Further to my claim about divorce, remarriage, and child emotional torture…

I was reading about the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder two nights ago. Look this symptom that I found at the National Institute of Mental Health:

A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)

That sounds exactly the diagrams I created depicting what it is like to live with divorced parents in “two homes.” The child is forced to swing back and forth, between loving one parent and rejecting the other, then loving the other and rejecting the former.

mothers life after divorce

fathers life after divorce

This pattern goes on, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, starting at the time of the separation and never ending. I hope you are beginning to get a sense of how isolating this experience is.

I am stunned. I wonder how many people with Borderline Personality Disorder have divorced parents. I bet it is more than a few. What the hell is wrong with us? Why are we tolerating this?

Remarriage is torture for little kids, literally

I found this comment on a blog post called, “12 Ways to Forgive Your Parents.”

It’s a long hurtful story but I was born into a family that both parents were awful parents! They divorced when I was 5 and we saw things that children shouldn’t see! Still have nightmares! After the divorce my parent both eventually met and had a son on each side! My mom treats this son between her new husband like he is golden so. And loves him all she can! Same thing on my dads side he remarried and had a son and they act like he is gold! Now the son on both sides are grown and it’s all about them and their family! I have 3 other siblings who are very much treated like we are invisible! This week my dad died and all along I thought there might be a chance my dad really loved me but I got my confirmation on he really doesn’t love us! He died this week and left the golden son executor of his will and left him most every thing!

I can so relate to what she’s saying here, except in my case I only have a half-sibling on my mother’s side.

It is extremely difficult to live like that. The parents move on with their lives and leave their prior children to navigate the new chaotic family structure, with its lies, its double standards, its neglect, and its unreciprocated responsibilities, all on their own. As she said, they’re invisible. Being invisible, the prior children have to watch as the parents shower the new children with favor and an intact home, for decades. We know they CAN be good parents because we stand on the sidelines watching them be good parents to the new children. It’s emotional torture and it doesn’t end. It is like being on an emotional “rack,” one of those torture machines that pulls you in two different directions. I am not exagerating to say that it was emotional torture do the back-and-forth thing, pretending half of myself didn’t exist no matter where I was. I made these diagrams a few weeks ago:

mothers life after divorce
The child in the mother’s home. He is attached to both of them and is being pulled in the mother’s direction while with her. At the same time, he has to pretend his father and his family don’t exist.
fathers life after divorce
The child in the father’s home. He is attached to both of them and is being pulled in the father’s direction while with him. At the same time, he has to pretend that his mother and her family don’t exist.

Mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home … This insane dynamic goes on and on and on and on…

So going back to the quote above: imagine each parent with a new intact family, one on the left and the other on the right. This gal has to pretend that one-half of herself does not exist regardless of which parent she is with, one-half of herself is rejected and no longer welcome. This explains why her father cut her out of his will, giving everything to the child of his most recent marriage. Anecdotally, I’ve heard quite a few stories like this, so she’s not idiosyncratic. I think kids like us remind our parents of the other parent. So we are rejected in a very real way, but there’s a big lie that we are not.

So all that is terrible, but you know what I think is worse? It’s how certain PhDs, MDs, JDs and religious leaders actually endorse this arrangement. These professionals give cover for divorces and remarriages by saying things like, “It’s all OK, as long as you’re happy, your kids will be happy. Kids are resilient.” BULLSHIT. Kids are fragile and it doesn’t take a fancy degree to understand that. The “rack” never goes away and the remarriages make it worse. It still hurts after all this time and I’m so angry about that!

Educated professionals with fancy degrees from prestigious universities endorse child emotional torture. Look at the diagrams I created above and then tell me how I’m wrong. They have zero credibility in my eyes. They don’t even know the most basic fact about a very young human being: that he is not an automaton and has his own idea of what will make him happy, quite apart from his parents’ ideas of happiness. So I think they should throw their doctorates and ordinations into the trash. They can go back to school and learn from a real teacher, instead of listening to soothsayers who are more concerned with orgasms than children.

Eli the priest and the steward of Gondor

In order to help structure my thinking about how authority works in the Catholic Church, I think of Eli the priest in the Old Testament, and the steward of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings film (I haven’t read the books).

Both examples make it easy for me to see the difference between two important concepts:

  • the man
  • the office held by the man

The man might be corrupt and do bad things, but the people under him still need to respect the office he holds.

