Part 1– Alternative families are on the rise- and it’s not going well…
Part 2– Kids need more than just two committed parents, gender is relevant.
Part 3– Dad and Mom are needed to develop a healthy gender identity.
Part 4- Biology Matters.
Conclusion– Opposite-sex parenting is ideal.
I do not need the bible to make a case for traditional marriage. That Christianity endorses one man/one woman marriage, and it is a statistical reality that the traditional family structure is ideal for childrearing, simply reinforces my confidence in the Christian worldview.
I am a fervent believer in adoption. I think that every Christian should find a way to support adoption- either by means of themselves adopting or by throwing money at someone who is. But I am not blind to the unique risks and hurt that flow from the abandonment, orphaning and/or relinquishment of a child from his/her biological parents. Within our state’s foster care system, every child is considered “special needs”- even the ones who are placed with their adoptive parents at the hospital within a day of their birth. Why? Social workers have determined that even a disruption of one day is a significant loss for a child. At some point in his life, our son is going to have to wrestle through the pain, anger and questions about why his biological parents abandoned him. For some adopted children, that disruption and the ensuing transition(s) leaves a long-term, sometimes life-long wound. Adoption is beautiful, but it is born out of brokenness. Adoption is the best remedy for an awful situation.
It is widely accepted that children do best when raised within a marriage with their biological parent. When the concept of marriage deviates from one man and one woman, by definition someone other than the biological parent will be involved. Sometimes a blended family is unavoidable and two people make the best out of a difficult situation. But I guarantee that getting to that place will involve loss for both the children and the parents.
One of the primary functions of marriage is to connect children to parents. Every child is entitled to be known by, and have a relationship with, both of her biological parents. We do children a disservice if we tell the child longing for a relationship with her biological father that her loss is not real. (Case in point- most states have laws that facilitate an adopted child’s search for their birth parents.) Adult society must protect the child’s right to affiliate with both parents because children cannot do this on their own. Without man/woman marriage, how will we as a society recognize and protect the child’s rights to know and be known by her biological parents? And if another way to distinguish the unique position that biological parents occupy within a child’s heart is found, wouldn’t it just be an affirmation that something vital has been broken?
If love between adults was the only important factor in child rearing, then step-parents would be interchangeable with biological parents. While there are situations where the blended family improves a child’s situation, this is generally not the case. Research shows that stepfathers spend less time with their spouse’s children than do biological fathers. On average, remarried mothers spend less time with their own children (often because step fathers and children compete for mom’s attention.) In a home with both biological parents, the father loving the children is usually viewed by mom as an act of love toward her and vice-versa.
Some object that not every marriage produces children and therefore children are not a significant component of marriage. This is indicative of the myopic view that marriage is an adult-centered institution. Flip this around- not every marriage produces children, but every child had a father and a mother. Our definition of the family unit should reflect this biological reality and developmental necessity.
For those tempted to deny that there is loss for a child when being raised by someone other than their biological parents, I would encourage you to review the study “My Daddy’s Name is Donor” which surveyed 485 donor offspring and concluded they were more troubled and depression-prone than other young adults in comparison groups. http://www.familyscholars.org/assets/Donor_summ_findings.pdf Also, examine the National Family Structure Study described in the “Conclusion” post. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610
Divorce, single parenting, blended families, sperm donation, child abandonment- all have a significant impact on the access that children have to their biological parents. Same-sex parenting also impedes a child’s right to be in relationship with one or both of her parents. It is a family structure that, when it comes to children, can never be “in-tact.” It will always begin with brokenness for the child- in that they will have lost a biological connection with one or both parents, and will miss out on the benefit of having the long-term involvement of both genders
Fragmentation within families is a reality of this world. It’s one thing to recognize the brokenness and strive to strengthen the parents and children living in those situations. It’s another thing completely to call “whole” that which is incomplete.