Why Would a Christian Parent Not Allow a Child to See Her Mother?

Evangelical Christians are supposed to be all about love and family, right?

Maybe one of them can explain the “Christian thinking” in this story.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were lesbians who were joined in a civil union 10 years ago. A couple years later, in 2002, a child was born to Miller via artificial insemination.

In 2003, Miller and Jenkins separated and Miller became an evangelical Christian… which meant she also started renouncing homosexuality.

So what happened when Jenkins wanted to see her daughter, Isabella?

Miller refused to let Jenkins see the child because of her sexual orientation. To make it worse, Miller “disappeared” with the little girl. (Newsweek published a piece about the couple last year.)

Think about that action.

Jenkins, the mother, couldn’t see her child because her former partner became intolerant of gays. Isabella wasn’t allowed to see one of her parents because of the other’s bigotry. The family had to go through messy court proceedings for several years.

I’m not a Bible expert, but I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind.

The law favored Jenkins, thankfully, and the other day a judge awarded her custody of Isabella.

I don’t know what Miller was thinking. She probably thinks she’s a martyr of sorts because she was keeping her daughter away from the “evil gays.” It’s the same type of mentality held by people like Carrie Prejean — faulty thinking from simple minds.

So Jenkins now has custody and that’s the right decision. But it’s not the best one for the child. (I don’t know if there’s any good solution for Isabella here.)

All this because Miller’s beliefs teach her that there’s something wrong with homosexuality.

Craig James at The Religion Virus doesn’t understand this at all:

Why must these conservative Christians be so hateful of other people’s lifestyles? This is not true Christianity, and I hope real Christians across the nation condemn this act, and all acts of intolerance and bigotry.

I hope that, too.

But they won’t.

Christians who hide behind these decisions without saying a word are cowards. They’re just as bad as the pastors who come out and say there’s something abnormal or evil about homosexuality. If you belong to a church that espouses these lies about gay people, you need to grow a backbone and get out of there. And please take your children with you.

We don’t need a country full of Lisa Millers.

We need concerned, loving parents like Janet Jenkins.

  • http://whoreofalltheearth.blogspot.com Whore of All the Earth

    Mormonism’s treatment of gays was a huge reason why I left. When my younger brother came out, I realized that everything they had told me about gays was a lie. (And if that was a lie, what else was a lie? Only a matter of time before that house came tumbling down.) I just couldn’t be a part of an institution that would condemn my brother for something he didn’t even choose.

  • http://whoreofalltheearth.blogspot.com Whore of All the Earth

    Also, Mormonism has similar “family values.” Real family unity is contingent on all family members being orthodox Mormons.

  • Carlie

    Ms. Jenkins might have legal custody, but she doesn’t have Isabella – Ms. Miller absconded with her and hasn’t been heard from since. From this article:

    On Nov. 20, Judge Cohen awarded custody to Ms. Jenkins after finding Ms. Miller in contempt of court for denying Ms. Jenkins access to the girl. The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody.

    But in a Dec. 22 order denying a request by Ms. Miller to delay the transfer of custody, Judge Cohen wrote: “It appears that Ms. Miller has ceased contact with her attorneys and disappeared with the minor child.”

    Ms. Miller’s lawyer, Mathew D. Staver, declined to comment.

    A listing for Lisa Miller in Winchester, Va., said the phone line had been disconnected.

  • littlejohn

    I haven’t read it in a few years, but I don’t recall the bible saying anything about lesbians. It’s all “man lying with man” stuff. Apparently the church fathers liked girl-on-girl. So do I, come to think of it.

  • Ron in Houston

    Miller is the birth mother. Jenkins is (biologically) a stranger to the child.

    The law favors the biological relationships so I suspect that something is quite wrong with Miller for her to lose custody to a non-biologically related person. (Besides that fact that most folks on this board probably think that being a conservative christian means you must be unhinged!)

  • Trace

    “We don’t need a country full of Lisa Millers.

    We need concerned, loving parents like Janet Jenkins.”

    ?!

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    @Ron in Houston “(Besides that fact that most folks on this board probably think that being a conservative christian means you must be unhinged!)”

    We just calls ‘em as we sees ‘em.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Why must these conservative Christians be so hateful of other people’s lifestyles? This is not true Christianity..

