The Marriage Debate: What NOT to Do (and What TO do instead)

There is really no way to put a smiley face on it.  Yesterday’s SCOTUS decisions dealt a serious blow to the marriage movement.  The decision was not as catastrophic as it could have been.  One scenario had SCOTUS pulling a “Roe” and, by judicial fiat, granting a federal right to gay marriage in all 50 states.  As  I noted on the air yesterday, the decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 are the equivalent of having one’s legs cut off instead of one’s head.  Yes, one’s better than the other, but neither is exactly good.  Yes, we fight on, but it’s a little hard to not feel like Monty Python’s Black Knight while we do it.

As of 6/26/13,  thanks to the Supremes, anyone who believes there is something unique about traditional marriage–about a child’s right to have both a mother and a father–has become a bigot and a hate-monger.  There is no way around it.  Gay marriage is now the ideal that people who value progress, justice, and love (or at least the popular understanding of those terms) must support.   In an ironically chilling statement, the President said that he “won’t” force churches to accept the civil redefinition of marriage.   I say it was ironically chilling, because as Deacon Greg noted yesterday, in the President’s half-hearted attempt to reassure those who disagree with the decision, he did not say that he had no power (as the Constitution–for the time being–asserts) to force churches to accept his will  at some point in the future–as he is attempting to do with contraception and the HHS mandate (and BTW, mark my words, if we lose the mandate fight,  gay unions will be the next thing the gov’t tries to force the Church to support).  All he said was that he ”won’t” do what he implicitly thinks he ought to be able to do.

In light of all this, it could be difficult for anyone on the side of traditional marriage to avoid getting lost in apocalyptic visions of the coming persecution.   But we really do have to resist this temptation because if we don’t we become the caricature our opponents would like us to be.

DO NOT BE WHAT THEY SAY WE ARE.

We must be careful to NOT become what they say we are.  Yesterday, in their anguish, I saw countless people posting horrible–and frankly, inexcusable–things about homosexuals.  I saw foolish posts on Facebook from prominent, well-known Catholics that featured obscene pictures of homosexual behavior at Gay Pride parades with sarcastic captions like, “Oh, SURE.   They’re JUST like us.”    Comments like this do not help our cause.  They simply turn us into exactly what they say we are.  Haters.  Worse, comments like this obscure the true reason we value traditional marriage.

MARRIAGE:  GETTING THE CONVERSATION RIGHT

I encourage–no, I beg–everyone to immediately get Bill May’s excellent book, Getting the Marriage Conversation Right.  The book is only 82 pages long but it will open your eyes about the real reasons traditional marriage is important and help you–as the title says–get the conversation right.

The short version of the book’s thesis is that support for traditional marriage has NOTHING to do with being against homosexuals and EVERYTHING to do with defending the rights of children.   Marriage is the only institution that exists to defend the rights of children to be united to their mom and dad.  When someone confronts you about traditional marriage, the questions you should be asking them are the following…

  • Do we need an institution that unites kids with their moms and dad? Yes or no?
  • Do children have a right to know and, as far as possible, be cared for by their moms and dads?
  • Does anyone have the right to create children with the intention of depriving them of their mother or father or both?
  • Should we have laws and curricula in schools that promote men and women marrying before having children?

OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE:  CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE GUARANTEED RIGHTS TO A MOTHER AND FATHER

Children have a natural right to be united to their mom and dad.  Marriage exists to protect this right.  This means several things.

1.  A child born, for instance, to a co-habiting couple, or a child who suffers divorce of his parents, or is raised in any other context than in a traditional marriage, cannot count on either his right to know where he comes from or his right be provided for by the people who created him.  When a mother and father are married, a child knows where he comes from and who he can expect to provide for him.  Marriage unites a child to his mom and dad.

