Month Archives: March 2020

To Abandon the Nuclear Family Ideal Is to Abandon Being Human

by Dan Hart

March 12, 2020

With the publication of “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake” in the latest issue of The Atlantic, well-known commentator and journalist David Brooks ignited a raging debate in the blogosphere, which resulted in a symposium hosted by the Institute for Family Studies in which eight writers and scholars responded to Brooks’ article.

Putting aside the provocative title (for now), Brooks’ mammoth 9,000-word piece can be boiled down to one central idea: in our fragmented culture full of victims of detached nuclear families, our society must find better ways to take care of these victims through a renewed emphasis on extended families and “forged families”— communities of support that surround these children and adults so that they can, in Brooks’ words, “live and grow under the loving gaze of a dozen pairs of eyes, and be caught, when they fall, by a dozen pairs of arms.”

Brooks’ article is a fascinating read. He goes through the history of the societal trends that have affected the American family, starting in the 1800’s during the “era of the extended clans,” then moving to the golden age of the nuclear family in the 1950’s and early 60’s, then into the broad pattern of disintegration that affected the family starting in the late 60’s, and finally into our current era full of broken homes and ascendant individualism.

Brooks then launches into an impressive illustration of how “forged families” are sprouting up across the country, citing numerous examples of people forming common living spaces organically through websites like CoAbode, Common, and Kin as well as organizations that are helping those who are in particular need of a forged family like The Other Side Academy for felons and Becoming A Man for disadvantaged youths. He concludes by emphasizing the importance of expanding the idea of what we traditionally think of as a family, since “Americans are hungering to live in extended and forged families, in ways that are new and ancient at the same time. This is a significant opportunity, a chance to thicken and broaden family relationships…”

Is a “Communal Ethos” Supplanting the Nuclear Family?

Brooks’ article is an important contribution to the public discussion of the problems that plague the family and what we can do as a society to help this bedrock institution. But it is also riddled with puzzling generalizations and odd assertions. In his concluding paragraph, he says this: “But a new and more communal ethos is emerging, one that is consistent with 21st-century reality and 21st-century values.” The tone Brooks uses here is positive. But one has to wonder: Is this a good thing? Why should we be celebrating “21st-century values” when they are the result of the “21st-century reality” of disintegrated families?

Part of the problem with Brooks’ thesis is the confusing manner in which he frames it. He prefaces his article with this: “The family structure we’ve held up as the cultural ideal for the past half century has been a catastrophe for many. It’s time to figure out better ways to live together.” But later, he suggests that the nuclear family is a good option, albeit one option among many other equally good options: “The two-parent family … is not about to go extinct. For many people, especially those with financial and social resources, it is a great way to live and raise children.” This ends up being a backhanded compliment, implying that having a nuclear family is only a good option for people who are well off.

More problematic is the way that Brooks (perhaps unintentionally) seems to set nuclear families and “forged families” against each other, which makes his argument similar to a “chicken or the egg” dilemma. Brooks envisions a world in which forged families are in place around broken families so that children from these families have a better chance of being supported and don’t fall through cracks. This is certainly a laudable goal, but it also illustrates a central problem with his thesis: The kinds of people that one would want in a “forged family” are people who themselves came from a strong nuclear family with a supportive mother and father to begin with, because this family structure provides the best outcomes for children and society in general. Shouldn’t our focus be on trying to uphold and support these nuclear families?

In an excellent response to Brooks’ article, sociologist Bradford Wilcox acknowledges the important role that extended and forged families can play in supporting disintegrated nuclear families, but strongly cautions against the tendency of thinking that these structures can “replace” the nuclear family. Wilcox points to social science data showing that outcomes for children raised by a single parent and grandparent are no different than if they had been raised by a single parent alone, and that children raised by extended family without either parent fair even worse. In the case of forged families, Wilcox reveals a much more disturbing pattern:

Over the years, study after study has detailed the many possible downsides to introducing unrelated adults, especially men, into children’s lives without the presence of those children’s married parents.

This is because, sadly, adults who are unrelated to children are much more likely to abuse or neglect them than their own parents are. One federal report found that children living in a household with an unrelated adult were about nine times more likely to be physically, sexually, or emotionally abused than children raised in an intact nuclear family.

All of this points to what is most problematic about Brooks’ article—how he deemphasizes and discounts the nuclear family ideal. It is certainly true that we are living in an era in which the nuclear family has been abandoned in innumerable ways, but the fact remains: every person who has ever lived has a mother and a father—a nuclear family. Furthermore, every human being has an innate longing to know and love their biological parents, even if they don’t know them. We can no more abandon the nuclear family ideal than we can abandon being human.