    Sure it is. This is the way that Christians act and this is fully supported by their holy book. I’m sure we can all point to verses that tell Christians to hate others, even members of their own family.

    The fact is that other Christians don’t like this dark side of their faith and so reject it in favour of a liberal and loving interpretation of their book. I’m all for that but I do think that the Phelps’ and other lunatics type Christians are reading their bible, understanding what it says and acting accordingly. It is a dangerous and disgusting book to take literally. We can only guess how much damage it has done to this one family already.

  • Michael

    ONE WORD SOLUTION…………. .44!

  • Jer

    It is a dangerous and disgusting book to take literally.

    It’s actually an impossible book to take 100% literally – it contradicts itself too much. At best you can take some portions literally and then rationalize away the other portions.

    EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN does this, btw. Not just the “liberals” or the “moderates”. The folks who claim to do otherwise are wrong. Of course they’re ignoring/rationalizing away part of the book – they have to because otherwise they couldn’t have anything resembling a coherent faith. The Phelps clan is no more “loyal” to the text than the most liberal Unitarian – they’re just choosing different passages to give the highest priority to. People who give the highest priority to Paul’s squickiness about gays and choose to use the saying of Jesus that the Laws of Moses are still in effect to justify hating gays are ignoring the “love your neighbor” directive just as much as the liberals who ignore Paul’s squickiness as a personal failing of Paul and put more emphasis on the “love your neighbor” directive. You have to – you can’t be a Christian without making those kinds of choices. Or without just ignoring the question altogether and just doing what your pastor tells you (which I suspect is the case for a good chunk of folks who just aren’t interested in personal exploration of those kinds of questions).

  • JulietEcho

    @Ron:

    Miller is the birth mother. Jenkins is (biologically) a stranger to the child.

    The law favors the biological relationships so I suspect that something is quite wrong with Miller for her to lose custody to a non-biologically related person.

    I don’t see why joint custody wouldn’t be the default position, so long as both parents had stable jobs and living situations. The fact that Miller kidnapped the child (the majority of kidnappings are part of custody cases where one parent doesn’t want the other to have access to the child) was a pretty big strike against her rights, I’d wager. If she hadn’t run off with the daughter and had made the “biological parent” argument in front of a judge, she might have been awarded full custody.

    This could have happened regardless of the reason for the break-up – but when parent A thinks that parent B is somehow harmful to the child’s well-being (in justified cases involving abusers or in unjustified cases involving bigotry), the compulsion to skip the court process and keep the child “safe” often wins out. So if Miller hadn’t developed bigoted beliefs about homosexuality, there might not be legal problems here (not to mention the emotional upheaval the child must have experienced throughout the ordeal).

  • http://themousesnest.blogspot.com Mouse

    My understanding of the judge’s ruling is that he recognized Miller would never allow the daughter to have a relationship with her other de facto parent; Jenkins has said she would allow Miller visitation. And so in order for Isabella to have a relationship with both parents, she would need to live with Jenkins.

    We’re about to go through our second second-parent adoption. As the bio-parent, I have to sign paperwork acknowledging that I understand my partner’s rights are irrevocable once we proceed. Not that we ever expect to treat each other in the way described above, but it’s very important to us to create equal legal standing.

  • Revyloution

    Jer and Hoverfrog hit my point. We should never use language like ‘True Christianity’ or try to discern what Jesus really had in mind.

    It’s all nonsense, even the seemingly rational Christians who ignore the bulk of their book. I understand the notion of divide and conquer, but trying to keep the liberal theists on our side of the fence is wasted effort.

  • http://www.dwasifar.com dwasifar

    The only reason this case is notable is that the second parent is a woman. It feels strange to call Jenkins the “mother” when she is not related to the child by biology or adoption. But it’s easier to think about it if you compare it to a man who’s legally considered the “father” of another man’s child because he was married to the mother when the child was born.

    If this were a divorced heterosexual couple where the mother tried to deny visitation on the grounds of religious disapproval of the father, the case would not make the news. It happens all the time.

  • stephanie

    I dunno. I’m kinda skeptical that religion might just be a smoke screen. Divorces are squicky and most times the ex-partners of a broken marriage don’t like each other very much. I think Miller was just trying to use her religion to block Jenkins because it would provide an advantage.
    I’m with dwasifar. This wouldn’t have made much news at all if the partners weren’t of the same gender.

