Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory.
Anderson, who joined the leading Washington think tank’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in 2012, also is the editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J.
Anderson’s recent work at Heritage focuses on the constitutional questions surrounding same-sex “marriage.” He is the co-author with Princeton’s Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis of the acclaimed book “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” (Encounter Books, December 2012).
The lecture starts at 7:20 in. The lecture ends at 49:35. There are 32 minutes of Q&A.
When talking about marriage in public, we should talk about philosophy, sociology and public policy
Gay marriage proponents need to be pressed to define what marriage is, on their view
Every definition of marriage is going to include some relationships, and exclude others
It’s meaningless to portray one side as nice and the other mean
Typically, marriage redefiners view marriage as a more intense emotional relationship
Marriage redefiners should be challenged in three ways:
1) Does the redefined version of marriage have a public policy reason to prefer only two people?
2) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer permanence?
3) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer sexual exclusivity?
Also, if marriage is just about romance, then why is the state getting involved in recognizing it?
The talk: 1) What marriage is, 2) Why marriage matters, 3) What are the consequences of redefining marriage?
What marriage is:
Marriage unites spouses – hearts, minds and bodies
Marriage unites spouses to perform a good: creating a human being and raising that human being
Marriage is a commitment: permanent and exclusive
Male and female natures are distinct and complementary
The public purpose of marriage:
to attach men and women to each other
to attach mothers and fathers to their children
there is no such thing as parenting, there is only mothering and fathering
the evidence shows that children benefit from mothering and fathering
boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to commit crimes
girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to have sex earlier
Children benefit from having a mother and a father
can’t say that fathers are essential for children if we support gay marriage, which makes fathers optional
without marriage: child poverty increases, crime increases, social mobility decreases, welfare spending increases
when government encourages marriage, then government has less do to – stays smaller, spends less
if we promote marriage as an idea, we are not excluding gay relationships or even partner benefits
finally, gay marriage has shown itself to be hostile to religious liberty
Consequences redefining marriage:
it undermines the norm in public like that kids deserve a mom and a dad – moms and dads are interchangeable
it changes the institution of marriage away from the needs of children, and towards the needs of adults
it undermines the norm of permanence
we learned what happens when marriage is redefined before: with no-fault divorce
no-fault divorce: after this became law, divorce rates doubled – the law changed society
gay marriage would teach society that mothers and fathers are optional when raising children
if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then how can you rationally limit marriage to only two people?
if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if other people cause intense feelings, there’s no fidelity
if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if the feelings go away, there is no permanence
the public policy consequences to undermining the norms of exclusivity and permanence = fatherless children and fragmented families
a final consequences is the decline and elimination of religious liberty – e.g. – adoption agencies closing, businesses being sued
We’re doing very well on abortion, but we need to get better at knowing how to discuss marriage. If you’re looking for something short to read, click here. If you want to read a long paper that his book is based on.
Captain Capitalism shared this story about a single mother in radically-leftist French Canada. And she raised her fatherless daughter with all sorts of feminist propaganda, especially rejecting traditional femininity. But what happens when her fatherless girl has to choose between feminist theory and her need to get approval from men?
Last summer, I stumbled onto my teenage daughter’s social media account. What I found confirmed my worst fear: I had failed to raise a feminist.
There, among the pouty-faced selfies, was a photo of her posing, Sports Illustrated-style, on a jet ski in her bikini, brandishing her middle finger at the camera with a smirk on her face.
[…]All her life, I’ve tried to model feminism: taking her on marches for women’s rights, reading to her from books like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should all be Feminists and surrounding her with a community of strong, independent female friends.
I realize now that the wisdom of my mother’s “Women’s Lib” generation doesn’t cover the challenges of raising a feminist daughter in the 21st century.
[…]We want our girls to grow up brave, confident and assertive.
On this blog, I’ve written many times about the harm that feminism does to women. Basically, in the old days, women could be honest about what they really wanted. They wanted a husband to care for them, give them economic security, and they wanted to raise children and keep a home. They might get a degree and work while looking for a husband, but they really wanted a stable marriage, and to be needed by their husband and children most of all.
