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Archive for December, 2013

Duck Dynasty, Dignity, and God’s Design for Us

Friday, December 20th, 2013

By: Vincent Weaver

In recent days, there has been quite an uproar over the patriarch of Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson, commenting on homosexual acts in an interview with GQ magazine.  For those comments, he has been indefinitely suspended from the show.  Though some of his comments were rather crude, to be sure, they weren’t what most rational people would consider “hateful” or “mean”.  In fact, one could view these comments as quite instructive.  Let me explain.

First, though most media outlets utterly failed to make this distinction, Mr. Robertson was clearly speaking about sexual behaviornot homosexuality itself.  Not only that, he wasn’t just singling out homosexual behavior, but rather, sexual immorality overall.  There are two things we can all glean from that:

1)    We should always recognize the dignity of every person first and foremost.  We have that dignity because we’re created in God’s image and likeness, and that “True Worth” that we have never changes or goes away.  However, not only do we have a right, but an obligation to speak out against behaviors that are destructive and place us at risk of our eternal salvation.  It is not loving to stand by and watch someone jeopardize their eternal soul – it’s cruel and it’s cowardly. 

     We should never single-out homosexual acts while turning a blind eye to other behaviors that are contrary to God’s plan for our sexuality (i.e. cohabitation, adultery, etc.)  All misuses of our sexuality are harmful to us.  Period.

Specifically, Mr. Robertson used a phrase that is interesting.  He says homosexual acts are “…just not logical”.  In striving to understand God’s logic (and not our own), this is a correct statement.  Defying natural law in the way our bodies are made is “not logical”.  Adultery is “not logical”, nor is cohabitation, because our bodies are saying to the other “I’m committed to you.  I’m a part of you.”  When, in fact, that’s a lie under those circumstances – it’s illogical. 

However, I would propose that Mr. Robertson didn’t take this analysis far enough.  Even within marriage, we can fall short of God’s plan for us.  God gave us two gifts in our lives that were meant to be both life-giving and pleasurable.  Those two are eating (and drinking) and the marital embrace.  When we eat (or drink) solely for pleasure, and then don’t allow our bodies to derive the natural, life-giving outcomes, we do damage.  Why is bulimia harmful?  It seeks pleasure without affording the life-giving outcomes.  Therefore, it’s naturally considered a “disorder”, and even the pleasurable aspect soon disappears.

But, what about sex within marriage that does the same thing?  If a couple engages in the marital embrace while using contraception (or voluntary sterilization), we are seeking pleasure without accepting the other part of God’s gift – the “unitive” or life-giving aspect.  Even when the act does not result in a baby, it’s intended to be life-giving to the relationship.   Is it any wonder that couples who are not “open to life” within their marriages have much higher divorce rates?  Another way to look at this is that it appears that contraception is present in over 99% of the failed marriages being addressed in annulment cases.  99%.  When you purposefully remove the procreative aspect, you risk losing the unitive aspect, as well. 

So, may we all be loving enough to speak to others about God’s beautiful design for our gift of sexuality.  But, may we all embrace the entire message and recognize the dignity we all have as persons – as children of our loving God.

(Want more information on the problems with contraception?  Click on this link to listen to Dr. Janet Smith’s “Contraception: Why Not?” – probably the best presentation in existence on this subject.)

How Might Parents Address Those “Discovering Body Parts” Questions?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

(Family Honor Editor’s Note: This is the eighth installment in a series on how parents might consider addressing various challenging scenarios with their kids.  In addressing situations like the one presented below, the important thing is to respond in an honest, age-appropriate way that incorporates a sense of awe and wonder for being made in God’s image and likeness – not just offering a lecture or a biology lesson.  We as parents must be perceived as askable, credible, warm, and caring for our children to want to seek us out for answers to such questions.  For a much more comprehensive way of approaching these types of issues, please consider attending a full “Leading & Loving” program in your area.  See our program schedule here, or contact us about how to bring a program to your area.)

Parents!  What do you do when your son starts to notice his body parts?

Your 4-year-old son comes into the den holding his pants down and displaying his erect penis and says, “Hey Dad, look what I can do!” What would you say to him? 

First, (with a smile on my face), I’d say “Pull up your pants!”

“You’re silly!  Come here and let me help you.  I’m glad you are showing me this but we really need to keep our private parts covered unless we are in the bathroom – okay, Bud?  But, let me tell you about why your penis does that.  This is just part of the way God made your body.  Most of the time your penis is small and soft.  But sometimes it gets bigger and harder like it is now.  In a few minutes it will get small again.  My penis does the same thing. That’s just how God made us because we’re boys.”

If he asks why, you could simply say it’s just how God made you so that someday you will be ready to be a man.  If he persists, that is a great time to say, “This is something you will understand better when you’re older, and we’ll talk about it more then.  If you ever wonder anything else about your body, I’m always glad to have you ask questions – and so is mommy.”