In the Old Testament, Eli’s office was established by God. Samuel always showed respect for the office, even though Eli turned a blind eye to his sons’ evil behavior. Wouldn’t it have been strange for Samuel to say to himself, “Eli is being horrible. I think the Lord is telling me to go build my own temple.” That’s unthinkable, isn’t it?

In the LOTR film, the steward of Gondor was a placeholder for the king. Since the king represents Christ, I take the steward to represent the pope, and all the bishops by extension. Citizens of Gondor had a duty to respect the steward by virtue of the office he held. His own personal character was not important. Imagine a citizen of Gondor saying, “This steward is doing many things I disagree with, and the king is obviously not returning to this place. I’m moving to a different city, one where I am sure the king will eventually return to.” Does that makes sense, knowing what we know of that story? I don’t think it does.

 

Embracing Mary’s prophecy

 

I have a hard time when people misrepresent Mary. She is my spiritual mother and it hurts when people denigrate her. For example, I recently came across a post claiming that the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is a Goddess. This is an outrageous claim, ignorant, foolish, defamatory.

The objections presented in the post were the usual objections that you will see. They have been made and answered more times than I would care to count. But I want to highlight a foundational error that this author made, one made by so many others. You will notice that these people do not mention an important detail about the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther. All of the things they rail against about Mary, Luther accepted: Mary’s perpetual virginity, her immaculate conception, her bodily assumption into heaven, giving her exalted titles, and being the spiritual mother of all Christians. I don’t know why they omit this detail, if it is due to ignorance or just being willing to give him a “pass.” I suspect for many of them, it is the former rather than the latter.

I feel very confident to say that the Holy Spirit invites all Christians to participate in Mary’s prophecy in Luke 1:48b:

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed…

I was two decades away from becoming Catholic when Sister Act came out, but when I heard this song for the first time during that film, I fell in love with it. It brought me a lot of joy.

 

Nobody really wants to use contraception

OK so I have this theory about contraception: nobody really wants to use it. It is a concession people make, and is not anybody’s first choice. Condoms don’t feel good and, along with other barrier methods, interfere with spontaneity. Artificial hormones are poisonous to the human body and the environment, and uterine implants (IUDs) are dangerous. Sterilization is too permanent for anybody who thinks they might change their minds later. And none of these are 100% effective.

Plus there is an entire realm we can explore surrounding the psychological and social implications of pathologizing female fertility, and how contraception debases all human life. There is so much wrong with contraception, and nobody really longs to use it as part of their sexual activity. It is a concession. (Prescription hormonal use for other medical reasons is legitimate; it is not primarily contraception.)

By speaking against this concession and promoting marriage as the proper context for sexual activity, the Catholic Church upholds the fullness of the “one flesh” teaching found in verses such as:

In one important respect, by prohibiting contraceptive use the Church is affirming what is already in people’s hearts. We don’t actually want to use it, and that’s OK. We’re not wrong for not wanting to use it. We are not wrong for viewing it as a concession, a compromise, second best. So the Church understands us better than we understand ourselves. Doesn’t this sound like Somebody Else we all know and love? Being the good mother that she is, she has received this teaching from Christ and she passes it along to us. It seems to me that this teaching is part of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, and so is dogmatic and infallible. This means, among other things, that nobody has the right to coerce anybody else into using contraception under any circumstances, that it is wrong to apply pressure to somebody to use it, and nobody should feel guilty for not wanting to use it (remembering, of course, that marriage is the only context for sexual activity).

This is more evidence that God wrote his law into our hearts.

Same-sex marriage is a form of iconoclasm

God designed marriage and the family as a reflection of the Most Holy Trinity and the Holy Family. Advocating for marriage to be something other than one man, one woman, for life is to advocate for a new sort of iconoclasm. Ultimately, it destroys the historical Christian icon of the family replaces it with something new. This:

holy family

becomes this:

gay-nativity-2

I found the second image by going to Google Images and searching for “gay nativity.” There are so many things wrong with that image, and I hope to blog about those details another time. But just to whet your appetite: the theological implications of two Christs (or three, if we include the original configuration); using marriage to segregate the sexes; the abolition of sexual sin; the enshrinement of sexual sin; undermining the divinity of Christ; the abolition of sex differences; the abolition of Mary, Mother of God; the child as chattel and the object of a contract.

Marriage is only between one man and one woman. As part of the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church, this teaching is dogmatic and infallible. It cannot change, ever. Not only that, but to teach otherwise is to lead little ones astray and to cause them to stumble.