But feminism taught young women that traditional goals were “sexist” and therefore to be avoided. Instead of marrying early and having children, women were taught to delay marriage for their careers. Instead of learning how to objectively evaluate a man for his ability as a provider, protector, moral leader and spiritual leader, women were taught to prefer men who gave them entertainment and excitement in the moment.
Well, this single mother obviously has feelings about how to achieve the goal of having a daughter who is brave confident and assertive. But what does the objective research say about how to achieve that goal?
Today’s fathers also seem to be having a greater impact on their daughters’ academic and career choices than fathers in previous generations. For example, women who were born in the 1970s are three times more likely than those born at the beginning of the twentieth century to work in the same field as their fathers—a finding that researchers have attributed not just to society’s changing gender roles but also to daughters receiving more mentoring from their fathers.
Another question on many people’s minds is: how does a father influence his daughter’s romantic life—who she dates, when she starts having sex, and the quality of her relationships with men? Not surprisingly, a girl who has a secure, supportive, communicative relationship with her father is less likely to get pregnant as a teenager and less likely to become sexually active in her early teens. This, in turn, leads to waiting longer to get married and to have children—largely because she is focused on achieving her educational goals first.
The well-fathered daughter is also the most likely to have relationships with men that are emotionally intimate and fulfilling. During the college years, these daughters are more likely than poorly-fathered women to turn to their boyfriends for emotional comfort and support and they are less likely to be “talked into” having sex. As a consequence of having made wiser decisions in regard to sex and dating, these daughters generally have more satisfying, more long-lasting marriages. What is surprising is not that fathers have such an impact on their daughters’ relationships with men, but that they generally have more impact than mothers do.
Their better relationships with men may also be related to the fact that well-fathered daughters are less likely to become clinically depressed or to develop eating disorders. They are also less dissatisfied with their appearance and their body weight. As a consequence of having better emotional and mental health, these young women are more apt to have the kinds of skills and attitudes that lead to more fulfilling relationships with men.
An emerging body of research suggests one more way that dads may shape their daughters’ mental health and relationships in adulthood: scholars have found an intriguing link between the way daughters deal with stress as adults and the kind of relationships they had with their dads during childhood. For example, undergraduate women who did not have good relationships with their fathers had lower than normal cortisol levels. And people with low cortisol levels tend to be overly sensitive and overly reactive when confronted with stress. Indeed, the low cortisol daughters were more likely than the higher cortisol daughters (who had the better relationships with their dads) to describe their relationships with men in stressful terms of rejection, unpredictability or coercion.
If the single mother in our story really wanted her daughter to be brave, confident and assertive, then she should have 1) made herself into the kind of person that a commitment-minded man is attracted to, and 2) evaluated men for their commitment-ability and then chosen one to have babies with based on their ability to commit. For example, if she had chosen a Christian man who took the Bible seriously on morality and spirituality, then that man would have stuck around, modeled how to love his wife, and taken an interest in his children. Someone who is able to make commitments and keep his word. And according to the research, that (traditional, “sexist”) approach would have done a lot more to reach the goal of having a brave, confident and assertive daughter. The feminist approach to raising children is exactly what DOESN’T work.
The problem with the single mother feminist is that her feminist worldview is based on her feelings instead of on research. She probably had bad experiences with the hot bad boys she freely chose, and then drew the wrong conclusions from those experiences. E.g. – “I gave my body to a hot bad boy to make him like me, and he dumped me. I felt weak, but it wasn’t my fault for choosing him. It was his fault for not changing into a good man after I gave him premarital sex. Now I’m going to stop being a weak girl, and drink like a man, have sex like a man, and have a career like a man, and this will work to raise a strong daughter. Welfare, daycare and public schools are all I need!”
The priceless gift that mothers give their daughters when they marry a good man is the gift of teaching them how to make a man like them without appealing to them with exposed skin and commitment-free sex. When a man is present in the home, and is treated with respect by his wife, the daughters learn that which male behaviors are best, and how to encourage and support good men who demonstrate those behaviors. Daughters who have fathers don’t feel the need to seek male attention with skin and sex, the way that many fatherless girls do. They get attention from their fathers for being good and for achieving and for caring for other people around them. They are attracted to men who give them attention for their character and achievements, just like their fathers did.
So, I’ve noticed that many men who are interested in marriage have been running into problems with their plans. One challenge is the problem of the financial costs of marriage. In order to undertake a marriage enterprise, men have to believe that they can pay the bills. And this is especially challenging to men who want a stay-at-home wife to raise their children.
*Please note that I am talking about unmarried (never married, divorced) women throughout this post.
Here’s my argument for why I think that feminism has made it harder for men to afford to get married:
Feminism caused no-fault divorce.
No-fault divorce laws led to more frequent divorces.
Divorced women turn to government for financial support.
Taxes increase in order to pay for more government spending.
Men who were interested in marriage were hit with higher taxes, which made marriage enterprise financially unfeasible for them.
Households of 2010 don’t look quite like they did in 1969, when no-fault divorce actually was a controversial topic and these counter-arguments held some weight. The working dad/stay-at-home mom model of the middle class has been replaced by two-parent earner households and a growing number of working mom/stay-at-home dad arrangements. In working poor and impoverished families, the one-parent provider model was never the norm. No-fault divorce seemed scary when it had never before existed, but the truth is that its introduction was long overdue. Feminist groups at the time supported no-fault divorce, as it provided women an escape hatch from desperately unhappy marriages in a society where they were already disadvantaged on almost every level, regardless of their marital status. Imagine an abusive marriage in 1968, when the court-savvy abuser could actually force the victim to stay in the relationship forever. Imagine that now, and you know why domestic violence attorneys are in full support of introducing no-fault divorce to New York. And the judges aren’t the only problem.
Note that the author of this piece thinks that it is not women’s fault that they choose men who they then want to divorce. It’s not the woman’s fault that she is unhappy with the man she courted with and then chose and then made vows to. She isn’t responsible for choosing a good man with chastity, sobriety, moral convictions, etc. She thinks that women shouldn’t be held responsible for their choices. Also, feminists think that children do fine without fathers.
This paper analyzes a panel of 18 European countries spanning from 1950 to 2003 to examine the extent to which the legal reforms leading to “easier divorce” that took place during the second half of the 20th century have contributed to the increase in divorce rates across Europe. We use a quasi-experimental set-up and exploit the different timing of the reforms in divorce laws across countries. We account for unobserved country-specific factors by introducing country fixed effects, and we include country-specific trends to control for time-varying factors at the country level that may be correlated with divorce rates and divorce laws, such as changing social norms or slow moving demographic trends. We find that the different reforms that “made divorce easier” were followed by significant increases in divorce rates. The effect of no-fault legislation was strong and permanent, while unilateral reforms only had a temporary effect on divorce rates. Overall, we estimate that the legal reforms account for about 20 percent of the increase in divorce rates in Europe between 1960 and 2002.
It seems obvious, but more evidence never hurts. About 70% of divorces are initiated by women, either because they chose to marry the wrong man, or because they become unhappy with the right man.
Giving women the right to vote signiﬁcantly changed American politics from the very beginning. Despite claims to the contrary, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue, and these effects continued growing as more women took advantage of the franchise. Similar changes occurred at the federal level as female suffrage led to more liberal voting records for the state’s U.S. House and Senate delegations. In the Senate, suffrage changed voting behavior by an amount equal to almost 20 percent of the difference between Republican and Democratic senators. Suffrage also coincided with changes in the probability that prohibition would be enacted and changes in divorce laws.
[…]More work remains to be done on why women vote so differently, but our initial work provides scant evidence that it is due to self-interest arising from their employment by government. The only evidence that we found indicated that the gender gap in part arises from women’s fear that they are being left to raise children on their own (Lott and Kenny 1997). If this result is true, the continued breakdown of the family and higher divorce rates imply growing political conﬂicts between the sexes.
