A few weeks ago, I caught the end of an NPR interview with Andrew Solomon about his book “Far From the Tree.” Interviewer Robert Siegel asked Solomon about his own “post-nuclear family.” Solomon explains:
When I met John, who is now my husband, he told me that he had had some friends, Tammy and Laura, for whom he had been a sperm donor, and that they had a son named Oliver, of whom he was the biological father. A few years later, they asked him to be a sperm donor again, and they produced a daughter, Lucy. A good friend of mine from college had gone through a divorce and said that she really longed to be a mother, and I said how much I would love to be the father of her child. And so we decided to produce a child through an IVF process. John and I then wanted to have a child who would live with us all the time, and we decided to use an egg donor, and Laura, the lesbian who had carried Oliver and Lucy, offered to be our surrogate as a way of thanking John for providing her with a family. So the shorthand is: five parents of four children in three states. http://m.npr.org/news/Books/163468489
Is any gay marriage supporter willing to admit that there is something unsettling about the above scenario? Of those four children that are living in three states, all were conceived with the intent that they would not be raised by one of their biological parents. The desires of the five parents were satisfied. The rights of the four children- to be known and raised by one’s biological parents- were not.
Redefining marriage is not just about with whom you share “love and connection,” as one objector to my blog stated. Redefining marriage also redefines the meaning of parenthood. It removes biology as the basis for parenthood and replaces it with man-made constructs. Legally, the connection with at least one birthparent needs to be detached, and then legally reattached to the spouse of the biological parent, or to both new non-related parents. In this scenario, government plays a much larger role than biology in who qualifies as parents. So bonds that existed pre-government are now subject to government discretion. Libertarians? Any objections?
If you have read the “Why do you hate gays?” post, you know that I traveled with two women who were adopting their daughter. Let me be clear. I love these women. Therefore I serve them. Their children will experience significantly less brokenness with their mothers than in an orphanage. Christians have a mandate to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted, sacrifice for those with whom they agree and disagree, and love all people despite how they identify themselves.
But please, let’s be honest. Every family situation that deviates from the “nuclear” family will involve loss for a child. Once you leave the married-mother-father-children equation, it is not a question of whether or not there is brokenness. It’s now a question of “how broken is it?” And while I will continue to love those who are gay, and condemn those who would say gay people are anything other than precious souls worthy of God’s and my love, I will not pander to the popular cultural narrative that children’s rights are secondary to adult proclivities.
In Washington State today, the first same-sex marriages take place. We have just institutionalized a family structure that, for a child, can never be “in-tact.” The story of the child raised in the same-sex household will always begin with the loss of at least one biological parent, and the benefit of the balance of genders.
Our new law is the beginning of significant legal challenges to the structure of family, especially as they relate to children. Examples include California’s narrowly defeated “three parents” law, France’s push to erase all references to “mother” and “father” from legal documents, Quebec’s efforts to stamp out “heterosexism” (the idea that heterosexuality is normal). So while the definition of marriage has been redefined in our state, judging from states/countries that are further down this road, there are many more legal issues that will arise in the future. And if we continue to consider marriage to be primarily about adult emotional fulfillment, or tax benefits, or even the rights of adults, we will give the wrong answers to approaching legal challenges.
For more on why children need a mother and a father, please see the series “You’re only against gay marriage because of your religion.” https://askthebigot.com/2012/08/20/alternative-families/
8 thoughts on “Chapter Next…”
Well put, and well reasoned. In these situations, children are generally seen as achievements of the gay persons involved (use of the term “parent” here could only be confusing). They are proofs offered up to demonstrate the proposition that gay “families” are as normal as, well, normal ones. But children are not side effects of social experimentation; they are young human beings, in need of the basics of life, which include mothers and fathers, not gay gangs such as described above.
These stories are invariably heart-breaking, in their hurtful narcissism as much as their smug self-assurance.
Thanks for your comments. There certainly is some tension as we reason through it all. I know gay couples who have adopted children because they figure that a home with two women or two men is better than no home, and on that point I would certainly agree. What I oppose is the narrative that says that within child-rearing, gender and biology are irrelevant. It’s the mentality that children exist for parents and not the other way around. I think it’s similar to divorce- there needs to be a recognition that the decisions of the parent/parents involve loss for the child.
Since parenthood can exist without marriage I don’t accept your comments here. It is unbalanced in that you make no reference single-parent families, and you assume that both members of a ‘traditional’ marriage are fit to bring up children. Huge numbers of psychological scars come from children witnessing violence in the home. I’m not suggesting this is all parents or all children of course, but these are things it do not appear to have been considered by your article.
Thank you for the feedback. I understand your point. Perhaps you would allow me to re-state my perspective.
There are selfish, negligent parents who are heterosexual, homosexual, and single parents. There are also loving, involved, selfless, responsible heterosexual, homosexual, and single parents. So let’s work from a level playing field. What I am saying is, all things being equal (let’s assume that everyone involved is parenting well), gender adds a significant and valuable aspect of child development. Both in how the child understands her world:
and in how she sees herself:
I can gladly return some compliments on your writing style too! In fact I will come away from this with a few new tips and tricks to try.
I do have some questions though – is it fair to say that the example in the second paragraph is a fairly extreme/uncommon example? And that if the children in this example were unfortunate enough to experience a deprived upbringing (I sadly have not read the book nor do I know much about the individuals involved) is it solely a result of a change in the definition of a family? I am sure there will be numerous other examples where this family situation (or similar) has indeed worked out as in the end it depends on the personality types of the parents (whether they are a male-female couple or not) and what knowledge and teachings they impart on their children.
Oliver Frost!! So sorry. I overlooked your comment as it seemed to have gotten lost in my notification page. My fault completely. Please forgive the over-due approval and response.
If I am reading your comments correctly, it seems that you and MatthewRDavis (above) have similar lines of questioning. So if my response from January 30 (also above) doesn’t fully satisfy your inquiry, please clarify and I will be glad to discuss further.
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