I am passing along to you that which was handed to me. Christians who advocate for “marriage equality” are not doing that. They have made up a new teaching and are trying to get support for it by saying that it is consistent with larger themes of the Church such as mercy, charity (love), and justice. They distort those concepts and so are gravely mistaken. Do not listen to any of them and do not be frightened by predictions that the Church will change her teaching on this point. She will not. The true teaching will prevail. Praise God for that.

The cult leader was not competent to give us parenting advice

One of the gals I follow here on WordPress posted an excellent essay called:

Book Review: Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart

I hope you read it.

I’ve been out of the cult for over eight years, and in that time I’ve seen so much about what was wrong there. One of those things has to do with his influence regarding our parenting practices, especially when the children were infants. He told us that they had to be afraid of us, that they needed to fear for their lives! Yes, this is what he told us, not an exaggeration. Bible verses were used to justify this advice. And we followed it. I had to override my gut almost constantly, which, unfortunately, I was completely used to doing due to my chaotic childhood, where I had to override my gut on a daily basis in order to get along.

I remember my husband joking about spanking our newborn daughter, right after she was born (we were still in the hospital!). Oh my God I felt so angry and even said, No. He said he meant it as a joke, but now I believe that he was “virtue signaling,” meaning, he was letting me and our friends know that he was on board with the corporal discipline regime. We all “virtue signaled” at different times about different things so my intention is not to single him out. It’s just one example of what went on there.

I remember seeing one of the boys, as an infant, get spanked with a wooden paddle that was probably 18 inches long and at least one inch wide. This happened at a meeting; everybody saw it. The infant was maybe a year old or less. The cult leader openly commended the dad for doing this, saying that he was a good example of how to discipline a child. There are many other examples I can give, and people didn’t just do it to their own kids, they did it to others’ kids too. Unfortunately, I also participated in this inappropriate use of the Bible to justify taking out my anger onto my children, and other people’s children as well. It was wrong and when I think back on it, I feel sad and ashamed. So much pain, so much missed opportunity to express love, patience, forbearance, gentleness. Missed teaching opportunities, missed opportunities to forge meaningful connections.

**sigh**

Infants need to know they are safe and loved. That comes first and it takes time. I completely agree with this pyramid, which appears at the post linked above:

4 messages framework_NEWwithTag

Years later, while the cult leader was in the midst of an affair with one of the married women in the cult, he retracted those remarks in an attempt to please her. This all came to light when he disclosed his affair. That is when the spankings stopped. The eldest of the children were probably around 10-11 years old. It was the summer of the year 2000.

 

When will the sin of causing scandal to little ones count as real sin?

 

I recently came across an essay that I want to discuss. I’m not going to link to it because it is not my intention to question the author’s intelligence or intentions. I just want to discuss how we, as a culture, do not take into account the sin of scandal to little ones as we work out the knotty and difficult marital situations people get themselves into. We seem to be mainly concerned about the adults as we work through the issues.

This author proposed a hypothetical situation that troubled me a lot. It discussed the idea that it might be possible for somebody in a second marriage:

  • to be sexually active in that marriage
  • and not in a state of mortal sin
  • without going through the nullity process to determine the objective status of the first marriage.

He argues that such a person might be in a state of venial sin rather than mortal sin. Big difference there because if somebody dies in a state of mortal sin then they are going to hell. The author offers the following scenario as evidence:

  • An invalidly married couple has had children together, who are still at home.
  • Either the man or the woman recognizes the sinfulness of the “marriage”, regrets having entered into it, and desires now to do what is right (which in this case would be for the parents to live as brother and sister while still caring for their children as mother and father in the same household).
  • The other party refuses to live as brother and sister.
  • The other party says he (or she) will leave the family if sexual relations are refused.
  • Hence the man or woman in question continues sexual relations, in effect under duress, to ensure that his or her children are not deprived of one parent.

He goes on to argue that the person who is having sex under duress is not in a state of mortal sin on the grounds that the full consent of the will is lacking. It is the presence of the children that make this so. 

Here is the problem: there are countless second marriages that have kids from first marriages. There are so man of these marriages, in fact, that experts attribute the higher failure rate of second (and subsequent) marriages to the presence of kids from a first marriage. Those kids exert a different kind of influence and pressure than kids born into the union.