It may be possible to reject the nuclear family through adultery, divorce, abortion, etc., and it is certainly true that millions of children have been tragically left behind by the failure of their parents, but all of this is not the fault of the institution of the nuclear family. It is the fault of the people within a nuclear family who often fail to uphold the institution through love—by staying true to their spouse and caring for and nurturing their children.

Where Human Flourishing Finds Its Source

Still, there are many brilliant nuggets of wisdom and fresh insights in Brooks’ “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake” and in his symposium response to those who critiqued him, particularly when he discusses how we should instill a sense in our children that we all have a variety “families” outside of our nuclear families that we should work to nurture: our churches, our friend groups, our places of work, our schools, community organizations, the military, etc. But taken as a whole, Brooks’ article casts a suspicious eye at the nuclear family ideal.

This is tragic, because despite Brooks’ best intentions with his article, he loses sight of the fact that in order to solve societal ills, we must focus on root causes. While it may be true that extended and “forged” families play an important supporting role in our larger societal life, they can never replace a mother and father. As study after study has shown, if we want to get at the root causes of our societal ills, we have to find ways of keeping moms, dads, and their children united as a loving family.

Brooks’ article is also a fresh reminder of the importance of ideals. When we deemphasize and sideline ideals, we sideline our most innate and aspirational yearnings and sell ourselves short as human beings. Far from being a mistake, the nuclear family ideal is the gold standard by which human flourishing finds its source.

Women’s History Month: Shiphrah and Puah

by Patrina Mosley

March 11, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Shiphrah and Puah are two women written about in the Book of Exodus:

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

- Exodus 1:15-22 (NIV)

Shiphrah and Puah defied Pharaoh’s order—risking their lives in the process—because they revered God more than man. In the New Testament’s Book of Acts, Peter and the apostles found themselves in a similar predicament. They had to choose between obeying the high priest, who ordered them not to preach the Gospel, or obeying God, who had commanded them to preach the Gospel to all nations. For Peter and the other apostles, the choice was clear: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29). They undoubtedly remembered Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Understanding God’s infinite authority and power—and humanity’s finiteness in comparison—will put things in perspective rather quickly. It gives us the courage to do what is right, even if it might cost us everything. Shiphrah and Puah understood and believed that God is the ultimate rewarder of righteousness and the ultimate punisher of evil. The faith of these two women saved many lives as a result. But that wasn’t the end of their story: God noticed Shiphrah and Puah’s faith and blessed them with children of their own. God takes notice of our obedience and love for him.

History could have easily forgotten these two midwives. Instead, Scripture mentions Shiphrah and Puah by name, ensuring that they and their fear of God would be remembered forever. While their story is brief—only eight verses in the book of Exodus—it has nevertheless been sovereignly preserved for all of us to learn from and emulate. Christians are exhorted to obey those in authority (Romans 13), but when their commands are in direct conflict with the commands of God, we should do as Shiphrah and Puah did and fear God rather than man.

Why Does the Abortion Industry Hate Women? (Part 2)

by Patrina Mosley

March 10, 2020

Read Part 1

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, black women have the highest abortion rate in the country at 27.1 per 1,000 women compared with 10 per 1,000 for white women.

When faced with this fact, abortion advocates will often deflect it by saying that more should be done to alleviate the high maternal mortality rate (MMR) among African American women. However, they often fail to acknowledge that the same ethnic group of women with the nation’s highest MMR is the same ethnic group of women who are receiving 30 percent of all the nation’s abortions. There is undoubtedly a physiological connection, but abortion advocates and the medical institutions that are in their pockets do not find it advantageous to highlight any negative side effects from abortion. There is the perception among African American women that the high MMR is due to racism in the type of health care they are given. They often feel like they are not heard or cared for as well as their white counterparts.

As an African American woman, I can attest to that experience and can also say that there are many factors involved in the high African American MMR, such as women dying from complications related to abortion as well as a variety of other factors. The solution to MMR is more care, not less. This is also true for women that are seeking an abortion—the answer is more care, not less. Interestingly enough, these same medical institutions in opposition to Louisiana’s abortion law are the same ones who are accused of discrimination in care.

Why is the abortion industry, along with the support of major medical institutions, content on giving these women subpar care?