2. Even now, almost everyone acknowledges that being deprived of either a mother or father is a bad thing.  For example; we feel sad for the child who never had the opportunity to meet his dad.  Or the child who’s mom died in childbirth.  Or the child of divorce who couldn’t count on one or both parents to be there.  Or the kid raised by his grandparents instead of his parents.  We recognize these things as sad because we all know that a child needs, not just “people” to care for him–or even any two people to care for him–but, ideally,  a mother and a father.  Preferably, his own mother and father.  Other people can do a terrific job of raising kids, but unless they are the child’s own mother and father, the child still feels a loss.  Moms and Dads make different contributions to a child’s development.  These contributions go beyond mere cultural constructs.  There is an essential difference between moms and dads that cannot be made up for by someone playing the role of mother or father.    Mothers and fathers interact with children differently.  They give different psychosocial gifts to their child.  A child raised without a mom or dad can be a good kid, a healthy kid, a well-functioning kid.  But he will never feel as whole as the child raised in an intact family with his own mother and father.

3.   Gay marriage cannot be equivalent to marriage because–if the above is true–no matter how much two men or two women  love each other, and no matter how technically skilled they may be at parenting, they cannot give a child a mother and a father.  As I pointed out above, in every other context in which a child is deprived of a mother or father, that is recognized as a tragedy.  Gay marriage is the only context where intentionally denying a child a mother or father is seen as a good thing.  This does serious violence to a child.

For instance, if a child of divorce who doesn’t know his father says he is sad about it, or goes to therapy, he would be allowed to grieve that absence.  But would a child raised by two lesbians be encouraged to tell his moms if he ached to have a dad?  Would he be allowed to grieve never having known his father or to feel frustrated about never being able to have a relationship with the sperm donor who helped his two “moms” conceive him?   Would a therapist be forced–because of so-called marriage “equality”–to tell this child that he has nothing to be sad about because his family was just as good as any other family even though his gut says differently?  In what other context is denying someone’s feelings a good thing?  Saying that gay marriage is equal to traditional marriage effectively says that children raised without a mother or a father have no right to feel the absence of the missing parent.  After all, things are equal, aren’t they?  Anyone who says otherwise is guilty of bigotry–including the child’s own feelings.  People who are shamed for the hurt they feel cannot heal the hurt they feel.  Gay marriage effectively necessitates the shaming of anyone–not just children of gay parents–who feels the absence of a mother or father.

4. If gay marriage is equivalent to marriage, then gay couples must be allowed–and even encouraged–to have access to whatever means they need to acquire the other thing that traditional married couples have; namely, children.  That means an exponential expansion of donor-conceived children, and surrogacy.  Click here to read about the research that describes the unique struggles of donor-conceived children.  Click here to read about the struggles in their own words.

5.  Yes, all of the above logic also applies to the similar abuses heterosexual couples perpetrate against children.  That said, at least with heterosexual couples, there is still a chance that these injustices can be addressed. With gay marriage, all the things that are at least arguably unjust when heterosexuals do them to children (surrogacy, donor-conception, depriving a child of a mother or father through various means) become irrevocably just when homosexuals do them.   When same-sex couples are seen as equivalent to heterosexual couples, the necessity of a father and mother for a child disappears.  There is no reason to solve the problems that come with the absence of a father or mother.  We just close our eyes to the possibility that there could possibly be any problems.

 WE ARE NOT AGAINST “GAY MARRIAGE.”

The upshot is that we are not against gay marriage.   We are for defending the institution that protects the rights of children to be united to their own mom and dad.  We recognize that this isn’t always possible, but we recognize that when it isn’t possible, that is a sad thing that must be dealt with compassionately–not denied as an inconvenient truth.

Homosexual persons have a right to be treated with dignity.  They have the right to be given whatever protections they need to live full, dignified, healthy lives free from persecution and prejudice.  But they do not have the right to pursue these goals by taking away the very few rights children have to be united to their mom and dad and, to the degree that it is possible, to be raised by their own mom and dad.  THAT is the problem with gay marriage.  Nothing else.

