Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today Has Changed My Life

On Sunday, 5 post abortive women courageously shared their story with those gathered at a church in Jamestown. In the crowd was a woman, with 4 of her children, including her baby. Alison Grotberg reflected on hearing their powerful and heart breaking story. We are pleased, honored, and blessed to share Alison's reflections.

Today Has Changed My Life
by Alison Grotberg

Clean faces, cozy jammies, my kids were tired but excited to tell me about their day. I sat and listened, tired too; my heart pensive, thoughtful. What miraculous force animated their little bodies! I noticed the slope of their noses, the gesturing sweep of their hands, coy words said through hinted smiles. They are so alive: lungs breathing, hearts beating, stomachs digesting, eyelashes batting. Glorying in the moment, in their mother’s presence, happy to have my attention.

It’s hard to believe I am their mother, and they are here. And I am here with them. Oh, what that means! It is not an accident. It is not all because of me. There is a Hand that has brought us to this place and time, together.

I have thought much lately about the circumstances of their birth, each one of them. Musing, as I often do, over the number of them. When people meet me, they usually express surprise when they learn there are nine of them. Some say we are blessed. Others wonder out loud if my husband and I know what causes them. So many times I look at our children and wonder why God has entrusted them to us? I feel humbled by the task.

But today has changed my life. How can I tell you why? How can I describe the experience of sitting across the room from five women telling about the biggest, darkest secret in their lives? Each of them told the story. Long faces, burdened hearts, wills steeled by duty. And tears. Tears bearing out reality. Unselfconscious punctuations revealing the pain, still present.

What made it worse was that, right in front of them, I held my own baby who was alive. They were telling me of the death of theirs. They said they had done it knowing that it involved the ending of a life, the life of their own child. But they chose to do it anyway. They didn’t want to, but they were compelled to, each for their own reasons. And I stood there holding my baby who was alive while another woman, so much like me, told about the sounds of suction that had torn and dismembered her baby from her womb. I felt cruel. How could I flaunt life in the face of their death, the death of the child and the death of the woman's soul that had withered under the weight of what she had done?

But still, she was there and the other women with her. They chose to come to us. Their message was clear: “We can’t be silent anymore.” Their own pain required it of them. How can so much pain live in the human heart? These women were shattered. Their lives had been derailed; their secret a dark corner that confined them, defined them. But it wasn’t only pain driving them to tell us; it was also hope.

Their hope in themselves was gone. What replaced it was hope that comes through redemption. They said that truly knowing Jesus, receiving his forgiveness, and allowing his love to wash over them was what replaced their despair with healing. It gave them the will to break their silence and the unselfish love to share their pain with us, so that we would know. So that we would tell others. So that more babies wouldn’t die, and more mothers wouldn’t cry. These were their words. It was love that made them do it. To think that other women stood at the brink of living through the devastation they had lived -- no, to them that was unthinkable. They must speak.

There must be ears to hear. We must hear. Hear their cries. Be shocked by their pain. Feel our own shame for not wanting to know. Who wants to be responsible for that? Better not to know about it because everyone knows that to know means to bear responsibility. And it’s hard to face responsibility. It means we have to be accountable. It means we have to grapple with facts that are inconvenient and uncomfortable. It dismantles our hedonism. It makes us look at our own blindness. We may even open ourselves up to hearing our own secrets whisper to us.

But there are some things we need to know. What we need to know is that every one of these women were church women. They look exactly like the women sitting in church pews next to us in churches across America every Sunday. We need to know that every one of these women grew up in church. Some of them were even “pro-life.”

We also need to know that over 75 pastors from the area were invited to come to hear their stories, stories of women from our own state. Who wants to hear their story? Who wants to know about the children that were not allowed to live? Who wants to feel the pain? Two pastors came. Thirty others were there and these women resolutely opened up their pain and bravely shared it with us.

In spite of their ongoing healing, the women still feel their pain, (because they said when you kill your child you never forget). What is beautiful is that these women are no longer stuck there, in all that pain. They are forgiven! Free from the silent cancer eating at their emotions. Free from the self-destructive thoughts and actions that they once used to punish themselves for killing the innocent. These are their words.