Bigger government must be paid for by higher taxes, which makes it harder for one working man’s income to provide for a family. In fact, feminists wanted men to be displaced as sole-providers. They would prefer that women are “equal” to men, and that means making women get out and work like men. It was no concern of theirs that children would be raised by strangers in daycares and government schools.
On Tuesday, the nation made history. It made history in electing the first African American president; it made history in building a bigger margin for the first female Speaker of the House; it made history in delivering the biggest Democratic margin since 1964; it made history in sending a record number of people to the polls and the highest percentage turnout since the 1960 election. Analysts will spend the next few months sifting through the data, trying to figure out what happened and why. Historians will likely spend the next several years and decades studying this election, as well. But one thing is immediately clear. Unmarried women played a pivotal role in making this history and in changing this nation. They delivered a stunning 70 to 29 percent margin to Barack Obama and delivered similarly strong margins in races for Congress and the U.S. Senate. Although unmarried women have voted Democratic consistently since marital status has been was tracked, this election represents the highest margin recorded and a 16-point net gain at the Presidential level from 2004.
In fact, there was a recent (2011) study showing that unmarried women do in fact vote for higher taxes and more government as a substitute for a husband’s provider role.
The last three decades have witnessed the rise of a political gender gap in the United States wherein more women than men favor the Democratic party. We trace this development to the decline in marriage, which we posit has made men richer and women poorer. Data for the United States support this argument. First, there is a strong positive correlation between state divorce prevalence and the political gender gap – higher divorce prevalence reduces support for the Democrats among men but not women. Second, longitudinal data show that following marriage (divorce), women are less (more) likely to support the Democratic party.
What follows from voting Democrat?
If more people vote for Democrats then we will get higher taxes to pay for all the government spending. Higher taxes means that a married man can no longer retain enough of his earnings to support a family. And that means his wife has to work, and that means that his children will learn what the daycare workers and government school teachers decide they should learn.
But what do men want out of marriage? Men don’t want to marry a stressed-out competitor, and be yelled at in their own home. They want a homemaker who is focused on her husband and children. They want their children raised by someone who shares their worldview. Men want to produce moral, influential, independent children. Men want to be respected in their homes as sole provider. Men marry in order to lead on moral and spiritual issues. And men understand that a woman who doesn’t work outside the home usually makes a more feminine, supportive partner in the marriage enterprise.
If society, including the parents of daughters and the pastors of daughters, have decided that women don’t have to care about what men want out of marriage, then they should not be surprised that men don’t want marriage. Men may have no-commitment temporary sexual relationships with a secular left feminist who has been focused on her own feminist projects: travel, student loans, promiscuity, career, etc. But they certainly do not marry those women. When it comes to marriage, men want women who embrace the roles of wife and mother. And unlike shoes and handbags, we get a vote about whether or not the marriage happens.
the hook-up culture and its effects on men and women
cohabitation and its effect on marriage stability
balancing marriage, family and career
single motherhood by choice and IVF
modern sex: a sterile, recreation activity
the real purposes of sex: procreation and spousal unity
the hormone oxytocin: when it is secreted and what it does
the hormone vassopressin: when it is secreted and what it does
the sexual revolution and the commoditization of sex
the consumer view of sex vs the organic view of sex
fatherlessness and multi-partner fertility
how the “sex-without-relationship” view harms children
52 minutes of lecture, 33 minutes of Q&A from the Harvard students. The Q&A is worth listening to – the first question is from a gay student, and Dr. Morse pulls a William Lane Craig to defeat her objection. It was awesome! I never get tired of listening to her talk, and especially on the topics of marriage and family.
I have been following Katy Faust’s work on Twitter. She runs the organization “Them Before Us”. She fights laws and policies which allow adults to put their desires above the needs of children. And especially a child’s need for a relationship with his or her mother and father. In a recent article for The Federalist, she takes on a Joshua Harris, who is attacking traditional Christian moral values.
In a recent interview, newly ex-mega-church pastor Joshua Harris and author of the 1990s best-seller “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” remarked that the support President Trump has received from the evangelical community has been “incredibly damaging to the gospel and to the church.” I’d wager Harris is projecting something fierce.
