Category archives: Marriage

Depression, Divorce, and Hope

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 25, 2015

Graham Moore won the Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of “The Imitation Game.” In a moving speech upon receiving the award, he spoke candidly of the depression that haunted his youth. Here’s what he said:

When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

Moore’s parents were divorced. Could this have contributed to his depression? “Children whose parents divorce will exhibit more anxiety and depression and antisocial behavior than children from intact families,” write social scientists Pat Fagan and Aaron Churchill.

Divorce is related to increased depression and anxiety for both boys and girls of all ages,” they write. Quoting from a study in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, Fagan and Churchill note that “boys with divorced parents tended to be more depressed than those from two-parent families regardless of the psychological adjustment, level of conflict, or quality of parenting manifested by their parents.”

Depression is a growing problem among our youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81% of the deaths were males and 19% were females.”

There’s so much hope: As Graham Moore movingly said, everyone fits in. And with counseling, appropriate medication, the love of parents and family and the support of true friends, young men and women can get through the pain of depression. Most importantly, the knowledge that there’s a loving God can sustain even in the darkest moments.

The link between divorce and youth depression seems to be a real one. It’s just one more reason for couples to work through their problems and find healing for their marriages and their children.

Judge relies on decision upholding government¿s ability to regulate marriage as it suppresses conscience objections to same-sex “marriage”

by Travis Weber

February 19, 2015

Yesterday, in the consolidated cases of State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers and Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, a Washington state court judge held that a small wedding vendor defendant engaged in impermissible discrimination in seeking to honor her religious beliefs and not support the promotion of a same-sex wedding ceremony with her services.

In granting the plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment, Judge Ekstrom of the Benton County Superior Court elevated nondiscrimination laws over free exercise and free speech rights.

In holding that “[f]ree exercise is not … without its limits,” Judge Ekstrom relied on the Supreme Court’s proclamation in Reynolds v. United States that “[l]aws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices… . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? The permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.”

True, the Supreme Court in Reynolds stated as much.

Equally interesting is the language from Reynolds which Judge Ekstrom excised from his quotation:

Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice? Or if a wife religiously believed it was her duty to burn herself upon the funeral pile of her dead husband, would it be beyond the power of the civil government to prevent her carrying her belief into practice? So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed.”

I don’t know why Judge Ekstrom chose to describe the Free Exercise Clause by quoting from Reynolds. Perhaps he thought it was his best source of authority; that seems unlikely though given that the decision is over 100 years old and is criticized right and left as “outdated.” Perhaps he thought he was being clever by using another case involving a rejection of religious rights in the context of sexuality.

If the latter, it’s quite ironic that the authority a judge relies on in restricting the rights of religious objectors to same-sex “marriage” is the same authority upholding limits on traditional marriage for the good of society.

For the Court in Reynolds rejected a free exercise challenge to a law criminalizing bigamy, and in doing so, noted the state’s significant interest in regulating marriage:

it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in respect to this most important feature of social life. Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law. Upon it society may be said to be built, and out of its fruits spring social relations and social obligations and duties, with which government is necessarily required to deal.”

Today, if a state tried to uphold its natural marriage laws by relying on Reynolds it would be criticized loudly and clearly.

Regardless, Reynolds actually proves the utility and workability of strict-scrutiny religious rights frameworks being debated today, as the hypothetical human sacrifice and burning of the dead scenarios mentioned in Reynolds clearly would be barred by a compelling government interest, while other religious rights not seeking to override a compelling government interest would be protected under such frameworks. This is precisely the balance needed to sort out valid religious rights claims from invalid ones, and protect conscience objections like those of Ms. Stutzman — especially since judges like Judge Ekstrom won’t.

Freedom is Defined by Virtue, Not Sexual Impulses

by Christina Hadford

February 19, 2015

Freedom is man’s ability to pursue freely God’s plan for him; slavery is man’s self-subjugation to his appetitive soul. Today’s culture has confounded the two, inadvertently defining man and measuring his freedom based on his sexual drive.

Last week Stella Morabito wrote about the plurality of sexual identifications accepted and even promoted today: pedophilia, BDSM (bondage/ domination/ sado-masochism), transgender children, incest, bestiality, group sex, and anonymous sex (to name a few). Like many opponents to gay marriage predicted, re-defining marriage as anything other than a sacred bond between one man and one woman will inevitably lead us down a slippery slope in which all sexual exploits are permissible in the name of freedom.