Yet, in order for their story to push away the ugly shroud of guilt covering so many (they say one in every two to three women), their story needs to be heard. The story of their healing needs to be retold. Again and again.

Tonight my baby lays beside me. Her rounded cheeks and brows and little nostrils replay humanity’s form echoed in a new generation, the Image crying out to be seen, to be heard, to be protected. Today has changed my life. I will never be the same. They have not told their stories in vain.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Religious liberty

Should a high school senior be prevented from playing an instrumental version of "Ave Maria" at her graduation ceremony? Were her First amendment rights violated? Were her religious liberties violated?

Alito: Refusal to Hear 'Ave Maria' Case Has 'Troubling' Implications
By Lawrence D. Jones|Christian Post Reporter

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito voiced his dissent Monday after his colleagues refused to hear an appeal from a former high school senior who was prevented from playing an instrumental version of “Ave Maria” at her graduation.

In a six-page opinion, Alito said the high court’s decision to deny Kathyrn Nurre’s petition for writ of certiorari will have important implications for the nearly ten million public school students in the Ninth Circuit as it will restrict what is purportedly personal student expression at public school graduation ceremonies.

“If the decision is applied to such performances, school administrators in some communities may choose to avoid ‘controversy’ by banishing all musical pieces with ‘religious connotations,’” Alito wrote, referring to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last year.

In its ruling, the appeals court had sided with Nurre’s high school, saying that the free speech rights of the 2006 graduate and members of her school’s wind ensemble had not been violated when the school vetoed their decision to perform Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” because “it is reasonable for a school official to prohibit the performance of an obviously religious piece.”

At the prior year’s graduation ceremony, the student choir of Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Wash., had performed “Up Above My Head," a vocal piece that included explicit references to "God," "heaven," and "angels,” and the school district claimed that this had resulted in complaints from graduation attendees and at least one angry letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

Fearful that the performance of Biebl’s “Ave Maria” would cause a similar reaction – even though the performance would not include the lyrics of the piece – school district officials vetoed the ensemble members’ choice, stating that “the title and meaning of the piece had religious connotations - and would be easily identified as such by attendees merely by the title alone.”

After noting this, Alito said the district's ban of the piece constitutes viewpoint discrimination because it was a response to the piece's perceived religious message.

"And our cases categorically reject the proposition that speech may be censored simply because some in the audience may find that speech distasteful," Alito argued.

Even the Court of Appeals, in a footnote, had acknowledged that the district’s decision would have been impermissible if it had constituted viewpoint discrimination, the justice pointed out. But the court concluded that "this is not a case involving viewpoint discrimination" because petitioner "concede[d] that she was not attempting to express any specific religious viewpoint" but instead "sought only to ‘play a pretty piece.’"

“This reasoning is questionable at best,” Alito proposed.

That said, the high court justice made clear his opinion that a decision "with such potentially broad and troubling implications" merits the review of the Supreme Court.

“[W]hen a public school purports to allow students to express themselves, it must respect the students’ free speech rights,” Alito wrote.

“School administrators may not behave like puppet masters who create the illusion that students are engaging in personal expression when in fact the school administration is pulling the strings,” he added.

In place of "Ave Maria," the members of the 2006 wind ensemble at Jackson High School performed the fourth movement of Gustav Holst’s "Second Suite in F for Military Band” during their graduation ceremony in June.

That same month, Nurre filed a First Amendment law suit against the school in a federal district court.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

19 Reasons to Oppose the Current Health Care Bill

President Obama and members of congress including our North Dakota delegation know what you and I know--the health care legislation under consideration funds abortion It also contains other provisions detrimental to the family. Take a look at 19 reasons pointing toward opposing the current bill, and ask the question, "how can our ND delegation vote for this?"

Eight Reasons Abortion Is in the Health Care Overhaul

1. The legislation specifically includes it. The President's bill to amend the Senate bill leaves several abortion provisions in place. In Section 1303 it allows tax credit subsidies for plans that include abortion and leaves the abortion surcharge in place. It maintains the proposal to create a multi-state plan that includes abortion in Sec. 1334. Even worse, it would increase the Senate bill funding from $7 billion to $11 billion for community health centers in Sec. 10503 without any abortion funding restrictions. (H.R. 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.)

2. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said it is. “And I would say that the Senate language, which was negotiated by Senators Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray, who are very strong defenders of women’s health services and choices for women, take a big step forward from where the House left it with the Stupak amendment, and I think do a good job making sure there are choices for women. . .That would be an accounting procedure, but everybody in the exchange would do the same thing, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re 75 or 25, you would all set aside a portion of your premium that would go into a fund.” (Sebelius: Everyone will pay into abortion-coverage fund.)

3. Senate Democrats refused to ban it. Instead of allowing for an up or down vote on a Senate amendment similar to the Stupak Amendment in the House which bans federal funding of abortion, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) “tabled” the amendment, effectively killing it. This was the only amendment dealt with in this way. (Vote No. 369 S.Amdt. 2962 to S.Amdt. 2786 to H.R. 3590)

4. House pro-life Democrats, who support a government takeover, say it is. “The Senate language is a significant departure from current law and is unacceptable.” (House Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), February 23, 2010, CBS News)… “I think abortion’s wrong. The problem is that I’ve lived too long. When they say they can keep this money separate, I just don’t believe it.” (House Representative Marion Berry (D-Ark.), March 6, 2010, Arkansas News.)

5. House pro-abortion Democrats say it is. “The good news is that the Senate bill does allow [abortion coverage],” (Chairwoman of the House pro-abortion caucus, Dianne DeGette (D-Colo.),
March 5, 2010, Washington Post.

6. The abortion industry has sent out alerts in favor of it. The abortion giant Planned Parenthood sent out alerts on March 6, 2010: “President Obama's health care reform proposal would make a real difference for the women and families who rely on Planned Parenthood. . . . and [the bill] significantly increase access to reproductive health care.” (Planned Parenthood alert, March 6, 2010.)

7. Candidate Obama said it would be included, and the Obama administration includes it in its definition of reproductive health care. Presidential candidate Barack Obama stated he “believes that reproductive health care is basic health care.” ( questionnaire, 2008.) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed up on this in 2009: “Reproductive health care includes access to abortion.” (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, April 22, House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing)

8. House Democratic Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has indicated he wants to fix the abortion coverage problem in the Senate bill. “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday that lawmakers could draft separate pieces of legislation with abortion language to earn the support of anti-abortion rights Democrats on healthcare reform legislation.” (March 4, 2010, The Hill)

Good Reasons to Oppose the Health Care Overhaul
Abortion. The Senate bill would lead to government funded abortions. There are numerous reasons why that is true, including the bill text itself. Additionally just listen to pro-life Members like Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops both of whom support a government run health care system – but oppose the Senate bill strongly.

Rationing. Call it “Comparative Effectiveness Research,” or a “Medicare Advisory board” or even call them “death panels” the Senate bill creates a Medicare Advisory Board required to make binding recommendations for cost savings within the Medicare program and requires this new board to do whatever is necessary to stop Medicare spending from growing to fast. The Board would also be able to redefine what a “qualified health plan” is and allow the Health and Human Services Secretary to force private health plans to adopt such rationing measures as well.

The Federal Government Can’t Afford It. Amazingly the fallacy that The Senate health care bill now in front of the House would reduce the deficit continues. This was disproved by the Congressional Budget Office when it released a report that the Democrats were double counting and in fact the Senate bill, as the Examiner first reported, would create a $170 billion budget deficit.

State Governments can’t afford it. The Senate health care bill would require states to expand Medicaid eligibility anywhere from 133 percent to 150 percent above the federal poverty limit. By 2011 the federal government would look to the states to pick up the costs for this expansion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this mandate to the states would drain state coffers by $25 billion.

