Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Politics & Society (page 3 of 4)

Ryan in Provo: Don’t resent success, emulate it

by Dustin Schwanger

Vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, spoke to over 700 people on Wednesday evening in Provo’s Utah Valley Convention Center after a day of fundraising in the area.

Introduced by Josh Romney, one of Mitt Romney’s five sons, and in the company of Utah senator Orrin Hatch, Ryan continued with the campaign’s emphasis on capitalism and American ingenuity saying, “In America, we don’t want to resent success; we want to emulate it.”

Following the theme of freedom, Ryan said, “America is special because it is the only country in history founded upon an idea, that freedom comes from nature and God—not government,” which statement roused the mostly student audience.

Ryan finished his fifteen-minute speech again attacking government intrusion into Americans’ lives, saying, “The family is the nucleus of society—not government.”

This reception wrapped up a day of fundraising in the Provo area. Earlier in the day the campaign hosted a dinner with Ryan for $25,000 a plate, and later, for $3,000, supporters could meet Ryan and have their picture taken with him. The final fundraising event was this reception costing $1,000 a person, but only $20 for students.

District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

by Dustin Schwanger

In the District of Columbia, abortions can take place at any stage of pregnancy. Today, our representatives have a chance to change that. H.R. 3803, or the DC Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, will come to a vote this evening around 6:30 p.m. This bill will ban abortions for unborn babies twenty weeks or older. This is a big step in the right direction. However, in order to pass, this bill requires a two-thirds majority, which means that all House Republicans and fifty-one Democrats must vote for the bill for it to pass. Please contact your representative—Republican or Democrat—to urge them to vote for this bill.

For more information about this bill, including a link to the bill itself, click here.

“Who’s Your Dad?” “Tom, Dick, and Harry”

by Dustin Schwanger

California state senator Mark Leno (D) has introduced a bill, SB 1476, that would allow the state to recognize more than two parents for a child. According to Leno, “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.” What sort of “families” has this bill been created for?

The reason for the bill stems from a case in which a lesbian couple were both legal parents of a child. One parent was sent to jail, and the other was hospitalized. When the biological father attempted to take custody of the child the state denied him because the state, by law, can only legally recognize two parents. The child was put into foster care.

This is, obviously, a tragedy, a tragedy that this bill would seek to rectify in the future. However, the problem with this bill is that it seeks to solve a legal issue through providing a solution that changes the framework of society. The foundation of society is the strong and stable family consisting of a father, mother, and children. Either tragedy or maleficence sometimes necessitates one parent to assume the roles of both or grandparents or other close relatives to care for the child.

Leno’s vision of the twenty-first-century family, however, seeks to include as parents many different people related and not related to the child, thus fundamentally changing the definition of family—that is, any Tom, Dick, and/or Harry will eventually be able to be a legal parent to a child.Family now, if this bill is passed, becomes whatever a judge wants it to be.

What are the consequences to such a move? In effect, this bill, if society as a whole follows after its lead, has the possibility of ending the institution of the family. If we allow society to redefine family as anything anyone wants it to be, then family effectively means nothing.

Although Leno may have good intentions in this bill (I’m sure he’s not singlehandedly trying to destroy the family), it must be stopped. The trajectory is set. If it is not changed, if there is not a line past which society refuses to move, then society will be unalterably damaged through the inevitable destruction of the family.

Same-Sex Parents: How Does It Affect Children?

Many people would have us believe that children raised by same-sex couples receive the same developmental benefits as children raised in a traditional two-parent marriage. Even a brief from the American Psycological Association asserted this view. But, a recently published article by Loren Marks, PhD, in the journal Social Science Research convincingly challenges that assertion.

Click here to read his article and click here to view a summary and commentary of Marks’s and another scholar’s article that provides further evidence against the claim that children raised by same-sex couples develop the same as children raised in traditional two-parent marriages.

High School Condoms: Stepping Back for a Moment

by Dustin Schwanger

Contraception has, again, been a hot topic in the media over the past week, leading to a particularly feisty debate on Fox News. No, this isn’t over the Catholic Church’s suing the federal government over the contraception mandate (that has been conspicuously ignored by most of the media); it is about a small high school in Brooklyn handing out condoms at prom.

The debate on whether this high school should be distributing condoms on prom night quickly becomes eclipsed when looked at in the less-reported context in which this is happening. Tucked away in a couple of articles about this controversy was a report that not only will this school be giving out condoms on prom night but that the school will be holding an assembly discussing safe sex and that the English Department is even sponsoring an essay contest about safe sex.

As a social conservative I am repulsed by the implicit, and even explicit, encouragement of teen sex. My first thought is that the schools should not even be involved in this matter—that is the responsibility of parents. But then I remember that responsible parenthood is a waning art. My next thought is that if the school must teach students about sex, because of the neglect of parents to do so, the teaching should be abstinence only. But then I remember that we are currently losing the abstinence battle: the trend of society is moving toward complete acceptance of teen sex.

