John Jalsevac

Steven Crowder’s awesome article on starting marriage the ‘right’ way - i.e. without shacking up

John Jalsevac
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As a comedian, Steven Crowder rubs me the wrong way. But an article he published on Fox last week (which, unfortunately shares some of the same characteristics of his comedy that bug me) is nevertheless a must-read on why starting marriage the “right” way - i.e. without shacking up - is by far and away the best thing you can possibly do to ensure that you have a successful marriage.

To me it’s still incredible that anyone anywhere still argues that “testing out” marriage by living together first is a good way to build a successful relationship. The hard data shows that this claim is like arguing that drinking poison is a great way to achieve health - sure, a small number of people might have a resistance to the poison and carry on living happy, healthy lives. But most will die.

If you’re determined to ensure that the romance, excitement, and fun of marriage disappear as fast as possible, and are really keen on getting divorced, then consider living together before getting married. But if you want to build your marriage on a rock-solid foundation of friendship, authentic love, and red-hot romance, then embrace self-discipline, court your would-be spouse properly, get to know them deeply as a person before becoming their sex partner, and start your life together with a wedding that really is a new beginning, the coming together of two as one flesh, the forging of a completely brand new, awesome, exciting thing, and not simply a duty-laden continuation of something that long ago got boring and stale.

And for those of us in the pro-life movement, let’s be frank: a woman is way less likely to abort a child from an unplanned pregnancy if she is married to the father. The culture of promiscuity that has given rise to the practice of co-habitation, which has coincided with staggering levels of divorce, is the source of the abortion culture. We can’t really be honest in our pro-life convictions if we defend or personally live the culture of promiscuity. Want to fight abortion? Set an example for the world. Be chaste.

Anyway, this is best part of Crowder’s article:

I’d like to tell you a story of our morning after, however. One that transpired into one of the most glaring epiphanies I’d ever had.

As my wife (again, still not used to that) and I ate breakfast at a local inn, we discussed how excited we were to start the rest of our lives together, how scary it was that everything was now so different. At the same time, we overheard the table next to us discussing their very own wedding from the night prior. What a coincidence!

“The thing is, nothing’s really changed,” the bride said.

Puzzled, my wife asked, “Did you get married last night too? So did we!”

“Congratulations!” the other dame said. “Yeah we did, just last night.”

“Where’s the groom?” my wife innocently… scratch that, naively asked.

“Oh, he’s sleeping. There was no way he was coming out with me this morning!” She paused and smirked. “Let’s just say that he’s got a lingering headache from a really good time last night.”

My heart sank. Firstly, that poor schmuck’s “good time” was simply getting snookered. Not enjoying the company of close family and long-lost friends with a clear head and clean conscience, not staring in awe at his beautiful new wife, wanting to soak in every glimmer of her eyes as she shot him heart-racing looks from across the dance floor, not taking all of the cheesy pictures as they cut the cake, not even carrying her across that suite threshold as they nervously anticipated their “nightcap.” He probably won’t remember any of it. Instead, he got smashed. He was “that guy”… at his own freaking wedding.

Then I realized something. Our wedding was truly a once in a lifetime event. It was a God’s-honest celebration of two completely separate lives now becoming one. Physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually, everything that made us who we were individually was becoming what bonded us together. Our family traveled from far and wide to celebrate the decision of two young people to truly commit themselves to each other, and selflessly give themselves to one another in a way that they never had before that very night.

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Abortion and the mystery of suffering

Melanie Pritchard Melanie Pritchard Follow Melanie
By Melanie Pritchard

When I check my Facebook, I love to see people celebrating and sharing beautiful moments in their lives. But today as I peruse my page, I see heartache.

First I see the mother of a girl I went to high school youth group with sharing that her mother will die of cancer in the next 48 hours. I pause as I remember building gingerbread houses at their home every year at Christmas time, remembering when life was normal.

Then I see a post by a woman who I had talked to at a wedding I attended about a week prior. She has just learned her teenage son has Leukemia and she is pleading for prayers.

I read on to find that another friend who is pregnant has been told that her baby will only survive but a few hours after he/she is born.

My heart aches and I try to hold back tears as I tell to my children in the next room to brush their teeth and get ready for school. Today, our day is normal. Our day will most likely be usual. And, I am grateful for that; but I ache for those whose lives will change today and never be the same.

I ache for those who hurt because I know what it feels like to suffer the intense circumstances that life throws at you when you least expect it. I write each of my Facebook friends a note of encouragement and prayer, but it doesn’t seem enough.

And then I recall how I spent the previous evening. A friend texted me asking for help. A girl he knows was at his house and was determined have an abortion. I tried to support and encourage him through texting while he was trying to convince her to save her child.

