Love and Fidelity Network’s annual conference encourages students to learn about marriage and foster change in culture
The Love and Fidelity Network, a nationwide student organization that strives to promote the value of human sexuality and stable marriages, hosted its annual conference at Princeton University on October 30-31.
The conference, entitled “Sexuality, Integrity, and the University,” examined various topics related to the status of marriage and the family in modern society, as well as how individuals can develop healthy views and lifestyles in their current and future relationships.
Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law at George Mason University, delivered the opening lecture. She structured her talk around what she considers to be the four basic principles of marriage and family: first, interest in the qualities and differences of the opposite sex; second, interdependence and cooperation between spouses; third, interaction with extended family members; and fourth, openness to and orientation towards children. Each of these, she emphasized, contributes to a stable and happy life, even amidst difficulties.
As advice to college students, Alvaré said, “Be more than a placeholder for decency … catalyze conversation…[and] events” to initiate change in the culture.
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Politics at Princeton, spoke on “The False Catechism of the Sexual Revolution.” He described how “the view of the elitist institutions of the culture”—which, he stated, defines marriage as an emotional bond between anyone regardless of sex, number of participants, or level of commitment—“[is] a false catechism.”
George continued, “If we’re to critique it, if we’re to transcend it, if we’re to take ourselves and our peers to a more excellent way, then we’re going to have to understand it.”
This need for understanding, George emphasized, stems from a cultural habit of not thoroughly evaluating the meaning of sexuality and marriage.
“Part of the vulnerability of the sounder view,” he said, “was … relying on a catechism.” To promote that sounder view in today’s culture, “that means hard work,” involving effort to study and communicate the fundamental principles of what marriage means.
William Struthers, Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College, and Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, continued the conversation in their panel on pornography, “On Harms and Hopes.”
Using the viral image of the “white-and-gold or blue-and-black dress” as an example, Struthers argued that pornography has distorted society’s perception of sexuality. Addressing the university students, he said, “Your generation has actually grown up in an environment that causes you to see sex as always white and gold, [while] the generation before you has always seen it as blue and black, because your generation is part of the great societal experiment known as Internet porn.”
Struthers acknowledged the various detrimental consequences of pornography, including “[an increasingly] instrumental view of sex…negative sexual self-confidence, social isolation, increased depression, [and] decreased bonding with your caregivers.”
Hawkins agreed, also highlighting pornography’s damaging effects on relationships and the family. She stated, “Those who are viewing pornography regularly, whether it’s a man or a woman viewing it … tend to have decreased sensitivity toward women … [and] less respect for women’s equality, women’s rights.”
She further noted that “those who are regularly viewing pornography are three times more likely to have an extramarital affair and four times more likely to visit a prostituted woman.” With these statistics, Hawkins pointed out the connection between pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking.
Andres Lulli, a sophomore at the United States Naval Academy, spoke with the Rover about the conference. “After attending the conference, I am sure that [preventing] pornography is one of the missing ingredients to creating a sexual-assault-free campus, and I hope to be able to share the lessons I have learned from LFN with my peers,” he said.
“I believe the LFN conference is important because it helps us to not only more fully understand the ideals that we believe in,” Lulli continued, “but also to understand them in a way that will enable us to communicate and explain them to others.”
The conference also offered three breakout sessions. In one such discussion, Jennifer Lahl, R.N., M.A., founder and president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, presented “The Ethics of the Modern Family.” She discussed the unnatural, often harmful characteristics of third-party reproduction, as three CBC documentaries bring to light. These films, Eggsploitation, Anonymous Fathers’ Day, and Breeders, respectively highlight untold stories related to egg donation, sperm donation, and surrogacy.
“Egg and sperm donation and surrogacy are often marketed as wonderful ways to help people have a family,” Lahl told the Rover. “What most people are unaware of though are the serious medical risks to women’s health and the children born via IVF [in vitro fertilization].”
When asked how she would advise young people who wish to help infertile couples, Lahl suggested referring them to the CBC website and documentaries, as well as “[warning] them they are risking their health and their own fertility.”
Commenting on Lahl’s talk, Alejandra Aguilar, a sophomore at Stanford University, told the Rover, “These issues, like egg donation, are becoming more and more apparent in my day-to-day…but it is one of the issues I know the least about. People talk about egg donation and surrogacy as though it is comparable to giving blood, but the reality is that it is so much more medically and ethically complicated and dangerous.”
Aguilar said she attended the conference “because I have been trying to get more involved in Stanford’s chapter of the Anscombe Society and felt this conference would be an excellent introduction.
“I was also excited about the chance to meet other college students in similar campus climates who are still able to maintain and promote the same values I hold on sexuality, integrity, and marriage, even in the face of hostility from their peers and school administrations,” Aguilar concluded.
“In addition to the intellectual [ammunition] conferences like these provide,” Lulli added, “they also increase our professional network to include more like-minded individuals. This network will be our moral support structure for when we feel alone in our fight to promote the truth and our greatest intellectual resource for when we encounter new ideas.”
Marriage as a social issue, the transgender debate, the importance of fathering, and the value of commitment were additional topics discussed at the conference.
Visit http://www.loveandfidelity.org/live/ for a full video of the conference.
Sophia Buono is a sophomore PLS major and ESS minor. She had the privilege of attending this year’s LFN conference, where she realized that Princeton, while a pleasant college town, unfortunately has no quads. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.