Patrick Fagan

The Supreme Court’s first assault on marriage

Patrick Fagan
By Patrick Fagan

March 19, 2013 (thePublicDiscourse.com) - This year, the Supreme Court will render judgment on the institution of marriage. Though most of us don’t realize it, the Court first did so forty-one years ago in Eisenstadt v. Baird, a decision that gravely wounded marriage and set the nation on a course of gradual debilitation by ruling that states could not restrict the sale of contraceptives to unmarried people.

In its forthcoming decision, the Court may give marriage the legal coup de grace. Or it may surprise us, redeem itself, and use the occasion to correct the drift of legal thought on sexuality, marriage, and the rights of children. All three are inextricably linked.

In Eisenstadt, the Court overturned Massachusetts state law and pulled new sexual rights for singles out of a hat—but gave no standing to the child born of pre- or extra-marital sex. The Court played God by redefining the purpose of sexuality. In the process it unleashed sex’s destructive power detached from marriage. The Court could see rights to contraceptives in the “shadow” of the Constitution but could not see what a blind man could: the right of every child to married parents.

Having set chaos in motion in Eisenstadt, the Supreme Court quickly built the garbage bin for dumping sexual debris in Roe v. Wade, which gave a green light to the killing of 55 million unborn children, the overwhelming majority of whom were conceived by those unmarried singles with new access to contraceptives.

Eisenstadt also denied the community its natural rights—demands of the social order—that parents take care of their children in marriage. Since then, the community has been paying to raise children born outside wedlock. The cost comes in the form of welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, supplementary education, costlier child and adult health bills, more prisons, addiction centers, and mental health services. The list goes on and on, now cumulatively and possibly to the tune of trillions of dollars.

When two unmarried people have a child, their commitment to each other becomes more difficult to turn into marriage. The vast majority will break up within the following five years, even if they currently cohabit, leaving the commons to make up the difference—which it can only partially achieve, at best.

Post-Eisenstadt, many social policies were quickly abused as many young women learned how to game the system. Policies such as welfare payments, food stamps, and housing, all designed to help the family and society by subsidizing a mother’s physical needs on a per child basis, ultimately undermine these families by not requiring marriage as a condition of support.

Tragically, at this point in our history, almost all of these children and grandchildren cannot conceive of any other family life except single parenthood combined with serial cohabitation. Instead of intact, married families, we have matriarchal lines of poverty and strain, with men and fathers cast outside, somewhere.

With Eisenstadt, the Court dismissed marriage as the basic institution for begetting and raising children, and in a couple of pages of writing, rendered obsolete the experience of millennia. Prior to that time, those who intended to raise children together were expected by tradition, common sense, and culture to marry first. The law protected these expectations.

The Court also seemed totally unaware that society’s fundamental institutions—family, education, marketplace, government, and religion—are interdependent. This interdependence plays out in the raising of children. They grow quickly to become the actors in each of these realms, and if they come from broken families, they generally bring lessened capacities to these tasks in their own lives and to the institutions involved in the functioning of society.

Thus, in a well-ordered society sex and marriage go together exclusively, because the union of male and female sexual expression must be undertaken in a union that binds them in advance of the coordinated labors needed to raise the children they may bring into the world. To achieve this, a functioning society demands that each citizen channels his sexual capacities in ways appropriate to these two tasks (procreation and child-raising). That is, it demands marriage.

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The core strength needed to do this is chastity, a virtue always necessary but expressed differently at different stages in life—when single, when courting, and when married. Functional societies foster chastity and sanction its violation. But in Eisenstadt, the Supreme Court threw chastity out the window by endorsing premarital sex at a constitutional level.

Another aspect of the decision casts the Court in even worse light. The main architect of the legal strategy to bring this matter to the Supreme Court, and the chief shepherd and amicus curiae for these new political rights for singles, was Planned Parenthood. Most have not perceived this connection, but Planned Parenthood needed this decision to pursue its vision of family planning. It already had funding from Congress, but it needed the Court’s decision to distribute contraceptives to singles. This it quickly did, and in the process gained vast amounts of money, both directly from program funding and indirectly from grants given by foundations tied to the contraception industry. The fruits of its work are today most visible in the old inner cities: multigenerational single-parent families, all beneficiaries of “family” planning.

We are coming up on fourth-generation fatherless families begotten since Eisenstadt, as many inner-city families start when a 16-year-old girl becomes a mother. These families produce boys who have little chance of becoming men. Indeed, each successive generation is less capable than the one preceding it. Worse still, as Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University uncovered in his research, the current norm in their home is a new man in the mother’s bed every 18 months.

The effect of this on the men, the women, and most especially on the children, is at times too awful to contemplate. The fruits are poverty, sexual chaos, sexual abuse, lack of identity with a father, and incapacity to be a man capable not only of marrying, but also of caring for himself or a wife or a family, and the incapacity of the woman to be a wife.

For the children of these multigenerational poor families, the results are grim: unprecedented levels of abuse, both physical and sexual, and ill health, disease, and abandonment of children by their genitors. It is a pity that the Supreme Court cannot be presented with a massive class-action lawsuit by the inner-city poor, because they can easily point to its decision as a main culprit in their poverty and suffering.

In America, the chaos from Eisenstadt must eventually be checked. If not by the Supreme Court and Congress, then by whatever government will follow after the collapse of our present order. Sexual license and republican liberty cannot live together. One of them will supplant the other. Either we become a sexually restrained people—a form of self-control needed for institutions that depend on liberty—or, as we become more and more sexually unrestrained, we will need the all-helping state to do what we won’t be able to do for ourselves and our children.

Today, only 45 percent of American 17-year-olds belong in an intact married family with both birth parents. Fifty-five percent do not: Their parents have rejected them and walked away from each other—whether at their birth, after cohabiting, or through divorce—and the price they pay comes in the form of life-long reduced personal capacities.

Given that our most recent out-of-wedlock birth rate is around 42 percent, and given the cyclical nature of family brokenness, the Index of Family Belonging is guaranteed to deteriorate each year for at least the next seventeen unless a national miracle happens. This would be something on the order of a Great Awakening: not only an awakening to God, but also to the dignity and duties of being male and female, husband and wife, father and mother, and to the child’s inalienable right to the marriage of his biological parents.

With Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Supreme Court rejected the experience of millennia and set in motion the gradual weakening of America. Future generations may rank this as the single most destructive decision in the history of the Court. Will the forthcoming decisions in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor be ones that rank right alongside it, by delivering a legal coup de grace to marriage? Or will this Court be known for beginning the restoration of sexual and family sanity by preserving and protecting the core of society?

Patrick Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Family Research Council. This article reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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