Tough Questions to Address with Children – What about IVF?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

(Family Honor Editor’s Note: This is the seventh installment in a series on how parents might consider addressing various challenging scenarios with their kids.  In addressing situations like the one presented below, the important thing is to respond in an honest, age-appropriate way that incorporates equal doses of Truth and compassion.  We as parents must be perceived as askable, credible, warm, and caring for our children to want to seek us out for answers to such questions.  For a much more comprehensive way of approaching these types of issues, please consider attending a full “Leading & Loving” program in your area.  See our program schedule here, or contact us about how to bring a program to your area.)

Parents!  How would you address IVF with your 8-year-old child?

You have become friends with a family who has 2 children that are your children’s ages and go to school together.  You hear them talking one day when they are at your house playing.  8-year-old Claire tells your 8-year-old daughter Katie that her parents say that she is very special because of the way she was born.  Claire tells Katie that her parents wanted to have a daughter so they did something called IVF where they could start her outside and make sure she was a girl before she went inside her mom to grow until she was born. 

(Note: Parents, you may indeed need to deal with this eventually whether it be for a specific situation like this or in general when children begin to hear news reports or are introduced to IVF in biology class and other venues.) 

First, try to see if Katie was even paying attention.  (Sometimes kids tend to gloss over things and not really hear them.  Perhaps that’s how God protects them.)  Try asking, “What did you and Claire talk about today?”  Katie might not have been paying attention, or might have passed off Claire’s comments as confused or silly, knowing that God puts babies in a mother’s womb.  If Katie does not seem phased, it might be a good idea to just let it go hoping that some more time passes before you must address such a delicate issue.

Another question you might try, “I thought I heard Claire tell you something today about how she was born that sounded kind of confusing.  Did you understand what she was talking about?”  This should give you a clear idea about whether or not you need to talk about IVF.  If Katie did hear and take in what Claire said, it might be better to address it with her, even though it’s delicate, so that she is not simply accepting incorrect information as true.  If you determine you need to talk about it, try something like this:

“Well dear, this is kind of complicated, and you won’t understand it all, but I’ll explain it the best I can.  You know that God makes teeny, tiny people, and puts them in a mommy’s womb.  And to do that, God uses a tiny little part of a mommy and a tiny little part of a daddy.  When these two parts come together, God has made a new person, and a baby is growing in the mommy’s womb.”  (Be sure to savor this moment if this is your first discussion with so many details.  This is a beautiful thing to share, and the beauty should not be missed because of the yucky stuff you are being forced to go into shortly.  Take the time to marvel at God’s creation.)  “Isn’t that amazing!”

“Well, something very sad has happened.  Scientists and doctors have figured out how to take the little part from the mommy and the little part from the daddy, and put them together in a little dish in a hospital.  Then a doctor takes the teeny tiny little person and puts it inside the mommy.  This is a very sad thing because this is not the way God intended for things to be.  Scientists and doctors should not be doing this.  But it’s very important to remember that God made Claire.  Even though she came into the world differently than most people, God still made her and He loves her.  And we also need to remember that even though Claire’s mommy and daddy did something that was not part of God’s plan, they probably don’t know that it is wrong.  Lots of people in the world are very confused, or don’t know God’s laws.  We should remember to pray for Claire’s parents, and the doctors who do these things.  I know this might sound confusing and that’s okay.  Some things are hard to understand until you are older.  But, if you have any questions, you should always ask mommy and daddy about them.  Also, it would be best for you to not bring this up to Claire or her parents.”

For more information on what the Church teaches about In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), click on this link: http://www.catholic.com/video/why-is-in-vitro-fertilization-wrong and watch the video included there.  As mentioned above, we’d also strongly encourage you to consider attending a Family Honor “Leading & Loving” program to discover an objective, straight-forward way to address this and other challenging topics on sexual morality.

How Might a Parent Confront Pornography with their Child?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

(Family Honor Editor’s Note: This is the sixth installment in a series on how parents might consider addressing various challenging scenarios with their kids.  In fielding situations like the one presented below, the important thing is to respond in an honest, age-appropriate way that incorporates a sense of awe and wonder for being made in God’s image and likeness – not just offering a lecture or a biology lesson.  We as parents must be perceived as askable, credible, warm, and caring for our children to want to seek us out for answers to such questions.  For a much more comprehensive way of approaching these types of issues, please consider attending a full “Leading & Loving” program in your area.  See our program schedule here, or contact us about how to bring a program to your area.)

Parents!  What would you do in a situation involving pornography?

You walk in the room unannounced and your 10-year-old son quickly hits the escape button on the computer but not before you see a full frontal nude picture of a woman.