So, don’t become the bitter, hateful, homophobic caricature our opponents want us to be.   Get the marriage conversation right.   Please.

The future.  Our future.  Our children’s future depends on it.

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About Dr. Greg

Dr. Gregory Popcak directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to marriage, family, and personal problems. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio. He is the author of over a dozen books integrating psychological insights with our Catholic faith. For more info about books, tele-counseling and other resources, visit www.CatholicCounselors.com.

  • Nicole Resweber

    So what about the gay or lesbian couple who doesn’t *want* to have kids? Can we deign to let them marry? Maybe have a sticker on their marriage license: “no children were harmed in the making of this marriage.”

    • kate

      there should be civil unions which give them every right legally etc as a married couple together- medical, SS, insurance, benefits, banking etc… However it can never be a marriage because a marriage is the union of a man and woman which unites them physically which brings forth new life- period end of story- 2 gay people cannot reproduce by themselves- these 2 types of unions-civil and marriage are entirely 2 different entities because of the people involved in them. They are not the same thing at all-if they were then what is next if someone wants to marry his brother sister, mother, aunt, or even an animal cause they want to-shouldn’t they then have the right to pursue that thing they feel is love for them ?
      As a society we need to come to terms with gay unions cause they are a reality of our culture- let them have their unions and let the cards fall where they may- time alone will reveal the untruth of these unions.We who are devout Catholics must continue to educate ourselves on the truths of marriage as taught by our Magisterium because once you study it and understand it- you can live it out joyfully knowing what God has ordained for marriage has always been between man and woman. It is His design and we are in no position to change natural law.
      If we live out our vocation of Catholic marriage and others in society see we have something they are missing- then the culture will change with God’s grace=- but right now our society is “me” oriented not God oriented and we Catholics need to be the light of Christ in this world which is so out of whack more than at any time in the history of civilization. We have so much knowledge available to us but we are too lazy to read up on the OTHER sides position to educate ourselves.

      • Brian Westley

        “As a society we need to come to terms with gay unions cause they are a reality of our culture”

        You’re a bit behind the times; the reality is gay marriage.

        • Frank

          No, gay people together will never make a marriage. Calling it a marriage does not make it one.

  • Katie Waddelove Rinker

    That was incredibly well said. Thank you, Dr. Greg!

  • Nicole Resweber

    I also find it a bit disingenuous to couch this objection as “think of the children!” and insisting that no child raised apart from their biological parents can possibily feel “whole.” There are hundreds of thousands of children happily being raised in loving, supportive, adoptive families who I dearly hope are not exposed to this line of reasoning. Maybe the reason people wind up feeling “less than” is because we keep saying their families aren’t good enough?

    As an aside, this feverent insistence on the irreplaceability of birth parents does not support the prolife goal of adoption as a response to unwanted pregnancies.

    • Karen Pansegro

      For me the point is that no one should have the right to deny a child his mother or father from the word “go.” Losing a parent through divorce or death is one thing; not ever having been ALLOWED to have that parent in the first place, because a couple feels entitled to a child, is an outrage, which renders the child little more than a possession.

    • kate

      I have many friends who have adopted and given perfectly beautiful lives, education and love to their children but we KNOW 100% all adopted children long naturally or their natural parents and it is a huge issue they have to come to terms with. Many times even adult children who were adopted as kids have lots of issues come up when they have their own children and have to understand how their natural parent could choose to leave them even if or a good reason. That said adoption is way better than being killed in the womb wouldn’t you say ? If we say that tis life inside a woman’s body is a living being/organism that is constantly growing and forming- how can we ever consent to kill what this person is if we say it is only a few cells- then we determine a persons worth by the # of cells they contain- it would be okay to kill a 2 year old who has less cells than an adult- right ? I will never understand in this day and age of technology where we SEE these babies with 3D ultrasound and permit them to be killed in the womb- no better than the concentration camps in Germany and Poland where those living beings were not deemed worth to live.

