Are Evangelicals Bad for Marriage?

From the National Review Online:

“Red state” values supposedly increase divorce risk, but the least religious couples are equally vulnerable. 

An April 2014 Urban Institute study predicts that if current marriage rates do not rebound, just 69 percent of Millennial women (and 65 percent of men) will marry by the age of 40. By contrast, in 1990, 91 percent of U.S.-born women had married by the age of 40.

Almost none of this retreat from marriage will be felt among college-educated white Americans. The majority of college-educated Millennials will marry and have their children in marriages that last until the death of one partner.

Meanwhile, the average American lives in a world where sex is plentiful but stable families are not, leading many a Millennial to conclude that there is little point in marriage at all. You can’t fail at what you don’t attempt.

Read the full article here

 

Catholics and Queer Theory

John Corvino, the co-author of my latest book, takes on Catholics like Michael Hannon, who in First Things essay “Against Heterosexuality” try to use queer theory to dismantle homosexuality as a “real” category in Commonweal (John is an ex-Catholic and an ex-seminarian as he makes clear):

“Hannon argues that religious conservatives should embrace queer theorists’ view that sexual orientation is a social construction, rather than a natural and inevitable feature of persons. Furthermore, they should stop categorizing anyone as gay, because doing so organizes that person’s sexual identity around a particular temptation to sin, leading him to believe that he needs that sin in order to be fulfilled. Finally, and most important, they should stop categorizing anyone as heterosexual, because doing so lets people off the hook as “normal,” thus blinding them to their own sin. . .

Hannon, who is a candidate for religious life with the Norbertine order, is hardly the first Catholic to invoke queer theory in support of conservative causes. Back in the late 1990s, when the essentialist/constructionist debate was still fresh, my old sparring partner Maggie Gallagher made a similar point at a Georgetown University conference on “Homosexuality and American Public Life.””

Small point, I don’t recall making this point in that conference but it’s years ago and I don’t still have a copy of that talk (and neither does John).

In any case I agree with John Corvino more than I disagree with him in this piece on his main point, although he seems to interpret a discussion of how Christians should think about same-sex attraction and the people who have it with an attempt to determine how everyone thinks about it.

Even if the broader culture accepts homosexuality as a social fact, which is clearly the case whether Hannon likes it or not, that does not settle how Catholics should think about it.

Here’s my view: When Christians tell me that homosexuality is “socially constructed” and therefore not a “real” permanent feature of human existence, I generally respond “I know gay people exist the same way that I know that Methodists exist. I’ve met them.”

In other words, not all categories that are real are founded on fixed unchangeable essences. Sexual orientation as a concept is a way of organizing “given reality” (sexual attraction) into a communal identity, the strongest kind.  It is therefore not at all like race, and but rather more akin to religion.

I never ever think of myself as a heterosexual, nonetheless my own ideas about my experience of sexuality (“we are born male and female and called to come together in love in this thing called marriage”) are core enough to my identity and my sense of what is required for communal good that I am willing to suffer rather than renounce them, if necessary. They are not positions I hold, they are part of who I am.

Corvino acknowledges that in a gay-affirming culture more people will label their feelings as gay and grow up to live a gay life, which he sees as the great moral advance on the subject and orthodox Catholics see as Not a Good Thing. (Although the openly gay community of priests, brothers, and seminarians in Corvinos’ seminary by his account applauded his coming out).

I do not have strong feelings whether Hannon is right or whether  orthodox gay Catholics like Eve Tushnet are right in thinking she should retain her lesbian identity while committing herself to faithful Christian practice (meaning in her current situation, celibacy).

But as an atheist, that is not the question that John Corvino is thinking about.

NRO: GOP Should Address Falling Value of Wages

From the National Review Online.

I was in the Eisenhower Lounge of the National Republican Club, where the executive directors of the RNC, the NSRC, the NRCC, the RGA, and the RSLC called a press conference to announce: The Rs think Republicans are going to win in November.

Mamie Eisenhower in her sweet pink ball gown smiled gently down on the solid show of middle-aged men in suits, blue or grey, and ties ranging from red to auburn (only the NRCC’s Leisl Hickey broke the monotony). While the press turnout is good (the conference closes with a question from Luke Russert), the stories afterward were thin, with the Hill presenting dueling interpretations, “GOP Presents United 2014 Front,” and “GOP Primary Wounds Still Smarting.”