President Obama’s crass advertisement for women to “vote like your lady parts depend on it” makes this case in point. Supposedly, a girl’s ability to have casual sex with a range of men empowers her; a mother’s decision to kill her unborn child indicates her individual agency; a woman’s choice to sleep with other women means she is an equal member of society. This sentiment has seeped into wider discourse. Now, people identify themselves by their sexual orientation, and interpret their freedom based on whether they can fulfill these desires without limits. This distortion is degrading, debilitating, and downright disgusting.

Defining a person’s freedom in terms of her sexual desires and actions reduces her to an animalistic state. The trademark of humankind—both man and woman—is their logic. Animals experience an urge, and go to all limits to satisfy that urge. Humans share the sensual desires of animals, but are additionally endowed with a sense of reasoning and restraint that should ultimately dictate their appetites. As Aristotle said, “[T]he good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, or if there are more kinds of virtue than one, in accordance with the best and most perfect kind” (Nicomachean Ethics).

In addition to the backwardness of reducing man to an animalistic state, defining freedom in terms of sexual passions is inherently restrictive. Ultimately, we are all constrained by our bodily limits. It is impossible for two men to conjugally unite to produce offspring; it is impossible to have pedophiliac relationships and not profoundly wound an innocent child; it is impossible to have healthy and respectful sado-masochistic relationships. The human body is limited, and defining man in terms of his body inescapably confines him.

Freedom is, however, very achievable as long as it is properly defined. As Aristotle indicated true freedom is the absolute pursuit of highest virtue; specifically, it is the spiritual and corporal surrender to God’s omniscient and benevolent plan for man. Because God is all-powerful, pursuing God’s plan—whether or not it is sensually fulfilling to man—will manifest boundless interior and spiritual freedom. It is high time our society stop accepting any and all sexual desires in the name of freedom. A man with uncontrollable sexual impulses will not achieve freedom by society affirming his actions; rather, he will achieve freedom after he is offered loving and compassionate counsel away from his sexual slavery.

Lesson from Obama Deception on Same-Sex “Marriage”: Watch What He Does, Not What He Says

by Peter Sprigg

February 13, 2015

News broke this week that former Obama political strategist David Axelrod has published a book in which he admits that, as Time magazine put it, “Barack Obama misled Americans for his own political benefit when he claimed in the 2008 election to oppose same sex marriage for religious reasons.”

It may well be that adopting this posture was effective in reassuring some moderate to left-leaning evangelicals, and socially conservative pastors and members in African American churches, who were drawn to Obama’s historic candidacy but would not have supported a redefinition of “marriage.”

Mr. Obama continued to publicly oppose a redefinition of marriage until he announced a change of heart in 2012.

The revelation that Mr. Obama’s position was one of convenience rather than conviction comes as no surprise to Family Research Council. President Obama’s actions have always spoken louder than his words, and his actions always belied his claim to oppose same-sex “marriage.”

As early as August of 2008, shortly before then-Senator Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President, I wrote something that seems to be essentially what Axelrod is now verifying:

. .  [I]t is clear that Obama’s supposed “opposition” to “gay marriage” is a matter of political strategy—nothing more.   All it means is that he is unwilling, for political reasons, to make legalizing it a policy priority for which he will actively campaign.”

Below is reprinted in full the piece that I wrote for FRC Action (which is still available on the web):

Obama Backs Same-Sex “Marriage”

By Peter Sprigg
FRC Action
August 2008
http://www.frcaction.org/get.cfm?i=WX08H01

 

In recent weeks, there has been a spate of stories suggesting that Barack Obama has begun moving to the center.   On issues ranging from the Iraq war to terrorist surveillance to gun control, Obama has been moderating some of his previous liberal positions.

But there is at least one issue on which Obama has been moving steadily to the left.   In fact, it’s now fair to say it—Barack Obama supports same-sex “marriage.” All that’s left is for him to admit it.

You may not find a statement anywhere from Obama in which he comes right out and says, “I support same-sex marriage.”   In fact, on March 2, Obama said, “I will tell you that I don’t believe in gay marriage … . I believe in civil unions … . [but] I don’t think it should be called marriage.”

