Category archives: Family

Women Naturally Embrace Motherhood, And That’s Just Fine

by Alyson Gritter

March 18, 2019

A few weeks ago, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided to take to Instagram Live and make a statement about the environment, but instead ended up raising a question about motherhood. It was a question that, frankly, was irresponsible for a public figure, let alone a member of Congress, who wields so much influence and power, to subject our society to. In the video, she said, “There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult, and it does lead, I think, young people, to have a legitimate question, you know, ‘Is it okay to still have children?’”

The statement, fueled by her own personal agenda, points to a much bigger issue that is affecting our country. Regardless of her intentions, AOC is discrediting women everywhere by questioning their natural desire to have children and also questioning the responsibility of having children in today’s society. There is already a huge stigma around women who long for motherhood and pursue having a family over having a career.

On Fox News, Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women of America, fired back at AOC’s comment: “[This is] the same apoplectic anti-child rhetoric we’ve heard before.” Such radical anti-children comments are smearing the earnest intentions and desires of women all over the U.S. whose greatest ambition is to be a mother. For many, including myself, the calling to be a parent is the most important thing they will ever realize in their life.

Women who place their focus on motherhood and raising a family are often looked down upon in today’s pop culture. Television shows like Sex and the City, Vampire Diaries, and Two and a Half Men and movies like How to be Single, No Strings Attached, and He’s Just Not That into You glamorize casual dating and make parenthood seem like a trap, implying that by having children, a woman can no longer fulfill her career ambitions and be fully empowered as a woman because she has a baby to care for and nurture.

Women who choose to seek motherhood or to be a stay-at-home mom are viewed as weaker than those who stick to their career and don’t pursue marriage and a family. Women are falling for the lie that they must be self-dependent and self-sufficient to be fulfilled.

Sarrah Le Marquand, Editor-in-Chief of the Australian magazine Stellar, once wrote, “There’s one issue guaranteed to trigger hysteria across the nation … It’s the topic of stay-at-home mums. More specifically, the release of any data or analysis that dares recommend Australian women should get out of the living room/kitchen/nursery and back into the workforce.” Jody Day, author of Living the Life Unexpected, denigrated motherhood by stating, “As we continue to delve into a realm where childlessness is not just a choice, but a common part of our culture, perhaps the glorification of motherhood will start to disintegrate.”

The horrifying reality is that society today no longer wants to celebrate and give God the glory for the gift of motherhood, which is a natural blessing of womanhood. This cultural shift is showing in the falling number of women having children. According to a recent study, the average number of children women are having in their lifetime has fallen from 4.7 in 1950 to 2.4 in 2017.

Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, addressed the reason for this trend when he said, “There is no getting around the fact that the relationship between gender equality and fertility is very strong.” He elaborated: “There are no high-fertility countries that are gender equal.” Many assume that a woman chooses to have more children or stay at home because there is a lack of gender equality. No one appreciates the woman whose main “career goal,” her greatest personal achievement, is to be a mother, even a stay-at-home mother.

In college, I had a close friend who confided to me that she felt hopeless and alone because she felt that her greatest calling in life was to be a mother. My sweet friend was very much single with little to no relationship prospects. She told me, “Everyone keeps pushing me to a more realistic goal to work towards, and I feel like they think me building a career is the most important thing in my life. It is only a secondary goal for me.”

My friend made it clear to me that to the world, having a successful career is the primary goal, but for many women of God, it is only secondary. Like her, my main calling in life is to grow and raise a God-fearing and honoring family. Every other goal, including my career goals, will fall into place around it. So, how can we as godly women not be discouraged in this pro-singleness culture?

Many in our culture seem to think that motherhood is the end of your life, but it isn’t. It is the end of living for yourself. Motherhood is often a thankless job, and many feminists don’t want to give up the worldly career recognition that often has to be given up when motherhood is placed first.

I believe wholeheartedly that mothers should be honored and cherished. They deserve recognition and praise for everything that they do. Regardless though, being a mom requires self-sacrifice, and frankly, that is something that the feminist movement does not want to accept. To them, it means giving up a career position, title, and status.

Motherhood is about laying down one’s ambition for the sake of their children and putting their needs, wants, and futures first. As women, motherhood is not about giving up our strength but about utilizing it for the sake of others. It is about embracing our vulnerability to be a woman and a mother.

Alyson Gritter is an intern at Family Research Council.