    • http://zaireadams.blogspot.com/ zai

      One of my best friends is adopted and he surely seems to feel like he is not whole. It bothers him when it comes up and his adoptive parents are loving, wonderful people. He does not recognize it, but I think he has trouble being alone (at all) due to the abandonment he feels. He can be a clingy friend though he need not be. I would love for him to seek healing on that front.
      Another good friend is adopted and recently reconnected with her birth mother, making a blog and cross country journey to do so. They had connected a few years before and this year was the first time they have physically been together since she was an infant. She loves her adoptive parents, but she still NEEDED her mother, that’s why she sought her out.
      Another family friend is adopted and, despite how good the adoptive parents were, they are currently at odds since she has come of age. The simple fact is the child naturally feels a bond with their biological parents, whatever happens to sever that bond (death etc) is going to affect the child negatively. Just think about kids who hate themselves because they feel like they are the reason their mother died in childbirth or those who feel unwanted like my friend and overcompensate. Everything else can be taken care of (both of my friends have college degrees and a strong relationship with their adoptive parents to this day) but they still feel something is missing. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have these kids, once grown, seeking out their birth parents.
      The birth parents are irreplaceable, it is just a fact. That does not mean we should deprive the child of ANY parents. Adoption is a good alternative but it isn’t the ideal and why would we not want the ideal for our children? Some parents put their children up for adoption for that very reason. Some people make it work with a divorced familial situation, but it isn’t ideal and it harms the children involved. Absence and separation can be just as damaging as a parent who is abusive and there. Having grown up in the later situation, I can honestly say that I am still blessed to know my father; but, there was separation even with his proximity (he was there and yet not). I couldn’t imagine it for the orphan, who will have no idea (likely ever) why they were given up or “unloved.”

  • Maria

    “THAT is the problem with gay marriage. Nothing else.”

    You weakened a very well written argument by these 2 sentences. As Catholics we know there are many other problems with homosexual marriage and I think it’s intellectually dishonest to not recognize that. Had you left them (the 2 sentences) out, I would whole heartedly agree with everything you said. Thank you for an otherwise very powerful commentary. I will be sure to get the book.

    • Alyssa

      I agree with Maria, I was thinking the same thing when I got to this part.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Isn’t it more like “the problems with active homosexuality can’t be fixed with marriage” for anything other than the children problem?

  • oregon catholic

    Unfortunately, even I as a staunch supporter of traditional marriage recognize how late in the game we came to this ‘it’s about the kids’ perspective on gay marriage. It hasn’t escaped the notice of gay marriage supporters that we are trying to find an argument that works because the old argument, the TRUTH argument, that it is against Natural Law just wasn’t cutting it.

    While traditional marriage is in fact what is best for children it is only because it is in conjunction with God’s plan for marriage and procreation. I think the argument is putting the cart before the horse, weakens the overall truth, and really doesn’t change minds anyway. No one who thinks that 2 homosexuals can make a marriage are going to be convinced that 2 homosexuals can’t be perfectly good parents. They will come up with studies to prove their point, the same way so much of our politically driven and biased research is done today

    I feel it is a similar kind of focusing on the wrong points that I feel about people who support abortion cut-off laws based on age for fetal pain. Yes, it might gain a few ‘victories’ in the short term and appear to limit some of the more ‘egregious’ late-term killings. But it is missing the essential TRUTH that abortion is always wrong. And what happens when a fetal anesthesia procedure is developed? Then even the limited restriction is lifted and we will be left with telling the TRUTH about abortion. Why water down the truth at all?