This is where the school in Brooklyn enters. The principal of the school might be a crusader for teen sex, but it’s more likely that he and his policy are products of the societal trend of normalization of teen sex. While still strongly opposing such moves by school districts, it would bode well for us normal, everyday supporters of traditional families and marriages to step back from this debate and focus more on how we can affect the small part of society continually surrounding us.

Affecting our part of society for good generally will not happen from aspirations to lobby local or national government to protect the morals of the country; it comes through the personal effect we have on those with whom we interact, especially teenagers. Aspiring to change a teenager’s life, to help him or her to make wise decisions, is one of best services we can perform for society. Mentoring teenagers is something that everyone can do. Everyone knows teenagers whether they be their children’s school friends, extended family, or youth from a local church. There are many ways to be a mentor to these teenagers: we can simply talk to them, invite them over to family dinner, or invite them to family activities. These expressions of love and encouragement will help them to make better decisions, such as not having sex in high school, than anything a school can teach. However, not giving this encouragement to the teenagers in our sphere of influence will do more to damage them, and therefore society, than whether a school in Brooklyn hands out condoms on prom night.

Dear Mr. President: A Response to Same-Sex Marriage

from AmberLee Hansen 

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing this letter in response to your announcement of late stating your stand in support of same-sex marriage. I appreciate your attempt to be inclusive of all people, to help all people feel accepted. The Declaration of Independence speaks truth: all men are created equal. They have certain unalienable rights. But marriage between two people of the same gender is not one of them. That is not marriage, and it is not a right.

Marriage, as a religious institution, is between a man and a woman and should not be redefined by the state. I know there are some loud voices who, in the name of equality, would tell you otherwise. They would tell you marriage is a union of two people who are in love and is detached from religious practices—they are wrong. And they hold the minority opinion. Mr. President, the silent masses of our country stand for marriage, marriage between a man and a woman. After your recent announcement, I decided it is time for this silent voice to speak.

Marriage is a divinely established institution to ensure strong, healthy families. God united men and women so they could have children and raise families. Raising a family is a couple’s crowning joy. Mr. President, two men or two women were not made to have children. And yet you would redefine marriage to call both unions equal; you would call both types of union marriage. I’m sorry, Mr. President, but no matter how many supporters this viewpoint gets, marriage is between men and women—anything else is not marriage.

Mr. President, I stand for strong families. I stand for marriage as marriage has always been defined. People are free to make their own choices, Mr. President, and I am happy to let them. But their choices shouldn’t change how we as a country define marriage and how we as a country define family. Listen to the silent voices of America, Mr. President. Just because they aren’t speaking doesn’t mean they aren’t strong.

Realizing Love’s Loss

by Laura Nava

The cultural ideals set for love relationships between men and women appear beautiful and enticing. Thousands of books and movies portray the most exquisite romantic situations. Holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the pinnacle of all romantic holidays—Valentine’s Day—suggest the absolute importance of romantic love expressions in modern American society. While celebrating love for each other is wonderful in itself, false expectations and affectation of genuine love are a byproduct of the over-romancing tendencies within the culture. Obsession with these idealized romantic expectations, or romance addiction, and lack of consciousness deteriorate the ability to maintain authentic relationships. Solutions are available to those who choose to change—the addiction can be cured.

In her book Escape from Intimacy, Anne Shaef identifies the dangers of romance addiction. In short, romance addiction is a condition that compels the addict to crave romance and its accoutrements to unhealthy levels. A few of the symptoms found commonly in society include being in love with the idea of romance and moving from one “cause” to another. A cause according to Shaef means going above and beyond what is necessary in romantic scenarios. Moving from one cause to another leads directly into the final symptom of romance addiction—feeling disappointed simply because the setting is not romantic and dreamlike.1 In the end, the romance addict goes from one cause to the next in search of pity and praise but never feels satisfied. Normal life begins to lose its luster.

 In the classic film, A Brief Encounter by Noel Coward, the main character Laura exemplifies these manifestations of romance addiction at various points within the story.2 Laura allows herself to slide into an affair due to her lack-luster marriage and the romantic settings of her extramarital escapades. Near the end of the movie, she appears to break the spell that romance addiction has cast. This movie demonstrates a typical affair showing that romance addiction gradually leads to detrimental characteristics that may have lasting effects.

The highly problematic nature of romance addiction presents itself in low self-esteem, vagueness (i.e. playing games or being hot and cold), and the ability to create a sense of instant intimacy. These characteristics portray an elegant romantic relationship in movies or books, yet they are undesirable in a real and tangible relationship.3 Low self-esteem can create a person who fishes for compliments. The labels witty and coy mask undesirable vagueness. And let us not forget the love-at-first-sight encounters that are highly celebrated but rarely turn into lasting relationships.

