Hidy Ho new recruits!
I am so honored to see so many new handles here at asktheBigot! I suspect many of you found your way here via the article I was privileged to pen for Public Discourse. Honestly, I was so overwhelmed and humbled by the response to that piece. And I am amazed that a post stating a child has a right to be known and loved by both her mother and father would gain such attention. It’s fundamental, and even obvious. And something which anyone, in fact everyone, should recognize and become an advocate for. And yet the idea that a child should not be casually separated from his natural parent(s) just because another adult wants in on parenthood, is a radical concept in some circles. Whether you are here because that article enraged you or because it was the fresh air you have been holding your breath for, I hope you were pleasantly surprised by what you have found on this little blog.
As you can imagine the commentary came pouring in last week and I wanted to take the opportunity to address some key points.
Exhibit A: But my parent’s heterosexual marriage sucked, so why don’t you oppose straight marriage?
Several people wrote me about their upbringing in an “in-tact” home where their father was abusive or their mother was an alcoholic thus, they concluded rightly, heterosexual marriage didn’t guarantee a pain-free childhood. So, many inquired, why don’t I oppose straight marriage as well? Simple. In those hurtful cases marriage was not the problem. It was that you longed to love and be loved by both parents and, though they were living under the same roof, you were denied that full relationship which resulted in a pain that can never be assuaged. The remedy is to heal the mother and father in such a marriage, not do away with marriage altogether.
While it is true that marriage is no guarantee for any child or adult when it comes to health and stability it is also true, as succinctly stated in one researcher’s summary of 351 studies from 13 countries, that mothers and fathers raising their children together is the model that most stacks the deck in the favor of children. Even though studies using the best practices in social science have not been conducted on children of same-sex households, we do know from decades of research on blended families, be it cohabitation or step-parenting, that non-biological parents tend to spend less time and resources, be more transitory/unstable, and are more dangerous to children in the home than their biological parents. Same-sex household, by their very nature, are guaranteed to have at least one non-biological caregiver. While we can certainly find examples of abusive biological fathers, as well as amazing step-fathers, statistically biological parents are the safest and provide the greatest long-term benefit for children.
Exhibit B: You must be against adoption!
Others posited that since I believe that a child has a right to be in relationship with their mother and father I must, therefore, be against adoption and foster care. I written about adoption in all it’s glorious, painstaking and overly-wordy detail right here. To summarize, for those of you with a cramp from too much clicking, adoption exists to provide children the parents that they need, not to provide adults the children they want. Frankly, you could not find a greater advocate for adoption than I. But adoption should always begin with the recognition that the child has lost something of great value, something for which not even the most loving adoptive home can fully compensate. Adoption is the best remedy for a tragic situation and as far as I am concerned everyone, especially followers of Christ, should find a way to adopt or support those who do.
Now this may shock some of you who believe that I truly embody the name of this blog, but not too long ago I traveled internationally with two women who were adopting a child in need of serious medical intervention. At the time I believed, as I do now, that this sweet child would do best with a mother and father but none stepped up to the plate for her. These two women were the only people willing to save this child and when my friends asked me to accompany them I couldn’t say ‘yes’ quickly enough. Do I believe this child would have fared better with a mother and a father? Yes. Do I believe she should have wasted away in a foreign orphanage rather than being adopted by a lesbian couple? Unequivocally, no.
Exhibit C: Kids are suffering all kinds of familial brokenness, why are you targeting gay marriage?
Some of you stated that if I really was concerned about children’s rights and well-being, I wouldn’t focus all of my attention on gay marriage. Right that! Thus the reason you will find numerous social justice topics covered on this blog. Uplifting topics such as human trafficking, third-party reproduction, a child’s right to an un-altered birth certificate, homelessness, and, always a crowd favorite, abortion. Beyond blogging, I work with two organizations. One is a grassroots marriage movement where same-sex marriage is one of many topics that we explore in our reading groups. Other topics include pornography, divorce, cohabitation, the hook-up culture, friendship in marriage, sex ed, religious liberty and more. Last year I attended the inaugural conference with a children’s rights organization that I also clock some time with. We addressed third-party reproduction, surrogacy, divorce and ethical adoption. Notice anything missing from that line-up?