 

SOTU: How the President Led on Life, Family, and Fighting Sex Trafficking

by Patrina Mosley

February 6, 2019

The State of the Union has historically been the time when the president, our Commander in Chief and the leader of the free world, puts Congress and the world on notice of the legislative agenda and priorities for the nation. This is why it’s so significant to see President Trump take a firm stand on the sanctity of life, the acknowledgment of what real families need, and the injustice that is happening at our borders.  

Life:

There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days.  Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.  These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world.  And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.

To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.

Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.  And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: All children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.

All of this came just a day after the Born-Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act was blocked by Democrats not willing to give unanimous consent to the fact that babies deserve a chance at life if they survive an abortion attempt. As I mentioned here, the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency was nothing short of unprecedented when it comes to defending life. The Republican party platform now more than ever stands in stark contrast to the Democrat’s extreme abortion agenda. His statement was not only a rebuke of the lack of humanity shown by the Democrats but a fixed point of reference that valuing life is never anything to be ashamed of and that this value is what will make America great.

Family:

To help support working parents, the time has come to pass School Choice for Americans’ children. I am also proud to be the first President to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave, so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.

Lack of access to school choice has been one of the biggest factors separating the haves from the have-nots. Giving families the option to use their tax dollars to educate their children as they see fit is critical to setting them up for success later in life. Another part of the “success sequence” in marriage is taking the time to invest in your children from day one. Chasing the American dream should not be the goal in life—being faithful to your family and to God should take priority. Paid family leave will help relieve the stress of working parents and encourage these eternal values.

Sex Trafficking:

Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is actually very cruel.

This is certainly true. Not only does illegal immigration defy what scriptures teach on respecting the authorities God has put in place, but it also hurts our national security as well as our communities who are already hurting for jobs, and it certainly hurts the illegal immigrant who is being taken advantage of (in some ways trafficked into labor) with unfair wages. To many in the elite class and to those with political power, the illegal immigrant is nothing more than someone who cleans their house or mows their lawn. For big business, they are cheap labor, so they can keep more profit for themselves. To the Democrats, illegal immigrants are future voters whom they can entice with amnesty so long as the immigrant faithfully votes to keep them in power. What most do not know is how illegal immigration has facilitated sex trafficking:

One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country. Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide-open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

Most people are unaware of how sophisticated their system is—how smugglers promise to get women and children over the border but then hold them hostage by demanding more money once they are over the border and then violently forcing them to pay off their “debt” with sex. Often these girls are supervised by the women involved with the smugglers.

ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults. 30,000 sex crimes, and 4000 killings or murders.

One real life example of this was shared by the president in his address:

We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes: ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez.  When Elvin — thank you.

When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.  At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a Special Agent.  Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking.

Elvin says that, “If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve [really] done my job.”  Thanks to his work, and that of his incredible colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from the horror of this terrible situation, and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars. Thank you, Elvin.

We will always support the brave men and women of law enforcement, and I pledge to you tonight that I will never abolish our heroes from ICE. Thank you.

I hope the president’s address opens many eyes to see the compounding effects of criminal behavior. If those who have been entrusted with the authority to protect and pursue justice do nothing, then many immigrant lives will be needlessly victimized.

President Trump’s address is a flag planted in the ground of who we are as a nation, what we should strive to be, and what we’re going to get done by the grace of God.

What Could Have Been, and the Hope of What Is to Come

by Cassidy Rich

November 29, 2018

I recently spoke with a friend who works in the pro-life movement and told her that my mom had suffered three or four miscarriages. A few days later, I was talking to my mom on the phone and she corrected me on the number of her miscarriages. I winced as I held the phone a little tighter and tried to grasp what my mom just told me. I was missing nine siblings. Nine. Nine little lives that would never be. Nine babies I would never know, nine friends I would never have, nine people I would never get to share life’s adventures with. I can’t explain why it hit me so hard right then that I didn’t have these siblings.

According to my mom, “After a miscarriage, I initially felt disappointment and sadness. Sometimes I felt like I did something wrong. Was it because I ran upstairs, did I eat something wrong, did I think something wrong, was I not excited enough, is God mad at me, am I being punished? Sometimes I felt angry, like I was tricked. Sometimes I felt like God used my womb to fast-track souls to heaven. Many women fear miscarriage in the first trimester, but once you’ve had a miscarriage, the fear can be overwhelming in future pregnancies. Miscarriage certainly challenges your trust in God. Suffering is miserable, but it isn’t pointless. God uses your suffering, not only in your life but also in the lives of others. I learned to hang onto God through the deepest valleys. And maybe it was really God who was hanging onto me.”