People can’t afford it. The President campaigned on saving the average American family about $2,500 on health care premiums. The CBO has recently said that the Senate health care bill will actually raise the average family's health care premiums by $2,300. The costs to families do not stop there. If you have a flexible spending account or health savings account then over the counter drugs, like antihistamines, Tylenol, Pedialyte or even prenatal vitamins all will be subject to a tax increase of up to 40 percent if either bill passes. Also under the Senate bill payroll taxes would impose an additional 0.5 percent payroll tax on married couples with more than $250,000 in wages and individuals with more than $200,000 in wages. That’s a huge marriage penalty. Two people cohabitating could make $200k each before getting taxed. As a married couple you would get taxed at $250,000. If all that isn’t enough – also expect more taxes if you tan!

The bill does little to cut costs but in actuality increases spending. Dean of the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Jeffrey Flier has stated, “There are no provisions to substantively control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care. So the overall effort will fail to qualify as reform. . . In discussions with dozens of health care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health care spending rather than restrain it.”

People don’t want it. Since December polls have consistently shown that the American people are opposed to the health care bill currently in Congress. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% favor the plan while 53% are opposed.

These figures include just 20% who Strongly Favor the plan and 41% who are Strongly Opposed. Additionally, a recent poll by Susan B. Anthony List in select Democrat’s districts shows that a majority of people believe that “abortion and abortion funding have no place in healthcare legislation.” The Senate bill represents an expansion of government funding of abortion.

The process has made a mockery of the system. Reconciliation and the “Slaughter Rule,” are just some of the examples of how the Democrats are trying to twist any rule to get their legislation passed. From the very beginning President Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership have behaved as if the rules meant for the rest of us were beneath them. From deals cut with the prescription drug industry to the drafting of at least 11 different versions of Obamacare just about everything has been done in backrooms, with occasional dog and pony shows such as hearings or summits that get broadcast on television but had little effect on the Democrats’ plans.

The bills are likely unconstitutional. A number of Constitutional scholars, and the state of Virginia, are claiming that the bills violate the Constitution. Three such scholars; Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Family Research Council Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski of the American Civil Rights Union pointed this out in the Wall Street Journal. The three scholars point out that first, the Constitution does not give Congress the power to require that Americans purchase health insurance. Secondly the Senate passed bill involves numerous deals Senator Reid cut to secure the votes of individual senators. This selective spending targeted at certain states runs afoul of the general welfare clause. Lastly, the legislation commands that states establish such things as benefit exchanges, which will require state legislation and regulations, rendering states little more than subdivisions of the federal government.

The bill pays for itself by cutting Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office has found that the Senate bill would result in “reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care” of those in the Medicare Advantage plan. It is not just the attack on Medicare Advantage that has doctors worried. The dean of John Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Edward Miller, writes in the Wall Street Journal, that the expansion of Medicaid under the Senate bill would bankrupt states and overwhelm the current health care system.

Our health care system deserves true reform, not further government control. Yes, the federal government already controls a lot of the current health care system – however few would argue that Medicare, Medicaid or the health care provided to veterans are exemplary and deserve to be expanded as is, let alone further burdened by new bureaucracy. Affordability, portability, accessibility, transparency and conscience protections for both patients and for health care professionals are what we should be focusing on – not how much more power can we give to the federal government

Thanks to the Family Research Council for furnishing these 21 valid points.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An open letter to Cong. Pomeroy

An open letter to Congressman Pomeroy
On the Health care issue

Congressman Pomeroy, please listen to the people of North Dakota. As we and the people of this state have shared with you for months, this bill is not in the best interests of families across the state of North Dakota, your state. In general, we oppose this government take over of health care, and implore you to vote no, endorsing a fresh start. In specific, let us be very clear about the abortion language in the current bill. No matter how those in the pro abortion community attempt to spin this issue, the people of North Dakota know the truth.

Bill HR 3590 Will Greatly Expand Number of Abortions.

Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill (HR 3590) that passed in the Senate is an elective abortion expansion bill, pure and simple. This 2,409 page, more than two trillion dollar bill, guts the current Hyde Amendment abortion funding ban by explicitly spending federal funds for private plans that cover elective abortion. It also appropriates $7 billion for community health centers and $6 billion for non-profit health care “co-ops”- without any abortion restrictions. Also, President Obama’s recent proposal would maintain abortion funding in the Senate bill, and even increase to $11 billion funds for community health centers with no abortion funding restrictions.

