Archive for June, 2008

Faith

June 21, 2008

I used to think faith was believing that God exists, without enough evidence to prove it.  I have changed my mind about that.  I have learned enough about science to see that God’s existence has more than enough proof for anyone who isn’t just pushing away uncomfortable truth.  Faith is more about trusting God.  Its more about trusting that God knows what He is doing.  I encountered that this week.  I trust God knows what He is doing in allowing scorpions on the earth, even as I cleaned 16 scorpions out of the place I’ve been staying!

Nonni

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Novels aren’t Factual Truth

June 16, 2008

The novel has always told truth about people, relationships, culture, society and life in a roundabout way.  Through the thoughts and conversations of the characters, the reader gains an insight into how people think, what they believe, their motivations and emotions–at least in the time of the novel’s setting.  Today a new genre of novel attempts to tell truth more often found in non-fiction work, but tell it without the kind of research, footnotes, quotes and debate found in articles and essays.  The medium used to tell the author’s version of truth about some present societal or political debate is a lecture by one of the characters (usually portrayed as an expert of some sort), or fictional articles, fictional tv shows and the like.  The reader begins to believe the fictional characters and media in the novel are the result of well-researched, well-weighed, even-handed evidence.  Most often this is not the case.  The author is interested in the reader being persuaded to the authors point of view through the medium of a “page-turner”, the involvement of the reader’s emotions and the reader’s identification with characters.  As a result, a lot of readers change their opinion on many topics, but without the critical thinking and study expected of the reader of serious prose.  Its a free country, and speech is free, but these days readers need to use critical thinking when reading the “information” in novels, as much as they do when reading editorials.

How to Save Marriage and the Nation

June 15, 2008

The foregoing series of articles shows how marriage, stable families with both a mother and a father, and having children are essential to a healthy nation.  What has to happen so that marriage and the family–and America–can be saved.

1.   As a society, we have to begin to value the family.  Starting with “no fault” divorce, the family has taken all the hits in favor of individual freedom.  We have to begin, as a society, to value the institution of the family as something that benefits every single one of us.  We have to realize that a family and a family line are something worthwhile and worth sacrificing to achieve.   We have to realize that individual freedom doesn’t exist in a vacuum, that freedom comes with responsibility because each of our individual choices affects the society we live in.

2.  We must value children.  We must begin to believe, truly, that children are good for us.  They teach us as much as we teach them.  They grow us and mature us as people.  They become a real asset in our lives as they grow into adulthood.  It must be recognized that our societies tendency to see children as a nuisance and an expense is very, very shortsighted.  In that vein, it would be useful to resurrect the concept of selfishness, which seems to have been forgotten.

3.  We need to value heritage and generational families.  As we value the young, we must also value the old.  As we show love to our parents and grandparents, we teach our children the value of family, of love, faithfulness and care.  It innoculates them to living solely for “self-fulfillment”.  They will never find the love and security of family life in any career or pursuit. Maintaining close relationships within the family offers security to each generation, and is an antidote to all the anxiety, lack of identity and frantic activity of the world outside the family circle.

4.  We need to value domestic life.  Quiet evenings and weekends within the family circle, with time to really talk to each other are to be cherished.  Nights and weekends of frantic activity don’t satisfy the need to just be together and leave children overstimulated and undernourished.  Hopefully, as the price of fuel rises, families will “just stay home”, and find their fun and their joy there.

5.  We need to teach the above values through the schools and the media.  After all, we taught the materialistic, hedonistic, striving  values we have now.  We taught kids to fight for stuff and “success” (whatever that means) and to devalue people and relationships.

6.  We might consider government benefits to make the financial costs of raising children easier, but as has been seen in the Scandinavian countries, generous benefits don’t raise the birthrate very much.

7.  We need to do everything possible to promote stable marriages.  We need to make fatherhood (and motherhood) heroic in the public eye.  We need to keep fathers involved with their children. 

8.  We need to teach kids from the earliest grades how to communicate and how to nurture relationships.  We  need to teach them as much about living together and being a family as we teach them about sex–in fact, we need to teach family living a whole lot more.

9.  We need to get off the “self-fulfillment” bandwagon as a nation and go back to the idealistic days of “doing good”.  We turned “self-fulfillment” into narcissism, and we need to be heroic again.