But when Obama says, “I don’t believe in gay marriage,” what is he really saying?   The evidence suggests that he is not saying what most people would mean by that statement-namely, that there is good reason why marriage, in principle, ought to be defined as the union of one man and one woman.

In fact, when you examine it closely, it is clear that Obama’s supposed “opposition” to “gay marriage” is a matter of political strategy—nothing more.   All it means is that he is unwilling, for political reasons, to make legalizing it a policy priority for which he will actively campaign.

For example, Obama has more than once endorsed the analogy, often used by activists, between homosexual “marriage” and interracial marriage.   He told The Advocate, “I’m the product of a mixed marriage that would have been illegal in 12 states when I was born.   That doesn’t mean that had I been an adviser to Dr. King back then, I would have told him to lead with repealing an antimiscegenation law, because it just might not have been the best strategy in terms of moving broader equality forward.”

Presumably, Obama supports legal recognition of his parents’ marriage-so the comparison would suggest that he supports legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” also, but worries only that the current campaign for it is not “the best strategy.”

When the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage” in May, it would have been a perfect opportunity for Obama to display “centrist” credentials.   To be consistent with his stated position on the issue, Obama should have condemned the court’s decision, while endorsing the status quo of the generous “domestic partner” benefits already granted under state law.   Instead, his campaign announced that Obama “respects the decision of the California Supreme Court.”

Are there any policies safeguarding man-woman marriage that Obama will endorse?   Not constitutional amendments, since he has declared, “I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.”

What about the federal Defense of Marriage Act?   This is the 1996 statute, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which defined marriage for all purposes under federal law as the union of one man and one woman.   It also declared that states would have no obligation to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other states.

Obama favors complete repeal of this law, which would open the door for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and California and grant domestic partner benefits to federal employees, and would in effect allow California to redefine marriage for the entire country.

I haven’t found any evidence that Obama supports statutory provisions at the state level to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, either.   He joined the Illinois State Senate the year after that state adopted its Defense of Marriage Act.

The final nail in the coffin for Obama’s supposed “opposition” to same-sex marriage can be found in a letter he wrote to a California “LGBT Pride” group on June 29.   Obama concludes the letter by saying, “I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks.”

To summarize, Obama supports granting 100% of the legal rights and benefits of marriage to homosexual couples; opposes virtually any legal means available of defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman (calling them “divisive and discriminatory”); “respects” courts that unilaterally overturn the democratically determined definition of marriage; compares legalizing same-sex “marriage” with legalizing interracial marriage; and “congratulates” homosexual couples who have entered into legally-recognized civil marriages.

This is not the description of someone who opposes same-sex “marriage.”   Obama supports same-sex “marriage”—and he should be honest enough to say that to American voters. 

The SPLC places Dr. Ben Carson on an “Extremist Watch List”

by Chris Gacek

February 10, 2015

It is becoming more and more clear that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) jumped the shark a long time ago. More confirmatory evidence was supplied recently when William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection blog noted in a post last Friday that Dr. Ben Carson, the world-famous neurosurgeon, had been placed on the SPLC’s “Extremist List.”

The absurdity of this should speak for itself, but if it does not I direct you to a very positive profile of Dr. Carson by Fred Barnes that appeared in the Weekly Standard’s Jan. 26, 2015 issue. Barnes has been a political reporter in Washington for decades, and his judgments are moderate and reasonable. Fred Barnes is no ideological or political wild man. That said, he had great praise for Dr. Carson, and it seemed that in coming to these conclusions Barnes had surprised himself about Carson’s competence and organizational skills. There is not even a hint political extremism detected on Carson’s part.

The point is that Fred Barnes and the Weekly Standard are conservative but form part of mainstream Washington sensibilities. Consequently, Carson’s listing by the SPLC appears even more eccentric and politically motivated. The SPLC’s profile lists him as being “Anti-LGBT” which can boil down simply to his having Bible-based objections to same-sex marriage. This is the way the U.K. Daily Mail seems to also size up the situation in its article interviewing Dr. Carson about the SPLC listing.

All in all, Barnes thinks Ben Carson is a long shot. That is clearly true, but he also respects the man’s character and decency. It is a great pity that SPLC’s political agenda makes it impossible to for them to see those qualities even when disagreeing with a person’s political views.