Before the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, Medicaid funded almost 300,000 abortions. The Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, has stated that because Medicaid does not fund abortion, almost 30 percent of Medicaid eligible women have their babies. In other words, even Planned Parenthood admits that if the Government were to fund abortion, 30 percent more Medicaid eligible women will have abortions.

This bill would upend over 30 years of settled government policy preventing federal funds from going to pay for elective abortions. If the Senate bill passes without the House adopted Stupak abortion funding ban, this bill will fund abortion and will vastly expand the number of abortions around the country. Rather than reducing the number of abortions, the majority in Congress will have overseen legislation to create the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

Regardless of whether one supports or opposes the legality of abortion, the majority of Americans oppose federal funding of elective abortion, which is exactly what the Senate bill will do.

We urge Congressman Pomeroy to reject the fake-abortion compromise. We need members of both parties to renew their energies to ensure every health bill includes the Stupak provision. This will prevent a massive new wave of federal funding for elective abortion.

Congressman Pomeroy, listen to the people of North Dakota, in specific oppose abortion, and in general, vote no on this government take over of our health care system.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where is Congress? Where are the people?

Where is Congress? Where are the people?

The headline reads, "D.C. begins licensing same-sex marriage". The Washington DC Council approved issuing same sex marriage licenses, and same sex marriage. Congress who is responsible for oversight in Washington DC has refused to become involved in enforcing federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which provides for marriage between one man and one woman.

The DC council, supported by a court ruling, did not allow this issue to go to a vote of the people. In every one of the 31 states where a vote has taken place, the people have voted in favor of marriage as between one man and one woman. Why should the people of DC be restricted from the privilege to cast their ballot on this issue.

Bishop Harry Jackson has fought valiantly to put this issue on the ballot. "We are fighting for justice and defending the rights of the people of the District of Columbia," Jackson said. "We have always anticipated that our quest for voting rights on the issue of marriage would end up in our higher appeals court, and today's ruling confirms that is where the issue is headed."

As we contemplate the serious nature of this issue, and the implications to future generations, we see the issue trivialized in the Washington Post--as an economic boon for DC. As you read the Family Research Council story below--consider the real and serious implications, and our need to promote and protect the institution of marriage between one man and one woman, whether that be from a wayward congress or activist judges.

For Richer or (More Likely) Poorer , Family Research Council

When same-sex weddings kicked off in D.C. yesterday, the city wasn't seeing anything but dollar signs. In an absurd article in today's Washington Post, reporters tried to argue that counterfeit marriage could be the economic salvation of the city's economy. In a region with 12% unemployment, local officials claim that redefining marriage "will create 700 jobs and contribute $52.2 million over three years to the local economy."

Not so fast, says FRC. The last census counted 3,678 same-sex partner homes in D.C. Assuming that number has stayed roughly the same, then the 150 who applied for marriage licenses yesterday would amount to a whopping four percent of the local homosexual population--hardly the stuff of economic recovery. For the Post's $52.2 million projection to come true, all 3,678 of those D.C. couples would have to get married and spend over $14,000 per wedding. (I don't know about you, but my wife and I spent a LOT less!) These "marriages" (which have yet to meet financial expectations in other states) may make a fast buck in the short term, but they will do nothing but drain the economy down the road. Consider the massive health care expenses incurred by taxpayers every year to cope with the diseases spread by homosexual behavior. According to the Kaiser Foundation, federal funding grew to more than $18 billion in 2004 to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over half of all U.S. infections are in men having sex with men! That means taxpayers spend roughly $10 billion a year treating the diseases caused by a behavior celebrated in same-sex "marriage." So much for economic development!

Meanwhile, the bigger question is: where has Congress been on all of this? So far both the House and Senate, which are responsible for D.C. oversight, have refused to address the city's direct assault on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). By sitting on their hands, they're now complicit with a movement that could roll back the definition of marriage in states where voters have won the battle to enshrine marriage in their constitutions. We expected better from Congress.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Government Run Healthcare?