10.  So far I have made no reference at all to religious belief.  While many have denounced the motives of pro-family advocates as “intolerance” and “religious bigotry”, it is quite plain that pro-family values show a benefit to children and the society.  Religious people believe God invented marriage.  In that case, God knew better than we do, what is good for us.  If God had been silent, the wisest among us should have invented pro-family values ourselves.

What Ultimately Happens When Marriage Dies

June 15, 2008

Separating parenthood from the protection of traditional marriage has repercussions.  Sweden was the groundbreaker for many forms of non-traditional marriage.  Today in Sweden the marriage rate is only one third of what it was in the 1940’s.  Sixty percent of all first children are born to non-married couples.  Since these couples break up at two or three tiems the rate of married couples, this makes the children of these relationships a very high risk for the fluidity that causes problems. 

Sweden is a socialist state with many government incentives to have children.  Mothers are able to take paid leave of absence of 12 months when they have a baby.  They can return to their jobs at 3/4 time for the next 7 years!  The government makes up the difference.  Dads can take a 3 month leave of absence at full pay.  Still, despite all the incentives, the Swedish birthrate is only 1.75 per woman.  It needs to be 2.1 at least to maintain population replacement.  Lacking a cultural value placed on family making, the government can’t even pay people to have enough children.  Where the values in a culture are placed on individual fulfillment and where marriage and parenthood are separated, the rates of both marriage and parenthood fall.

America stands about 20 years behind Sweden, and is definitely on the same downward path.  The marriage rate here is also falling and the out of wedlock pregnancy is rising.  The overall birthrate is falling here, as well.  Gay marriage is beginning to be accepted, further eroding the link between marriage and parenting.  The society is aging with the “birth dearth”, making us an older, less energetic, less growth-producing society.  The most productive age group is becoming a smaller portion of the whole, and definitely smaller in relationship to the older “entitlement” group of adults.  The economy will slow and contract as taxes to support the entittled take away from revenue that would support growth.  The nation will become less wealthy than it is today.

Gay Marriage Can’t Solve the Baby Bust

June 15, 2008

Its a no brainer.  Homosexual unions can NOT produce children.  The only way they can nurture children involves an artificiality of some sort.  Gay men must either adopt or use a surrogate.  Using a surrogate involves, well, using a woman.  Forever after, a child must live with the “why did she give me up?” question that haunts adopted children.  At least adopted children can comfort themselves with the reasoning that in her circumstances she had no choice and did the best she could for her child.  The child of a surrogate has no such comfort.  It was a monetary transaction and the child was essentially sold.  There are enough relinquished children who are suffering such mental anguish to ever justify doing this through a calculated plan.

What about gay men adopting?  Anyone who has studied adoption knows these children have attachment and identity issues.  To raise them without a mother adds yet more trouble to their lives.  To have no mother is the worst kind of loss, and two dads can’t equal a mother.  Adoption was created to fill a need in a child’s life, not to meet a need for the adults who want children.

Similarly, a lesbian couple can only adopt or else have a child by artificial insemination.  In either case, one or both mothers is an adoptive mother.  In addition to the traumas of being adopted, these children grow up without the hope of a father in their lives, and without the knowledge of who their father is (in the case of artificial insemination).

To the radical feminists who believe men are optional, just look at the problems in other communities where families lack men.  In those places, two women raise the children: mom and grandma.  Mom and grandma have a closer bond, a longer history and a more stable relationship than two lesbians do, yet they can’t manage the kids who have no dads: the rebellion, violence, gang activity and promiscuity.  For a look at kids without dads, just visit the poorer parts of the city.

In addition to all of the above, opposite sex children of either gay or lesbian partners face rejection from their parent’s community around the time of puberty.  Daughters of gay men don’t know how to fit into straight society, or even Lesbian society, for that matter, yet no longer have a place in their Dad’s community after they cease being little girls.  Similarly, sons of Lesbian partners face the situation in reverse with their mom’s community.  Artificially created families and radically insular societies create identity and socialization problems for children.

 

Fluid Lifestyles Have Consequences

June 15, 2008

Fluid lifestyles are those in which there is no long term marriage or intact family.  People go from relationship to relationship, seeking and never finding what they need.  They may have children and drag them through this ever changing, ill defined world where the family composition is constantly changing.  Fluid lifestyles have consequences for society in general, but specifically the consequences are deep for boys, for girls, and for women–in that order.

