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Symposium battles trends that damage traditional family

PROVO, Utah — Speaking from a pulpit to Oxford University students

troubled about pursuing an education during the turmoil of World War

II, C.S. Lewis told them it was important they stick to their education

— even philosophy, a field he routinely called \"slippery.\"

\"Good philosophy must exist,\" he said, \"if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.\"

In

similar fashion, a group of BYU students of the Family Law Society

organized and carried out a formal symposium, called Stand for the

Family, meant to counter modern philosophies perceived to be damaging

traditional family relationships and, ultimately, society.

After

attending a several-day seminar in Southern California last summer at

an interfaith organization, the Ruth Institute, BYU law student Alisa

Rogers rallied support for a conference on strengthening the family.

Ruth

Institute President Jennifer Morse attended and kicked off the two-day

forum in a 20-minute keynote speech Friday night. Morse, a Roman

Catholic, referred to her 170-plus predominantly Mormon audience as

\"brothers and sisters\" standing \"shoulder to shoulder\" with her and

other religions on moral issues, especially referencing opposition to

same-sex marriage.

\"Despite what

you've heard, the marriage issue is a unifying issue,\" she said. \"That

is, our opponents are always saying, 'You guys are being so divisive.'

But that's not what we've found at all. What we found in San Diego, and

indeed all across California, is that the marriage issue is a unifying

issue, and that the people who are orthodox across all the religious

traditions stand together on the issue of the definition of marriage.\"

Mormons

and Catholics had already strengthened ties with one another in

California in 2000 over the definition of marriage. But in 2008,

Proposition 8 brought out a host of others, including Jews and

evangelicals. She recalled speaking to all four groups at once at an

orthodox Jewish synagogue.

She said

evangelical megachurch Pastor Jim Garlow and San Diego's former Roman

Catholic auxiliary bishop, Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, had become

friends during the campaign and \"both felt like they had more in common

with each other than with some of the more liberal members of their own

faith traditions.\"

Morse, who spent

15 years teaching at Yale and George Mason universities before founding

her institute, outlined two general reasons why she believes marriage

culture is unraveling: First, people are losing gendered language, and

second, people are thinking that fathers, mothers and caretakers can

perform the same parental duties interchangeably without losing

\"something.\"

She

attacked the first idea by citing a half-dozen anecdotes where

government replaced gendered terms like bride or groom with terms like

spouse.

Americans are being taught

to believe they're generic humans, that \"we're not men and woman, we're

generic parents, we're not moms and dads,\" she said. \"Ladies and

gentlemen, there are no generic people!\" she said loudly. \"There are

men and women; there are boys and girls. That's who we are, and to lose

the sense of ourselves as gender is to lose a part of our humanity. ...

We're dehumanizing ourselves.\"

It is

these people who believe gender is insignificant who are more likely to

believe the dual gender requirement for marriage is arbitrary and

meaningless, according to Morse.

Her

second argument for traditional marriage is that fathers and mothers

are more than the sum of their parts, that their different genders

contribute uniquely to a family structure.

\"There's more to me as a mother than a bunch of functions, a bunch of jobs,\" she said.

Understanding

that is important, Morse asserted, \"Because one of the things that is

happening to us is people are (saying), 'If you can just figure out

what moms do, if you can just figure out what dads do — and if all

those jobs get done — then it doesn't really matter who does them.'\"

She

blasted that notion, saying it was the \"same old song and dance\"

feminists argued decades ago when advocates said it doesn't matter if a

mother or paid help looks after children.

\"People

are being told there is nothing particular about the mother,\" she said.

\"We think (as social scientists) that if we (can track) what people are

doing with their time ... that we're done, that we've got it all figured

out.\"

But Morse, a mother of two,

said, \"The truth is, those of you who are moms and dads realize your

role as a mother or father goes far beyond the things you put down on

that list.\"

An example of a small

but important action that would normally be overlooked is a mother who

naturally, instinctively, rocks her child while standing in the

supermarket, a motion that scientists learned stimulates a baby's

nervous system in a way that helps his language development.

\"Who

knew?\" She said. \"What is happening to us, is that we're being

decomposed into nothing but a list of traits. ... It short sells what

we're doing.\"

Morse finished her

remarks by lambasting liberal trends among family law, a profession

that is \"basically a cesspool\" and \"dominated by radical feminists with

an ideology and an agenda.\"

She said

they have followed the philosophy of Marxism, and we are ending up with

a similar sexual state as the Marx-inspired Bolsheviks after the 1917

Russian Revolution, a time when divorce became available on demand,

sexuality ran feral, and abortion was legalized — \"All while we've been

asleep at the switch,\" she said.

The

symposium also featured 27 other presenters from 11 different academic

disciplines on subjects including same-sex marriage, pornography,

no-fault divorce, and ways to strengthen your marriage.

Readers can learn more about the Ruth Institute by visiting the Web site at RuthInstitute.org.


E-mail: jhancock@desnews.com