Government Run Healthcare?

If the 2400 page healthcare bill being considered is not a federal government take over of the nation’s health care system, why do we need a 2400 page federal bill enrolled as law? If the current bill is not a federal take over of the healthcare system, why does the bill provide for over 100 federal agencies to implement, regulate, and control the nation’s healthcare system?

As of today, there is ‘good news’ and ‘not so good’ news. First, the good news is that there has been no vote on the bill. Even with the president stating that in regard to this issue, everything has been said, and everyone has said it, no vote has been taken in the house. The reason for no vote—they don’t have the votes.

The bad news is—that we should not underestimate their ability to get the votes. An immense amount of pressure is being put on the house members where the initial vote will be taken on the senate passed bill which includes the onerous provisions for abortion. The prolife house members should understand that there will be no guarantees for removal of the abortions provisions, after the passed bill leaves the house. These are backroom deals, and should be treated as such. The senate has not voted for the Stupak language, and in all likelihood, will not.

The two main reasons the NDFA is opposing the current healthcare bill are; 1) it does provide public funding for abortion and will dramatically increase the number of abortions, 2) an overall takeover of the healthcare system will result in higher costs and a poorer quality of service.

As much as proponents of the bill attempt to confuse the issue, the bill does provide for publicly funding abortion. Period. The only way to provide for protection is by incorporating the Stupak language. The bill even goes beyond these initial fears. Consider giving Kathleen Sebelius, with HHS, rule making authority utilizing this bill and the over 100 agencies to carry the rules out. Consider putting $11 billion into numerous programs, including ‘reproductive health care’. Can there be any question as to the involvement of Planned Parenthood and how much of those dollars will end up funding abortions in a PP facility?

To read a great article by Charmaine Yoest, titled ‘Abortion and the Health Bill’, go to Charmaine Yoest: Abortion and the Health Bill - Charmaine is with Americans United for Life.

And then to the issue of ‘is this huge, comprehensive bill’ in the best interests of really addressing the problems of cost, quality, and access—we believe ‘not’. When a comprehensive system like the healthcare system has over time acquired characteristics which have negatively affected the cost and access, the remedy needs to involve a piece by piece analysis. Each component should be addressed, and the effect on the overall system reviewed before attempting to implement an overall fix.

For general information on the present state of our healthcare system and common sense ideas on improving it, please go to the Heritage Foundation at To review a specific article addressing the issues of
cost, access and expectations, and accountability—go to

For North Dakotans, the challenge is clear. Rep. Pomeroy must honor his pledge to the people of North Dakota—he must vote to oppose the senate bill which includes the public funding of abortion language. He cannot vote for the bill in hopes of it being fixed—down the road. There no guarantees of that happening. Additionally, a government, top down, mandated healthcare system is opposed by a huge majority of the people in North Dakota. He must respect the will of the people, and vote no on the senate bill. If this bill passes it may well be by one vote, we must be assured it will not be Rep. Pomeroy’s vote.

Congressman Earl Pomeroy Washington DC Office
Congressman Earl Pomeroy
1501 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2611
Fax: (202) 226-0893


Monday, March 8, 2010

Waiting to marry

In this day when the sanctity of marriage is debated, in many cases attacked, and in other instances considered an option, Mark Regnerus speaks to why some are waiting to get married?

Audio Friday Five: Marriage Analyst Mark Regnerus

by Nima Reza, managing editor

Mark Regnerus is associate professor of sociology and religious studies in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, where he lives with his wife, Deeann, and their three child

The interview

1. Why are people not getting married earlier these days?

A fair number of people seem to be entering marriage-like relationships, and wanted to be married. I would ask them, So, why aren’t you married? They have responded, with some bewilderment, how could I possibly propose such a crazy idea at this point in their young lives?

These are young adults typically between 19 and 21. I just came to the conclusion that these people are ready, mature enough. They seem to be in love. Why the wait?

Some of them told me, too, that getting married before they had finished college, or before they had had a few years under their belt outside of college, was morally questionable. They didn’t want to settle so early and wanted to see what else was out there.

