Laity Should Act When Clergy Won’t

Let’s face it: The 2015 Synod on the Family is a mess. I was one who gave Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. I now have my doubts about him. And I have no doubt at all that some of the men surrounding him are either heretics or lunatics or both.

The real question for us as lay people is this: what exactly can we do about it? We do not have full information about what is going on over there. Giving advice to cardinals and bishops is not likely to work. Screaming at them even less so.

As faithful lay people, we believe all that the Church has taught about marriage, family, and human sexuality. We do not want to see the Church water down that teaching, or surrender to the Sexual Revolution. It would be tragic indeed, if she did so now, right at the moment when the wisdom and beauty of her ancient teaching is becoming daily more evident from experience.

So what are we, as faithful lay people, to do about this? What has the best chance of cutting through the noise and having an impact?

To answer this question, let’s back up a minute. The Sexual Revolution has harmed millions of people. Just to take one of the issues most immediately before the Synod: divorce and unmarried parenthood.

  • About 1 million children per year have experienced their parents’ divorce, every year since 1972.
  • Over a million children have been born to unmarried parents, every year since 1988. In 2008 alone, 1.7 million children were born to unmarried parents.
  • By 2010, about 20 million children were living in single-parent households.
  • These are just the children in the United States. Many other developed countries have similar rates of family brokenness.

We now know that kids are not “resilient.” They do not “get over it.” We know this from decades of careful research. We know if from experience. In fact, according to Judith Wallerstein, author of a 25-year study on the long-term legacy of divorce, the impact of divorce on children does not diminish with time. It “crescendos” in young adulthood, as they try to form relationships and marriages and families of their own.

Kids need their own parents. I learned from my experience as an adoptive mom, a foster mom, and a birth mom, all kids want the same thing. They want their parents to be there for them, and be appropriate parents. No matter how old the kids are, no matter what their parents have done, all kids of all ages, long for their parents to get it together and be good parents.

The Sexual Revolution has taught us that adults are entitled to have the sex lives they want, with a minimum of inconvenience. What we never hear anyone come out and say is: “And kids have to accept whatever the adults chose to give them.” You don’t usually hear people blurt out that last part, because we would be too ashamed of ourselves.

The Sexual Revolution promised fun and freedom. It delivered hurt and heartbreak. With the possible exception of a handful of predatory Alpha Males, everyone in society has been harmed: men, women and children, rich and poor alike.

I will let you in on a secret: the reason kids keep getting separated from their parents is because the victims, the kids, are not allowed to speak for themselves. As children, their parents expected them to accept whatever was going on around them, without complaining. And children, eager to please their parents, fearful of losing the parents’ love, kept quiet. Even as adults, the children of divorce and the children of unmarried parents, are expected to keep quiet, and go along with the program.

Silencing the victims has been crucial to the success of the Sexual Revolution. If you doubt me, consider these facts:

  • The state of California just passed legislation requiring pregnancy care centers to announce that they do not do abortions, and to post signs telling women where they can get abortions. Why? The Revolutionaries cannot stand the thought of women seeking alternatives to abortion, or regretting their abortions. Women who do not fit the “narrative” must be silenced.
  • The Huffington Post has a regular feature called “Blended Family Friday.” Their stated purpose is, I’m not making this up, “Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!”  Is there a comparable site for children of all ages who were miserable in stepfamilies? To the best of my knowledge, the Ruth Institute’s Kids Divorce Stories is the only thing remotely like it.
  • How about all the career women, who put off having children for too long? I estimate that there are over 500,000 women with Masters degrees or more education, who have impaired fertility. What does the Sexual Revolution have to offer them? Commercial third party reproduction, a complete separation of sex from love and reproduction, is supposed to make up for all the losses we experience.

The solution is for all the victims of the Sexual Revolution to speak up, and tell the truth about how they were harmed. Telling that truth is the first step away from being a victim, to becoming a survivor. Anyone of us can take that step.

What does this have to do with the chaos over at the Synod? Most of the bishops know perfectly well that the Church’s teachings are good and humane. But they too, have been reluctant to speak out, and to preach this good news. Why? Because they are afraid of us, the laity!

True enough, many faithful people have been trying to support them all along. But look at it this way: if the souls wounded by the Sexual Revolution were visible, we wouldn’t be having this fight at all. All decent people would abandon the Sexual Revolutionary ideology in a heartbeat.

While it is awful that so many people have been harmed by the Sexual Revolution, we are undaunted. We are turning that very horror into an advantage: millions of us can testify about the false promises of the Sexual Revolution.

The elites in media, academia, law, and government cannot silence all of us. If everyone who has been harmed by the Sexual Revolution spoke out about it, we would change the world.

And eventually, even the most reluctant of the Catholic bishops might get the hint that the Church has been right all along, and find the courage to say so.

(Illustration credit: Sturt Krygsman)

Jennifer Roback Morse

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Jennifer Roback Morse is the founder and president of The Ruth Institute, a non-profit organization focused on keeping the family together, protecting the rights of children and helping the millions of people who have been harmed by family breakdown. She is the author, most recently, of The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims (2015). To hear more from Dr. Morse, sign up for her e-newsletter here and receive a free gift.

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