To Those Who Wait to Conceive

It saddens me to know couples in their late thirties trying unsuccessfully to conceive. The notion that it is easy to conceive at any age under 40—and perhaps beyond that—has taken firm, but mistaken, hold in our culture.  The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently published a meta-analysis concluding that women’s fertility begins to drop significantly at 32 and drops rapidly at 37.  This study reaffirms a similar 2008 statement by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Most have not heard of these studies.  Many who know the general concept discount it.  The broad postponement of parenthood rests on a series of dubious cultural notions.

Initially, the belief that one has at least until one is 40 to conceive probably gained currency because 40 is a round number. It provides a defined amount of prospective liberty to sample the companion field, develop one’s career, travel and pursue other personal interests.  But the body is calibrated to nature, not round numbers or the fulfillment of bucket lists.  Many of us procrastinate in many aspects of our lives.  Americans manage conception as they do money or weight: they focus on the present and leave little margin for the future.

Americans have widely internalized the notion that, despite many millennia of human history, biology has recently changed and they are suddenly aging better than their parents; fifty is the new forty, etc.  Our parents’ generation may have smoked more, eaten less carefully, not gone to the gym as much, dyed their hair less, not dressed as fashionably and listened to less hip music through their thirties than do their modern counterparts.  But looking slightly younger, having Jay-Z on your I-Pod or being able to run 5Ks does not reset the biological clock or enhance reproductive function.

Further, most Americans are exceptionalists; we think that rules about risk and failure that apply to others don’t apply to us.  Our books and movies foster the belief that the individual is the master of his/her own destiny, and that the force of will can surmount any challenge. Those who have heard of the biological clock think that they will have exceptional reproductive longevity.  Or the exception can become the rule: some think that because their 41 year old neighbor—who has had her first child years before—is pregnant, a first time pregnancy is virtually guaranteed at 38.

Our culture has also developed the dubious notion that it is never too late to try anything.  From the 80-year-old skydiver on down, the “Man Bites Dog” media feeds the notion that any age-based limits on conduct are intrinsically suspect.  Mothers or grandmothers who hint at a fertility end date are dismissed as archaic and insensitive.  But science bears out their concerns.

Our culture also encourages us to believe we can all have it all.  Many men and women postpone childbearing in order to obtain advanced degrees in our formal education-intensive culture, build a career and save money.  But doing so projects parental material desires onto kids, who are as happy playing with a kitchen pan as with a store bought toy and care little about the kind of dwelling they inhabit.  Perhaps some money-making can wait.  It may also be that we can have it all, just not all at one time.  It may also be that we can’t have it all.

Perhaps most fundamentally, the willingness to postpone conception until one’s late thirties is based on the culturally encouraged, but mistaken feminist notion that women and men are equal.  Laws and cultural messages can advance gender equality, but biology need not conform to these notions.

Though it seems paradoxical, because they were so widely touted as boons to women, synthetic birth control and abortion have placed women at a great disadvantage to men.  As both Pope Paul VI prophesied in 1968 and as current Fed Chair/then college professor Janet Yellen chronicled in 1992, these technologies have given full, consequence free (save for STIs) access to multiple women’s bodies for decades.  As long as women remain sexually available, men can outwait women looking critically for Mr. Right and cause her to accept Mr. Right Now in her late thirties.  Men can wait considerably longer for Mrs. Right Now.  It’s not fair, but this scenario plays out frequently.

When fertility is lost to time, Americans rely, as they do in other realms, on technology and public subsidies.  But IVF is fraught with significant, glossed over problems, from the pain and risk of treatments to the complicated pregnancies, embryo surpluses—both in utero and lab frozen—eugenic embryo selection, post-implantation selective reduction, and increased risk of birth defects, as well as great cost to personal and societal medical and insurance resources.

And IVF often fails for those over 35.  By then, a woman’s egg supply and quality have lessened.  Thus, the process is ramped up: eggs are frozen, or harvested from well-pedigreed college students, who risk their health and may endanger their own fertility to enable older women to do what our society typically considers indecent: allow their husbands to have the child of another woman. Like many commercial processes, surrogacy allows child-bearing to be outsourced to low income women in the US and abroad.

Postponing parenthood is a high stakes risk.  Americans should carefully examine the cultural notions and technologies enabling this growing trend.

