Dear Dr. J: My niece is expecting twins with her same sex partner.

Dear Dr. J,

What do I say to a same-sex married lesbian niece whose mother (my sister-in-law) just left a phone message saying they “are expecting twins”? Congratulations just doesn’t seem right but it’s not the children’s faults. It doesn’t seem right to create a family rift over this but neither can I be happy about it. I have no idea who the father is, which of the females in the relationship is carrying the children, whose two-brides-wedding-ceremonyeggs were used, etc. Nor do I know if I will ever be told because the family knows I do not believe in gay ‘marriage’. I can’t just ignore this, but do I say nothing? What do I say when the children are born? Any kind of congratulatory words would come out as fake, & they would be falsely said.

Help!

T.

Dear T.

Your problem is becoming increasingly common. We are all figuring this hatched-by-2-chicksout on the fly. So, let me offer a few suggestions for you to consider.

  1. You cannot give people the impression that you approve. It sounds as if you have that covered.
  2. Your instinct that it is not the children’s fault is a sound instinct. Remember that God loves these children. He wills their existence, even if He does not will the circumstances of their birth. Pray for these kids, starting right now.
  3. You can, and should rejoice that new life is coming into the world. There is nothing immoral or wrong about you sending them a card, or a gift that the children would enjoy, or that they would enjoy. They are going to have problems, that is for sure. You don’t necessarily need to pile on. Reality will exact its own punishment.
  4. donor-family-treePray for wisdom to find an opening to be good friends to the adults, and eventually, to the children. A time will come when they will need friendship. But don’t push it. It may take years for this situation to unravel sufficiently that they see the need for friendship.
  5. In the meantime, pray to have all the sting of your disapproval removed from your relationship with these adults. They are beyond the point where you can talk them out of or into anything. They have chosen their path. You may be their only connection with Jesus. Don’t let that connection be soured. (No pressure!)

    anonymous-us-volume_2
    Real life stories of Donor Conceived Persons
  6. Don’t ask questions about the identity of the father/mother at this point. Your niece will interpret that as a hostile act. When the children are older, they may want to know.  You may be one of the few people in their lives who will honor the fact that they want to know. You may be their best source of support for the kids.
  7. Check out Anonymous Us. Read the stories there. I think the pain that the kids feel in these situations will become more real to you. You may also see stories from mothers who used donor sperm. You can see their thought process. All this will prepare you to be an empathetic friend when the time comes.

In general: keep your powder dry. Save it for when you really need it. There is absolutely nothing you can do right now to prevent this situation from unfolding. A time will come when you may be able to make a truly unique and valuable contribution. Prepare yourself for that time, through prayer and charity. Who knows? Maybe your preparation will allow you to help someone outside your family.

Your friend,

Dr Morserg_broch_children_donor_cover

PS: We have a couple of pamphlets that might be helpful to you (don’t even think about giving them to this couple.) Children and Same Sex Parenting, and Children and Donor Conception.

Do you have a question for me? Send an email to info@ruthinstitute.org.

Padres: please tell us the full truth!

In my line of work, people tell me their stories of family breakdown and heartbreak. I recently heard the following story. I will tell it in first person, roughly as it was told to me. My comments are in blue italics.

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Cryotanks for frozen embryo storage. Is this where you want your children to live for the foreseeable future?

“Like you and your husband, my wife and I went through years of infertility. We decided to try IVF. I was worried that a child created by us would not be fully a child of God. I went to a priest/mentor. He told me: “you are going to a lot of trouble and expense to create a child. The child will certainly be a child of God.” I breathed a sigh of relief. The priest relieved his immediate concern. The priest also said, “I have to tell you: the Church doesn’t want you to do this.” I couldn’t tell whether the priest gave him any reasons why the Church doesn’t want him to do this: all my friend heard was, “it’s ok.”  

“The IVF clinic told us that we should retrieve three eggs, fertilize and implant them, for the best chance of getting one embryo to implant successfully. Once my wife woke up from the procedure, the doctors informed us that they had retrieved 13 eggs and fertilized all of them. They had implanted 3 in my wife’s womb, as we discussed. But this was the first mention of any other eggs or embryos. Only then, did they ask us what we wanted to do with the “extras.” I have heard many similar stories of infertility clinics failing to tell the whole story. People desparate for a child do not always think clearly or listen completely. And the fertility industry does not always help them….

“I was in shock. Indeed. The man’s countenance visibly changed as he told me this part of the story. We decided to freeze them and deal with them later. 