That’s because abortion was meant for African Americans to begin with, so it’s natural that they would not care about the people they are trying to exterminate. Margaret Sanger, the founder of the nation’s leading abortion supplier, Planned Parenthood, once said: “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the negro population.” Perhaps not coincidently, nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthoods are located in black and Hispanic communities today.

In 2016, it was reported that African American women are 3.5 times more likely to have an abortion than white women. In Louisiana, the total number of abortions in 2018 was 8,097. Over half (4,958) were abortions of African American babies.

Today, the slowest growing ethnic group in America are African Americans. Margaret Sanger’s dream is coming true.

The Roe v. Wade decision was also laced with ideals for population control, citing many eugenic references. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a New York Times interview: “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” In Elle magazine, Ginsburg also insinuates that poor people should have ready access to abortions because “[i]t makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.” Abortion being used as a tool of eugenics is something we all know is true, “but we only whisper it,” said a co-counsel to Roe and advisor to Bill Clinton. The foot soldiers of the abortion advocacy wing are deceived into thinking that abortion is all about “women’s rights.” However, the elite and powerful understand that abortion is about controlling the population of “those we don’t want too many of.” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a lengthy opinion citing the eugenic roots of abortion to dispose of minorities, the poor, and the disabled.

For the abortion industry to sue Louisiana for simply requiring that abortionists have hospital admitting privileges speaks volumes of their true feelings towards the women they profit from. It says that prioritizing the health and safety of the people they are trying to extinguish is a waste of time and resources. Some in the abortion industry look at these women as people who shouldn’t be having babies anyway, so why care if they have complications and die in the process?

Women seeking abortions, regardless of color, are no less worthy of competent and quality care as patients involved in other surgical procedures, and Louisiana’s admitting-privileges law protects that right.

The bottom line is that we need to listen to women—not abortion suppliers. Another question in the Russo case is whether June Medical Services has the standing to represent the legal interests of the woman when suing to block this law. June Medical Services has failed women, yet they have the audacity to appeal to the courts on their behalf for lesser standards of care.

These people are the same ones who hired radiologists and ophthalmologists to perform abortions in their clinics, do not report the rape of young girls, and do not monitor vital signs of sedated women. There is a clear callousness that the abortion industry has for women. They devalue human life in the womb and ultimately devalue the woman’s life. But Act 620 restores a bit of dignity and decency when it comes to women’s health care.

Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Alliance Defending Freedom, and Louisiana Right to Life, along with more than 200 members of Congress and the Trump administration, have filed amicus briefs in support of protecting women’s health and safety.

Katrina Jackson, an African American woman, is the Louisiana Democrat legislator who authored Act 620. In exclusive interviews, she explains what Act 620 is all about: “It’s really a pro-women’s health bill because I’m not going to ignore those women… I’m not going to ignore their health care needs.”

Why Does the Abortion Industry Hate Women? (Part 1)

by Patrina Mosley

March 9, 2020

The Supreme Court has heard arguments last week in the June Medical Services vs. Russo case on whether or not to uphold Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, Act 620, which requires abortion clinics to have admitting privileges with a local hospital.

This act was passed in 2014 but has not taken effect due to litigation from the opposition, who are claiming that such a safety regulation would cause an “undue burden” to women’s abortion access and would violate precedent set in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case that struck down a similar bill in Texas (HB 2).

Louisiana Act 620 is not like the Texas regulation HB 2, which placed building requirements on surgical abortion clinics for the sake of emergency preparedness and included hospital admitting privileges. Louisiana’s law includes abortion clinics under the same standard as any other ambulatory surgical center in having hospital admitting privileges.

Sadly, Act 620 “was passed in 2014 in response to the extensive health and safety violations found in Louisiana abortion clinics. Louisiana already requires doctors who perform surgery at outpatient surgical centers to have hospital privileges. Act 620 extends that requirement to include abortionists.”

One would think that an industry that has marketed itself as “women’s health care” would not want to be treated differently than any other outpatient surgical health care center, but they do.

Louisiana Right to Life has summarized the documented abortion clinic violations by the Louisiana Department of Health:

As documented in Statements of Deficiencies by the Louisiana Department of Health, abortion clinic violations in the state include but are not limited to: failures to verify the medical history of patients, failure to monitor how long or how much nitrous oxide was given to patients, failure to perform or document a physical exam of each patient, failure to properly store and safeguard medications, failure to have qualified personnel administer anesthesia, failure to properly sterilize equipment, and failure to ensure that single-use IV fluid was used only once.

With such “deficiencies” that have been ongoing for decades, emergency cases in these abortion clinics were inevitable.