Mark D. Oshinskie


Mark D. Oshinskie has practiced law in New Jersey since 1985. He is a graduate of Cornell University and earned his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law. While at Rutgers he served as an editor of the Rutgers Law Review.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    I find it astonishing that any country supposedly civilised, should permit human gametes to be treated as articles of commerce or tolerates a market in babies, bespoke or prêt-à-porter. . Why, it may well be asked, should adoption be the subject of judicial oversight, if assisted reproduction and the employment of surrogates is virtually unregulated? Does anyone believe that a child should be the subject and source of a transaction, that civil status should be a matter of private negotiation and that women, especially the poor and those in Third-World countries, should be used as brood-mares for the well-to-do?

    When the issue first came before the French courts on 31 May 1991, a plenary session of the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest civil court, condemned recourse to surrogate gestation by invoking Art 1128 of the Code Civil, which provides that “only things in trade can be the subject of an agreement.” The court regarded as a perversion of the institution of adoption the plenary adoption of a child when this is only “the final phase of an overall process designed to enable a couple to take into their home a child conceived under contract and requiring that child’s abandonment at birth by his or her mother.”

    French law erects further barriers to the commercialisation of the reproductive process. There can be no ownership of human gametes or embryos; this is excluded by Art 16-1 of the Code Civil, which provides that “The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right.” Nor can they be bought or sold, for Art 16-5 reinforces the general prohibition of Art 1128, by providing that “Agreements that have the effect of bestowing a patrimonial value to the human body, its elements or products are void.” Finally, out of an abundance of caution, Art 16-7 provides that “All agreements relating to procreation or gestation on account of a third party are void.”

    • Matt

      We do it because we can. It’s the only explanation that I know of. For whatever reason, our culture’s trust in science has proceeded far enough that “scientifically possible” equals “entirely permissible”. How did we get here?

      • Chris Cloutier


      • Micha Elyi

        How did we get here? Gynolatry! And not just the gynolatry of feminists but also the gynolatry of traditionalist female-firstism and White Knighting. An example of the latter is Mark D. Oshinskie’s smuggling in fault-finding of men for “women remain(ing) sexually available” outside of marriage. Just look around you and you’ll see that female choices, not some powerful sex-hungry masculine will overpowering chaste but weak female minds*, are the root cause of the sluttification of American females.

        *a commonplace caricature of men that forms the basis of most gynolators’ excuse-making for irresponsible female behavior.

  • Captain America

    A great article about an unspoken issue. I married later in life, had a child, fortunately, but it’s a bittersweet thing: we certainly wish we had another 3 or so. It’s a great sadness in my life.

  • The saddest part of my life is that I am the parent of a single child. NOBODY told me this in my 20s, I wasn’t married until I was 29, we had our first child when I was 33 and my wife was 31, and none have come since.
    We’re looking at adopting before I turn 45.

    • MamaK

      I find it odd that no one does the math. A girl typically starts menstruating at around 13 years, premenopausal symptoms kick in usually after 45 and full menopause about 50. So that leaves on average about 30ish years of fertility. Not to be crass, but like a car, you’d think the best mileage out of fertility would be at the upper end, not the lower. Makes basic sense. I conceived three of my children between the ages of 24 and 29, another three in the next 10 years, my 30’s, and one in my 40’s. Perhaps there is a misconception that fertility functions are only used up when conception occurs. Want to conceive? Press the conceive button and the latent fertility gears will start spinning. Doesn’t work that way. Under normal circumstances, as long as a woman is not already pregnant or breastfeeding, her body is trying to conceive every single month until menopause and using up her fertility mileage. Pretty amazing.

      • “premenopausal symptoms kick in usually after 45 and full menopause about 50.”

        That’s the classic view. What this article is saying is that pre-pre menopausal, for some women, can kick in as early as 35. And that being in an area where there is artificial estrogen in the water supply, or taking artificial birth control, can cut fertile lifespan down immensely.

        So waiting to have children until you are 30, you might end up with only one. Waiting until you are 40, you might end up with none.

        • DE-173

          Former girlfriend’s friend: 32. Admittedly rare, but a reminder life is short, unpredictable and uncontrollable.

        • MamaK

          I agree. More and more women are experiencing premenopausal symptoms at a younger age. I was thinking of “normal” circumstances, not the mess we’ve created. A good book to read on this subject is Dr. Lee’s “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause.”

