One need only watch the news to realize that there are many conflicting views on marriage, family, and sexuality in our world. Unfortunately, physical intimacy is increasingly becoming a nonchalant act that requires little more than consent. Marriage—once viewed as a sacred definitive—is increasingly becoming a cultural construct that can be subjectively interpreted. Perhaps most alarming of all is that the choice of raising children is increasingly treated as a burden, as opposed to an enriching, life-long pursuit.
With these changes taking place in our culture, some may worry about our society’s course. However, there are many individuals and groups that have dedicated their efforts towards opposing these trends and reestablishing traditional families. One notable example is the Love and Fidelity Network that is based out of Princeton, NJ.
The Love and Fidelity Network’s mission is to “equip college students with the resources, support, and arguments they need to uphold the institution of marriage, the special role of the family, and sexual integrity within their university communities.”¹
Among their many initiatives and events each year, the Love and Fidelity Network hosts the Integrity in Action seminar which endeavors to disseminate traditional principles on marriage and family into the next generation. The Integrity in Action seminar brings together professors, public servants, editors, and psychologists to lecture and share their insights with bright undergraduate students from colleges across the nation.
Nathan Leonhardt, who will begin his Master of Science in Marriage, Family, and Human Development this fall at BYU, has attended multiple events sponsored by the Love and Fidelity Network. At one of the conferences he attended, he spoke with Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, who was declared by the New York Times to be “this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker.”²
Professor George, after expressing his love for BYU and its ethics, said, “While 90% of students at BYU highly value the concepts of family and marriage, 90% of that 90% don’t know how to articulate it.”
In other words, despite the fact that the majority of BYU students espouse a strong religious belief in the core institutions of marriage and family, they have not yet learned to defend their belief with careful analysis and thoughtful arguments. In the changing landscape of our culture, a faith-based explanation—no matter how sincere or genuine—is often considered inadequate in explaining the values of marriage, family, and sexual integrity to those who are not religious. Thus, the purpose of the Integrity in Action Seminar is to empower students to articulate the critical nature of marriage, family, and sexual integrity using philosophical arguments and social science data.
This year, two BYU students have been selected to attend the conference from June 8-12.
Alexis Arnold is a Family Life major at BYU and next fall will be the secretary of the Student Board of the School of Family Life. She served an LDS church mission in Germany and loved being able to help families change their lives through the teaching and implementation of religious principles. This led her towards a career in family studies. Upon completing her bachelor’s degree, she is planning to pursue a master’s degree and later do clinical social work in the private sector, or even work for LDS Family Services.
Travis Spencer is also a Family Life major at BYU. He is currently a member of the School of Family Life Student Board and is the President of Student Involvement. Before his LDS church mission in Seattle, WA, he was a Music major, but his fascination with human relationships and how we interact made him change his course when he returned. His goal is to attend graduate school next year and eventually obtain his PhD. He wants to perform clinical therapy, although down the road his main goal is to teach family study courses and do research in family therapy.
Both Alexis and Travis are excited for the opportunity to attend the Integrity in Action Seminar and feel that this will be one of the highlights of their academic career.
To learn more about the Integrity in Action seminar visit http://www.loveandfidelity.org/integrity-in-action-2016/.
The Love & Fidelity Network, http://www.loveandfidelity.org/about-lfn/ (accessed June 7, 2016).
David D. Kirkpatrick, “The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker,” New York Times, December 16, 2009, final edition (accessed June 7, 2016).