As romance addiction progresses the ugliness of the disease shows itself in the destructive effect it has on a person’s love-relationships. Romance addicts are left with little or no moral substance for them to give in a real love relationship. This leads to the destruction of love relationships between the couple, friends, and family.4 Devaluing the opinions of loved ones and purposefully acting in opposition to them are both signs that an individual is losing touch with reality. The fruit of love includes the gift of yourself—or more specifically your self. Self is the innermost genuine portion of an individual. The cankering of the self, which occurs throughout the stages of love addiction disease, leads to the root of the issue—the inability to give deeply to the love relationship.

Love addiction can be cured through consciousness—being aware of how we affect one another. The gift of real love is manifest in day-to-day caring and sacrifice, not in a box of chocolates or a vase on holidays. The book We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert Johnson delves into the details of how men and women have come to a state of ignorance to self. The book shows that such ignorance creates significant personal and cultural dilemmas. In order to give of one’s self, a person must have the ability to understand and share what they have to offer.

Johnson also exposes the common practice of blaming other people in relationships and the unhealthy emotional environment it creates. “Usually, we blame other people for failing us; it doesn’t occur to us that perhaps it is we who need to change our own unconscious attitudes—the expectations and demands we impose on our relationships and on other people.”5 These unrealistic expectations justify unhappiness, oftentimes leading to the dissolution of a love relationship. Gaining an awareness of and taking responsibility for one’s self creates a more successful love pattern to follow than the romantic ideal of being saved from reality by one’s true love. Remember—every individual has a valid and valuable self to offer. As we come to know our own limitations we won’t set expectations of others that they can’t meet.

Romantic expectations tend to push out rational thinking, which undermines the process of recognizing self and relating to others as equals to our self. Consciousness of self becomes integral to finding and maintaining genuinely loving relationships. “Ultimately, the only enduring relationships will be between couples who consent to see each other as ordinary, imperfect people and who love each other without illusion and without inflated expectations.”6 As individuals, we set realistic expectations for ourselves and recognize our personal limitations. If this is acceptable for the individual self, the question to answer is: why would the same practice not suffice for someone who we profess to love? Deeply caring relationships cannot exist if we continually place divine expectations on regular human beings. As we reject the hero and love goddess fantasies, reality allows a practical version of love to exist.

Placing ourselves in the mindset of reality can result in change. As with any other addictions, the addiction of divine expectations must be identified, accepted, and proactively eradicated from daily life. This process is, and always will be, a hard thing to accomplish, yet it is where solutions flourish. One of the first steps to eradication is acknowledging that you have a problem. Awareness is the key to finding help. Sometimes help comes in the form of self-education and goal setting. In other cases, helping yourself means seeking professional, psychological intervention. Whether you choose the former, the latter, or somewhere in between—the outcome of a healthier outlook on love will be worth the work.

Love is an integral part of everyone’s lives. Actively partaking of its happy effects is contingent on the ability to take responsibility for self and allow others the same opportunity. The unrealistic expectations of romanticism reject the self and thereby create a negative environment where love will not survive. The skills to engage in genuine love do not come easily in our romantically charged society, but learning how to find the appropriate balance of romance is achievable. The first steps to the process of giving and receiving genuine love are recognizing and then rejecting the pervasive nature of romance and its demands. As a culture we love love. Let’s keep it alive by keeping it real.

1. Anne Wilson Schaef, Escape from Intimacy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989), 47.
2. Noel Coward, A Brief Encounter (Universal, 1946).
3. Schaef, Escape from Intimacy, 48.
4. Ibid., 49.
5. Robert A. Johnson, We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love (San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1983), xii.
6. Ibid, 110.

Motherhood: The Greatest Work

by Christy Hinkson

Christy is an author and a mother of ten. She recently released her new book Home Remedies for a Nation at Risk: What American Leaders could learn from American Families. Also, click here to view Christy’s blog Stand for the Truth.

The debate is back with some people questioning the value of the role of stay-at-home mothers. It is amazing that anyone would actually think that mothers who do not leave their homes to join the workforce are not working. As a mother of 10 children and the grandmother of 4, I would like to invite anyone who holds this belief to come to my house and follow me around for a day. Children enter this world through a process called “labor” and the work associated with motherhood is never done. Each mother in this world works and works hard.

By watching a mother at work you can witness what she does for her family physically, but it is impossible to witness the enormous impact that a mother has on the world now and forever. I dare anyone to find any job on earth that is more important and has a more lasting effect on humankind than mothers do. Governments rise and fall, companies come and go, celebrities leave superficial impressions, but no one can shape and influence another human like a mother can. Women do many kinds of work and make lasting contributions to the world, but any contribution pales in insignificance when compared to the impact of what she does as a good mother.