      • DE-173

        There you go, thinking rationally in an emotional world. Consider this: a woman who has her first child at age 35 or later is automatically diagnosed with a condition known as “elderly primigravida”.

        35 is not the new 25 when it comes to having babies, no matter how many times the tabloids have speculated that now 45 year old Jennifer Aniston might be pregnant over the last ten years.

    • RCPreader

      Two things: First, I find it odd that you are acting like you married late if you were 29 and your wife 27. At those ages it’s highly unlikely that age has been the reason why you have only had one child.

      Second, I certainly hope that this is “the saddest part of your life” because you have such a wonderful life! Count your blessings, and those of your child! The fact is that many, many, many people have only one child. Some people even choose to have only one; I know at least one couple who has done this by choice. (I think it’s a poor choice, but I am just noting that some people make it.) My point is, there is nothing terrible about having a single child! Surely you must know plenty of people who are single children; have you spoken with them about this? (Or do you live someplace where everyone gets married at 22 and has a slew of kids? I guess there are places like that, but you should be aware that that is not representative of everywhere!)

      • DE-173

        First, I find it odd that you are acting like you married late if you were 29 and your wife 27.

        According to contemporary social standards, it isn’t “late”. Of course in the course of human history, it is late. Our habits and mores may have changed, but our biology hasn’t.

        • RCPreader

          It is actually not historically late for men. True, it is for women, and that’s what really matters here. But it is not dramatically late. (Looking at the very limited time frame of the past century, people often forget that average marrying ages in the mid-20th century were younger than they were a century ago.) But as for biology, there is not a significant difference in fertility between a 20 and 30 year old woman. It is after that that fertility issues become more prominent.

          • I should note Christopher didn’t come right away in our marriage. I was 32 when he was born, my wife 30. There were other fertility issues apparent *before* that.

          • DE-173

            You miss the point. It’s not when you start, ot’s how long you have.
            A woman who married at 20 in the summer or fall of 1941, stood a good chance of having her husband going to war to the military for four years until 1945. When hubby returned, she was 24, no big deal.
            If she was 30, then she was 34, and IF she became pregnant a couple of months into her 34th year, she was then 35 at the time of birth. A 35 year old having her first child is automaticall diagnosed with the condition “elderly primigravida”.

      • “Two things: First, I find it odd that you are acting like you married late if you were 29 and your wife 27. At those ages it’s highly unlikely that age has been the reason why you have only had one child.”

        I did not say age was the only reason. There are a few competing other reasons, mainly dealing with environment and diet.

        I don’t know plenty of people who were single children- though my wife’s father was, I never discussed it with him.

        I want to live in a place where everyone is married in their early 20s and has a slew of kids; I grew up in such a culture. I find it incredibly sad that so many have accepted something significantly less.

        But we are looking into adoption at this point, and my wife does run a daycare- so we usually have a slew of kids around the house anyway (3 today), despite only one being our own.

  • Connie Boyd

    Why the obsession with whether or not other people have children? Why not just mind your own business and live the best life you can? Some people “postpone” having children because they don’t want to, or because they know they wouldn’t be good parents. That way, they are targeted with phony expressions of compassion for their fertility problems rather than overt shaming and condemnation from moralizing busybodies who can’t stand the thought of anyone else enjoying “consequence-free” sex.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      The article deals with the moral consequences of the choice to “postpone” children. IVF ends up treating children like objects, assembly-line products that are entirely disposable. In this, the whole phenomenon is intimately related to the abortion mentality. This mentality leads in only one direction, to the cheapening of all respect for life, young and old. It concerns everyone, not just couples with a contraceptive mentality.

      • Mark Oshinskie

        Thank you, Tim and most others, for seeing my message clearly. If I had written about cultural attitudes causing overconsumption of food/alcohol or about some cosmetic that had a fraction of the effect on fertility that age has, all would see it as a public service announcement.

        People don’t know how fragile fertility can be and how it can decline even before one feels or looks old. My concern is genuine: I know people I like who are surprised not to conceive post-35. Medical researchers– not me– show that this is common. But this message is not widely conveyed; Americans have been sold a bill of cultural and commercial goods extolling their unbounded youth and their sovereignty over all aspects of their existence.