  • http://www.twitter.com/shocktwist Brittany

    This story was a part of one of the “Silencing the Christians” episodes.

    It pretty much came right out and said that Janet Jenkins shouldn’t have custody because she’s gay, and that when Lisa Miller lost custody of her child, it was because of activist judges trying to persecute Christians.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    “ONE WORD SOLUTION…………. .44!”

    Violence is not an acceptable solution for this problem and advocating killing people is fucked up.

  • CatBallou

    No true Scotsman!

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Family is important, so long as it doesn’t come before church, God or the bible teachings.

    Sad to hear these stories.

    I’m more curious how the one partner (Miller) got sucked into religion to the point of turning straight. That’s very puzzling to me.

  • john locke

    I am curious why you think this is not true Christianity. It certainly is not modern day liberal Christianity, but I don’t see why that should be the only true form.

    I think you are looking at it from the wrong point of view. The evangelical was not just trying to hurt her lesbian expartner, she was trying to protect her daughter from a corrupting force that could lead her to an eternity of suffering.

    Think of it from her perspective. If you really think hell is a real place in the afterlife, and that engaging in certain behavior will result in your child being sent there. What wouldn’t you do to prevent that? What wouldn’t you do if your child was at risk of an eternity of suffering? Your ex-partners wicked ways have already damned her to hell, would you let her drag your child there also?

    The problem is not moral bankrupcy, the problem is the woman has an extremely distorted view on reality and takes this view seriously. This is the result of people taking their dogma seriously.

  • john locke

    Its the sad result of her beliefs. The evangelical was not just trying to hurt her lesbian expartner, she was trying to protect her daughter from a corrupting force that could lead her to an eternity of suffering.

    Think of it from her perspective. If you really think hell is a real place in the afterlife, and that engaging in certain behavior will result in your child being sent there. What wouldn’t you do to prevent that? What wouldn’t you do if your child was at risk of an eternity of suffering? Your ex-partners wicked ways have already damned her to hell, would you let her drag your child there also?

    The problem is not moral bankrupcy, the problem is the woman has an extremely distorted view on reality and takes this view seriously. This is the result of people taking their dogma seriously.

  • Edmond

    I wonder what the possibility is that we’ll eventually hear that it was Miller’s family that was behind the disappearance, perhaps grabbing her and shipping her off to some ex-gay ministry, and cloistering the daughter away.

    Maybe not, but could be.

  • Brad

    Firstly Miller was the mother, not Jenkins in the first place. The problem with this situation is that the lesbian couple was allowed to have a baby in the first place, something that would be biologically impossible. When you start doing things outside of God’s plan, you will always end up with a messy situation.

  • Parse

    Brad,
    I hope for consistency’s sake that you also disapprove of anything else that modern science gives us that would otherwise be biologically impossible. I’m not just talking about fertility treatments for couples, but also hip replacements, pins to hold broken bones together, dialysis machines, and life support, to name a few. All of these are biologically impossible – if it were not for modern science.

    Or instead, do you mean to say that this is a blasphemy against your interpretation of God because there is no man in the relationship? If so, then every single parent is a blasphemy against your God. Do you realize how many people you are condemning with your statement?

    As for the case itself, it is a tragedy, but it would be nothing unusual if it were a straight couple. Ms. Miller refused to cooperate with the visitation schedule, so the judicial system awarded custody to the other parent – just like they would for any other couple.

    From the AP article, there is a quote saying “If Miller does not turn over Isabella, the most likely scenerio is that she would be held in contempt of court and a warrant would be issued for her arrest.” The cynic in me says that this is part her plan – ‘Liberal judges locked me up and gave my daughter to a lesbian!’ has victim and publicity written all over it.

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    @ Ron in Houston (again): “Miller is the birth mother. Jenkins is (biologically) a stranger to the child.

    The law favors the biological relationships so I suspect that something is quite wrong with Miller for her to lose custody to a non-biologically related person”

    Sorry I didn’t put this in my earlier post I had to run out the door to work and didn’t have time to articulate it properly.

    Biology doesn’t mean much. If it did then they could track down the sperm donor “father” and have him raise the child. Adoptive parents divorce and fight over kids. The judge (well, any judge worth his/her salt) would base who the child goes to solely on who is the better parent. I was adopted by my mother’s second husband when I was 13. If they had divorced I would have wanted custody to go to him rather than my biological parent.