“Only one of the babies survived, and she is now a teenager. I love her. I’m glad I have her. But I have agonized over those 10 frozen embryos ever since. Apologists for the Sexual Revolution might say that this man’s guilt is a problem created by the last vestiges of religion. I say that is a crock. He instantly and instinctively knew that something was wrong with freezing his children. After all, if the one that was implanted and carried to term became his precious child, how could her siblings, conceived at exactly the same time, and under the same circumstances, be any less precious? 

“My wife and I divorced. I am still struggling over what to do with our frozen embryos. I have met with other priests and counselors. I finally found one who said, “Stop calling them embryos. They are your children.” I knew immediatly that he was right. The priest gave him some genuine relief, by actually addressing the problem, not glossing over it. I don’t know about you, but I feel crazy when someone tells me “it’s ok,” when I know for a fact that it isn’t. The priest gave me an ethical path for what to do for my children. I still have to convince their mother. I don’t know if she will go along with it.”

I’m not going to share the priest’s counsel right now. I will save that for a different post. Today, I want to focus on one point: if that first priest had given him reasons to NOT do IVF,  this man would not have had these years of anguish.

It is true that he would not have had this particular daughter, conceived at this particular moment and in this particular way. And of course, we must never regret the child. Each and every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift from God.* But he and wife might have had some other experience of fatherhood and motherhood, some other way, on God’s good time and in God’s good way. Who knows? They might even still be married.

Priests and other authority figures need to tell people the whole truth. Sugar-coating is not helpful. Truthful words, spoken firmly before the sin actually occurs, could prevent the sin, and save the person years of heartache.

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Go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you.

Please Padres, Pères and Fathers: tell us the whole truth. We promise to listen and not give you a hard time.

And my non-clergy readers, please: if you are in a situation like this, go to confession.** Trust the Lord to put you in the right confessional with the right priest. Do not delay. Trust me on this. You are going to feel better.

* I spell this out in more detail in my essay, “You were loved into existence.” We give this essay away as a free premium for signing up for the Ruth Institute newsletter.

** Or as Fr. Z would say, GO TO CONFESSION!!!

 

The Guilty Conscience Problem

At the Ruth Institute, we have identified the Guilty Conscience Problem as the key to the Sexual Revolution. The idea is this: people who are plagued by a guilty conscience do not think clearly. They will go to great lengths to deflect attention from whatever is burdening their consciences.

If we are correct about this, (and I am convinced that we are,) then we will never be able to argue people into agreeing with our positions on social conservative issues, such as abortion or same sex marriage. Far less, will we get agreement on the more basic issues such as contraception, divorce and sex outside of marriage. People have participated in all these activities. When we say, “X is an immoral act,” all they hear is “Guilty, guilty, guilty.” All of their protective instincts come to the fore, and rational discussion ends.

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Abel looks toward God with awe. Cain looks toward Abel with envy.

That is why I was so taken with the First Reading at today’s Mass. The story of Cain and Abel clearly shows Cain’s guilty conscience, from the start. Genesis 4: 3-5.

Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.” 

Why? Fr. Cormier explained: Abel brought the first and the best, while Cain brought the leftovers.

I had heard this before. What jumped out at me, was God’s speech to Cain in the next verse:

“Cain greatly resented this, and was crestfallen. 6 So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head.” 

God is reaching out to Cain, encouraging him to do better. He wouldn’t have done so, if He didn’t believe improvement was possible for Cain.

And then the real kicker in the second half of verse 7, where God warns Cain:

“‘but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master .” *

Temptation will always be with you. It even pursues you, crouching at your door. But God believes Cain can handle it.

However, Cain cannot bear to see his brother. Why?

The most logical answer: Cain knew he was wrong. Rather than accept God’s correction and invitation to closer union with Him, Cain removes the reminder of his sin from his sight. Cain murders Abel, and the rest is history.

survivor
Of course you do. Everyone knows a Survivor of the Sexual Revolution.

Most of us are not complicit in murder. Yet we often behave like Cain. We resist help, even from those who love us most, even when we know, deep down, that we are wrong.

If we are the ones trying to help, having a better, more winning argument will not do the job in this situation. Arguing can just drive the person further into themselves and further from you, from God and from the Truth. Have you noticed this?

At the Ruth Institute we are working at reframing the issues, so we can overcome this resistance. (For instance, see our page, “Are you a Survivor of the Sexual Revolution? Take this quiz.”) We identify the natural, harmful consequences that flow from sexual sins. We assure people that they have been greatly misled about these consequences, both natural and supernatural. Our hope is that through this gentle approach, we can lead them to a lasting repentance. We are having some success with this. Our Healing Family Breakdown Retreats address this problem too. Would you like to join us for the next one?

*(This translation is from the approved Lectionary. It does not accord exactly with any of the translations I’ve found on Bible Gateway. Maybe one of my Bible scholar friends can explain this to me….)