John M. Smoot

Children need our marriage tradition

John M. Smoot
By John Smoot
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June 19, 2013 (thePublicDiscourse) - In the United States, we were fortunate to inherit a marriage tradition of monogamy with a strong stigma against divorce. Did it work for everyone? No. Did it work for our society as a whole? Yes. Was it beneficial for most children? Yes.

Then the sexual revolution happened. As Yale Professor George Chauncey writes in his article “Gay at Yale: How Things Changed”:

All around them, lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men saw their heterosexual friends decisively rejecting the moral codes of their parents’ generation, which had limited sex to marriage, and forging a new moral code that linked sex to love, pleasure, freedom, self-expression, and common consent. Heterosexuals, in other words, were becoming more like homosexuals, in ways that ultimately would make it harder for them to believe gay people were outsiders from a dangerous, immoral underworld. Moreover, the fact that so many young heterosexuals considered sexual freedom to be a vital marker of personal freedom made lesbians and gay men feel their quest for freedom was part of a larger movement. Ultimately, both gay people’s mass decision to come out and heterosexuals’ growing acceptance of them were encouraged by the sexual revolution and became two of its most enduring legacies. I think this did not represent the assimilation of gay life into the Normal so much as the transformation of the Normal itself.

Chauncey is right; we transformed the “Normal.” We created a “new Normal.” The mantra of the revolution, “If it feels good, do it,” ultimately weakened the institution of marriage with its inherent restraints and responsibilities, ballooned the divorce rate, and brought the number of out-of-wedlock births to 40 percent of all children born in America. All of which translates into poverty, crime, and suffering.

Over the course of twenty-one years as a judge in Boston, I granted thousands of divorces and heard thousands of cases involving children of unmarried parents. Yes, there were adults and children who benefited from divorce just as there were children of single parent families who did fine or excelled. Overall, however, the revolution that encouraged “pleasure, freedom, [and] self-expression” brought an immense amount of pain and misery. Was it bad for everyone? No. Was it bad for millions? Yes.

Social policy and cultural change have an impact on all of us. And clearly, the impact is not always for the good. Now, we are transforming marriage by eliminating its inherent gender distinctions.

Male and Female  

Marriage has been between males and females in virtually every society in the history of mankind, regardless of time, geography, race, tribe, social structure, religion, or absence of religion (e.g., in communist countries). Even in societies like ancient Greece that did not attach a stigma to homosexual behavior, people of the same sex never married. As for those times when homosexual activity was apparently widespread, those periods tell us that culture matters: It’s unlikely that more people were genetically same-sex attracted in ancient Greece than they are today (if genetics are at all responsible for same-sex attraction), but because the ancient Greeks understood that it would be impossible for any same-sex relationship to be a marriage, their acceptance of same-sex relationships never translated into changing a fundamental institution of their society.

The essence of marriage has always incorporated a gender difference—male and female—and the purpose has been to bring men and women together for life for children. All the arguments for a “new normal” take us away from gender distinctions or confuse gender with something else.

Laws prohibiting interracial marriage, for example, were horribly wrong because the racial makeup of a man and a woman intent on marriage is irrelevant, as there are no inherent differences among races. This injustice concerning miscegenation has no relevance to the same-sex marriage issue unless you also say that there are no inherent differences between a man and a woman. And further, that gender difference is not a biological reality but a social construct imposed by society.

What’s the Big Deal?

The harms that will follow approval of same-sex marriage have been spelled out clearly and concisely by others. See for example, Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George’s argument in What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

There are, however, two specific harms that I believe are often overlooked in most discussions of marriage, and they both involve gender.

Children

We need to be careful not to project our adult understandings onto children. They will develop identities based on the culture around them, not on the culture we grew up in. In the past, boys knew that if they married when they grew up, they would marry a woman; and girls knew that if they married when they grew up, they would marry a man. Children understood that marriage brought men and women together to form families because every aspect of our culture conveyed that message. There was nothing automatic about it. Change the culture, and you change the outcome.

What will our culture teach children now? How will parents answer children’s questions? If Billy says, “Do you think I might marry Timmy when I grow up?” what is the answer? “We’ll have to wait and see what your sexual orientation is and what Timmy’s sexual orientation is”? Or “If you get married, it will probably be to a girl”? Instead of a clear foundation for building their self-understanding, the children will receive nebulous answers.

The educational system will be an authoritative source of insecurity for children. Planned Parenthood, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Future of Sex Education (FoSE) are powerful national organizations bonded together to promote not just sex education but also “gender education” to our young. These groups have produced the National Sexuality Education Standards “to address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide.”

Under these standards, children ages eight to ten will be taught to “define sexual orientation as romantic attraction to an individual of the same gender or of a different gender.”

Children ages ten to twelve will be taught, among other things, to

  1. Differentiate between gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  2. Analyze external influences that have an impact on one’s attitudes about gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
  3. Access accurate information about gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  4. Communicate respectfully with and about people of all gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.

Throughout these and other guidelines published by national sex and gender education groups, there is an emphasis on teaching young children three identities, underscoring a distinction between each person’s biological sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This “three identity” approach may help some students, but it will damage the vast majority of them.

In fact, the “three identities” approach will confuse us all. For example, Massachusetts has a new transgender directive about the use of bathrooms and locker rooms. Suppose someone has a male body, a female gender, and a lesbian sexual orientation. Does that person use the girl’s locker room or the boy’s? This is not said in jest or with a trace of sarcasm. The issues are too important and the people involved are too important. Helping children who have gender questions navigate the world is laudable, but we need to do it in a way that demonstrates a caring and a love for all of the children.

