Expert Truth: Is DOJ Wise to Depend on Advice from APA?

Received several emails last night and this morning passing along this headline: DOJ: Children Do Not Need—and Have No Right to–Mothers.

As some headlines go, I’d say thatsa some-a spicy meataball! Here’s what CNS News says:

The Justice Department’s argument on the superfluity of motherhood is presented in a brief the Obama administration filed in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that amended California’s Constitution to say that marriage involves only one man and one woman.

The Justice Department presented its conclusions about parenthood in rebutting an argument made by proponents of Proposition 8 that the traditional two-parent family, led by both a mother and a father, was the ideal place, determined even by nature itself, to raise a child.

The Obama administration argues this is not true. It argues that children need neither a father nor a mother and that having two fathers or two mothers is just as good as having one of each.

You can read the brief here. What caught my eye, further along in the article, was this:

To support this argument, one of the documents the administration cites is a “policy statement” by the American Psychological Association. This statement claims that some studies indicate same-sex parents might be “superior” to mother-and-father families, but then concedes there is little actual data on the results of raising children in two-father households.

All I have to say is this: the DOJ should be leery of basing too much of its arguments on a policy statement by the APA. Once upon a time, that same body of “experts” advised Catholic bishops that if they just gave youth-molesting priests some therapy, the priests would be okay for ministry, even around kids. The “expert truth” of a day often does not extend to decades.

That’s the thing about hard and social sciences; they evolve, just like everything and everybody. The things we “know for certain” at one moment in time, we are less certain of a few decades later. Things we believed could never be seen or measured, suddenly can be; “facts” we thought we knew for certain, are suddenly being reassessed; an over-reliance on “expertise” — as with the church scandals — too often sways us away from our own common-sense and gut instincts.

Which is why, when you think about it, even “educated secularists” take an awful lot on faith, and put a lot of trust in their chosen princes. Perhaps that is why the notion of “truth” to them, seems like such a changeable thing, yet is to be followed almost slavishly in the “dictatorship of relativism”, with each new pronouncement quickly embraced — even if it directly contradicts the received wisdom of five years ago. It’s a truth that serves the day.

When truth is a variable there is always “new truth” and for those looking to get on in the world, embracing each new truth is simply the expeditious and “smart” (and yes, compassionate) thing to do — it’s a very utilitarian way of living: “new, improved truth” is like a new, improved detergent that we buy until the next new truth is put on the shelves and hyped.

But, as with the detergent, if the new truth was so good to begin with, why does it constantly need improving? What cleaned the dirt before is only “better” because of extraneous, superficial “extras”. An added fresh scent? You can choose it if you want, but the dollop of aroma does not make the soap itself better. It is as efficacious as ever, whether it looks and smells pretty or not.

But what is fundamentally true, is always true. Which is why it’s called Eternal Truth. And service to that is no obeisance to a dictatorship, no enslavement to a constant search for what is “new and improved”. Rather, it is — in the paradoxical ways of heaven — the voluntary action that makes us free.

(Both images courtesy of

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • pgk

    “too often sways us away from our own common-sense and gut instincts”

    I would say common-sense and consciences, rather than instincts. Instinct is what directs the behavior of beasts. It’s of a piece with “follow your heart,” considered today the summation of all ethics.

    Anyway, the overall point is well made.

  • Pingback: Expert Truth: Is DOJ Wise to Depend on Advice from APA? | CATHOLIC FEAST

  • Nathaniel

    Yes, thank goodness the Holy Church has never changed its prescriptions, unlike that old unreliable science. Thank God for the Church!

    Now there are other, lesser organizations that have let society dictate their theology. But not the Church. For an example, some Churches have given into social pressure and have actually declared slavery to be against God’s wishes. But not the Church! As Augustine himself said, “The first cause of servitude, therefore, is sin, by which man was placed under man in a condition of bondage: a condition which can come about only by the judgment of God, in Whom there is no injustice.”

    And that’s not all. The Church has also stood firm in their position that priests can marry. While there was a heretical Pope Gregory VII in 1079 who tried to change that, the Church stood strong, and a thousand years later priests are still marrying.

    Its good to know that there are some things that can be relied upon. Unlike science.

    [A predictable response. I'm talking about eternal and fundamental truths, which do not change -- because they cannot -- and you are running sarcastic (as usual) on things which can and someday may change. I never said "everything and everyone" evolves. :-) -admin]

  • YouGoAnchoress

    Speaking of “new truths,” take a look at the ever-evolving food pyramid, or plate, or whatever it is now. I’ve never understood why the basic nutritional needs of human beings need to be re-evaluated every few years. But I’m sure there’s an expert at the USDA who can set me straight on this. (Also, are babies still supposed to sleep on their backs? I can’t keep up.)

  • archangel

    The slope is no longer slippery. It is an all-out mudslide now. The whole agenda here has never been about “legal” unions. Its about the redefinition and/or the destruction of the family which from our theological bent is a mini “church”. Hence the vocational nature of marriage and parenthood. There is no shock here. It is simply the “logic” of the whole matter playing out. Destroy the family… destroy the church. Very diabolical at its core.

  • Douglas Johnson


    You have it exactly right…or almost. Slippery slope doesn’t apply here. When someone makes a slippery slope argument, the assumption is that both sides of the debate don’t want what is potentially at the bottom of the slope. As you point out, the de-recognition by the government of mothers and fathers was the central cog around which everything else turned all along.

    So too Canada. So too France:

  • Scotty

    I think you’re missing – or perhaps significantly underestimating – the significance of this news article. Our own Federal government has now openly dissed the family in court and is fighting in court to redefine society’s fundamental structure.

    While I’ve tried so hard these last four years not to get sucked into the whole “Radical!”/”Extreme!”/”Socialist!” epithets that dumb-down political discourse, I think I’ve reached my breaking point.

    It’s one thing to hear news about something like a “leaked internal memo” from the White House or a Cabinet department that contains controversial social ideas or programs. At least the administration indirectly admits they have to keep them out-of-sight of the American people.

    It’s entirely another thing for Federal Justice Department lawyers to argue – plainly and brazenly in open court – against something so utterly and naturally self-evident as the primacy of motherhood. For them to have crossed that line in the light of day is highly disconcerting.

  • maineman

    As a psychologist with 30 years of experience, I have to add that this is no “whichever way the wind blows” shift in the psychological zeitgeist. APA, like the environmental movement, was taken over long ago by the multiculturalist, victim oriented, essentially leftist thuggery that you see here. Small surprise, since the bulk of so-called social scientists are atheists.

    The APA position on so-called same-sex marriage is as incoherent as it is malicious. As if the vast sum of scientific literature — not to mention common sense — doesn’t make crystal clear the importance to children, and to their well being, of having both the natural mother and natural father in their lives, preferably in their family.

    A pox on the lot of them.