I felt that I needed to push back a little on the norm that you just have to have all this experience, and first loves can’t last. Some of this came as I reflected on my own marriage. My wife and I met when we were 18. We married when we were 22. If we can make it starting that young, then other people can make it, too.

2. What can parents do to prepare their children for marriage?

That starts at a young age when you try to model a good marriage – not that couples never have fights, but instead, show children how to solve conflicts. You train kids for marriage by embodying good marital habits and practices – things you do to maintain a good marriage. It’s not some exceptional formula people need to figure out.

Some of it is just common sense. However, we don’t teach them about marriage very well. We don’t say, This is going to be an important part of your life some day.’

Also, a lot of parents punt on sex and instructing men and women on what sex is about, the emotions involved and the physical mechanics of it. You don’t get married, get in bed together and then just all of a sudden talk about sex.

3. What would you want our listeners and readers to know about your new book?

The book is intended to be a definitive map of the land of premarital sex among young adults. So, some Christians will say, Why did you write a book on premarital sex? Well, because it needed to be written and we need to know what’s going on.

So, one of the gifts I think I have is telling the story of what’s going on out there – whether it’s teenagers or young adults. I want to tell stories that are reliable and true and accurate. I’m not an ethicist. I’m not here to tell you how things always ought to be. There are plenty of people who are happy to step in and give color commentary. I’m going to give them the data and the statistics with which to work and to tell them what the terrain of life is for 18-to-23-year-olds. I’m hoping it will provoke thought. I’m hoping it will provoke a lot of conversations.

4. So, what is the terrain like out there for 18-to-23-year-olds?

It’s challenging for the conduct of relationships – chaste and unchaste. Relationships face an uphill battle. They tend not to last long. They tend to become sexual fairly promptly; within three to six months on average. Even evangelical relationships, four out of five, tend to involve some sort of sexual component.

The story may not be what we would want it to be, but sex is probably more quickly a component of relationships than it used to be – certainly in the social expectations. I talk a bit about why that is and about the nature of what has changed between men and women. I talk about the economics of relationships; about shifting sources of power within relationships and why women have trouble pulling off relationships the way they would like them to go.

The book is empathetic both to men and to women’s hopes, and yet, they’re misfiring. The relationships that are happening, on average, are not making people happy, fulfilled, more mature and moving them forward into adulthood. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of dashed hopes.

5. What can the church do to encourage a marriage culture in the congregation?

It used to be that sex and marriage were linked mentally in the church’s mind. We’ve almost decoupled them. We’ve said, ‘Don’t have sex! Stay tuned for the lesson on marriage. It’ll come in a few years.’

We’ve tacked on all sorts of expectations for people prior to marriage. Marriage is something that you do after you’ve had your fun, experienced your life, your education; that you can’t really do these things together. That’s an idea from hell in some ways. Where did this idea come from that marriage is something you settle down for after life is done? That resonates more with men than women in general, which is why women still marry younger than men. It sends a bad message about marriage. Do we really want to send that message?

I recognize churches – in a fairly divorcing culture – are reticent to give a strong message on marriage to 20-somethings. Sometimes, premarital counseling amounts to the pastor deciding in his head whether this marriage is going to last or not. That’s a problem. So, I think in a culture that doesn’t expect a lot out of people, and yet expects a ton from marriage in terms of satisfaction, we’ve got things reversed. We should expect a lot of people to keep a marriage covenant and lower our expectations a little bit about the pleasure and satisfactions that marriage is supposed to give us.

(NOTE: Referral to Web sites not developed by NDFA is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites' content.)


Monday, March 1, 2010

The Mount Vernon Statement

America's principles been undermined and redefined. Truth has been replaced with moral relativism. The founding documents based on God's laws providing for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, seem to have lost their place of prominence. Is it time to seek the truth put in place by our founding fathers?

The Mount Vernon Statement

Constitutional Conservatism
A Statement for the 21st Century

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law.

They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics.

The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist.

The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead -- forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.

A conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent andmeaningful policy agenda.
•It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
•It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
•It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
•It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
•It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.
If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.

We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.
February 17, 2010


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