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She is 24, had a one-night-stand with a guy at a party, and now she is pregnant and in deep distress. She wants the immediate disappearance of her difficult situation. And why wouldn’t she, when we live in a culture that revolts against any type of suffering?

We live in a culture that creates every gizmo and gadget to make life easier and simple. They have duped us all. There is no real escape from suffering, as my friend whose son has cancer, my friend whose mother will die, and my friend who will lose her child after birth know too well. There is no escape.

This woman who chose to have a one-night-stand with a stranger can legally choose to kill her child in the name of convenience, but it does not take away the suffering she will endure. She can hide that she is pregnant, but she cannot hide from the fact that she is a mother. The only real choice she has left to make is whether she wants to be the mother of a dead child, by choosing to pay an abortionist to kill her child, or to suffer through nine months of pregnancy to sacrifice for her innocent child. Then, she can choose to raise the child or give him/her up for adoption.

Pain hits me in the gut as I think of my friend who would give anything for her child to live a long life after birth, while this stranger is ready and willing to end the life of her child before birth. It is a paradox I don’t pretend to understand, but I pray for each. I pray for the woman who will lose her child to natural causes.  I pray for her strength because I know people in our culture will encourage her to abort her unborn child to save her the agony of carrying full term just to witness her child’s untimely death. I also pray for the woman who will choose to end the life of her child. I am physically powerless to stop either situation from happening, but I will pray because God is not powerless.

I don’t know why we suffer. I don’t know why God allows us to suffer, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But what I do know is that when we allow God to be in the center of that suffering, there is hope, there is grace, and there is mercy. It may be a mercy far beyond our understanding, but it is there.

And when we are faced with horrific, life changing news that will rip our hearts apart in the suffering we will endure, we have two choices:

We can separate ourselves in our pain, anger, and heartache from the love of God, or we can cling to the love of God and let nothing—nothing come between us and the God who loves us. The same God who loves the mother who will die a horrible death of cancer, the same God who loves the child just diagnosed with Leukemia, and the same God who loves the two unborn children and their mothers who will make radically different choices.  

The same God who will love and grow us in strength and virtue through our suffering if we allow it.

Through God, all things are possible, and so we must cling to hope for all those who suffer today and pray their suffering brings them right into the heart of Christ who sees it all, who can heal it all, and who strengthens all.

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How do you think a government body whose job it is to make sure that medical treatment does not go over budget, will respond to an opportunity to take these expensive people out of the picture? Shutterstock

How socialism makes old people want to kill themselves: a true story

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Let me tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, my beloved uncle and aunt, who live in northern England, were close friends with a nice couple whom I’ll call Margaret and James. These were perfectly ordinary middle class people, who are of the immediate post-War generation, born in the mid-40s. They worked quite hard all their lives, and built a business, which did fairly well. They had assumed that this work would pay off in the long term, and that because they had planned carefully and wisely, and had saved and lived pretty sensibly, that they were more or less set for retirement. This is, after all, how it is supposed to work.

They were about five years into this retirement, and having a pretty nice time, going on modest holidays, spending a lot of time with the grandchildren, being involved in local civic and cultural organisations… exactly what you would think such salt-of-the-earth types would be up to in the second half of life. Then one day, James had a stroke. He was rushed to hospital and received excellent treatment and care, but the damage was done. James was a long time in hospital, and when he was released to go home, he was unable to care for himself.

The therapists had mostly got him talking again, and he could eat on his own, but he required constant attendance, something his loving wife was, given her age and lack of formal nursing skills, realistically unable to give. James was able to get about the house for a while, but needed a wheel chair when he went out, and his condition deteriorated.

How do you think a government body whose job it is to make sure that medical treatment in Britain does not exceed its budget allocations, will respond to an opportunity to take these expensive people right out of the financial picture?

Finally, the inevitable had to be faced, and Margaret looked into the options. But this is Britain, so all the “options” were whatever the government was willing to provide. This meant that a home help for household tasks and a home visiting nurse were impossible – and of course, a live-in nurse was out of the question.

You see, James and Margaret had worked too hard and planned too well for their retirement. While they weren't so well off that they could afford to pay 100% of the costs of long-term care themselves, they had planned too well in the eyes of the government. 

The Council told them, “You have too much money and too many assets. You can only get James in if you sell your home, liquidate all your assets and give us the money. Once you are jointly worth under 24,000 pounds, then we’ll have a place for you.”

(This sort of thing has become common. Read here.) 

The Socialism that has taken over every public institution in Britain, and crowded and bullied the churches out of their caring role, had taken away all the choices but one. They must impoverish themselves, wiping out any possibility of a comfortable long-term survival for Margaret – and never mind leaving something for the grandchildren, before getting the care James needed. Everything they had worked for all their lives was sold off and given to the government in exchange for care.

