The Ruth Institute, which has focused primarily on defending marriage to college students, has changed its mission and now hopes to create a mass social movement to counteract the ill effects of the sexual revolution, such as the breakdown of family life, including cohabitation, divorce and unwed pregnancies.
Speaking with Register correspondent Sue Ellen Browder, Ruth Institute founder Jennifer Roback Morse recently explained why she has drawn up a petition urging bishops at the 2014 Synod on the Family in October to “remember the victims of the sexual revolution.”
The institute is also holding a Feb. 15 conference in San Diego to present its vision for “Healing the 21st-Century Family.”
We see the effects of the sexual revolution all around us, with the hook-up culture, high pregnancy rates among single women, same-sex “marriage,” etc. What is the sexual revolution at its root trying to do?
The sexual revolution is trying to disconnect sex, babies and marriage from each other. That’s the agenda.
Which groups have been pushing this sexual revolution?
A mix of people have promoted it: population controllers (who think there are too many poor people); hipsters (who just want to be libertines); radical feminists who think babies are keeping women from being “equal.” All these groups have one thing in common: They’re controlled by elites, people who want to re-create the world in their own image.
What injuries has the sexual revolution caused, individually and collectively?
I think the single biggest injury on a personal level is loneliness, because we’re replacing truly intimate relationships with sex as a recreational activity. Instead of sex building up marriage and the family, sex is something about “me” and “how I feel.” So it’s all led to the idea that you can discard people, which breeds loneliness.
On a collective level, our higher education system and economy are built around contraception and abortion. Contraception is an expected part of a woman’s career path. So that means the whole system is built around women treating their bodies as if they were men’s bodies. Also, with declining birth rates in every industrialized country in the world, we’re contracepting our way out of a future.
Why is the sexual revolution so appealing to people?
The sexual urge is obviously very powerful, and the idea you can have sex without consequences is a very appealing fantasy. But that’s what it is: a fantasy. Even if you successfully avoid pregnancy, you’ve got emotional consequences. The sexual revolution promises that if you just take the baby out of the equation, you can have all the benefits of sex without any of the costs.
The sexual revolution promised freedom and fun. Yet you say it was — and is — a totalitarian movement. Why?
Because its goal — to separate sex from reproduction and both from marriage — is impossible. When men and women have sex, babies have a way of appearing. So the government has to step in and control people’s behavior and even people’s thoughts about what’s possible, desirable and realistic. The HHS mandate is just one example of the government stifling dissent by essentially saying: “This society will be built around contraception, and there will be no dissent from that.” That’s one example of totalitarianism coming straight from the government and literally shutting down people who disagree.
You say we’re swimming in so much sexual-revolution propaganda that we don’t even see it. What’s the propaganda saying?
That it’s possible — and desirable — to have sex without babies and sex without commitment. One of the biggest and most persistent lies of the sexual revolution is: “The kids will be fine, as long as the parents are happy.” That’s basically a blank check for adults to do whatever they feel like, regardless of how it hurts and destroys the kids.
Are children of divorce and aborted babies the primary victims of the sexual revolution?
Children are the most obvious. But there’s a whole list of sex-revolution victims who’ve been silenced. Consider, for example, people who’d like to stay married but their spouse wants a divorce, so that’s the end of it. The government takes sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.
You call those people “the reluctantly divorced.”
Yes. We all know somebody in this category — the jilted wife or the husband who’s kicked out of the family because his wife didn’t want to be bothered with him anymore, and now the courts are making him pay child support for kids he doesn’t see. These people are all around us. Yet no one talks about them. They’re completely invisible.
You call another group of sexual-revolution victims, who bought into the sexual revolution only to discover its promises of fun and freedom are false, “the heartbroken career women.”
These women are also all around us, but we simply don’t see them. [Culture says] the entry fee into the professions for women is that you chemically neuter yourself during your peak childbearing years in your 20s — and if you have an “accident,” you get an abortion.
By the time a woman figures out, “If I have no children, that’s going to be terrible for me,” she’s 35. The in vitro fertilization industry is making huge profits off people’s infertility problems, which often happen because women put off having kids for so long they can’t do it naturally anymore.
And yet when that woman is a lawyer, college professor, TV news anchor or some other professional, she’s going to dig in her heels and defend the sexual revolution, because her life is literally built around it. We want to help this type of woman “connect the dots” and see that she has been victimized because she built her life around the lies.
Isn’t there another group of female victims — women who can’t find suitable husbands because too many men have also bought into the sexual revolution’s falsehoods?
Absolutely. And I hear it from men, too [about not finding suitable wives]. Our whole culture is so sexualized it’s hard to find a suitable mate. Many young people have told me they wish the Church would do more to facilitate young adults meeting each other in a faith environment, where people won’t always be coming onto you.
Why did you create the “Healing the 21st-Century Family” conference?
Because there are a lot of heartbroken career women out there, along with children of divorce and other victims of the sexual revolution. We need to find each other, take strength from each other and know that we can get something done if we discover each other and work together.
What’s your vision for the modern family?
Our vision is that every sexual act would be an act of integrity and love inside marriage and that every child would be born to a married mother and father who love each other. Every little family should be an island of forgiveness, repentance, generosity, service, gratitude and loyalty. Then the community could be built up from a foundation of love within the family. The family is a little society that deserves to be respected and protected, not disrespected and attacked.
Do you see positive developments that indicate this life-affirming vision of the modern family is becoming more widespread in contemporary societies?
I wouldn’t go that far. But I do see more people getting fed up. There’s a new book out — The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism and the Reality of the Biological Clock — in which the author, Tanya Selvaratnam, recounts her emotional journey through multiple miscarriages after the age of 37. That woman is an activist for NOW [the National Organization for Women] and writes for Ms. magazine, yet her book is all about her being fed up. That’s what our Feb. 15 conference is about: to find these people, give them a voice, give them a name and help them connect the dots.
What can the ordinary Catholic do right now to make this new vision for the family happen?
The very simple thing people can do is go sign our petition to the Synod Fathers, where we say, “Please remember the victims of the sexual revolution.” The Synod Fathers are meeting to figure out how the Church can better serve the family, and we want them to remember the victims and to organize to help people who have been wounded. So please go sign the petition. And then we want you to come to our Feb. 15 conference in San Diego. It’s open to anyone of goodwill who has a sincere desire to improve their own family life, to heal their own wounds from the sexual revolution and to help us clean up the mess.
Sue Ellen Browder writes from Ukiah, California.