  1. First, clarify how the child happened upon the nude picture.  Random? Goes to this website regularly? How did he know to go there? How often he had been looking at porn?  This should not be an interrogation but a calm exploration.
  2. How did he feel about looking at these pictures? Curious? Uncomfortable? Ashamed?  Why did he escape when you walked into the room?
  3. Validate that there is a natural curiosity and a desire to understand the changes, the differences, how things work. Then, depending on his responses, consider the discussion below:

It’s okay to be interested in the human body.  The body was made a certain way by God, so it’s good. In fact, in the Bible, God tells us that the human person was made in His image and we are very good.  It’s the body that actually shows us the person.  What I mean by that, is the person you are and the body you have are the same. They are so “together” that how you treat the body affects the person. It’s kinda like if someone were to tease you about having big ears, or a funny sounding voice. Wouldn’t that make you mad?  If they just pick out one part of you, it doesn’t feel very good, because you know there’s so much more to you than that. You’re funny; you like to play soccer; you honor and serve God as an altar boy; and you’ve been getting all A’s and B’s this year.  Now doesn’t that sound more like the whole Josh? Isn’t that how you want people to see you?  Well, unfortunately, those kind of images keep us from seeing the whole person. They can never show us if that person loves God, is getting good grades in school, likes to paint, or plays basketball. The way in which those pictures were taken doesn’t honor the person, either. All those pictures show is some special parts of the body. And if we keep looking at them, we don’t notice the person, just their body parts.  We’ve reduced the person to just parts, and that’s not how God wants us to see people.”

A Fresh Look at Divorce Statistics: Signs of Hope and Concern

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

(Family Honor Editor’s Note: This article is being re-posted here with permission.  The original article can be accessed by clicking here which will bring you to the original source: www.foryourmarriage.org – a initiative sponsored by the USCCB.  The author of the article is Emily Macke.)

 

November 6, 2013

For years, the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce has been acknowledged as a common fact.  These statistics, particularly as they relate to Catholics, are being challenged by a Catholic research center.

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, a non-profit research center dedicated to conducting social scientific research about the Catholic Church, recently released a new analysis of statistics about the number of Catholics who have divorced.

CARA reports that the 1-in-2 number reported so widely is sloppily calculated by dividing the number of divorces per year by the number of marriages per year.  In 2011, there were 3.6 new divorces per 1,000 and 6.8 marriages per 1,000.  The calculated rate of divorce for 2011 using this method would be 53%.  In order to find a more accurate annual divorce rate, a longitudinal study over decades would be necessary, according to CARA blogger Mark M. Gray.

Does one’s identification as Catholic make a difference to one’s likelihood of divorcing?  In 2012, studies showed that 20% of Catholics had ever been divorced versus 26% of all adults.  Twenty-four percent of those with no religious affiliation had ever been divorced, 31% of Protestants and 26% of those with other religious affiliations.

At first glance, it appears to be good news, for both Catholic and non-Catholic alike.  Yet what these numbers hide is the lower rate of marriage today.  In the 1970s, nearly 75% of adults were married.  Today that number is 52%.  Since one cannot divorce unless first being married, the lower percentages do not necessarily indicate a more positive view of the lifelong commitment of marriage.  It is also important to note that these statistics are not measuring the percentage of marriages that end in divorce, since some people may have wedded more than once.

In fact, the divorce statistics based on religious affiliation are based on all adults, not upon all married adults.  Looking at the number of adults who have ever been married and have divorced, the statistics are not as promising.  While 28% of Catholics who have ever married have divorced, 36% of all adults who have ever married have experienced divorce.  The percentage of ever married adults with no religious affiliation who have divorced is 42%, Protestants are 39% and those with other religious affiliations are 35%.  Clearly, Catholics have the lowest percentage, but these numbers still only tell part of the story.

In 2011, only 7.7% of U.S. marriages were held in a Catholic church, although a quarter of the population is Catholic. [1] CARA has expressed interest in studying any possible link between not marrying in the Church and divorce.

Another question raised by CARA is the number of divorced Catholics who have sought a declaration of nullity (annulment), which finds that a valid marriage never came into existence.  Fifteen percent of Catholics who had obtained a civil divorce said they had also sought an annulment.  Although this seems like a low number, United States annulment cases account for 49% of the worldwide Church’s annulment cases, compared with the next highest countries – Poland (6.4%), Brazil (5.6%) and Italy (5.1%).

Although CARA has not studied the impact of marrying in the Church (versus simply checking “Catholic” as one’s religious affiliation) on one’s likelihood of divorcing, they did produce an interesting report regarding the attitudes of Catholics toward marriage.  Released in 2007, “Marriage in the Catholic Church: A Survey of U.S. Catholics” catches a glimpse of Catholic adults’ understanding of indissolubility, fidelity, divorce, openness to children and other related topics.  The survey also inquires about marriage preparation practices and attitudes toward marriage enrichment.

While the national divorce rate may be under the oft-quoted 50%, and divorced Catholics represent the lowest percentage of U.S. adults ever divorced, CARA’s research has given the Church clarity about the continuing need to engage adults about the meaning of marriage and how to remain faithful to one’s spouse for a lifetime.

[1] Note that since a Catholic may petition for a dispensation to hold a Catholic wedding in a location other than a Catholic church, for example a wedding between a Catholic and a non-Christian, the number of valid Catholic marriages may be higher than those marriages celebrated in a Catholic church building.