It was not very long before James, a kindly and hard working, decent man, started using that peculiar British expression, “being a burden.” He died soon after of natural causes.

The names and details of the story have been changed, of course, but the story is absolutely true.

Falconer's bill

Every year, with the end of the summer holidays and the turning of the leaves come all the joys of the new Parliamentary session, and a return to all our legislative worries, including, perhaps most prominently in the UK this year, the possibility that the mother country will legalise assisted suicide. The Falconer bill is headed back to the committee examining it in the House of Lords, and it is expected to be passed by that formerly august body, and sent off to the Commons.

Recently, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Surgeons, and perhaps most poignantly, the Association for Palliative Medicine, submitted strong statements against the idea of legal “assisted suicide” (a term that is coming to have very little to distinguish it from outright euthanasia).

They mainly argue that patients suffering from terminal illness are emotionally vulnerable, they can be frightened and deeply agitated, and in a depressed mental and emotional state. They point out that the bill’s main flaw is the concept that a person in such a state could make a valid choice to want to die. They point out that this mental state, that would naturally produce a desire for suicide, is, ipso facto, a condition that would preclude their being able to make a calm and informed decision.

One would think that the statements of these people, doctors who deal directly with such patients, would hold a lot of weight. But if one were inclined to think that, one might also think that ultrasounds demonstrating that an unborn child is in fact a living human being, whom it is wrong to kill, would have put a stop to legalised abortion decades ago. What is at work here is not reality but a determined nihilist, anti-human ideology, a “culture of death,” as someone once called it.

If there are people out there who still think, in the face of forty-odd years of such medical evidence, as well as common sense, that such legislation is based on facts, science and reason, then I suppose no amount of evidence to the contrary will suffice to change their minds. As Professor Peter Kreeft once said in answer to my question about it, “There are some who can only be moved by prayer and fasting,” meaning that we are faced not with science, reason and facts, but the awful, ancient and terrifying mystery of human evil, which will never be fully fathomed by us in this life.

So, yes, this year we again have Falconer’s bill to fight. And, despite the sudden plunge of the proposal’s popularity among medical professionals, the notion of killing oneself with a doctor’s “help” still remains wildly popular among Britain’s public.

While Falconer’s supporters, the organisation formerly known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, have claimed that support is at 80%, Care Not Killing counters that the numbers, once numerical clarity has been achieved, look more realistically like 43%.

But while 43% won’t tip the scales in a referendum (no, there isn’t going to be one) it’s still an extraordinary figure. Of a population of about 64 million people, nearly thirty million think allowing doctors to give people drugs to kill themselves or, more likely, to have their relatives do the deed, is a perfectly sane, sensible and reasonable idea.

How did the UK learn to love euthanasia?

It does make one wonder, how did a country formerly known for its stoicism and common sense come to such a cultural pass?

The reasons for the peculiar enthusiasm of British people for euthanasia are varied and complex, and probably have much to do with the terrible hardening of many British hearts that have, apparently, definitively turned away from God and his priority of mercy, love and self-forgetfulness. A thorough examination of the phenomenon would require a fearless dive into the nation’s philosophical and moral history since the English Reformation, and therefore be more or less impossible for a blog post.

But there is one thing that is clearly fuelling the nation’s euthanasia-mania that perhaps is easier to talk about, but that is going largely unnoticed: socialism. All medical care in Britain is provided by the government. All. And the government has this interesting body, called the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE – yes, that’s really it … not making it up…) whose task it is to decide who does and does not get treatment, and, perhaps even more ominously, what “level” of treatment a person is entitled to, all judged according to a precise mathematical formula.

The NICE are, effectively, the triage body, to decide whether your life, or the life of your mum or dad or grandma, is worth spending the money trying to save, given whatever’s wrong with you. For instance, if you are 30 and you have cancer, you might get access to certain drugs or treatments for which a 70-year-old with cancer will not be approved. The principle at work, in its essence, is back to good old British Utilitarianism; Jeremy Bentham’s ice-cold calculation of the “greatest good for the greatest number”. It is still not widely understood that this, the philosophy of the gas chamber, is back with a vengeance as the leading principle in nearly all the hospital and medical ethics boards and conferences in nearly every country of the western world.

Now, with this in mind, how do you think a government body whose job it is to make sure that medical treatment in Britain does not exceed its budget allocations, will respond to an opportunity to take these expensive people right out of the financial picture?

And How long do you think it would take a couple like James and Margaret, who, like most British people, had never been near a church for anything but weddings and funerals since the 1950s, to start to think that a painless injection would be the solution to all their problems? 