For at least sixty years, sociologists and juvenile delinquency experts have known that boys do best when they have a stable father in the home.  It takes a dad to socialize a boy into manhood and boys who grow up without a dad are much more prone to seek their male bonding in a gang.  Boys who grow up solely among women are more prone to violence and to abuse women.  The vast majority of the prison population grew up without a dad in the home.  Boys also need a mother.  Boys who grow up without a mother tend to be anxious and depressed.  They have difficulty establishing and maintaining intimate relationships, so they tend either to avoid marriage or fail to stay married.

Girls who grow up without a dad are more inclined to be promiscuous.  Seeking the love of a dad they gravitate toward older males who frequently take advantage of them.  WIth their hearts broken and their sense of self wounded, these girls often begin the trail of fluidity themselves.  Frequently dragging their children along, they go from relationship to relationship seeking something they never find.  As boys are prone to violence, delinquency and gang activity, the girls growing up in fluid lifestyles are prone to personality disorders.  These disorders involve a weak sense of identity, a lostness, and anger that is both inner and outer-directed.  The girls have a history of difficult relationships, and personality disorders are epidemic in a society that has embraced fluid lifestyles.

Women who have lived fluid lives frequently end up alienated from their children, distrustful of others, and facing their later years in poverty.  Indeed the fastest growing segment of those in poverty are single elderly women.  Unable to share a husband’s retirement, never having been able to save or invest as a lifelong single mother, having no life insurance as a widow, and never having jointly owned a home with a husband, they have few financial assets or family ties.  Long term stable marriages generally leave women much better off–ironically, even in widowhood.

Fluid Lifestyles

June 15, 2008

Cindy’s life was very fluid when she was growing up.  She never knew her birth father, or even who he was.  Her mother married for the first time when Cindy was four.  Her “new daddy” adopted her, and she took his name.  He lived with them for two years, but Cindy sensed her mother wasn’t happy.  When Cindy was six, her mother left her daddy and moved in with another woman.  They lived there for three years.  The woman was kind to Cindy, who called her “Big Momma.”  She wasn’t her mommy, Cindy knew, but in some way she was family.  After three years, Cindy and her mom moved again.  This time it was just the two of them.  She mostly liked that better.  Both Daddy and Big Momma had been nice, and Cindy had liked them.  She missed them for quite awhile, but Cindy liked having Mommy all to herself.  When Cindy was 14, her mom moved in with a much younger woman.  Paula tried to be a friend to Cindy, sort of a “big sister”, and while that was fun in a way, Cindy was starting to become her own person and think her own thoughts.  Mom got in the way, and Paula really got in the way.  Cindy wasn’t sure how to explain Paula to her friends, so she told them Paula was their roommate.

Cindy wasn’t sure if she wanted to date.  Part of her wanted to be like her friends, part remembered her mom had been unhappy with daddy and mom didn’t want another man.  Also, part of her really wondered about the half of herself that was a stranger.  She knew that she came from a real man once, and she wondered what he was like.  She was confused because Mom and Paula had a lot of Lesbian friends and that was their social circle.  Cindy didn’t know if she fit there, but if she didn’t fit there, she wasn’t sure how Mom would take it, really.  Mom kept saying “Be yourself”, but all Mom’s other messages were “stay away from men”.