    • gpopcak

      Nonsense. I’m sure you mean well, but you are displaying a misunderstanding of what that natural law argument speaks to; namely, the relationship between marriage and children. Just because you have been unfamiliar with this argument does not mean it’s novel. I suspect it only seems novel to you because even faithful Catholics have been deluded by the contraceptive mindset that takes children out of the marriage equation. What I am discussing is, in fact, THE natural law argument. Why is homosexual sex contrary to the natural law? Because it is completely and utterly non-procreative. Why is heterosexual marriage consistent with the natural law? Because it is–at least potentially–procreative. The heterosexual view of marriage–up until the late 1960′s–always assumed that children had a right to a mother and a father. Only after the pill did people start rethinking of marriage as a purely private and romantic endeavor. The natural law argument is exactly the argument I am articulating. Thank you for your comments.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I’m in Oregon too, and I agree. Most of this is too little far too late, at best. The time to raise this argument was back in the 1960s, before the sexual revolution destroyed any resemblance of civil marriage to , well, any family that came before. We’re 50 years too late.

  • Sven2547

    They have the right to be given whatever protections they need to live full, dignified, healthy lives free from persecution and prejudice. But they do not have the right to pursue these goals by taking away the very few rights children have to be united to their mom and dad and, to the degree that it is possible, to be raised by their own mom and dad.

    So you have no problem, then, with two childless persons of the same sex getting married? No children are being affected in any way.

    • gpopcak

      See the post above this. You are actually–unknowingly I’m sure–advancing an objection to may argument that is extraordinarily patronizing and discriminatory to homosexual persons. Again, see the post above.

  • Emily

    This article is idiotic for several reasons.

    1. This writer references research on beetles to support the notion that male and female gender roles are important in human child raising. Beetles and humans are really, really not the same.

    2. This writer has no idea what a therapist does.

    3. The idea that gay marriage necessitates shaming is a ridiculous stretch. How did he even make that jump? Oh wait, this is coming from a writer indoctrinated into a faith fueled on shame and guilt. Now it makes more sense.

    4. Ever heard of adoption? Donor conception and surrogacy are not the only options for same sex parents. And I challenge you to argue that a child born to a high school student in an inner city with no family support would be better off than if adopted by a loving middle class gay couple. That being adopted by said couple would have be “do[ing] a serious violence to” the child.

    5. The claim that unwed couples or divorced couples raising children is a tragedy is melodramatic and completely outdated. Here is a tragedy: the woman who lives in fear of her abusive husband but is too ashamed to leave him because of the certain backlash from her community and church until one day he murders her and her children. THAT is a tragedy.

    This article is ridiculous.

    • Kim Cameron-Smith

      “This article is idiotic” is not an argument. It’s just offensive. As to your other points:

      1) Do you actually think there are no differences between men and women and therefore differences in the gifts they bring to parenting? Seriously? I am sure Dr. Greg referenced the Science Daily article because it was convenient, not because it was his only source of evidence for his statement. He wrote a short blog article, not a dissertation for heaven’s sake. Even many non-religious feminists maintain that there are essential differences between men and women — equal but different.

      2) Dr. Greg is a practicing therapist. He just isn’t on air talking about mental health or writing books about it, he actually has clients who sit in front of him seeking healing. I’m sure he’s not asleep while that’s happening.

      3) If you don’t like his point, that’s fine. But to make a bigoted statement about the Catholic Church is unacceptable.

      4)Ummm, wow. Well my mother was a high school student who got pregnant at 15, kicked out of her house, and chose to keep her baby because she loved him. I will let her know you think her son would have been better off being raised by a gay couple just because they are middle class. So poor gay couples can’t adopt, right? We have a large immigrant community in my town who come from Mexico with nothing but hopes. I’ll let them know you think their children should be raised by gay people who have a higher salary than them. Awesome. The fact is, children yearn for connection to their biological parents and when either parent is missing, it is a loss. I think we need to face that fact and not sugarcoat it. There are many wonderful adoptive parents raising happy, well-adjusted children, but not having their biological parents is still a loss.

      5) Now who’s making leaps of logic? This one is just weird. Of course domestic violence is tragic, especially when women feel trapped. Are you suggesting Catholics would prefer a woman dies from abuse in her marriage than leave the criminal? Is that actually what you are saying? If so, it’s you who is the idiot, the offender, the blind, the bigoted. It’s you who is locked in your dark perceptions, misconceptions, and apathy. I’m hurt and angry, but mostly I pity you.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Emily is a bigot and a bully, and should be ignored. That post is so full of hate it turns me against gay marriage all the more.