Sometimes mothers doubt their ability to impact because motherhood is available to so many. This responsibility is given by God to so many, because it is so important. Every hero that has entered this world came the same way, tiny, fragile and placed by God into the arms of a mother. Mothers teach and influence their children in a very personal way, who in turn teach and influence others, who teach and influence many others and on and on and on.  All that is good and right in this world can be traced back to the influence of somebody’s mother.

While I was in college, I wrote a simple song and now, 25 years later, I still believe every word of it. I will include the lyrics below. Our daughter, Heather, now the mother of two, recorded the song. A free download is available at this link:

“The Greatest Work”

The Greatest Work that I will ever do, will be in my own Home
I want to live in a way that I can give and make my potential known.
The greatest thing that I will ever do, I know inside will be
To live my life as a mother and a wife and raise a family.
The greatest work, the greatest thing, now is clearly in my view
I may reach heights unknown, but I know that in my home,
Is the greatest work that I will ever do.


A Split Second Too Late

by Kaylyn Johnston

Imagine receiving a frantic phone call from your next-door neighbor saying that your son had just been shot . . . by his best friend. For the Stokes family of Oregon, this unthinkable event became a reality in January 2011, when their 12-year-old son Austin suffered a severe head injury after being shot with a loaded shotgun.

Since the near-fatal wound over a year ago, Austin has undergone numerous surgeries, including many to drain spinal fluid from his skull. Austin wears a helmet 24 hours a day to protect his exposed brain. He has had to relearn basic skills such as how to eat, walk, and talk, and has just recently returned to school with the help of in-home tutors.

Within the upcoming year, Austin must have at least two surgeries where doctors will use different parts of his ribs to help repair his damaged skull.

According to the Florida non-profit organization Families Against Murder and Accidental Shootings, the United States has the highest overall firearm mortality rate. The Center for Disease Control reports that more than 28,000 Americans have died every year since 1972 due to firearm accidents.

Because of these startling statistics and their personal experiences, the Stokes family hopes to raise awareness of gun safety from this incident. Austin’s father, Adam Stokes, says it best: 

“Way too many kids have gotten hurt or killed by people who are not being safe. I am going to try my hardest to help other people hear this message so they do not have to go through what we have or even worse. Please help me get the word out and let’s make the world a safer place for kids.

For more information about the Stokes family, visit The Desert News

The Stokes family has also asked for financial support to pay for the ever-mounting medical bills. The family has set up a fund in Austin’s name, which can be found here


What about Abstinence? It is Free and Freeing

by Christy Hinkson

Christy is an author and a mother of ten. She recently released her new book Home Remedies for a Nation at Risk: What American Leaders could learn from American Families. Also, click here to view Christy’s blog Stand for the Truth.

With the contraception debate brewing and boiling over, I have to ask: What about Abstinence? Why does anyone have to pay for birth control at all? Why do people laugh and think it is impossible to keep sexual relations within the bonds of marriage. What about all the people in the world who manage to control themselves and refrain from sex until they are married. There are millions of people all over the world who do this and have lived to tell about it. I also believe that those who abstain before marriage are in a better position to speak about “women’s health” than those who are having sex with multiple partners and using birth control, which has historically caused several women’s health issues.

I practiced abstinence and so did my husband. Our children and their spouses have also abstained until they married. I attended a prestigious private University where people were expected to live by an honor code and if they had sex outside of marriage while they were students they faced being dismissed as students from the university. What a great opportunity to go to school where the focus was actually on academics.

Choosing to be “morally clean” was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Here are some of the stresses in life that I now do not have to worry about now because I was not prematurely sexually active:

1. I don’t have to worry that I will get a sexually transmitted disease.

2. I don’t have to worry that I will be as tempted to succumb to breaking this law as an adult. If I can survive the raging hormone time of youth, I am well on my way to living a pure life.

3. I don’t have to worry that I will have an unwanted pregnancy outside the bonds of marriage.

4. I don’t have to worry that anyone will ask me to consider having an abortion or giving a child up for adoption.

5. I don’t have to worry that there will be a child somewhere that I gave birth to and have not been able to raise.

6. I don’t have to worry that I have near as high of a chance of developing cervical cancer that is significantly linked to having multiple sex partners.

7. I don’t have to worry that my husband married me because he “had to.”

8. I don’t have to worry that I will run into old partners and be embarrassed.

9. I don’t have to worry that I will ever think about other partners that I was immoral with.

10. I don’t have to worry that God will be disappointed with my choices.

Practicing abstinence is not only free, but it is freeing. It may cause some people a little stress to practice abstinence but look at all the stress you are able to live without later.

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