In August, Harris announced that he and his wife Shannon were divorcing, that he no longer considers himself a Christian, and that he regrets “standing against marriage equality.” Just in case the point was lost on any of us, he followed up his announcement by posting a picture of himself eating a rainbow donut at the Vancouver Pride parade.
It’s no coincidence that Harris reversed himself on biblical teachings on sex and marriage while abandoning the core tenets of the faith.
The denial of sexual and marital norms by believers is often adjacent to a rejection of the core tenets of the faith. That’s because to arrive at these “inclusive” and “affirming” positions on marriage, Christians must exalt intoxicants such as emotion over uncompromising scripture, tradition, and natural law. Once you shift the authority from sola scriptura to sola feels, it’s only a matter of time before every other orthodox teaching finds itself on the woke chopping block.
I love this SO MUCH.
If I had to pick one conclusion that I have found to be true in 30 years of debating Christian truth claims, it would be that the normal process for becoming an atheist has nothing to do with reason or evidence. People abandon their faith in their teens, long before they have ever done any research into whether Christianity is true. And why? Because they know that their desire to be free of the moral demands of Christianity is true. And they know that their desire to be liked by their non-Christian friends is true.
Katy explains that she loves loves to discuss and debate with non-Christians and LGBT people about the issue she cares about: natural marriage and children’s rights. But she gets annoyed with Christian leaders who misunderstand the gospel.
Whether approaching the issue from a natural law perspective where male and female complementarity features prominently, or considering the most widely ratified treaty in human history outlines a child’s right to be known and loved by their mother and father, or through the lens of scripture where God joins together man and woman in life-long union because he is seeking “godly offspring” (Malachi 2), Christian leaders have no excuse for getting marriage wrong.
Zip. Zero. Nada. Their more-tolerant-than-Jesus definition of marriage (Mark 10:6-9) is, to use Harris’ own words, incredibly damaging not only to the church, but to the most vulnerable as well.
The reality is that Christians cannot get gay marriage wrong unless they first get the gospel wrong. Progressive Christians are under the wrong impression that ours is a gospel of affirmation: the idea that God affirms everything we think and say and do and want. This misconceived notion of the gospel believes that for God to genuinely love us, he has to love everything about us.
In this self-esteem-driven, everyone-gets-a-prize culture, a God who sometimes disapproves of our thoughts and behavior (*cough* Psalm 19:14) appears to be quite a bigot. In the “Born This Way” version of the Gaga gospel, Matthew 5:29 would read, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, by all means, redefine the word ‘stumble’ because, well, I wouldn’t want you to lose an eye now, would I?”
An honest reading of scripture reveals that ours is not a gospel of affirmation. Leave aside the 613 laws of the Old Testament in which God is rigidly un-affirming as he imposes devastating consequences on his people when they misuse their words, money, bodies, land, and worship. The New Testament and the gospels are also brimming with commands to put off behaviors that displease God and put on an entirely new nature.
Katy likes to tweet a lot of stories where children who have been impacted by divorce or same-sex marriage or donor-conception or surrogacy speak about how they feel about not having a relationship with their father or mother (or both). But she also knows how to argue against adult selfishness using data.
My advice to Christians is this. If you want to have confidence when defending the Christian teaching on marriage, or defending the rights of children to a Mom and a Dad, then you need to be equipped with research, statistical evidence and stories of those who have been impacted. Being a Christian means advocating for the teachings of Jesus. Jesus cared about children, and he wanted adults to act in a way towards children that would help those children to come to know him and follow him. We should not be affirming adult selfishness when it harms the children who are made to know God.
I think one of the reasons why people like Joshua Harris are abandoning the faith is because abandoning the morality came first. And before the abandoning of morality, there was a refusal to get informed about the harm that sin does. Instead of putting in the time to look at the evidence, they just altered their worldviews in order to feel good and be liked. Well, feeling good and being liked has never been important to the Christian life. But valuing truth, defending Christian convictions with evidence, and protecting the weak from the strong is found everywhere in the New Testament.