  • Jennifer Medley

    I also feel that in trying to debate this issue and stand up for what is right, we can get caught in this long, interconnected way of trying to explain to others why this just isn’t right. Some things JUST AREN’T RIGHT. And people who are fighting for these kinds of “equal rights” are not going to be swayed by any argument we have. My feeling on this is we can make all the points we want, but until there is a change of heart by all of those WANTING this kind of legal change, and everyone in “power” supporting it, its not going to change. Our hearts and minds have to not WANT the evil and the bad laws in the first place. More people need to start saying “why?” instead of “why not..?”. I’ll get the book too, but I know as a fact that I won’t be able to convince my more liberal acquaintances with many of the arguments or positions we as Catholics or Christians feel and believe.

    • gpopcak

      It is never enough to say that something is “just not right.” You have to be able to answer the questions, “Why?” To ignore the why is to lose all credibility in a world that believes in multiple truths. Incidentally, my best friend from childhood is a professor of queer studies. I made significant headway in our discussions about this issue using exactly these arguments. He is at the stage where he can’t emotionally agree, but he also recognizes that the argument is unassailable. An honest opponent will always recognize the strength of the argument even if they don’t want it to be true.

      • Jennifer Medley

        I agree it’s not enough to just say it’s just not right; the point I meant to make was that some of these things being brought up to become law or to stay as law are inherently just wrong morally, ethically, legally, and shouldn’t even be coming up as an issue in the first place. The way I see it is that people who want these changes are asking “why not?” and we have to defend our beliefs and ask “but WHY?”. In addition, I think currently we are dealing with a lot of people who are not honest opponents… there’s a kind of mindset out there that I believe doesn’t want to hear these logical arguments, and what I intended to have conveyed is that personally I feel we need to be (also) praying for a conversion of hearts and minds so that people are not wanting these kinds of laws in the first place.

      • Joni Allen

        The argument that children are precious is crucial. I’m glad that you and other leaders are sounding the alarm.
        If only the pro-child argument were “unassailable.” So many in our generation–products of social revolutions, cultural fads and educational experiments– have become lovers of themselves, lacking natural affection, caring only for their own gratification.
        May your call to return to a pro-child society resonate with those who still have an intact conscience.

  • Emc

    Thank you Dr. Popcak! What a well written article. Of course there is so much complexity to the question of the homosexuality and the Church’s view on it, which could be written about in great length, but you captured the essence of why homosexual marriage is just the opposite of Good. For those whose comments question whether gay or lesbian couples who plan on being childless can marry, the answer should be obvious. Marriage comes to fulfillment through procreation, through children! If a gay or lesbian couple wants to be in a relationship, that is there decision to make, but calling it “Marriage” is redefining and utterly distorting what marriage IS. Marriage’s utmost purpose is to bring about life through the physical, spiritual, and emotional union of man and woman! As Dr. Popcak says, we are not called to condemn, judge, or hate, but only to love. The best way we can love all people, whether individuals with a homosexual or heterosexual orientation, is to preserve the important foundations written in the hearts of humanity, and thus our culture and our world!

  • Guest

    I really appreciate your level-headed approach to this topic, Dr. Greg.

    “A child raised without a mom or dad can be a good kid, a healthy kid, a well-functioning kid. But he will never feel as whole as the child raised in an intact family with his own mother and father.”

    But here’s the problem with that: it’s traditional marriage supporters like you who are ultimately perpetuating this feeling of not being whole in these children. As you acknowledge, kids without a dad (let’s say) feel somehow incomplete. This is not because of some innate hole, but because they’re constantly told their family structure isn’t “right.” We are told this message of the Nuclear Family and feel inadequate when our home lives don’t measure up to it.