The Mayo Clinic defines miscarriage as “the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.” When you think about it, that’s a considerable number. It’s even more astonishing when you realize that it’s only 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies. The Mayo Clinic goes on to say that the true number of miscarriages is likely higher due to the miscarriages that happen when women are unaware that they are pregnant.

When I was 11 years old, my mom sat my siblings and I down in the living room. One of my mom’s closest friends was there in the room because she had just accompanied my mom to a doctor’s appointment. My dad would have gone with my mom, but he was fighting an ugly case of the flu and was cooped up in bed all day. She told us that she had just gone to the doctor and found out that she was miscarrying a baby. I sat there in silence. I didn’t know what to say. My 11-year-old self didn’t grasp the fact that my siblings and I had just lost a little sibling. I knew my mom suffered her first miscarriage about 12 years before this time, but I never gave it much thought. I understood that life was lost and that we would never have the opportunity to meet the baby this side of Heaven, but it didn’t sink in. I don’t remember anything else about the conversation.

It wasn’t until I was in college, when girls around my age started getting married and having babies, that I began to understand the impact a miscarriage can have on a woman. The thought of a life that could have been but wasn’t because God took it away seemed wrong and unfair to the woman and all those who cared about her. Why would God give a woman a baby, only to take it away? It seems so harsh. But as believers, we know that we live in a fallen, sin-ridden world, and until the Lord returns and restores all things, there will be hurt and suffering (see Ecclesiastes 11:5, Isaiah 55:8-9, and Revelation 21:5). God doesn’t explain everything to us, He just asks us to trust Him. So, I will. I will mourn my siblings that could have been, but I will still put my trust in the Lord.

Cassidy Rich is an Administrative Assistant at Family Research Council.

Christianity’s Blessings to Society

by Travis Weber

October 24, 2018

The new life of a believer in Christ motivates him or her to be a good citizen—to seek the well-being of the city or place in which they live. The latest example of this principle comes not from the United States, but from Nigeria.

A recent profile in The Economist, of all places, discusses the development of the “church-city” and the benefits it has brought with it.

Begun as a church, the plot of land north of Lagos, Nigeria now houses 12,000 people and covers more than 6,000 acres. That population will likely double by 2036.

As The Economist notes, “[m]ost African cities are messy, especially around the edges. Suburban roads are invariably crooked, unpaved and unsigned. Houses are plonked down wherever people can acquire land. Many homes are half-built . . .”

Yet in Redemption City, “[e]verything tends to work. Whereas Lagos hums with diesel generators, Redemption City has a steady electricity supply from a small gas-fired power station. It also has its own water supply. ‘We make life easy,’ says Pastor Fola Sanusi, the man in charge of Redemption City’s growth. The city also makes rules, of the kind that could never be enforced in the hurly-burly of Lagos. ‘No parking, no waiting, no trading, no hawking,’ reads one sign.”

‘If you wait for the government, it won’t get done,’” says Olaitan Olubiyi, one of the pastors. “So [Redemption City] relies on the government for very little – it builds its own roads, collects its own rubbish, and organises its own sewerage systems.” The Guardian reports that the government sometimes sends its own municipal experts to learn from Redemption City’s.

Though the properties are supposed to be kept within the community of Christians inhabiting the city, they seem to be making their way into the broader real estate market, being listed on some agencies’ websites.

Other churches in the surrounding area are currently building communities of their own. The Economist concludes: “Pentecostal Christianity has already remade many Africans’ spiritual lives. Now it is remaking their cities.”

While the concept is a bit unusual, this story reminds us that what one believes has direct consequences for society and the conditions in which we live. Our faith leads us to care for our surroundings, and religious organizations often have a widescale impact on the common good. While we are all imperfect, the Christian is (and should be) driven by principles which flow from a faith that seeks the good of our neighbor—and our cities.

Our Gifts Received through Child Loss

by Katy Downey

October 18, 2018

As October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I was asked by a dear friend to share my experience with miscarriage. I ultimately decided to write this because I feel I am through the dark, heavy, suffocating fog of infertility and child loss. If I am able to share any words with anyone to make them feel less hopeless or less alone, the past four years of suffering have been worth it. My husband and I together have been blessed enough to discover the gifts and beauty of infertility and child loss. This is a journey that so many of us walk, but it can still feel overwhelmingly lonely.