Data Contradicts Concern of the “PC Police”

by Henry Potrykus

February 4, 2015

NRO’s Katherine Timpf highlights that the “PC police” are worried about unmerited privileges going to those who marry.

In Non-Marriage Reduces U.S. Labor Participation I show that the “Police’s” concern is badly founded, according to federal data: 

During recessions, when corporate budgets are tightest and businesses are failing more frequently, firms do not rid themselves of their more expensive labor, married workers.  Instead, less-expensive singles lose jobs more frequently. 

There can be many reasons for this, but it cannot be that firms losing money decide to lose more just to favor otherwise identical, expensive workers (to whom they will simply pay a premium).  That is absurd.  And, if followed, would at the very least see all those firms replaced by sensible ones.  There have been many recessionary cycles for this to take place.

Modern recessions are a great test of the “PC police’s” hypothesis.  That hypothesis fails.

Marriage is a social good.

The Pope on Family, Marriage and Life

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 16, 2015

As an Evangelical in the classic Reformation tradition, I’m not unaware of the theological distinctions between Catholicism and historic Protestantism. But all defenders of what we at Family Research Council call the “faith, family and freedom” agenda can take heart from these wise and brave words by Pope Francis, given just a few hours ago in a packed arena in Manila. To those who believe the Pope and the church he leads are shifting on these key issues, his remarks are a striking reproof. To those of us unmoved by what he calls “the culture of the ephemeral,” the Pope’s allegiance to the sanctity of life and the unchanging nature of marriage are a breath of fresh air:

Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It’s not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer – it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past ‘No’ to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and strong to say “No” to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family … The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life … Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.”

News Flash: Pornography Hurts Marriage

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 22, 2014

Our friends at the Porn Harms Coalition (of which FRC is a member) have drawn attention to a study that quantifies what every common-sensical person in the world knows intuitively: Viewing pornography discourages and damages marriage. The German Institute for the Study of Labor (apparently the Germans understand that marriage affects labor productivity, as FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute has argued for years) hired researchers at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University and Britain’s Timberlake Consultants to study whether “increasing ease of accessing pornography is an important factor underlying the decline in marriage formation and stability.”

Well, the German-sponsored study found it did: “Substitutes for marital sexual gratification may impact the decision to marry. Proliferation of the Internet has made pornography an increasingly low-cost substitute … We show that increased Internet usage is negatively associated with marriage formation. Pornography consumption specifically has an even stronger effect.”

Pornography as a “low-cost substitute” for marriage? So, are women merely sexual tools for readily-aroused young men? What a comment on how many young men in our time view women! Yet advocates of complete sexual autonomy (over-the-counter contraception for all, for example) refuse to acknowledge this corrosive fact.

We welcome this contribution to the scholarly literature showing that pornography adversely affects getting and staying married. To simplify things, though, ask any pastor, priest or rabbi who’s ever counseled a woman with a boyfriend or husband addicted to pornography. That conversation will prove more unforgettable than even the most riveting study ever can.

For those struggling with addiction to pornography or who want to help those who are, Porn Harms offers great resources. And, remember, Jesus Christ is the greatest resource of all.

Christmas Joy and Divorce

by Nathan Oppman

December 9, 2014

Each Christmas my wife Joy and I set up our tree and relive the memories of past years. For every year of Joy’s life she has received an ornament commemorating a major life event. There is a baby crib for year one and a Crayon box for a few years later. There is an ornament for her first car and for her college graduation. There are many “Joy” ornaments as can be expected for someone with such a cheery Christmas name. And there is one of my favorites, the one that reminds us of our marriage. Sadly many couples do not spend Christmas together. Many more use the holiday, not for sharing sweet memories but for hurtful words and unkind actions. Others spend it shuttling the kids between their broken homes.

I consider my marriage to my wife to be precious as well as sacred. When we said our vows we both sincerely understood and meant “for better or for worse” and “‘til death do you part.” A recent article in First Things on the danger of no-fault divorce laws demonstrates the sad reality for many families harmed by recent American attitudes toward divorce. The article lists some casualties of no-fault divorce including “abandoned spouses, the institution of marriage, and American society itself.” No-fault divorce gives the false impression that there is an easy way out of the difficulties of marriage. Rather than seeking to understand one another, become more loving, and to get counseling when needed, many couples simply give up on marriage. But divorce is never that simple. It affects children, the couple, and the country. A society whose basic family unit is not functioning in harmony cannot expect its political institutions to function well. A society where the marriages are not accountable to God cannot expect its other institutions to be accountable to God.