        As you observe, the reprotech industry is badly cheapening life and this trend is worsening, though some are not thoughtful enough to see it.

        And reprotech is not just a private activity, even in the near term: billions of public insurance dollars are spent on it annually, displacing resources from those with so much less and creating the knowledge, the lab techniques and the law and morality to design and clone humans.

        Our economy does make it hard for young people to be financially independent and to start families with some money in the bank. I think that something needs to be done about that on a society-wide basis. But I think that to be young is to be something close to broke– I speak from some experience here– and that young people should not sacrifice having kids for having a lot of stuff or experiences. Or serial relationships or hook-ups.

    • Scott W.

      Just as one wouldn’t say the Red Cross is “obsessed” with natural disasters, so it is unfair to say telling the truth about the natural and goodness of procreation is an obsession. The truth is that if one isn’t ready for marriage, one isn’t ready for sexual activity; and if one isn’t ready for children, one isn’t ready for marriage. Any other arrangement is like standing in a puddle of gasoline and playing with matches. While you are right that it is not our business to police people, it is our business to warn people against destructive behavior.

    • DE-173

      Why not direct your comments to Planned Parenthood, and HHS?

    • Guest


    • Brad

      When to marry, whether to marry, and whether or not to have children are all matters of choice, so I agree to some extent. People may choose to start trying for children later in life, but they don’t need to be rescued from their ignorance in quite such a patronizing way. They are usually well aware of the chances of conceiving or not.

      • Fred

        Some people are so hyper sensitive, a little joy would go a long way in improving one’s outlook in life. There’s probably about as many reasons as there are people, and nobody is telling anybody what to do, however, like a great many things that are discussed here there are cultural trends worthy of noting and discussing. There are significant consequences for choosing not to have kids or for postponing, and if the foundation for that decision is solely based on serving mammon (note: not for being able to be a responsible provider, but for acquiring “stuff”) over God as a great many do, well, enough said. Expanding on Dr. Timothy observations, too many approach having a child as a fulfillment in a life program plan, i.e. assembly line, rather than a joy and a blessing, and a gift from God. As DE-173 noted, any angst should be directed at the criminal enterprises which destroy innocent life, not those who are struggling to create life who should be in our prayers.

      • DE-173

        “They are usually well aware of the chances of conceiving or not.”

        People are usually aware that getting behind the wheel while under the influence involves catastrophic chances as well, but we spare nothing, including patronization to deter them from turning their car into a 3500 pound unguided missile.

  • Jay

    Please pray for my wife and me. We have been trying to conceive for over a year now. We’ve been doing NFP. We’ve been through tests and nothin his wrong physically so we aren’t sure why we haven’t had a child yet. I pray day and night and it seems like my prayers are falling on deaf ears. We don’t feel rushed, as far as age is concerned. My wife us still in her early 30’s. Please,please pray.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Dear Jay, I will certainly pray for you. But may I also make a suggestion? Junk the NFP, and just relax. My wife and I were married for 30 months before we conceived. (I was 29 when my first child was born, and my wife was 28.) And then, once we had our first child, we had another every 20 months for the next 15 years. If there is nothing physically wrong, you are probably just stressing out over nothing, and that will prevent conception, believe me. In my humble opinion, thermometers and calendars should have no role in the creation of families…

      • Scott W.

        Since Jay expressed no dissatisfaction with NFP, how about we simply pray for him and not turn someone’s difficulties into an NFP football?

        • DE-173

          If I had to guess, I’m guessing it’s not a knock on NFP and the money phrase is “just relax”.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          Bit of an overreaction, don’t you think? Jay shared a problem, I offered an opinion, nothing more.

          • Scott W.

            Perhaps, but you should be aware that NFP can be quite contentious among Catholics both pro and con and it would be unfortunate if Jay’s problem was diverted into kerfuffle over it. I offered my comment to pre-empt an overreaction. Between prayers and opinions, let me suggest prayers take the front seat. Especially considering that Jay said nothing that implied that the problem was with NFP.

            • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

              Jay did not state that the problem was with NFP. However, it is common knowledge that stressing out over fertility issues definitely makes it more difficult to conceive. Any doctor will confirm this. I am among those who believe that NFP, when used to try to conceive, may create just such anxiety. I do not have personal experience of this, since my wife and I had no reason to even look into NFP. However, I have a very large family, with many siblings, countless nieces and nephews, and so on. Some people in my extended family have had difficulty conceiving, and it is their collective opinion (with only one exception) that NFP was not only not helpful, but was a hindrance to conception. Anyway, I am not judging the validity of NFP or the intentions of anyone who uses it as the Church prescribes. And I agree with you… prayer is more important than opinions.

      • Jay

        Thanks for your advice Dr. Williams. I will certainly remember them.

      • Alison

        Dr. Williams, is there any validity to the speculation that a woman’s fertility is greater if she has already had one child? If a woman has a child in her early 20s, is it easier for her to have subsequent children in her late 30s? Do fertility rates only apply to first pregnancies?

    • DE-173

      Do the basics. Take a look at your jobs. Are they never-stop exercises in stress?
      Get the laptop off your thighs, wear boxers. If you or your wife are on medication, see if any present fertility risks. If either, or both of you are exercise junkies, dial it back, your body doesn’t understand that you are running 10 miles a day for fitness, it thinks you are in flight. Make sure you get enough zinc and other vitamins and minerals that affect the reproductive system.

      In a totally different area, a wise old Priest once counseled me, “you can’t make it happen, you have to LET it happen.”

      I worked with a couple that tried for years to conceive with no known conditions that would prevent conception. After years of efforts, they gave in and began adoption proceedings. Three weeks later, the husband who was part of my daily lunch group, came in grinning like the Cheshire cat, telling us “my boys can swim” and “the stick turned blue”

      He told us that their doctor said he’d seen this before and believed he believed that stress played an role in conception.

      Book a vacation in a place where you haven’t a care in the world for a while, if your circumstance permit.
      We’ll all remember you in prayer.

      • Jay

        Thank you for your advice.

        • DE-173

          I’m sure a prayer will be more valuable.

      • Peter

        DE-173., this advice is patronizing, useless, and misleading. I am surprised you didn’t tell men to stop carrying cell phones too. The statistical evidence shows that male and female fertility declines over time, more abruptly for women but sharply enough for men as well. Prayer by all means, but zinc supplements aren’t going to do it for those who are 40 and still hoping to marry before they qualify for social security. Nor for those who are married but had to wait first until their biological clocks ran out. Let me tell you, charitably, that if you read the blogs for infertile people they find comments like these particularly insulting.

        • DE-173

          What’s patronizing and useless is your response. In your urge to

    • ColdStanding

      Here’s a little tip when it comes to praying fervently. I’m no spiritual adviser, so take it for what it is worth.

      Those steeped in the science of the saints say that you must follow Christ’s example and enter the tomb. Remember, this is a mystical concept, so it applies to many different facets of the faith which is revealed to us. Essentially, this means that, after a period of intense prayer (passion), you must commend your prayer into the hands of our Heavenly Father, and die to it. Let it lay in the tomb, as it were, for a period of time. Black it out. Let it go. We can completely trust our Heavenly Father to bring our prayer to life again.

    • MamaK

      Don’t go the MD route to get yourself checked out. They’ll rarely think outside the box. My sister was not able to conceive and she was told nothing was wrong, everything was normal. Normal?! It’s not normal for a healthy woman not to conceive. It may be common, but it’s not normal. So further research needs to be done. Go to a doctor who specializes in nutrition and natural medicines. Sometimes all a woman needs to do is to put on a little weight and/or stop vigorous exercise. Or give up coffee (I’m serious). The founders of a vitamin company – – had problems with fertility and put out a great catalog with nutrition articles (no, I’m not related and don’t get paid). Or talk to a midwife. There is a wealth of knowledge out there not contained in an OBGyn’s four walls.

      • DE-173

        Decades ago, some genius decided that the training techniques used by college age male runners should be applied to women. (Syracuse U?)

        While their times not equal their male counterparts, they did lose a a lot of weight. They began appearing at the infirmary complaining about amenorhhea.

        It turns out that God is kind of smart and knows that body fat is that thing that serves as a caloric reserve for a developing child-important for the millenia when our ancestors weren’t asking “what SHOULD I eat tonight”, but “I wonder IF I’ll eat tonight”.Hence, the female body is intricately set up to conceive only when there’s caloric protection for the developing child-adequate body fat.