I married my best friend on an excessively rainy day, but we didn’t notice because we were smiling and laughing the entire time. All our friends and family joked about God’s blessings raining down on us and how this meant we’d have lots of babies. As a naïve, blushing couple, we secretly wished it would be true. We had so many hopes and dreams about growing our family. We planned out our whole path over a bottle of champagne on a beach in Antigua. But as usual, God had a much better plan.

When I reflect on our time of infertility and miscarriages, I think about how my husband and I suffered together, but we very much had to traverse our own journeys of faith and suffering separately as well. The first gift of losing a child is suffering, which counter to popular culture, is indeed a gift. Two quotes often come to mind when considering suffering and they still bring tears to my eyes. The first is from St. Faustina with whom I found so much comfort: “Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering, love becomes crystallized; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.” Child loss made me profoundly feel how pure God’s love for His children truly is and how much He loves me. It shed new light on my ability to feel how our Lord and Savior feels when we offend Him, how deeply He must suffer when we hurt those He loves. It also taught me to offer up my suffering for others; crying feels more productive when you know someone else who is suffering is benefiting from it. I would often offer up my suffering for women who could have children easily, but who were not in a loving marriage and felt trapped by their pregnancies.

The second quote I hold dear is from St. Josemaría Escrivá which says, “God in His providence has two ways of blessing marriages: one by giving them children; and the other, sometimes, because he loves them so much, by not giving them children. I don’t know which is the better blessing.” This quote definitely made me ugly cry, but it helped me realize that the second gift is time. Time is one of the most precious gifts on earth, and child loss gave us time with our Lord, time with each other, time to travel the world, and time to help others. I was able to use my gift of time for and with others to share my talents or help others let their talents shine.

The third gift is one that has strengthened my trust. I had no option but to fully throw my whole soul into trusting God. All the earthly things I had put my trust into—doctors, medication, fertility charts, vitamins, and procedures—had let me down time and time again. I also had to fully trust my husband. We had to have the talk about how he didn’t marry me for my reproductive abilities, but because he loves me, all of me, even if it means we can’t have a child together. As much as we love each other, I never imagined how the solid foundation we built together could grow our love even deeper in the most amazing way.

The fourth gift all of this has brought us is a change in heart. Once our priest told us we may be praying for the wrong thing and to pray for God to change our hearts, we were able to discern that our calling was different than we imagined for so long. We, as humans, can become so blinded by our own wants and perceived needs that we forget we have no control. In our case, it was a loud and abiding call to adoption. We are now traveling down a new path that is still quite narrow and difficult at times to navigate. I also recognize, however, that this new path is indeed glorious as it is filled with light, beauty, and joy because of the gifts we have received along the way.

I urge you to find your gifts along your own difficult journey. They may be the same as ours and they may be unique to you. But remember, there are many gifts, and you are most certainly not alone. We pray for you every night and walk beside you in spirit. May God grant you peace and the ability to find your gifts along the way.

Katy Downey and her husband live in Cheverly, Md. She is a teacher for the Archdiocese of Washington.

World Congress of Families Seeks to Strengthen the Family Unit

by Family Research Council

September 26, 2018

Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council, was a speaker at the latest meeting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), held September 14-16 in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine. Peter’s talk described “Five Myths About ‘Gender Identity’” as part of a panel discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses.”

The “Gender Ideology” panel was moderated by Patrick Byrne, President of the National Civil Council in Australia, who is also author of a new book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey. The panel included Stephen Baskerville, a professor at Patrick Henry College who is the author of The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power. Former FRC Fellows Pat Fagan and Allan Carlson (founder of the World Congress of Families) were also among the speakers in Moldova.

FRC renewed its formal partnership with the WCF this year, and Peter has attended all but one of the World Congress events since 2004, speaking in Mexico City (2004) and Salt Lake City (2015).

The event had the active support of the President of Moldova, Igor Dodon (pictured), and Moldovan First Lady Galina Dodon’s charitable foundation “Din Suflet” (From the Soul). President Dodon spoke at the opening and closing ceremonies (despite having survived a rollover car accident just days earlier, after a truck swerved into his motorcade). Dodon declared at the opening session:

[T]he philosophy aimed at strengthening the institution of the family and based on the priority of traditional family values should become an alternative to the actively propagated anti-family ideology. Our motto is: “Every child should be brought up only in a family”. A family should only be regarded as an alliance between a man and a woman, a father and a mother.