I wish the author had made it clear whether or not he was excluding children from prior marriages (or relationships). If he intended to exclude them, this would have shrunk the number of couples that the scenario encompassed; people with children from a prior union would have understood immediately that his scenario did not apply to them. If he did not intend to exclude them, then I can’t see how the argument and his conclusion would remain intact. As the argument stands, it sounds like he may be giving some sort of canonical preference to kids born into a second union, as if those kids are sort of like a vaccine against mortal sin. But there so many other things to consider:

  • What about the sin of offense against kids in the first marriages?
  • What about causing scandal to them through the remarriage, through the involuntary fracturing and restructuring of their families?
  • What about the familial obligations that are imposed upon them without reciprocation?
  • What about causing scandal to all the children due to the sinful sexual activity, due to giving all of the children a false understanding of what the Church teaches regarding the proper context for sexual activity?
  • Is that person still in a state of venial sin even though there is quite a bit of scandal going on?

I am pretty sure this author was raised in an intact home. This would explain why the sin of causing scandal is missing from his argument. At least, that’s my guess. I also know that our culture is perfectly fine in making life comfortable and easy for adults, all the while overlooking the sin of scandal to little ones.

When will the sin of causing scandal to little ones count as real sin? When will this sin be important enough to include as a required aspect of how we resolve the thorny marital issues that people get themselves into?

Another thing I love about being Catholic

Here’s another thing I love about being Catholic: all the heavy lifting has been done for me. I am not responsible for establishing the faith, I am not responsible for interpreting the Bible for myself or anybody else, and I am not responsible for determining what constitutes the Bible. This is because there is a Deposit of Faith that was “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It can be summed up thusly by Jesus himself: “My doctrine is not mine, but him who sent me.” (John 7:16).

EWTN has a great summary of this Deposit. I added hyperlinks to the scripture references:

“St. Paul uses the Greek word ‘paratheke,’ ‘deposit,’ meaning something precious entrusted to a depositary for safekeeping. He means by it not an inert object like gold or diamonds or a sum placed in the trust department of a bank, but a living body of doctrine. O Timothy, guard the “paratheke,” the ‘deposit’ (1 Tim. 6:20). This urgent appeal of the Apostle to his Successor is not only thematic for the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ and their Epistles but also for the Gospels. The reason is the fact that this deposit is the doctrine and the teaching program which Jesus entrusted to his Apostles when he taught them, and mandated them to take it out to all nations (see Matt. 28:16-20). He entrusted it therefore also to their Successors, including the men of Holy Orders as a whole until his Second Coming at the end of the world. This concept of a priceless divine deposit entrusted to the teaching Church belongs to the New Testament as one of its principal themes.

“The origin of the deposit, then, is Jesus the Divine Teacher. It originated in his teaching of his Apostles, when he prepared them to carry his program forth to all nations. What is the value of the deposit? Unique and priceless. Jesus himself states it: ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me’ (John 7:16). It is the Word of God, not diffused throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, but gathered into a brief teachable synthesis and summary by Jesus himself. It was a stroke of genius, humanly speaking, that Jesus made his revelation of the Three Divine Persons the pattern of this teachable summary of divine revelation. Jesus was preparing teachers in the age-old oral methods of mankind; printing, printed catechisms and printed textbooks were still fifteen centuries in the future…”

1 Cor 15:3 seems to echo John 7:16: “For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures…”

I want to learn about this Faith but I don’t have to figure it out as if to establish it. See the difference? It was already established a long time ago and so we enter into what has already been established. We are children of God, and it is His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. treasure-box-2

The Church has been like a Christian treasure box for me, with so many wonderful things to discover. I don’t have to dig to get to them; I am not responsible for bringing them forth as if I was in labor. They are there for anybody to discover and enjoy.

It makes perfect sense that God would set it up this way.

What does Peter Hitchens have to do with the fateful Dred Scott decision?

Here is an excellent eight minute video of Peter Hitchens making an important argument for marriage. This argument has rarely been heard, yet it is perhaps the most important argument out there.

It is one of the arguments made by SCOTUS Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis in his Dred Scott dissent. Justice Curtis was one of two justices who argued against that fateful decision, a decision that changed the course of our nation for the worse.

To see what I mean, first listen to the argument Hitchens makes in this video. It is very easy to understand. Then follow this link to Justice Curtis’ dissent, and do a keyword search (control-f) for the word “marriage.” The two arguments are identical. Justice Curtis argues that SCOTUS had a duty to recognize Dred Scott’s marriage that he entered into while in a free territory and with the consent if his master. I am not qualified to comment on the legal correctness of his argument, but from a moral standpoint, he is correct. The state has a duty to recognize marriage. Marriage changes our status and orients us away from the state, towards our spouse and any children we bear.

Hitchens doesn’t mention Justice Curtis’ argument, so I don’t know if he knows about it.