  • Kate

    There are many, many women out there who are heart broken that they haven’t had children or that they have had only one. Or that they are not married. This is where you should be careful in making judgments. There is incredible selfishness everywhere and it has ripple effects on society in general. There are so many top women, loving, selfless women who are not married who in a different era would have been mothers with large families.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      Agreed. The Church has been so obsessed with gay “marriage” lately that it no longer promotes marriage of the singles or never marrieds anymore. Once there was a culture in the Church that made singles a priority. Now the Bishops just expect marriage to just happen on it’s own.

      • Peter

        I couldn’t agree with this more. See my comments above. We might not be where we are on the definition of marriage if the Church had an active pro-marriage culture, attentive to the needs of practicing Catholic singles who want to get married within the context of Church law. Marriage doesn’t just happen on its own, especially in today’s society.

    • Micha Elyi

      “There are many, many women out there who are heart broken that they
      haven’t had children or that they have had only one. Or that they are
      not married. …
      There is incredible selfishness everywhere” especially among feminists, their fellow travellers, and the women who look the other way as feminists preach and coerce what those women know to be false.

      The “loving, selfless women who are not married who in a different era would have been mothers with large families” can offer up their sorrowful disappointment in reparation for the wrongful choices of their fallen sisters.

  • Pingback: Pope Francis: Seeking Jesus Outside of Church Bad - Big Plpt()

  • Jim Dorchak

    I think one of the BIG problems is that women and men for some reason think they can chemically turn off their reproductive organs for 2/3 of their life and then expect that they can throw a switch (stop taking contraception) and boom like a 15 year old in the back seat of a car you will get pregnant?

    Stop taking pills which stop your natural reproductive life.
    Follow Gods plan. Be what you are called to be, and become what is truly your nature in your stage of life.
    IF YOU FIGHT NATURE THEN YOU WILL LOSE, and then you will be unexplainable sad.

    Second: These poor women who can not have children later in life can not find a child to adopt. Wonder why? Who will care for these women and men in their older years when they have no children to love them when they are no longer beautiful. Do not say government as government does not love people it administrates, which is a fate which I would not wish on anyone.

    In my view, It is as tall as a red wood tree, as big as an elephant, and as small as a baby, why women can not get pregnant to me. Is it to you?

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Here is a curious thing. It sometimes happens that beneficiaries wish to break a trust, but there is a gift to the issue of a woman, currently childless and over 50. So, the trustees take out a single-premium insurance policy against the remote risk of her having a child and distribute the assets.

    Fifty years ago, the premium on such policies was purely nominal, just to cover administration expenses. Nowadays, the premiums demanded, even for a sixty-year-old are substantial – 3%-5% of assets. The underwriters’ views have obviously been coloured by the advent of assisted reproduction.

  • Ladasha Smithson

    I really doubt that people are willing delaying raising children into there thirties. It just so happens that our society has pushed adolescence into our late 20s.
    I wanted desperately to marry young and to have a large family. I tried very hard to insure that would happen too. I went to a University with a strong and large Catholic presence and a newman center and put myself out there in the dating world. Sadly God had other plans, I was always rejected, not a single date. The newman center was filled with already married couples who were uninviting and straight up unkind to singles. Many ‘Catholic” youth groups had a hard rule that you couldn’t date within in the group (in fact I can’t think of an exception).
    Some people suffer through all and end up getting married in their 30s because there was no option of marriage in their 20s. Quite a few, like myself end up NEVER getting married, not because we didn’t try, we tried incredibly hard, but because it wasn’t God’s will.
    I wish the Church would stop assuming that everyone who married late willing delayed marriage or that everyone who had children late willing delayed becoming parents. We aren’t the selfish bunch that the Church has lately been painting us as.

    • Aldo Elmnight

      “The newman center was filled with already married couples who were uninviting and straight up unkind to singles.”
      If by this you mean they would not invite you into their social circle then I would agree with them. Married men should not be socializing with single women and married women should not be socializing with single men. Married couples should only be socializing with other married couples. It is naive to think that men and women gain complete control of their concupiscence when they get married.

      • Ladasha Smithson

        That’s like saying only the rich should hang out with the rich. Mother Teresa said that being lonely and unloved was the worst form of poverty. Didn’t Jesus say to befriend and help the poor?