Moldova’s Constitution includes reference to the family, with Article 48 stating:

The family shall be founded on a freely consented marriage between a husband and wife, on their full equality in rights and the parents’ right and obligation to ensure their children’s upbringing, education and training.

Dodon also expressed concern over demographic trends in his country, noting, “Over the past 27 years – the years of independence – we have lost up to one third of our population for various reasons.” He warned that if current trends continue, Moldova may lose another third of its population within the next 20 years. For this reason, he has supported policies such as paying subsidies to families that have four or more children. Dodon also officially declared 2019 to be “The Year of the Family” in Moldova.

The theme of the Congress was “The Natural Family: Uniting East and West.” Most of the residents of the former Soviet bloc hold conservative views on social issues, and the last three WCF gatherings have been held in Eastern Europe: in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2016; Budapest, Hungary in 2017; and in Moldova this year.

The World Congress of Families is also significant in bringing together the three main branches of Christianity: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. An elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) also spoke at the event. Moldova is predominantly Orthodox, and representatives of both the Moldovan Orthodox Church and Russian Orthodox Church participated in the event. Many participants, including Peter, attended worship Sunday morning at the Central Orthodox Cathedral in Chisinau, along with President Dodon.

At the closing ceremonies for this year’s Congress, Brian Brown, President of the International Organization for the Family (IOF), which organizes the WCF, announced that the next World Congress of Families will be held in Verona, Italy from March 29-31, 2019.

Lawsuit Targeting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Allowed to Proceed in Michigan

by David Closson

September 17, 2018

On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Dumont v. Lyon, the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, may proceed, finding that the plaintiffs—two same-sex couples who allege they were turned away by certain faith-based placing agencies when they sought to adopt—have standing to sue.

In denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Clinton-appointed District Judge, Paul D. Borman, ruled that the couples have demonstrated plausible Establishment Clause and Equal Protection claims that are “fairly traceable” to the defendant’s practice of entering into contracts with faith-based agencies that operate according to their religious beliefs about marriage. Michigan state law since 2015 has protected the conscience rights of faith-based adoption providers.

In his ruling, Judge Borman explained that because faith-based agencies process 20 percent of the active foster care and adoption cases in Michigan, it is “reasonable to infer that the ability of faith-based agencies to employ religious criteria as a basis to turn away same-sex couples erects at least a 20% barrier to that Prospective Parent Plaintiffs’ ability to adopt or foster a child in the State of Michigan.” Noticeably absent from Judge Borman’s comments on this point is that the ACLU’s clients in the case live closer to four other foster and adoption agencies than St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a co-defendant in the case. All four agencies facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples.

Significant for this case—and others moving forward—Borman cites the Plaintiff’s claim of “stigmatic injury” alongside “practical injuries” as grounds for allowing their Establishment Clause claims to proceed. In addition to claiming that Michigan’s law makes it more difficult for them to adopt, the same-sex couples allege that the state’s practice of contracting with faith-based agencies with religious convictions constitutes a form of harmful discrimination. This is an appeal to “dignitary harm,” a concept that refers to the alleged emotional pain and humiliation suffered when someone disagrees with another’s moral decisions or lifestyle; the notion is increasingly invoked by activists who want to silence dissent from anyone who disagrees with the LGBT agenda.

The longest section in the 93-page ruling was Borman’s rationale for why, in his view, the Plaintiffs have credibly alleged an Establishment Clause violation. The Plaintiffs believe the implementation of Michigan law constitutes an endorsement and promotion of religion which is prohibited by the Establishment Clause. Concurring with the Plaintiffs, Borman employs the second and third prongs of the Lemon test to establish whether Michigan’s law conveys the message that the state endorses the view that opposes same-sex marriage. According to Borman, “The answer is yes.” In an important paragraph he argues that “Plaintiffs plausibly allege and suggest that the State’s practice of contracting with and permitting faith-based child placing agencies to turn away same-sex couples has both a subjective purpose of discriminating against those who oppose the view of the faith-based agencies and objectively endorses the religious view of those agencies that same-sex marriage is wrong.”

