Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Three cases where liberal tinkering with sexual ethics and marriage hurt children

This post by “Jane Galt” on Right Wing News highlights three cases where social liberals change the cultural rules around sex and marriage, and it ended up back-firing to hurt children. I will talk about one case below.

The case I want to talk about is the case of changing welfare laws.

Excerpt:

To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as “Widows and orphans pensions”, which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers. Though public services expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, that mentality was very much the same: public services were about supporting unfortunate families, not unwed mothers. Unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be–and was–a way station for young, struggling families on the way to homeownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption.

[...]Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn’t they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The brutal societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational.

But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.

“Ridiculous”, said the proponents of the change. “Being an unmarried mother is a brutal, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?”

People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.

“C’mon” said the activists. “That’s just silly. I just can’t imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.”

Oooops.

Of course, change didn’t happen overnight. But the marginal cases did have children out of wedlock, which made it more acceptable for the next marginal case to do so. Meanwhile, women who wanted to get married essentially found themselves in competition for young men with women who were willing to have sex, and bear children, without forcing the men to take any responsibility. This is a pretty attractive proposition for most young men. So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded. In the early 1960s, a black illegitimacy rate of roughly 25 percent caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write a tract warning of a crisis in “the negro family” (a tract for which he was eviscerated by many of those selfsame activists.)

By 1990, that rate was over 70 percent. This, despite the fact that the inner city, where the illegitimacy problem was biggest, only accounts for a fraction of the black population.

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way.

So what went wrong? Why did people with some good intentions achieve such bad results?

This went wrong:

Why would a woman choose such a hard road? It seemed self-evident that the only unwed mothers claiming benefits would be the ones pushed there by terrible circumstance.

This argument is compelling and logical. I would never become an unwed welfare mother, even if benefits were a great deal higher than they are now. It seems crazy to even suggest that one would bear a child out of wedlock for $567 a month. Indeed, to this day, I find the reformist side much more persuasive than the conservative side, except for one thing, which is that the conservatives turned out to be right. In fact, they turned out to be even more right than they suspected; they were predicting upticks in illegitimacy that were much more modest than what actually occurred–they expected marriage rates to suffer, not collapse.

How did people go so badly wrong? Well, to start with, they fell into the basic fallacy that economists are so well acquainted with: they thought about themselves instead of the marginal case. For another, they completely failed to realise that each additional illegitimate birth would, in effect, slightly destigmatise the next one. They assigned men very little agency, failing to predict that women willing to forgo marriage would essentially become unwelcome competition for women who weren’t, and that as the numbers changed, that competition might push the marriage market towards unwelcome outcomes. They failed to forsee the confounding effect that the birth control pill would have on sexual mores.

But I think the core problems are two. The first is that they looked only at individuals, and took instititutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn’t a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against eachother; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.

The second is that they didn’t assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorial values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter.

Incentives matter. We don’t want to encourage people to do harmful, costly things and hurt children in the name of “compassion”.

But let’s get back to the bigger issue.

When you hear a person arguing for “compassion” for people who make immoral decisions, you should understand that they are arguing that moral boundaries on costly behavior be lifted. The costs that result from bad behavior are shifted from those who sin to those who don’t. The compassion crowd likes to cite one or two cases where someone is a genuine victim – but that is not the issue. The issue is the general case, and the incentives created that cause people on the margins to change their behavior. The word compassion should really be understood to mean “the act of saying that wrong is right, and covering up the damage for wrong actions with someone else’s money, taken from them by force”. That’s compassion, and it is celebrated in the feminized church as very Biblical. It’s nothing of the kind. This is not about judging people, it’s about helping people to avoid making mistakes that impoverish us all and harm the most vulnerable among us. We should not be encouraging irresponsible, selfish, immoral behavior and calling it “compassion”.

Marriage is a good thing that protects children, who are very much in need of protection. We shouldn’t be messing with it just so that we grown-ups can do things that make us feel good. Children are more important, because they are more vulnerable.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

UK woman who had 4 abortions breaks silence to warn other women

From Life Site News.

Excerpt:

A 23-year-old London woman has opened up to the BBC about the four abortions she had between the ages of 18 and 22, in the hopes that she will convince other young women to think twice before having their own abortions.

“Lisa,” a pseudonym given by the BBC, had her first abortion at 18, her second at 21, and two more abortions at 22. At 20, she became pregnant but decided to keep the baby, and is now raising her one surviving daughter.

Lisa told the BBC she believes abortion is morally wrong, but had the abortions anyway because she couldn’t bear the thought of having four children, each with a different father.

“I was really careless. I can’t blame anyone else,” Lisa told the BBC. “I should have been more responsible, because I’ve killed a life now. And it wasn’t that baby’s fault.”

Lisa said that she was terrified the first time she went to have an abortionist end her baby’s life, but that time and repetition changed her and made her more callous.

“It does get easier with the more you have,” she told the BBC. “I know that sounds really bad, but that is just how it is.”

She said that by sharing her own experience of being changed by abortion, she hoped to convince other women to make better choices.

“I thought that if I could tell my story, maybe young women would think twice about having sex without contraception, or sleeping with guys they don’t really know,” Lisa said. “I want to tell other women that abortions aren’t just something you should do. It could change your life.”