Meanwhile, Mom left Paula and they lived alone again.  Cindy went to college.  She wanted to love and be loved.  She wanted a family.  She felt drawn to the health professions, and she became a therapist.  She got to know some of her patients very well, and was so happy that some of them seemed to love her.  She very much liked a fellow therapist.  They liked a lot of the same things and decided to move in together.  Her new partner, Jody was a woman.  After a year, Cindy decided she and Jody could be the family she always dreamed of.  They talked and talked, and decided Cindy should become a mother, since that was her dream.  Jody liked children, but wasn’t anxious to become pregnant herself.  So Cindy became pregnant through artificial insemination and gave birth to a son.  She remembered how she had wondered about her own father, so she was careful to get background information for her son.  There would be everything except a name.  She was so pleased with her son, she asked for the same donor for her second child.  She was delighted that her two boys were fully, completely brothers.  However, the second child was the undoing of her relationship with Jody.  She needed more and more from Jody, especially childcare and financial support.  Meanwhile, Jody was trying harder, getting less from Cindy, while Cindy felt Jody didn’t bond with the boys as a parent should.  They went their separate ways and Cindy and the boys moved in with Cindy’s mother for awhile.  Cindy began to get more involved in the children’s activities and as Cindy watched other families interact, she wondered what it would be like for her and the boys to have a dad in their family.  About that time a bachelor became very interested in Cindy and her boys.  After a year-long courtship during which time Cindy felt she’d never been treated better, she married Ben, and he adopted her boys.  Ben threw himself into being the best husband and father ever.  He wanted Cindy to quit her job and be at home.  She panicked at what she saw as loss of her independence and she refused.  Ben didn’t make an issue of it, but now Cindy was wary.  Her mom hadn’t been happy in her only marriage.  Maybe men weren’t to be trusted, were too controlling, too dominant.  Cindy became jealous of Ben’s doting on the boys.  She felt he married her so he could be a dad.  She began to find faults in him and decided she didn’t like marriage all that much.  When a very wealthy, older female patient became interested in “traveling” with Cindy, she left Ben.  A few months later, Cindy and the boys were traveling the world with Myra, Cindy’s new love.  She was homeschooling the boys, and they were all seeing the world–cruise after cruise, resort after resort.  The boys were very handsome and became Cindy’s little trophies.  Everywhere they went, people showered them with attention.  The boys had no friends their age, and no close relationship with any man.  It remains to be seen whether Cindy and Myra will stay together, and what will happen to the boys, for this story is true and this is as far as it has played out.

What this story illustrates is what I call a “fluid lifestyle”.  People who are unsure of who they are and what they want, have children.  They then drag these children through relationship after relationship without any thought about the child’s needs, the child’s bonds or any sort of stability for the child.

Does the State Have an Interest in Marriage?

June 14, 2008

Some who are arguing for non-traditional marriage are simply arguing “if heterosexuals marry, homosexuals should have the same right.”  Its an equal rights issue to them, not so much a thoughtful definition of marriage.  Indeed, many in the “equal rights” movement don’t hold marriage in very high esteem at all.  Many in the feminist movement denigrate marriage as an “old patriarchal institution that out to be done away with.”  Some in the gay rights community deride heterosexual married people as “breeders”, and also see marriage as something antiquated, that the state has no business being involved with at all.  If marriage is about something other than procreation and the nurture of children, what other reason could there be for its existence?  Does it exist to provide benefits for partners?  Does it exist to ensure mutual care in old age?  Does the government have any interest in this?  If so, does the actuality of a very low marriage rate in both traditional and non-traditional camps pose a problem for the government?  Should the government be promoting all kinds of partnerships in hopes that most people have at least one other person to help them in time of need, disability or old age?  On the other hand, should any of this be the government’s concern at all or should the whole partnership issue be a strictly personal matter between the parties concerned?

It is interesting to look at societies where the government is indeed becoming concerned about the lack of procreating families.  In several countries of Europe, the population is actually decreasing, and as the current workforce retires, a massive economic crisis looms.  These governments are indeed concerned.  Either they will have to import a massive workforce of immigrants, certainly impacting what has been a fairly stable culture, (we are already seeing this in France) or it will have to embark on a huge crash program of “having children for the motherland” which will greatly burden the “sandwich generation.”  These are societies that are fading because of a loss of the younger generation.  These societies did not come anywhere near replacing themselves.  The ancient reason to settle down and marry–procreation to ensure continuation of the society–was forgotten.  The society didn’t ensure that women would be esteemed if they took time from their careers to have children, and it didn’t encourage men to be fathers.  They are paying a price.

Society has an obligation to procreating families if it wants to survive.  There has to be financial incentive, or at least lessening of the financial impact of children, if couples are to have enough children.  The society has to ensure these children will be raised well.  That includes, (excuse the writer for being politically incorrect but sociologically accurate), a stable family with a mother and a father.

If society is looking out for its own good and its own continuation, it will deny marriage to some.  For instance, if pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous to girls of 13 or 14, there should be an age limit for marriage.  Girls that age need to be protected so they aren’t getting pregnant, and laws could be enforced if the society had the will to do so. (Most of these young girls are getting pregnant by men over 18).  If first cousins produce an abundance of birth defects, first cousins shouldn’t marry.  If the marriage is an absurdity in relation to having children, there is simply no reason to legalize or promote it.  Does that mean infertile or older heterosexual couples should be denied marriage?  Some would argue this.  However, in view of the need for temporary or substitute parents, foster parents, adoptive parents and grandparents, such couples can provide a nurturing home environment with both husband and wife role models, filling a societal need.