Borman also says that while the Establishment Clause does not prohibit Michigan from entering into contracts with religious organizations, the use of religious criteria by faith-based adoption providers suggests “excessive entanglement” between the state and religion. Thus, according to Borman’s opinion, the Defendants will need to prove in the trial phase why current state law protecting faith-based adoption agencies does not constitute an inappropriate promotion of or excessive entanglement of religion.

Turning to the Plaintiff’s Equal Protection claim, Borman is more cautious but permits the claim to proceed to the discovery phase. Notably, he admits the Plaintiff’s burden to prove that Michigan’s law is motivated by anti-gay animus is “admittedly high.”

On one count Borman does rule in favor of the Defendants, finding that the Plaintiffs fail to establish taxpayer standing to assert their Establishment Clause claims. Alongside the same-sex couples, Jennifer Ludolph, a former foster child who also sued the state, objected to the use of taxpayer money to fund child-placing agencies that do not place children in same-sex households due to the provider’s religious convictions on marriage. Borman ruled that all of the Plaintiffs failed to establish taxpayer standing and dismissed with prejudice Ludolph’s claims.

In response to the decision, Mark Rienzi, an attorney with Becket representing St. Vincent said, “Today’s court ruling allows the ACLU’s lawsuit to proceed—a lawsuit aimed at forbidding the state from working with faith-based adoption agencies to help children in need. Such a result would make it much harder for thousands of children to find the loving home they each deserve. Beckett is fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen, and this is just one step along the journey in this case.”

Ohio House Bill 658: Parental Rights are Good for Children

by Madeleine Lucas

July 23, 2018

 

This past February, two Ohio parents lost custody of their teenage daughter after they declined to support medical treatment for her to “transition” to a male. The judge awarded custody to the child’s grandparents, who are supportive of this transition, specifically authorizing the grandparents to place her on their health insurance and petition to change her name. In the wake of this decision, the teen’s parents are now barred from helping their own child through a very difficult and pivotal point in her life. 

This tragic case raises significant questions about parental rights and the role of the state in the cases of children who experience gender dysphoria. The same Ohio judge in her decision observed that “there is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves” and encouraged state lawmakers to consider legislation to address these issues.

Republican state representatives have responded to this call. HB 658 was introduced to the Ohio House in May of this year. The bill operates on the principle that parents have “the fundamental right to care for their child” and sets forth provisions to ensure that parents can act in the ways they determine to be in their children’s best interest.

The legislation prohibits parents’ decisions about gender dysphoria treatments from serving as a determinant of custody in a juvenile court. In addition, it seeks to help facilitate involvement of parents in gender related issues for their children, especially in communication with schools. It requires “government agents” (which includes teachers and counselors) who have “knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria” to provide written notification to the child’s parents. It also requires written parental consent before a child can be administered any treatments for gender dysphoria, thereby keeping parents informed and engaged with important decisions about how to best care for their child.

Opponents have decried the legislation as “anti-trans youth” and as an affront to “child body autonomy.” However, this bill does not deal directly with the prospect of youth undergoing treatments for transition—they still can if their parents consent to it. It simply assures that a child’s parents, not the state, have the authority to make health decisions in the best interest of their child.

At the center of this debate is the idea that parents are better equipped to act in the best interest of their children than the state. Policies that allow the state to remove children from their parents because of disagreements with their favored sexual agenda violate this fundamental principle and ultimately put children at greater risk.

The state can “care” for general matters affecting the people under its jurisdiction; however, the state cannot care for a person in the particular, as a parent or family does. The immediate family has intimate, personal knowledge about their children and has a unique obligation to love them and do what is best for them. The government, by its very nature, is incapable of this kind of care.

Of course, there are situations where parents do not fulfill these obligations to care for their children, as in the cases of abuse and neglect, where the government rightly steps in to rectify those harms. It may be that opponents of this bill believe that denying a child the ability to “transition” counts as abuse, but this is a narrow assessment of the reality that these children face. No one denies that the struggles children with gender dysphoria go through are extremely difficult. However, there are legitimate differences of opinion about how to approach and treat these situations.

It is important to remember that the medical treatments we are talking about are not without permanent consequences and many potential complications. Starting teenagers or younger children on hormone therapy seeks to suppress puberty and will irreversibly affect their development. Gender reassignment surgery is an even more drastic step, since it involves permanent bodily mutilation and loss of physical organs for the rest of these children’s lives. Also, because these medical practices are recent phenomena, little research is available on the long-term consequences of such actions.