    /my two cents

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Brad

    The problem with this situation is that the lesbian couple was allowed to have a baby in the first place, something that would be biologically impossible.

    Emphasis mine. I assume you are happy for others to decide your own reproductive rights. Perhaps you want legislation to decide who, when and how women are allowed to get pregnant? Are you advocating enforced abortion when women break these rules or forcing all men to undergo reversible sterilization until they are licenced to father children?

  • Rocklee

    Wow so much for friendly atheists!

    The fact that this couple are both women, shared a child and broke up means that none if that had anything to do with who they were but what they did to resolve the problem. Neither did a very good job of it and they are not the only ones.

  • muggle

    Sad, very sad and tragic, especially for the little girl. And, yeah, we all know why this is an issue. Definitely an argument for gay marriage here.

    ONE WORD SOLUTION…………. .44

    Michael, having once had to be physically barred from taking this recourse in regards to my daughter’s sick fuck of a pervert father, let me say — no, no and no!

    Despite everything we have endured, I will be forever grateful to my best friend for blocking the doorway. Bottom line: my daughter needed me and I was there for her.

    What kind of solution would that have been and really, really bad for the child. Even worse than this.

    I hope they find this child and return her to her other mother but she’s probably getting help from fundies and won’t surface. God, I hope I’m wrong.

    I used to get so pissed at news stories about one parent wanting to deny visitation based on their being gay. I’d have traded with them any time. Any freaking time.

    It’s pedophiles who should come with a warning label, not gays. Unfortuntely, there’s no such thing as the mark of Cain and wolves often come dressed in sheep’s clothing.

  • benjdm

    I’m not a Bible expert, but I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind.

    Fer fuck’s sake, stop giving this Jesus character so much credit. He was an apocalyptic cult leader. What do cult leaders do? They try and separate you from your family, not keep you with it.

    Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.”

    In Mark 3:31-35, he claims that his family is not his real family, his followers are.

    Rejecting those outside the cult is exactly what cult leaders want. There is plenty of reason to think the historical Jesus was no different.

  • llewelly

    ONE WORD SOLUTION…………. .44!

    It’s all fun and games until somebody shoots the kid by mistake.

  • llewelly

    The problem with this situation is that the lesbian couple was allowed to have a baby in the first place, something that would be biologically impossible.

    Nonsense. Lesbian couples have been having children since time immemorial. Pre-artificial insemination, most of them probably found the conception unpleasant or boring – but women know they must put up with a great deal more unpleasantness to bring the pregnancy to completion anyway. The belief that reproduction is “biologically impossible” for gay couples is entirely wrong. In fact – there is a species of primate – Japanese Macaques – among which over 90% of female sexual activity is with other females. And yet they reproduce just fine.

  • Anna

    The problem with this situation is that the lesbian couple was allowed to have a baby in the first place, something that would be biologically impossible.

    Allowed? Your choice of words is very telling. As others have mentioned, lesbian mothers have been creating and raising children for centuries, and have been doing so openly since the 1970s. I happen to have two lesbian mothers myself. How in the world do you propose to stop these women from bearing children? Please clarify how you would enforce this on the population. I would hope you are not proposing some sort of Orwellian nightmare in which my brother and I would have been forcibly removed from our home and given to a “suitable” heterosexual family instead. That’s certainly what the right-wing supporters of Lisa Miller are attempting to carry out here.

    Miller is the birth mother. Jenkins is (biologically) a stranger to the child. The law favors the biological relationships so I suspect that something is quite wrong with Miller for her to lose custody to a non-biologically related person.

    In this particular case, both women are the legal parents. They had a civil union in Vermont before the child was born, planned for Isabella’s conception, and intended to raise her together. Because of those factors, the Vermont Family Court ruled in 2004 that Janet Jenkins is also Isabella’s legal parent. It’s no different than if a heterosexual infertile couple had a baby through donor insemination. If the couple breaks up, the father still has rights to his child even though he is not biologically connected.

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  • paulalovescats

    Evangelical Christians are supposed to be all about love and family, right? No. The less conservative ones are. The more liberal, the more tolerant. Which is why I went all the way out.


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