COMMENTARY: The pandemic raises serious questions about our modern approach to marriage, family and human sexuality.
When the COVID-19 crisis first hit the news, I thought to myself, “Oh boy, nobody is going to want to talk about the family anymore. It is going to be all COVID, all the time.”
I was wrong. The issues the Ruth Institute deals with are just as important as ever. That’s because pandemics don’t exist in a vacuum. We can easily see that the political and economic system in which a new disease takes hold plays a part in how that country copes with that pandemic. We can now see that the culture surrounding the family makes a difference in how the United States and other developed countries are dealing with the new coronavirus. And the pandemic raises serious questions about our modern approach to marriage, family and human sexuality.
Top of the list: The pandemic highlights the absurdity of the hyper-sexualized society in which we live. At the opening of the crisis, a pornography industry lobbying group called on those who make so-called adult entertainment to voluntarily cease operations for two weeks. (This was before it was obvious that everyone was going to shut down.) The industry congratulated itself, for its undying love of humanity. Really? A two-week hiatus by a $16.9 billion industry is a great sacrifice?
In fact, the move was a public relations gimmick by an industry that daily wrecks people’s lives. Pornography is strongly correlated with infidelity, divorce and marital dissatisfaction. It’s also an affront to human dignity. This harm will barely be impacted by a two-week break. And the consumption of porn has increased during the near-global lockdown. Just Google “lockdown on pornography” and you’ll see what I mean.
Meanwhile, New York City’s Department of Public Health issued guidelines which helpfully note that “masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) for at least 20 seconds before and after.” Beyond that, it recommends avoiding intimate relations with strangers and group sex.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, couldn’t bring himself to tell people to avoid sex with strangers. In response to a question about people using casual sex/dating apps like Tinder or Grinder, Fauci said, “If you’re willing to take a risk — and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks — you could figure out if you want to meet somebody. And it depends on the level of the interaction that you want to have. If you’re looking for a friend, sit in a room and put a mask on, and you know, chat a bit. If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well, then that’s your choice regarding a risk.”
Sensible people don’t need to be told to abstain from risky conduct, like casual sex and orgies, even without a pandemic. The public health establishment appears to assume that sex with strangers is so natural that we can’t ask people to give it up. If you think you’ll die by abstaining from sex, you’re probably a sex addict. All of which raises the question: Are we ruled by sex addicts?
Both the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control have advised health care facilities to reschedule non-urgent appointments and elective procedures. A number of pro-life and pro-family groups, including the Ruth Institute, have asked state attorneys general to enforce CDC guidelines by ordering abortion businesses to close down for the duration. For decades, abortion proponents have told us that a woman has a “right to choose.” That makes abortion elective, by definition.
But Planned Parenthood says abortion is a time-sensitive essential service. Abortion facilities use masks, gloves and other personal protection equipment. (At least, I hope they do.) Why are these scarce medical resources not being reallocated for coronavirus patients?
Likewise, so-called sex-change operations or “gender affirmation” surgeries are elective surgeries. These procedures alter the physical appearance, not the sex, of the subject. The biological sex they had at the beginning of their life they will have throughout their life.
The Ruth Institute has partnered with Life Petitions on a petition calling on governors to stop these procedures, for at least the duration of the shutdown. No one will be harmed by this, and it will give the gender-confused time to rethink what could be a life-altering decision.
The petition also asks governors to lift bans on counseling to help the gender-confused embrace reality. These bans are currently so broadly written that therapists often fear speaking frankly to their clients. “Your surgery cannot be scheduled for the foreseeable future. You will be okay. Let’s talk about how you can live comfortably in your body, as it is right now.” Is that forbidden speech? Right now, therapists in some states are unsure.
Finally, the coronavirus pandemic highlights the role of declining birth rates. In mid-March, Italy had the second-highest number of confirmed COVID cases. Not coincidentally, it also has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe: 1.33 children per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1.
That has given the nation a rapidly aging population and pension costs that dominate public-sector budgets. Both have put a strain on Italy’s health care system, making it unable to respond effectively to a medical crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. Some of us in the pro-family movement have been predicting this sort of problem for a long time. Perhaps now, people will be inclined to listen.
The sexual revolutionary establishment thinks the answer to lots of people dying (i.e., the pandemic) is to kill people (i.e., abortion.) In the face of the spread of a novel contagious disease, the sexual revolutionary establishment cannot manage to advise people to keep their pants on. I guess there is still plenty of work for the pro-family movement!
By Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute…