There was a knock on the door and I found three strangers outside. Although it was dark and I was alone (our own Epiphany party had just ended) I let them in. The figures on the doorstep were reassuring, smartly dressed, manly, all that a mother could want of her sons.
They called themselves Elders despite being young. In fact, they were Mormons out on mission. I discovered that to come from their home countries to England they had had to work for a couple of years and save their own money, which shows great dedication to their faith, especially as there are no home visits in their two-year assignment.
The Elders were polite and enterprising, with excellent English. They hoped afterwards to go into law, or IT, having learnt, as they said, a great deal about life in between. A lovely Mormon girl I met in Salt Lake City last autumn, commenting on her brother and his friends who were also out on mission, told me: “They go away boys and they come back men,” and I could see what she meant.
It isn’t impossible to be techy, to holds one’s own in the modern world and also to be confident as a young man or woman. But what it does depend on is coherence, for everything to match up, for the education you receive from the outside to correspond with what you are within.
And that is what so many children are being cheated of in Western society at large. To be a successful adult it isn’t enough to have degrees and a good job. The wholeness of a person also extends to private life, to family and to marriage, and like anything that is worth having you need to give them time and have a firm sense of purpose to achieve them. My smart visitors had that. Indeed, one slipped me a pamphlet on preparing for the future through chastity. It was called “For the strength of youth”.
Society at large ignores all of this. We can blame the media, we can blame bad parenting, but it is adults across the board who are leading youth astray, and then bemoaning the consequences.
Take the way girls are brought up. They are told that to be a girl, a real, successful girl, they should act like men. Their careers and financial independence are all important.
This leaves something major out of the equation, which is that girls are not men and do have babies. In fact, it is necessary for society that they do exactly that. There have always been, and always will be, some women who do not bring up families, but that cannot be the norm if a society is to survive.
Most young men and women pair up anyway, but it makes a big difference to the community, both locally and nationally, when and how they do it. At the moment, this vital task is demoted below that of paid work. Young people are given to assume that it will happen of its own accord, to fit in conveniently with their working lives.
To stop the babies coming too soon, true femininity has been scrunched into the male role by relying on drugs and devices. Perversely, we have at the same time removed all the social sanctions which used to restrain inopportune behaviour. Separate spheres of any kind have largely been done away with, be it in the workplace, student lodgings or even school bathrooms. We have become a society whose whole structure has to turn on drugs, and nobody is noticing. In fact, it is impolite to mention it or protest.
The trouble is that fertility is an intrinsic part of human makeup and it is actually quite difficult to suppress it. So girls are given false assurances. The effectiveness rates for contraceptives quoted at school are taken from clinical trials among committed adults. They have nothing to do with what normally happens among adolescents. Statistics from government reports and abortion providers occasionally give the game away but you can also see results on the ground. One nurse I spoke to agreed: “I give them the Pill one session, and they are back again a few months later, pregnant.”
Many girls’ woes may just be beginning. Even if they avoid pregnancy, will they have a baby when they want one? Infertility rates are sky-rocketing, and will become worse as more people who were promiscuous and picked up STDs when young reach the age when they want to settle down.
Then there are the health hazards. Contraception has become so much a part of our culture that people often forget its risks. Even intelligent people shut them out. We act as though human fertility is designed to be turned on and off at will, as though the female body was just waiting for the twentieth century to find the chemical switch. Granted hormonal methods aren’t perfect (the Pill is now fifty years old and showing it) but the Perfect Contraceptive must be out there, ready to be found.
There is no evidence to support this optimism. Many years ago Dr Ellent Grant, author of The Bitter Pill, explained to me that the Pill is a blunt tool which works at cell level. It thus carries out changes throughout the body, which is why its side-effects are so various. It can even change the shape of the eye.
Serious side-effects include death, stroke, heart attack and permanent infertility. A more common one is breast cancer, a connection which was well known even before the Pill was marketed. A new study from India says that the Pill increases breast cancer risk by 9.5 times. In addition, the study brings together in one place other breast cancer risks associated with lifestyle: abortion (6 times), higher age of marriage, higher age at first and last child birth, and lower duration of breastfeeding. There are now some 50,000 women a year with breast cancer in the UK, but Breast Cancer Week regularly ignores all of the above.
The damage caused to women by the Pill are all the more worrying given how many girls are on it, for medical as well as social reasons. One teacher told me that it might be 50 per cent of her seniors. This is because, if girls suffer menstrual pain or disturbance, it is normal practice for doctors to follow the NICE protocol and use the Pill to shut down their entire reproductive systems rather than find out what is actually wrong and give them appropriate treatment. It is easier, but one can’t help wondering if there isn’t a financial incentive in there as well. Contraceptive services have always been separately remunerated within the NHS, earning the medical profession large sums of money. Because the Pill is free to the consumer, many people don’t realise what a money spinner it is, for drug companies too. Giving the Pill to girls when they are young gets them into a habit and prevents them learning their fertile cycles and how to manage them naturally.
And what about the boys? What is contraception doing to them? I would suggest it empties them of their manhood, of their specific role in life which is to lead their women and children, to protect them and to provide.
To lead is not to be a dictator. It is to take the risks and the brickbats and bear the brunt of difficult decisions. If a man can slip into a sexual relationship in which he gets most of what he wants, he doesn’t have to take the lead and propose marriage, or even propose a dance. We talk of young people choosing to live together, but often couples slide into this arrangement, and unfairly often the girl finds that she comes to want the security of marriage, for herself and for children, but the man drags his heels.
Protecting his family? Our contraceptive society has made men a danger. It is the women who take the brunt from unexpected pregnancies and health complications.
As for providing, how often do men, and especially adolescents, scoot when their girlfriends become pregnant? Could it be that their instinct is to provide and they know that they aren’t in a position to do so?
None of what I say is politically acceptable. Having come down a dangerous social cul-de-sac, it is easier to remain blinded by ideology than to change direction. But ideology cannot change human nature. Young men remain physically stronger than women, and want to prove their strength. If they are deprived of aspiration, they will seek bravado and manliness in other things, or lose their way as a man at all. Youngsters are further confused by gender ideology, and weakened by the porn industry which is taking advantage of their susceptibilities. How sad it is to see a footballer like Adam Johnson, so talented that he was promoted to stardom when still a teenager, being carted off to prison for acting out his porn habit on a 15-year-old.
The latest Western madness is having women in the frontline of the armed services. In America there is talk of women even becoming part of the military draft. Dr Rachel Lu points out that a Marine Corps study showed that the very strongest female recruits (top 25 per cent) were on a par with the weakest males (bottom 25 per cent). Women entering marine training were six times more likely to suffer injury, partly because their pelvises were vulnerable to carrying heavy loads. In general, mixed-gender units were slower, less lethal, and sustained more casualties.
Western commitment to feminism and gender ideology is losing us respect in the world. Other countries are more clear sighted, among them those from behind the former Iron Curtain. They suffered attacks on the family long before we did and look askance at where the “free” West is heading. In Tbilisi, Georgia, a World Congress of Families is being held this May which the country’s senior ministers are expected to attend. It will also be broadcast throughout their country, and is expected to lead to real change, to strengthen marriage and family life. A whole day is dedicated to education. If you are concerned about our own society, think seriously about going, or at least have a look at their website.
It is not only the Mormons who are bringing up good families. These exist in pockets in every country, usually in homes with a strong religious faith. Good families are living proof that human nature has not changed. Marriage is important for all of us, and it is time that we taught the young how to achieve it.