    Why not ditch that ideal, which hasn’t historically been the case anyway (think multigenerational family structure, which was the norm for centuries before the Mom-Dad-2.5-Kids ideal came along)? I suspect you feel similarly on the other end of things: that these so-called non-traditional family structures are being pushed on you – it sucks, doesn’t it? So why don’t we just accept that if a kid can grow up in a loving home – any loving home with any combination of adults – then he’s blessed? Why must there be this focus on defining a family, or what makes a family intact?

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion.

    • gpopcak

      I appreciate your point, but research doesn’t bear it out. If you were correct, then we would be well past this pressure since intact familes–especially ones with stay-at-home-parents–are in the minority. It is now normal to come from a divorced household, but the ache for wholeness is stronger than ever. People who hold the view you describe just think the answer is tearing marriage down more and more to prove that their way of life is just as good. But no matter how much they assault it, they long for it all the more. You can’t resolve an internal issue by pretending it is a social problem. The desire for an intact nuclear family isn’t a matter of cultural conditioning any more than the desire for food or water is. Humans being need a mother and a father to feel whole. It is an inescapable fact of our genetic programming.

      • Aaron

        “Humans being need a mother and a father to feel whole.”

        That’s an incredibly subjective statement. Have you interviewed every human on the planet to ask whether or not they would feel whole without a mother and father present in their lives? Your claim has no basis in genetics or the scientific method at all because it refers to an individual feeling (wholeness) which cannot be quantified.

        Food and water are requirements for survival – mothers and fathers are not. Comparing food and water to marriage is either ignorance or intellectual dishonesty.

        You claim that marriage is inherently linked to children. This is patently false. The word is not inherently linked to anything except a titled bond between spouses. Throughout history, marriages have constituted transfers of wealth between families, forging alliances with people of power, OR expanding the family via procreation. The only common denominator here is, obviously, a titled bond between spouses. I suggest searching the history of the word, finding its lingual roots, examining gay marriage’s millenia-long history, and so on and so forth.

        Also, since this article, as you have said, directly addresses the superiority of natural law, the whole thing is one big logical fallacy. Any appeal to “natural law” is fallacious and falls directly into the is/ought dichotomy. Just because a situation is natural does not render it inherently superior to other situations. I concede that if we lived in a world where the only thing that factored into good parenting was genetic relation to children, then yes, a heterosexual couple would be ideal for raising children. However, this is far, far removed from reality.

        • gpopcak

          Yawn. Do you have any research to back up your claims? I did not make a philosophical argument. I made a biological and psychological argument. I linked an article that explored the need that beetles have for a mother and father for heaven’s sake.

          There is plenty of research that shows that kids can be just fine without a mother or a father. There is no research that shows that children can feel whole without a mother and a father. Thank you for your comment.

          • Aaron

            “There is no research that shows that children can feel whole without a mother and a father. Thank you for your comment.”

            That’s because feeling “whole” differs from person to person and thus cannot be quantified, leaving your argument that children of SSM households cannot feel “whole” without any evidence whatsoever. Similar to every other feeling, not everything makes everyone feel the same way – Tchaikovsky, for example, might invoke happiness in some and sadness in others. Neither feeling is “correct”. This “wholeness” you speak of is obviously not biologically or developmentally imperative to humans and, again, is not quantifiable since it’s a feeling.

            Beetles cannot “feel whole” and humans and beetles are, quite obviously, worlds apart in terms of biological and physiological needs, so comparing them is, again, intellectual dishonesty.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      “But here’s the problem with that: it’s traditional marriage supporters like you who are ultimately perpetuating this feeling of not being whole in these children.”

      That’s a lie. Anybody who has known an adopted child for more than a few decades, knows that no matter how well you raise the child, the curiosity about the adoption will eventually rear up.

      • Tim Johnlinson

        I’m adopted, when I was 25, I did indeed seek out my birth-parents out of curiosity. I found my biological mother, but not my biological father.