As recently as March 15, 2019, Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge botched a woman’s abortion, which caused her to bleed so profusely that she was at the point of hemorrhaging. Because the clinic was not equipped to handle her medical emergency, her situation grew worse by the time she reached a hospital, and she had to have a hysterectomy:

…the facility did not have adequate emergency supplies on hand, such as IV fluids, to stabilize their patient … After the patient was transferred to a Baton Rouge hospital, the complications resulted in the patient requiring a total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingectomy, removal of both fallopian tubes, for postoperative hemorrhage. Louisiana law requires that Outpatient Abortion Facilities (OAF) have medical equipment and medications for basic life support, including IV fluids, until emergency medical services arrive. The necessary medications were not provided by Delta Clinic, and upon arrival at the hospital, the patient received four units of blood over the course of three days.

Women have died, and many others have experienced life-altering complications as a result of the failure of these clinics to adhere to basic health care standards. To read more about the inability of these clinics to care for women, see Americans United for Life’s amicus brief in the June Medical Services vs. Russo (formerly Gee) case.

Act 620 only requires abortion clinics to have admitting privileges with a local hospital, which, according to the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, three abortion clinics already have (currently there are only four abortion clinics in Louisiana). The fact that these abortion clinics cannot comply with established health and safety standards proves that Act 620 was a necessity.

Act 620 was a bi-partisan effort that passed the Louisiana Legislature by an 88-5 vote in the House of Representatives and a 34-3 vote in the Senate. When challenged by the abortion industry, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of the act. Unhappy with the court’s decision, they appealed, but by a 9-6 vote, the Fifth Circuit denied rehearing the case, ruling in favor of Louisiana.

Yet, the abortion industry is now challenging this common-sense law in front of the highest court in the land, which proves that they are content with providing back-alley abortion “care” for women.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with many other American medical institutions who support the abortion industry, have filed an amicus brief in opposition to Louisiana’s law. In their medical opinion, having hospital admitting privileges for abortion clinics are not necessary:

There is no medical benefit to a local admitting privileges requirement for abortion providers. Abortion is an extremely safe procedure, and patients who obtain abortions rarely require hospitalization.

To say that the problem is rare doesn’t mean that it never happens, and the chances of a medical emergency happening are likely higher at clinics that can’t even pass state health inspections.

Ironically, these supporters are the very same “experts” who claim abortions are “extremely” safe. In reality, they are protecting abortion because it’s extremely lucrative. The opposition to Act 620 by the abortion industry and medical professionals shows they don’t really care about women, particularly black women, which make up for the majority of the abortion clientele.

To be continued…

Why Christians Should Not Be Afraid of Being “Pro-Woman”

by Adelaide Holmes

March 6, 2020

Many Christians hesitate to call themselves “pro-woman,” and women are suffering because of it.

In a culture dominated by identity politics, many Christians are reluctant to claim any identity outside of the gospel of Christ, especially one that has been deeply politicized. But regardless of these concerns, it’s time the church understands that the principles of being “pro-woman” are not in conflict with the gospel call. The broader principles of being “pro-woman” are found throughout scripture, and our culture desperately needs to hear them. The longer we stay silent, the more women will suffer on our watch.

The church needs to understand that being “pro-woman” is not just a secular concept. If we look at how the “war on women” attacks woman’s humanity, we can see that Scripture supports being “pro-woman” in its larger context.

Being “pro-woman” is largely understood to be in favor of equality for women. Scripture supports a view of mankind that is incredibly value-giving to men and women equally because we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). This means that men and women have inherent value because they are more like God and represent Him to the world more than anything else in God’s creation. Because of this, some think that the church should simply be “pro-life” or “pro-humanity.” They’re right. The church should champion these values. But the problem is that women are especially under attack in our culture and around the world. Thus, being “pro-woman” should mean that we advocate for their protection and respect because they are being specifically targeted.

There is indeed a “war on women,” as the Left likes to say, but the nature of this war is gravely misunderstood, and its effects are dangerous and deeply dehumanizing. It comes from how cultures value women, and how they treat them.