These are serious decisions, and it is reasonable to ensure that parents are provided with the best available information regarding the health of their child, and then enabled to make such weighty and irreversible healthcare decisions while they’re still minors. Parents, in exercising their “fundamental right to care for their child,” as HB 658 says, should be able to be with their child as they go through their emotional and psychological struggles, helping them understand the significant consequences of the choices before them. Some parents may choose to start their children on “transitioning” treatments; others may not. Allowing the state to forcibly make this type of decision for parents sets a dangerous precedent, one that infringes on the rights of parents and puts children at risk by taking away familial support systems and care from the only people in their lives who are there to care for and love them for the entirety of their lives.

Those who argue for the so-called “right to transition” drive an unnecessary wedge into the family unit, pitting child against parent. Children who experience gender dysphoria are dealing with complex emotional and psychological issues, and are at higher risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. Times such as these in a child’s life are exactly when they need the presence of family and those who care deeply for them the most. This Ohio legislation helps keep the family together through this difficult time by allowing parents to maintain authority over how to best address issues with their child, instead of ceding that authority to the impersonal state.

Imitating My Father

by Daniel Hart

June 15, 2018

Courtesy of State Library of Queensland

My one-and-a-half-year-old son imitates everything I do these days. “Hey, babes,” I said as I greeted my wife a number of weeks ago. “Hey babes,” he garbled from his high chair a few seconds later. When I left a garbage bag next to the front door one day, he toddled over to it and began attempting to tie the drawstrings together, just as he had seen me do minutes before. Now, to my amazement, he is feeding himself with a spoon. It brings me great joy to watch him carefully position the spoon in his fingers so that he can angle it correctly into his bowl and scoop up food, which he then brings to his mouth with remarkable control and efficiency. It’s as if he saw someone else doing the same thing.

To see my son constantly imitate me is thrilling, humbling, and a bit frightening all at once. It’s exhilarating to know that another human sees me as such an influential presence and role model—I’m excited by the prospect of passing on the passion I have for reading, music, sports, and the knowledge and love of our Father up above. At the same time, I’m realizing more and more the extent to which my words and actions can influence his behavior, which means I really do need to watch what I say and do.

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of all the ways I imitated my own father when I was growing up. I’ll never forget the Saturday he brought me along with him to the local rec center to play pickup basketball when I was around 10. I watched in awe and a little trepidation at how quickly the much larger men moved and passed the ball. I was soon thrown into the mix, and found myself panicking as I tried to keep up. “Stay between your man and the basket,” my dad said. I could tell by the way he played that he took pride in playing good defense. Something clicked for me after that, and I’ve loved playing basketball ever since.

Then there was the beautiful sunny day my dad first showed me how to swing a golf club in our front yard. He explained the proper grip to take, how far away to stand from the ball, how to bring the club back, and the appropriate motion to take on the downswing. As I imitated his golf swing for the first time, I remember a feeling of comfort come over me. Playing golf has been a natural fit and a great source of fulfilment for me from that day on. 

What I am most grateful to my father for is his determination to keep his Catholic faith central in his life. He always wore a dress shirt and tie on Sundays while a large percentage of other men wore jeans and t-shirts. During Mass, he would always sing out the hymns with passion, while many other men in neighboring pews would stand silently with seeming indifference. The reverence he showed during Mass always struck me—his head was often bowed forward, his eyes closed, and his hands clasped together. After the gospel was proclaimed and the congregation took their seats, he would often remain standing for a beat longer than everyone else, as if to take an extra moment to let Christ’s words soak into his soul. I could feel the devotion emanating from within him during Mass, and it rubbed off on me.

The car ride home from Mass would usually entail a heartfelt commentary from him about the priest’s homily. Countless conversations at home about the nature of faith and reflecting on the life of the Holy Family are some of my fondest memories. There were also numerous times that I recall him witnessing to friends and acquaintances who did not share his faith. This has always been something I have greatly admired in him—there was an energy and joy that his faith gave him that he did not want to contain, compelling him to share it with others. There was also fearlessness in the indifference he had to what others might have thought of him. Seeing him take his faith so seriously clearly made a great impression on me. I can see now that it was through my imitation of my father at a young age that I first began to make the Catholic faith my own.