        If I’m being completely honest, I am still curious to find my biological father, but this curiosity is purely practical. I’m curious about my genetic background, health etc. My adoptive mom and dad were so loving that I never felt that hole. I’m sure you don’t wish I did because we’re all intelligent, decent adults. But my concern is that some part of you thinks I’m being dishonest with myself.

        I know plenty of people whose “real” parents were pretty mediocre, and many people who have strained but consistent relationships with their “real” parents probably feel worse off than someone like me who has had all my emotional needs met by a loving adoptive heterosexual couple.

        Here’s the only problem–my Mom and Dad both loved me unconditionally, My Dad loves me the same way my Mom does, and since he never let me feel like I could disappoint him, I grew up to be a not-very-motivated adult.

        See? The ways to screw up nurturing a kid are myriad, as well as ultimately indistinguishable from “nature”.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          1. The curiosity you felt at 25 (some kids feel it much earlier than that) is exactly what I’m talking about.
          2. If you hadn’t have felt *exactly* the hole I’m talking about, you wouldn’t have needed to seek out your birth parents.
          3. Real parents don’t practice unconditional love to the point of screwing the kid up. Which is why I say our culture has *forgotten* how to raise a family.

  • Carrie

    Thank you!!!! Very good!

  • Andrew

    If you feel so strongly about children living with a mother and a father, shouldn’t you focus more on gay adoption, which is far more widespread and accepted (in the United States, anyway) than marriage?

    • gpopcak

      See my response to Nicole, above or do a google search for “Popcak first things gay adoption” You’ll see that gay adoption is not only unnecessary, but unjust to heterosexual couples and children.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Hmm, maybe we need an entirely different battle.

    How about an absolute right and responsibility, even for sperm donors, to be involved in the life of any child that they are genetically related to?

  • Garm Bel Iblis

    “No matter how much two men or two women love each other, and no matter how technically skilled they may be at parenting, they cannot give a child a mother and a father… Saying that gay marriage is equal to traditional marriage effectively says that children raised without a mother or a father have no right to feel the absence of the missing parent. In what other context is denying someone’s feelings a good thing?”

    I’m not an opponent, but you’ve probably realized by now that this is a problematic argument requiring attention. Denying feelings for the good of civilization is the entire premise The Church is based on.

    “You may FEEL like steeling, killing, bearing false witness, coveting, etc etc. But don’t do it because that would be improper, technically.”

    • gpopcak

      Thank you for your comment, but it reflects a gross misrepresentation of what the Church believes. Of course we must sublimate those urges to lie, steal, and kill into more moral, prosocial actions, but that is not the same thing as denying actual needs. The church doesn’t tell us to pretend that we don’t have a need for food or water or love…or parents. Denying temptation is one thing. Ignoring basic human needs is an other. I’d invite you to read Evangelium Vitae for a further reflection on the importance of responding to basic human needs as a function of standing for the dignity of the person.

      • Garm Bel Iblis

        Thanks for your reply. I’m fine with all that, and I look forward to checking out Evangelium Vitae.

        Still, you must realize this article states outright that the argument for gay marriage says children raised without a mother or a father have no right to feel the absence of the missing parent, and that denying someone their feelings is a bad thing.

        I normally wouldn’t nit-pick, but if you’re attempting to equip people with cogent arguments which won’t come back to bite them, then this particularly line of reasoning is wildly problematic.

        Even though you and I may realize that supporting the needs of childrens’ feelings trump the needs of homosexuals’ feelings for the right to parent, these are both feelings which have no a priori value outside of the faith. And since you’re attempting to arm your readership with a logic with which to reason against people who have no scriptural basis, it’s important to avoid the general cul de sac of “feelings” and instead, actually equate a natural mom and dad as a technical good the same as food, water, shelter, etc. Otherwise, if it could be proven that two moms or two dads could make a child feel the same as a child with a natural mom and dad, then this particular argument against homosexual marriage would immediately fail.

  • Frank

    Excellent post and spot on!


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