        • DE-173

          Unless you are married, you don’t understand how important trust is, or how easily it can be injured. If you love your husband or wife, you should think about your vows (which normally include something along the lines of “and foregoing ALL others”) every day.

          I don’t socialize with single women. I once received an text invitation from a former co-worker to “have a drink” while visiting the town we where we were employed together. It might have been nice to catch up on the old gang, but I wasn’t going to risk one drink turning into two, two drinks becoming “it’s good to see you again” becoming “you look great”…

          When it comes to sex and food, people are creatures of opportunity.

  • Pingback: Dawson, Piketty, Scruton, Enlightenment, and all that Jazz. | The Ordeal of Consciousness()

  • Peter

    The problem is that faithful Catholics are hung out to dry on the dating scene and there is no one, repeat no one, in the institutional Church who seems to recognize this is an issue. There are lots of faithful Catholics, men and women, who would like to marry and have children, but guess what? We can’t, in many cases. It is really, really hard to find a Catholic date, let alone a Catholic spouse. I went to Newman Society/Theology on Tap-type events for years and found they are just social gatherings for recent college graduates who haven’t got marriage on their minds and think they have years, even decades before it is time to get serious. I am not aware of a single person, man or woman, who has gotten a date at such events, and in fact, if you are a man over 30, it is a social faux pas to ask for a date. It’s like, “We’re Catholics, we don’t date here.” Besides, most of the people there you have never met before and will probably never meet again. Online dating, despite all the hype, is nearly as bad. It’s no surprise that singles have become a majority of the adult population in secular society. But you could never tell this from going to a Catholic parish, where the big weekend masses are all families with children only. There is never a prayer for single people seeking marriage–ever. Will no one wake up and realize what a terribly discouraging message this is to Catholic singles? I fear that many singles leave as a result, and that countless souls are lost, not to mention the next generation of people who should be sitting in the pews. To any discouraged, depressed, and lonely singles out there, I do want to say, take heart! Hang in there! But speak out LOUDLY, or we will never change this unfortunate situation. To you pastors, would it hurt to say something about singles once in a while? To you bishops, would it hurt to start communicating on a diocesan level that the time to marry and have children is much shorter than society wants to tell us? To the married people, why not make an introduction once in a while? And please understand that never-married singles over 30 often feel ostracized and frozen out of parish life, even if you don’t feel that you are consciously doing so. If you are waiting for a prompt from the pulpit, then maybe routine prayers for singles a few times a year would get lay society to do its job.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      I agree with everything you’ve said. The Bishops are always saying how important marriage is to society, the great stabilizer, the domestic church, and a reflection of God’s existence of the trinity. Yet they don’t act like marriage is important at all. Nearly every youth group or singles group I’ve been exposed to makes you swear not to date anyone you meet from the group. If that is the case why bother going?

      Another problem is that the Bishops and the church “community” leaves the creation of all these badly needed single ministries to the singles. But at the same time the church “community” looks down on self-serving ministries, you just can’t win. At the same time these single men and women who risk so much to create these ministries often more often than not, just don’t know what they are doing wrong in the dating scene. How could they possible expect to help others if they can’t help themselves?
      Many of them come from broken families, single parents, or dead marriages. They don’t know what a healthy, Godly courtship looks like.

      If married couples want to see their own children, it needs to they who promote marriage amongst young singles. They can guide them and tell them what they are doing wrong. They have wisdom of dating and marriage that singles can’t share with each other. They can be the examples of Godly marriage to those who don’t have one.

      But all to often they avoid us singles like the plague. It’s heart breaking.

      • DE-173

        “Nearly every youth group or singles group I’ve been exposed to makes you swear not to date anyone you meet from the group.”

        If I were single and I heard that, I’d move on. It might keep the group drama free, but it’s not in the interest of the members, assuming all are free to marry.

  • Scott

    No other religious denomination is so indifferent, cold, sometimes even hostile to its single members as the Catholic Church. Why should this be? Why is the teaching so great and the implementation so non-existent? In the meantime, where are the singles in Church? Where are the young couples? Where are the children? If you wanted to do something about infertility, you should get started earlier.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      Look at all the replies I got. I wrote about how awful singles are treated in catholic communities, and most of the replies were defending the idea that singles are 3rd class members of the church.