The latter referred to the unforced PR error by the NRSC’s Rob Collins in responding with visible venom to a reporter’s inevitable tea-party question. “The for-profit conservative base here in D.C., we’re never gonna get along with, at least this cycle,” Collins said, before backtracking slightly: “That’s not true, there are some that will have a role to play in the general election. But some of the louder voices, it has not been good for their bottom line to get along with [us], so they choose not to.”

Read the full article here.

Hill OpEd: Reid, Dems running scared on abortion issue

This article originally appeared on The Hill.  Read the original here

By Maggie Gallagher

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is running scared on abortion.  That may be surprising to conventional pundits who believe “social issues” are ruining the GOP politically, but you can tell when a Democrat leader is scared of a social issue – when he attacks his GOP opponents for allegedly acting on “politics” not principles.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) rallied with prolife groups to push for a vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks (around five months), the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and made Reid sound annoyed, not at all the happy War on Women camper:

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Bend it Like Benham

The best bit of good news I have seen is this report from the Hollywood Reporter suggesting multiple other networks are considering picking up the series “Flip it Forward” that HGTV cancelled.

Since Carrie Prejean was hounded off the national stage for the crime of answering the question, should every state have gay marriage, with a polite “no,” Hollywood and the entertainment industry have made their point of view crystal clear: The glamour of television and movies is not for people who believe marriage is the union of a husband and a wife.  (The pageant judge who videotaped himself and posted the video calling Ms. Prejean the “c-word” was welcomed back to judge more young would-be beauty queens—what does that tell us? And when Carrie’s not atypical California teenager’s sexual/romantic history was exposed for the clear malicious purpose of “slut-shaming” her to retaliate for her refusal to recant on gay marriage, not a single progressive voice rushed to her defense.)

Duck Dynasty’s survival was the first crack in this new and quite literal McCarthyism, the one sign of hope that the new blacklist was not impenetrable, some could seep through.  True, the Robertson’s Duck Dynasty was a monster hit network-sustaining franchise player.  But when the family who would not recant faced down a network whose economic survival depended on this hit franchise, the entertainment industry and its LGBT allies relented: that show at least could go on.

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Cooper, Mozilla, Arizona

A friend asked me, after reading my last interview with HuffPo, “So are you really stepping down from the marriage and religious liberty fight?”

No, I told him.  Sorry if it sounded like that.  What I am advocating doing is three very big, and very hard things: a) accepting where we are and b) learning from what we did not succeed in so that we can get to c) how do we build anew?

Right now most people who believe in the classic understanding of marriage are in shock, they are awed by the powers now shutting down the debate and by our ineffectualness at responding to these developments.

The temptation to shout and yell and stamp our feet in ineffectual ridiculousness is understandable, but it is to be resisted.

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What’s Next?

I did an interview wth HuffPo Gay Voices. Of course some might call this an admission of defeat—because I repeat my belief that it is clear they now have 5 votes for gay marriage on the Supreme Court.

But really it is about taking up the next battle. If true, what next for those of us who do not believe in gay marriage?

A taste here:
‘ What’s next? In my view people who believe in the traditional understanding of marriage, and believe that it matters, have to become a creative minority, finding way to both express these sexual views, culturally, artistically and intellectually and to engage with the newly dominant cultural view of marriage respectfully but not submissively.

Lots of thoughts packed into the latter sentence.

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JS: Walker Shouldn’t Dismiss Social Issues

This article appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday:

Gov. Scott Walker shouldn’t dismiss social issues

By Francis Cannon And Maggie Gallagher

Dec. 9, 2013

The Democrats’ unfolding Obamacare disaster is in danger of temporarily distracting Republicans from their most important task. The Grand Old Party is in the middle of one of those periodic intellectual funks that will lead in the end either to renewal or to defeat.

The Democrats’ hubris in passing a fundamental health care transformation without a single Republican vote combined with President Barack Obama’s lethal combination of deliberate deception and utter incompetence in the Obamacare rollout has breathed new life into the GOP for the 2014 elections.

But the conservative movement, as a movement, cannot depend on reaction to overreach by Democrats as an ongoing governing strategy, and the smart political leaders are recognizing that fact.

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