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Take heart: Nature is on our side, and she does not change

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony
By Anthony Esolen

Our opponents in the battle to form or deform the imagination of children have on their side, for the most part, the school, the airwaves, and mass culture.

That may seem an insuperable triad. But, even setting aside the power of prayer and the mighty grace of God, these three share several weaknesses we would do well to remember, lest we grow discouraged. And we have one formidable ally whereof they cannot avail themselves.

As for the weaknesses: the first is that they are often stupid and inept. For every one of my college freshmen who is dismayed to hear that his beloved childhood schools taught him things that were foolish or false, there are five who are gratified to hear it, and who feel vindicated. For every one of my college seniors who will try to persuade me that I should take a Leonardo Di Caprio seriously as an actor or an intellect, there are five who want me to give them a “viewing list” of classic movies made by men and women whose roots were set in the earth of a Jewish or Christian culture before the advent of mass entertainment. It is hard to listen to or even to look at a Justin Bieber when once you have encountered the far greater talents of George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, or Cole Porter, let alone Aaron Copeland or Antonin Dvorak.

I am persuaded that we could clear our heads of most of the unnatural evils we have come to accept if we would simply leave the Teaching Machine and the Entertainment Machine, and go out of doors, and stay there for a while, walking, listening, perhaps whistling, playing, working, thinking, or simply being.

The second is that they bring no joy. Sure, for as long as there have been schoolboys, they have been “creeping unwillingly to school,” as Shakespeare put it. But the very worst of schools in ages past were still bad in a human way and on a human scale. You might have a crabby old lady for your second grade teacher, or a sour-stomached schoolmaster who was quick with the ruler. They still taught ordinary things, and even ordinary virtues, by precept if not by example. You knew your fellow sufferers by name, all of them, and their families. The schoolhouse was, in distance and in being, not so far from home. And then there were schools that might press a tear from the eye of an old person walking past its venerable doors.

That's not true now. What joy is there in the long bus ride, the rushed lunch, the bustling from room to room, the general anonymity, the indoctrination in partisan politics, the mass-marketed slop for reading, the noise, the surveillance, the ever-looming standardized tests, the sexual chaos, the enmity of teacher against parent?

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None, as there is no joy in the boredom of the Internet, or in the twaddle for the ear and eye and soul that is sold and consumed like fast-food hamburgers, more plastic than meat.

The third is that they bring no peace. School is instruction in simultaneous sloth and busy-ness. The Internet delivers a jittery stasis. Mass entertainment is little more than an array of needles to prick people into handing over some of their cash. 

What then is the formidable ally I have alluded to? Gerard Manley Hopkins knew:

But for all this, nature is never spent:
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things,
And though the last lights off the black west went,
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs,
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with, ah! bright wings.

It is the world that God has made, waiting outside of our doors and windows.

It is not heaven, that I know well. But it is also not hell, or an unnatural cubicle, fitted out with fluorescent light and the drop-ceiling tiles with their prick-marks as numerous, alas, as the stars in the sky.

I am persuaded that we could clear our heads of most of the unnatural evils we have come to accept if we would simply leave the Teaching Machine and the Entertainment Machine, and go out of doors, and stay there for a while, walking, listening, perhaps whistling, playing, working, thinking, or simply being.

You walk past a field in autumn and there are the wild turkeys pecking away in the stubble. How they got there, you don't know; or where they roost, or how they are going to last through the coming winter. You know that turkeys have been living and hatching young and finding their food and dying, for thousands and thousands of years, and something of the permanence of nature strikes you. It is apart from you, but also within you; it warns you, and yet it sustains you. It is good that there are turkeys. The tom turkey you see with his brilliant red accoutrements, his thicker muscles, and his imperious ways among the females, and you smile, and you understand, for better and for worse, that maybe human beings and turkeys are not so far distant after all.

You walk on, and you see the dragonflies flitting about a muddy little pond, hardly more than the puddling of a creek, and you know that they will be laying their eggs soon, and they will die, though their wings are dazzling green and violet and indigo. And the life of man on earth is, in comparison with eternity, no more enduring than the brief glory of the dragonfly. Is there something in you that then that cries out, “This cannot be the final truth about man”?

Or you are in the field, working, wiping on your sleeve the sweat from your brow and brushing away the gnats. The hay has to be made. The silly feminist who declares that fairy tales are evil – she has never had to make the hay. Most things that most people fret about, and most of the unnatural states they imagine themselves into, vanish into the vanity they are when you have a field, mown grass everywhere, and hay to make. Your very muscles will rouse you back into reality.

Our opponents claim the unnatural. Let them. Nature is on our side, and she does not change.

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