Love in marriage is a difficult thing. One sees all of the faults of their spouse. It can be easy to become frustrated and discouraged. But marriage is not about one, it is about two who have become one. No fault divorce has caused many homes to become not a place of joy at Christmas but one of bitterness and broken hearts. We must work to change the no-fault divorce culture to a marriage-is-precious culture. So this Christmas if you are struggling, let your spouse know you believe your marriage is precious and seek help. If you are happily married then I recommend going home and, like me, giving your Joy a loving Christmas hug, it will do more good than you know.

Sketchy Judicial Assignments in Ninth Circuit Marriage Cases

by Chris Gacek

November 14, 2014

The American people are justified in wondering if they are ruled by interlocking ruling bodies that operate in secret, govern with unbridled duplicity, and are immune to correction by the People acting through their representatives or acting directly in referenda. There have been many prominent examples in the last two months. Two involve our imperious judicial oligarchy.

But, first we have the recent reports of repeated statements by Obamacare insider and MIT economist, Jonathan Gruber, calling the American people “stupid” and boasting that Obamacare was foisted on the public through a determined campaign of lying and deviousness. Lies on top of lies on top of lies.

Second, in early October the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to act with stunning cynicism when it dismissed requests for review of marriage-definition cases arising out of several federal appellate courts. The Court had heard an identical case when it reviewed the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 less than two years ago. However, the Prop 8 case was dismissed because the plaintiffs, the proponents of Prop 8, were deemed to lack “standing” to sue. This conclusion was reached because California’s Attorney General took a dive in the litigation and refused to defend a ballot-approved amendment to the California constitution. (Prop 8 was supported by a 52% majority in November 2008.)

The October 2014 cases petitions to the Supreme Court checked all the boxes for standing, but the cases were still turned away allowing lower court rulings that struck down male-female marriage to stay in place. It appeared the that Supreme Court was taking the coward’s way out by allowing lower courts to redefine marriage in America without publicly putting forward a majority opinion explaining how the male-female definition of marriage could violate any constitutional principle. This Court, it appeared, didn’t even have the integrity to write its own Roe v. Wade for marriage. On November 6th the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit supported the traditional marriage definition. Now that there is a split among the circuit courts, the Supreme Court’s stealth imposition strategy won’t work – if that is what they were doing. Now the nation is left with an incoherent stew of constitutional slop consisting of incongruent reasoning and standards. The reputation of the Supreme Court is being badly damaged each day this continues.

Well, if you were to think that the reputation of our black robed masterminds couldn’t get much worse, think again. In October 2014 a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision striking down the male-female marriage regime established be the voters of Nevada and Idaho. (The court reversed an excellent Nevada opinion that had supported traditional marriage.) In mid-October, a private group in Nevada, the Coalition for Protection of Marriage, filed a petition and a supporting affidavit with supporting statistical analysis with the full Ninth Circuit purporting to demonstrate that the panels in cases on homosexual-related issues were not being assigned randomly. In fact, they claimed that two of the court’s most liberal members (Stephen Reinhardt and Marsha S. Berzon) were greatly overrepresented in such cases. Here is how the Coalition for Protection of Marriage summarized its claim of bias in panel selection:

The attached statistical analysis … explains that since January 1, 2010, Judge Berzon has been on the merits panel in five and Judge Reinhardt has been on the merits panel in four of the eleven Ninth Circuit cases involving the federal constitutional rights of gay men and lesbians (“Relevant Cases”), far more than any other judge and far more than can reasonably be accounted for by a neutral assignment process. Indeed, statistical analysis demonstrates that the improbability of such occurring randomly is not just significant but overwhelming. Thus, the odds are 441-to-1 against what we observe with the Relevant Cases—the two most assigned judges receiving under a neutral assignment process five and four assignments respectively (and anything more extreme). (Petition, 3-4.)

If assessed accurately, this assignment pattern was not random. The case assignment was rigged to help assure the politically desired outcome.

It goes without saying that this is an extremely serious accusation that needs investigation not just by some handpicked Ninth Circuit lackey but by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and by the new Senate Judiciary Committee to be chaired by Senator Grassley.

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