes on priests’ privacy should be a last resort. However, given the tremendous damage the earlier sex scandals did to the Church’s credibility, as evidenced by declining attendance and financial support, renewed concerns about priestly celibacy may justify such a resort.
We are in the midst of a technology shift that could revolutionize reproductive healthcare and family planning. Millions of couples are using apps that promise “natural contraception.” It’s time to engage these couples, inviting them to explore a better way, and giving them the support they need to grow closer through the self-restraint demanded by Natural Family Planning.
A 1937 novel by Carol Ryrie Brink offers a feminine version of the popular “kids shipwrecked on an island” plot. The protagonists do not have to spear boars or devise a polis. Rather, they must show that they can live as women, taking care of the four babies shipwrecked with them. Can the girls make the most of the resources available to them, remain cooperative and kind to each other under tremendous strain, and prioritize the well-being of the vulnerable people entrusted to their care?
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.
A new critical commentary on Lewis’s classic 1943 work provides a treasure trove of interpretation and supplementary material. Lewis’s warnings about the consequences of jettisoning natural law—what he referred to as the Tao—remain as trenchant today as they were when delivered during the Second World War.
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.