“Lisa” also warns about the effectiveness of contraceptions:

Even though Lisa echoes the abortion industry line about contraceptives preventing abortion, she admits she was using contraception during each and every one of her conceptions – everything from the pill to semi-permanent solutions like the IUD.

“I’ve tried the pill, the patch, the injection, the coil and the implant. And they didn’t work,” Lisa said. “I bled continuously while I was on them. And the coil gave me pains, so I had to take that out after a month.”

She added, “No one wants to keep on having terminations – so I have tried different methods of contraception but they don’t seem to work for me.”

Lisa is far from alone. A telephone study of former clients by the Marie Stopes UK abortionist group found that 57 percent of those who sought repeat abortions were active users of contraception who nonetheless became pregnant anyway.

“Our research shows all sorts of women of all ages can experience repeat unwanted pregnancy,” Genevieve Edwards, Marie Stopes UK’s director of policy, told the BBC. “In the past we’ve failed to tackle this, because we didn’t want to stigmatize women.”

Edwards admits that contraceptives, particularly the short-term kind, are not as effective as many people think, and when they fail, many women look to abortion as a backup plan.

I guess in my own case, I stay clear of premarital sex for personal reasons but also because I do not want to be responsible for killing another human being just because I was looking for a good time. I think that the possible risks outweigh the pleasure I might gain. It’s important for me to foresee the consequences of my choices and avoid harming others.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on sex and sexuality at Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Morse delivers a talk based on her book “Smart Sex” at Harvard University.

The MP3 file is here. (30 Mb)

Topics:

  • 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
  • donor-conceived children
  • 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.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can the negative effects of fatherlessness be attributed to other factors, like poverty?

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

Here’s a blog post from the Institute for Family Studies to answer that question.

Introduction:

Growing up without a father—whether that’s due to divorce, a nonmarital birth, or a father’s death—is associated with a host of negative effects. But given that children from low-income families, for instance, are more likely to live apart from their father in the first place, it can be hard to tell to what extent an absent father causes the problems that father absence is associated with, and to what extent other factors related to both family structure and child outcomes (like household income) are to blame.

Researchers Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider published a paper last year on exactly this problem. They reviewed 47 studies that used a variety of methods designed to uncover the causal effects of father absence, such as lagged dependent variable models, natural experiments, and individual fixed effects models.

Here’s one of the findings:

Labor Force: McLanahan and her colleagues found few studies on how father absence affects children’s employment and income in adulthood. The handful of analyses they did find are not entirely comparable; however, some of their findings were consistent. “Divorce was associated with lower levels of employment” in two studies, and in two other studies there were “higher levels of labor force inactivity among those who experienced divorce in early childhood.” In a fifth study, growing up with stepparents and with a single divorced mother had negative effects on occupational status, while growing up with a single widowed mother was not a disadvantage relative to growing up with stably married parents.

Here is Dr. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation to add some more evidence for this view.

He writes:

Census data and the Fragile Families survey show that marriage can be extremely effective in reducing child poverty. But the positive effects of married fathers are not limited to income alone. Children raised by married parents have substantially better life outcomes compared to similar children raised in single-parent homes.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school.[19] Many of these negative outcomes are associated with the higher poverty rates of single mothers. In many cases, however, the improvements in child well-being that are associated with marriage persist even after adjusting for differences in family income. This indicates that the father brings more to his home than just a paycheck.

The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are:

  • More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;[20]
  • Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;[21]
  • Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school;[22] and
  • A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.[23]

The effects of being raised in a single-parent home continue into adulthood. Comparing families of the same race and similar incomes, children from broken and single-parent homes are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact married families. [24] Compared to girls raised in similar married families, girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation.[25]

Finally, the decline of marriage generates poverty in future generations. Children living in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes. This intergenerational poverty effect persists even after adjusting for the original differences in family income and poverty during childhood.[26]

Yesterday, on the Dennis Prager show, Dennis was discussing this article and this article during the male – female hour. He made the point that children raised by single mothers and divorced mothers don’t have the experience of growing up and seeing their mother love her husband and act like a wife towards him. No government program can provide that. It is important that boys and girls have that experience of seeing a woman love her husband, and seeing a man love his wife. Of seeing them in a committed, stable, purposeful relationship, trying to provide for and raise their children.

Today, a lot of women are watching Hollywood movies and TV shows where men are portrayed in a very negative way, e.g. – Mad Men. These shows are often written by people on the hard left – radical feminists and/or gay activists. A girl growing up in this environment is just not going to have access to a positive view of how men and women get along in a marriage, making them less marry-able. Less safe to marry. That example of man and wife would act as a counter to Hollywood, but too many boys and girls are growing up without it.

So what’s the take-home lesson? The take-home lesson is that we need to be more careful about choosing partners and having children. It’s probably a good idea to be less driven by emotions, peer approval and hormones, and more driven by rational thought and studies. Choose wisely, and test well.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on sex and sexuality at Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Morse delivers a talk based on her book “Smart Sex” at Harvard University.

The MP3 file is here. (30 Mb)

Topics:

  • 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
  • donor-conceived children
  • 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. She is a debater, as well (see below).

And just so everyone knows, the Wintery Knight is pro-chastity and pro-marriage. I believe in chastity and I am chaste. I recommend chastity to men who are contemplating a stable, effective marriage. The research shows that you will have a better marriage by being chaste before marriage.

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