These gender standards or a version thereof are coming to a community near you. The goal of the “gender education” groups is to wrest control of education from local communities and parents and move the curriculum to a more centralized authority.

Last month, a bill was filed in Congress (H.R. 1652) entitled the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). It has the backing of the American Association of University Women; the American Federation of Teachers; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; the NAACP; the National Association of School Psychologists; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the National Council of La Raza; the National Education Association; and the National Women’s Law Center.

SNDA would bring the Massachusetts gender model to all public schools across the country, prohibiting discrimination against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill authorizes lawsuits and permits federal authorities to intercede if necessary.

The same effort is underway in many states that still allow local communities and parents a voice in sex and gender education. Even Massachusetts allows for a certain amount of local control but a bill is pending to eliminate local community influence and impose statewide standards.

If local control cannot be taken by legislation or administrative directives, litigation will be employed. For example, the ACLU recently sued an elementary school in Utah because it removed a book about a lesbian couple from the school’s library shelves and made the book available by request only. The school settled the lawsuit and put the book back on display.

The drive to control sex and gender education in local school systems is and will continue to be relentless. The forces behind this movement are smart, powerful, and well-funded, often with millions of taxpayer dollars.

Marriage Matters

Now that television shows, movies, books, songs, the educational system, and most of our other cultural influences are promoting gay life, marriage is the last institution in which gender matters. Marriage, although damaged by the sexual revolution, still carries residual power to bring men and women together and bind them to their children. Eliminating gender removes a key ingredient in helping children recognize this.

A society that puts children first does not teach young girls that they might grow up to marry a woman and young boys that they might grow up to marry a man, because sexual orientations are far more fragile than people think and, for many, not nearly as immutable as some have claimed.

It is and has been critical to the LGBT movement to hammer home the message that sexual orientation is genetically based and immutable. However, University of California psychologist, Gregory Herek, who is himself gay and who has testified before Congress on issues concerning sexual prejudice, has stated that

The nature vs. nurture debate really is passé. The debate is not really an either/or debate in the vast majority of cases, but how much of each. We don't know how big a role biology plays and how big a role culture plays. A possibility not often discussed is it’s not the same for everybody.

In other words, culture influences the formation of sexual orientation. For some, the influence may be close to insignificant, and for others, it may be highly significant.

When “gender education” and graphic descriptions of all forms of heterosexual and homosexual sexual activity are combined with classroom books in which a Prince marries a Prince and cultural influences such as Katy Perry’s hit song “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It,” then yes, numerous children will be mixed up about and preoccupied with their gender and sexual orientation. Studies have already shown a substantial increase in girls identifying as bisexual or lesbian. Conjugal marriage is the last defense against total gender confusion.

Commodity Futures

The second harm that is often overlooked, as Alana Newman has addressed here on Public Discourse, is that same-sex marriage will enshrine in our culture the ongoing industrialization of collecting and distributing sperm and eggs. This would include perpetuating the callous practice of anonymous gamete sales. Unlike adoption, whereby a child already born is placed in a home, the sperm- or egg-purchase method deliberately creates a child but separates him or her from one half of “who he or she is,” as numerous donor-conceived children describe their experience.

Same-sex couples need a third person, often a fourth in the case of men, to bring a child into the world. Sanctioning same-sex marriage will result in the state mandating equal treatment for and acceptance of same-sex procreation methods. The refrain “marriage equality” is already followed by a demand for “reproductive equality.”

In response to the emotional pain and frustration experienced by infertile heterosexual couples, several states have required health insurance providers to cover infertility treatments. Now “infertility,” once considered a medical problem, must, like marriage, be redefined (or renamed) to encompass gay couples. For example, the California State Assembly recently approved a bill requiring that insurance coverage for the treatment of infertility must also be extended to gay couples.

In a recent article, “It Is Time for the U.S. to Cover IVF (for Gays and Lesbians Too),” Dov Fox, an academic fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, and I. Glenn Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Law School, deploy a new term, “dysfertilty,” to emphasize a “social” rather than a “biological” obstacle to reproduction. They acknowledge that “dysfertility fits less comfortably within the medical model.” But they ask “why should that alone make less worthy the desires of gays and lesbians to have a genetic child?”

Under this theory all gays, or at least married gays, are deemed to be “infertile,” and “reproductive inequalities” need to be addressed through subsidized infertility treatment which means more sperm and egg sales. The sperm and egg industry is already a potent and unregulated billion-dollar business. Supported by powerful gay activist groups, the industry will grow and prosper with a state seal of approval through mandates and subsidies.

Furthermore, the sperm and egg business will have to be cast in a positive light to young people in sex education classes. What was once deeply personal territory must be explained because of biological reality. Children will want to know how it is that many same-sex couples have children. The answers will have to be judgment-free and children will buy into a fiction that nice men and women “donate” sperm and eggs for altruistic reasons and everyone lives happily ever after, when, in fact, the reality is far more complicated. The message conveyed, perhaps subtle and unintended, will be that these generous gamete “donors” are to be emulated.

Conclusion

Contrary to prevailing “groupthink” messaging, you can love and respect your gay friends, relatives, and neighbors and strongly oppose redefining marriage. Moreover, you can marvel at the beauty of all children no matter how conceived and still be strongly opposed to any cultural change that will bolster an industry that treats human beings as commodities to be bought and sold.

Click "like" if you support TRADITIONAL marriage.

John M. Smoot served as a trial court judge of Boston’s Probate and Family Court from 1990 to 2012. He currently serves as a mediator at Boston Area Mediation and blogs at Peter’s Bench. This article reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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