In much of the world (and in America as well), women are often objectified as the means to gratify the sexual pleasures of men. Pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking are just a few examples of practices that continuously shape the culture’s view of women and sexuality. Pornography teaches viewers that the sexual abuse and torture of women is normal and desired by them. Prostitution teaches culture to view women as commodities that can be bought “made to order.” If she won’t comply, she can be forced (as women in pornography often are). A study of prostituted women in Washington, D.C. showed that 44 percent were raped, and over half of them were physically assaulted and threatened with a weapon. Another study in 2018 found that 61 percent of prostituted women experienced “traumatic brain injuries” while in prostitution. Sex trafficking goes even further and teaches that twisted sexual fantasies can be pursued regardless of age or consent. In the United States, teens that are sexually exploited usually begin between the ages of 12 and 14. These women are coerced into sex trafficking to meet the sexual appetites of men and their traffickers, who have turned sex trafficking into a $99 billion per year worldwide horror show.

Pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking tell a narrative that a woman’s value is in what she does sexually. As these institutions and practices spread and become normalized, their influence engulfs those who they hold captive, and it infiltrates the culture that our daughters grow up in.

Little girls grow into teenagers believing that their worth is something they must fight for. Teens grow into women believing that beauty is an action, not a state of being. To prove their worth, they jump in bed with men who have been conditioned by pornography to view women as products to be used, disrespected, and forced to perform or endure grotesque, porn-shaped sexual fantasies. This is the nightmare that our children grow up in.

This is the real “war on women” that the church needs to fight.

The church needs to fight to end pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking, which are all linked. While these are political battles, they are also cultural, and there are tangible things that can be done. The church needs to help rehabilitate women who were once victims of this exploitation and help men who were once captive to this darkness. Pastors needs to teach on a biblical approach to sexuality in marriage. Christians need to fight for this God-given truth: all people are made in the image of God and worthy of respect.

Women don’t deserve respect simply for what they do. They deserve respect for who they are. As Christians, we can share this value-giving truth with a sexually broken culture. This “war on women” thrives on the lie that a woman’s worth is based on her actions. As we recognize International Women’s Day this Sunday, March 8th, let us be truly “pro-woman” and remember that until our culture understands the intrinsic value and worth of all women, there will always be a “war on women.”

China Uses Coronavirus to Oppress Religious Minorities

by Arielle Del Turco

March 2, 2020

Do you want to kill me? Just kill me.” This is the cry of one Uyghur man in Xinjiang, China, where the government has instituted a strict lockdown due to coronavirus concerns. Unable to help his starving family, the man begged for death in a recent viral video experts say is authentic.

One might have thought that things couldn’t get worse for the oppressed, mostly-Muslim, Uyghur minority concentrated in the northwestern Uyghur region. Yet, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) found a way to manipulate a health crisis and add to it a humanitarian crisis for the beleaguered Uyghur minority.

Local authorities began to impose a strict quarantine in parts of the region at the end of January, and reports suggest the locals were given no notice before the lockdown. Without advance warning or time to store food or other supplies, residents are still forbidden from leaving their homes. Now, they are running out of food and medical supplies.

One Uyghur woman anonymously described her family’s situation to Radio Free Asia, saying, “[The adults] are only eating one meal a day from morning to night” since the lockdown started. “Every morning, we just worry about the children having something to eat.” Without enough to eat, her eight-year-old daughter “became dizzy and passed out,” injuring her head when she fell.

This is just the latest in a long list of China’s abuses against Uyghurs. The Chinese government operates what it calls “Vocational Education and Training Centers” across the Xinjiang province, where an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are forcibly detained, mistreated, pressured to cease their religious practices, and indoctrinated with communist propaganda. 

Recently leaked internal Chinese government documents reveal that Uyghurs can be sent to these re-education camps for just about any reason—including following religious traditions, growing a beard, having too many kids, or owning a passport without having traveled.

Now, Uyghurs fear that breaking quarantine will get them immediately detained in a camp. Even those with serious health problems unrelated to coronavirus are too afraid to violate the quarantine and leave their house to seek medical care.

While the government might insist that the sudden and strict lockdown is meant to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has caused at least two deaths in the region, an effective medical response does not require creating a new humanitarian crisis of mass hunger among residents. The answer to the threat of a dangerous new virus cannot be to starve people under implicit house arrest.

In responding to this crisis, time is of the essence. The Uyghur Human Rights Project has called upon the Red Cross of China, the International Red Cross, and the Red Crescent to request access to the Uyghur region so that they can conduct investigations and provide basic humanitarian relief such as food and medicine to residents who have been trapped.

It’s clear the Chinese government will use any excuse it can to further oppress this small religious group. The U.S. should continue to criticize China’s abuses against Uyghurs and other religious minorities. It’s unacceptable that any country would treat its own people this way—and the Chinese Communist Party must be made to understand that.

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