Every father knows that they set an example for their children, but what they perhaps don’t know is how much of an impact they can actually have on them. Part of the reason for this is that it is easy for parents to underestimate how observant their children are, which I have discovered with surprise at my own son’s remarkable ability to imitate me. I doubt that my dad knew the extent to which I was watching him as I grew up. What I have noticed is that this is a common experience. I remember numerous occasions where my sister and I have related our experience of a childhood memory, to which my parents have responded, “Really? You remember that? I didn’t think you noticed” or “That’s funny—I don’t remember it that way!” I have also seen this same interaction happen with my friends and their parents. I have no doubt that when I am advanced in years and I listen to my son’s experiences of childhood, I will be blown away.

In the first verse of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul states plainly: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” For me, this is the perfect encapsulation of what authentic fatherhood should be. God created us in such a way that the father of a family is to be the image of Himself—God the Father. We see this in how a father and mother welcome a newborn child—with love. The first experience of God’s love that a newborn encounters is through the love of their father and mother. As Paul says, the model that fathers need to follow is Christ, the Incarnation of God Himself. But since Christ no longer physically walks the earth, His followers must imitate Him in order to allow His presence to abide in the world. Paul stood as an amazing model for Christ in the early Christian church, and his example was imitated by his followers, who were then imitated by their followers, and so the faith was passed down through the generations. This mission has been passed down to all Christian fathers today—to imitate Christ in order to lead by example for the good of their children and for the good of everyone they encounter.

Thank you, Dad, for your example of Christian manhood. Your witness of faith is something I hope to pass down to my own son, just as you did for me. Happy Father’s Day!

Getting to Know Generation Z

by Marion Mealor

June 14, 2018

For years, researchers have been studying the worldview of millennials and how it differs from the generations before them. More recently, however, a new generation that is just entering their college years is stepping into the spotlight and gaining attention—Generation Z.  Who are they? The simple answer is that they are the 60-70 million people born between 1999-2015 (ages 2-18), making them the second largest generation in America. The more complicated answer, however, encompasses the identity of the most ethnically diverse generation alive today. What is shaping them? What is their worldview? How can we lead them? Based on research conducted by the Barna Group in partnership with the Impact 360 Institute, Jonathan Morrow answers these questions at an FRC Speaker’s Series event yesterday in Washington, D.C.

As Gen Z is growing up, it is vital to know and understand what is shaping them and if they will carry on the cultural and moral trends that defined Millennials. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, asks a very significant question, “Is it possible that many churches are preparing young Christians to face a world that no longer exists?” This is something we must recognize in order to equip Gen Z for the challenges they are sure to face. The percentage of people with a biblical worldview has been in evident decline with each generation, from the Baby Boomers to Gen Z. According to Morrow, only four percent of Generation Z have a biblical worldview, making them the “post Christian” generation. It is important to evaluate whether we are preparing our young people for the world we wish we lived in or the world that actually exists.

Jonathan Morrow, the Director of Cultural Engagement at the Impact 360 Institute, offers some essential mindset shifts needed for leading Generation Z. This generation does not remember a time without interactive screens, and they exemplify the pros and cons of being “digital natives.” Many in this generation need to learn more about how to form relationships with people and how to engage in face-to-face conversations. Today, many young people feel unequipped to defend their faith because they lack the training and knowledge to do so. Morrow pointed out the importance of allowing them to test what they believe by being challenging in their faith, which will give room for it to grow.

Too often, the data of our lives is compartmentalized into different boxes, but one of the best gifts we can give Gen Z is showing them how all these isolated parts work together. Our faith should not start and end when we go to church on Sunday, but instead be integrated into everything we do. One of the positive things about Gen Z is that they have a lot of empathy. Our job is to help them channel that in the direction of virtue. They need to know why they believe what they believe so they can take a stand of faith no matter what they may face. In short, Gen Z needs more connections, more challenge, more training, more integration, and more critical thinking.

Understanding Generation Z is critical if we want to serve, lead, influence, and equip this next generation. The majority of these young people are still heavily influenced by parents, friends, teachers, and churches. They are driven by the desire for success in schooling and careers, and one of the best ways to reach them is vocational discipleship. We can be an ally to this “next, next generation” and continue to direct them to a biblical worldview. In the words of Morrow, “Listen and be present.” For more information and to learn more about Generation Z, be sure to view FRC’s Speaker Series event with Jonathan Morrow.

Marion Mealor is an intern at Family Research Council.

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