Despite canvassing all those issues, I choose to begin writing about gay marriage specifically because my perspective- that it is possible to deeply love one’s gay family and friends and oppose gay marriage- seemed to be completely absent from the public debate.
Horrible things happen to kids because this life is a minefield of potential horrors. Crappy broken-home scenarios come in a rainbow of anecdotal flavors because people have the freedom to make choices about how they want to form, and destroy, their families. But reasoning that because children are already suffering poor parenting/tragedy that our society should then promote a family structure where children are guaranteed to suffer loss is crazy talk. Children’s suffering should cause us to work harder and speak more clearly about the rights and needs of children. Having a married mother and father in the home is the greatest defense we have against nearly every social ill that our great nation is struggling to overcome: poverty, high incarceration rates, poor school performance, child trafficking, and on. Not only is it our greatest weapon, but it’s also the cheapest. Now, how often do you find that kind of deal?
Exhibit D: You are just traumatized over your parent’s divorce.
No denying that. Divorce is not temporary. I deeply care for both my mother’s partner and my father’s wife, and recognize the gifts and value that they add to my life and the lives of my children, but their divorce fundamentally changed my life forever.
Some commenters remarked that children who have only ever known one biological parent would fare better than a child who has to split time between the two. In their mind, it’s the “pure” method of gay parenting. Nice theory, but I suggest you look though some stories of children created via third-party reproduction and placed with their one biological parent at birth. I’m not talking about the carefully selected children used in gay parenting “studies” or the shiny families represented in cases brought before the appellate courts. Just spend the next 15 minutes reading the stories of how donor-conceived children feel, in their own words, about their missing parent. Or look at the conclusions of this study, “My Daddy’s Name is Donor.” Or perhaps watch this depressing sperm bank recruitment video of the children of donor 5114. Notice the desperate longing, the pained questioning on the faces of these kids when asked what they would say to their donor (around minute 6:30). It is heart-wrenching and yet, their yearning is completely lost on the mother at the end of the video as she enthusiastically recommends this method of becoming a parent. The whole spectacle is surreal and disturbing.
The accusation that my crusade is simply a manifestation of my childhood trauma is a lame excuse to dismiss my argument. It conveniently gives you the ability to only believe the things that you want to believe when you are exposed to opinions that challenge your world view. If children of gay marriage have less than positive things to say about their upbringing you just dismiss their answer because it obviously stems from their childhood trauma of divorce/adoption/donor-conception/egg-donation/surrogacy/death of their parent. Pick one.
You are right about one thing, however. They are suffering from trauma because it is the only way children arrive in a same-sex headed household.
Exhibit E: You’re just against gay marriage because you’re a Christian!
This super original accusation has been laid to rest here, written when asktheBigot was just a twinkle in this blogger’s eye. The summary: any worldview worth its salt is going to support reality. And the reality is that life-long man-woman marriage is undoubtedly the best family structure for kids. Period. The Bible speaks clearly of sexual complementarity, fidelity, and the needs of children and it drives me to love God more. Mind however that this here Christian never uses scripture to argue for public policy as scripture carries no authority with the public. For that reason, Christians must make their case using only social science data and natural law. Easy to do. In fact, everyone should try it.
After the surprising success of my Public Discourse article, some hostile gay marriage advocates hacked into my Facebook account and scoured my 135 posts on this here blog in search of something, anything, that might discredit my message. Unfortunately for them, the only “smoking gun” they came up with was the scathing indictment that “SHE IS A CHRISTIAN!!” Little did they realize at the time but my insidious evil plan to get them to read this post, and this one, and this one was in full swing. I was excited that they also had to read this one. It’s a deliciously juicy indictment of my Christian faith, it’s the one where I speak directly to my Christian audience and tell them, unequivocally, that you cannot claim to follow Christ without regularly, sacrificially, and wholeheartedly loving your gay family and friends.
Because there is one glorious advantage I gained from my unique childhood: I love gay people.