What if the marriage is strictly meeting the needs of the adult couple?  Then one would ask what compelling interest the state would have in such a marriage.  Many friendship arrangements and other relationships between people suffice to meet bonding needs.  The state’s interest is family making and the sometimes necessary substitute family making.  Western culture, at this point in its history is concerned primarily with the happiness of individual adults, not the needs of children or the needs of the society.

A related question ought to be whether the state has an interest in the continuation of the marriage.  With mountains of evidence showing the damage of divorce to children, shouldn’t the state be doing everything in its power to ensure the continuation of marriages and not their dissolution?  The writer realizes none of this article’s questions are popular or politically correct at the present time.  However, questions which aren’t allowed to be asked, don’t allow for growth and improvement, evaluation or decision making.  The purpose of a democracy is to allow the free-flowing debate of all ideas in hopes the best will rise to the surface and be adopted.

Why Marriage is What it is

June 14, 2008

“I now pronounce you a couple” is challenging “I now pronounce you man and wife.”  In several European countries, and now entering America, is a radical transformation of the institution once called marriage.  Framed as a civil rights issue, proponents of non-traditional marriage state “anyone should be able to marry the person they love.”  Opponents of the “new marriage” argue there are good reasons to keep marriage purely traditional.  They are frequently labeled “intolerant bigots” and the newest label is “faith based intolerance.”  This labeling almost effectively cuts off debate on the issue, but not quite.  It is very hard to kill the nearly 4000 years of recorded history.  In all of human history, same-sex marriage has been in existence only about ten years.  Getting rid of that factual material would involve banning and burning almost all the books in the world.  Same-sex marriage is certainly a newcomer to the world scene.  Whether or not it should be welcomed is one issue, but another interesting issue is why it was never considered before.  That brings us to the question of why was there ever marriage at all?

In primitive societies, of which a few still exist in the present day, there is no national or state government, and therefore no legal marriage.  However, there is still a tribal ritual of male and female bonding.  Most of these bonds involve one man and one woman.  This is true even in tribes where the children are more or less raised collectively by the tribe and in cases where the whole tribe of men go off hunting, leaving the whole tribe of women to keep the home fires burning, nurture the children and care for the elderly.  There are reasons for the one man-one woman bond, probably not the least being that fights over whose woman was whose could destroy the tribe.  But the idea of protecting the children certainly loomed large, for the children were the future of the tribe, insuring its survival.  Children then, as now, needed to know who their father was, and be claimed by him.  There was pride in parenthood throughout history and across cultures.  The continuity of one’s family line was a treasure.

Polygamy was more widely practiced in ancient cultures, probably because women simply outnumbered men.  Due to war and the danger of hunting, its likely that men were at more of a premium then, and it would be wasteful and unthinkable for a woman to remain childless because there was not a man for her.  Whenever the numbers of men and women were more equitable, one man-one woman marriage would prevail.  Forever in history it has been expensive to keep a woman, and keeping two was cost prohibitive!

Marriage, whether tribal or government sanctioned, has throughout history been about the procreation and nurture of children.  The idea of voluntarily childless marriage was unthinkable.  It has only been in the relatively recent past that the failure to procreate has been seen as other than a tragedy.  Then, in the 1960s, the birth control pill came along and gave women a choice about whether to become mothers.  Right on the heels of the means, came the desire for fewer children or no children at all as the feminist movement insisted women achieve equal status with men in the marketplace.  Along with financial means and the baby bust came an independence from men that fueled the widespread divorce rate.  The barn door was now wide open, and the main reasons for marriage–the procreation and nurture of children and the protection of their mothers–escaped the society.  Now society, at least in the West, became a female culture of households without children, and households where children could grow up without fathers, and in some cases without knowing the identity of their fathers.  The identity crisis began in earnest.  Boys didn’t know how to be husbands, and girls didn’t know how to be wives.  Without any role models, the chance of successful marriage for these children faded.  As time went on, sex became more a matter of hedonism and manipulation than about lifelong love and family making.  Gender roles became so blurred, the whole definition of male and female became confused.  Into this has come a baby bust of mammoth proportions in the West, mitigated only by high birthrates in the immigrant populations.

The ancient reason for marriage-the procreation and nurture of children for the survival of a culture is proving to be true, as Western civilization is commiting slow suicide and fading into history.