Marriage—Designed for Procreation?

Marriage—Designed for Procreation? February 24, 2014

The most popular argument against same-sex marriage from Christians that I see is that the purpose of marriage is procreation. (It makes me wonder if the only advice they would give a couple considering marriage would be about sex positions and lubricating oils.)

Where did this idea come from? My guess is that a couple of Christian strategists had a conversation something like this.

First Guy: We’ve got to find some way to differentiate same-sex marriage from straight marriage.

Other Guy: Yeah—some significant difference.

First Guy: So what would a gay marriage not be able to do that a straight marriage can?

Other Guy: Let’s see—they can love each other, they can support each other through difficult times …

First Guy: They can provide sexual satisfaction, they’ll have two incomes in many cases …

Other Guy: Hey, wait a minute—they can’t make babies!

First Guy: Sure, that’s it! Let’s just spin it to imagine that that’s the sole purpose of marriage!

Other Guy: The sole purpose? But what about all that other stuff?

First Guy: Whatever—the argument just has to be plausible at first glance. It doesn’t have to actually make sense.

Seriously? Is that all you get out of the marriage vows? “I promise to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in joy as well as in sorrow,” doesn’t sound like “Make babies!” to me.

The real sin: infertility in straight couples

And what would these Christian whiners do with marriages that don’t produce children? Some couples don’t want children and others can’t have them. More than 10% of couples have a fertility problem. In other words, if every single homosexual person paired up and got married tomorrow, they would still be far exceeded in number by the straight couples simply unable to make babies. As anti-gay-marriage advocates lie awake at night and worry about other people’s happiness, I wonder if this fact troubles them as well.

And what about couples beyond child-bearing age? My wife and I are too old for more babies, for example. Does that make our marriage invalid or inferior?

It’s easy to smoke out these Christians’ true opinions on the subject. Ask these opponents to same-sex marriage why a straight couple should get married instead of living together, and the procreation argument goes out the window, replaced with profound thoughts about love and commitment—precisely the reason same-sex couples want to get married.

The marriage-creates-babies idea is clung to like a life preserver, but the simple fact is that marriage doesn’t make babies, it’s sex. And, as I’ve said in a previous post, let’s remember that the apostle Paul was against sex and made clear that the best marriage was no marriage at all.

What if the options were same-sex couple vs. single parent?

A variant of this argument is that a straight couple provides a better environment for a child than a same-sex couple. I’ve heard evidence on each side of this question, but I’m in no position to evaluate it. What seems certain to me is that other factors in life—having enough money, no domestic violence, no drug use, a safe neighborhood, and so on—can overshadow the parents’ gender.

But this argument is irrelevant in those situations when two biological parents simply aren’t an option. For example, imagine a lesbian woman, divorced with a child. The mother could live alone, she could live with a woman partner, or the two women could get married. What’s the best situation for the child? Mom and Dad isn’t an option; they’re divorced. Mom and Stepdad aren’t an option; Mom’s a lesbian. Seems to me that there’s room in this situation to allow for Mom’s happiness, and that could provide another adult to help with the parenting. Where’s the problem? We probably agree that single-parent households aren’t best for raising children, and opposing same-sex marriage only stands in the way.

“But we don’t discriminate!”

A final element of the Christian position is a rearguard action. Concerned about the charge of bias, they argue that their position does not discriminate against homosexuals. After all, they say, the restriction that someone can only marry someone of the opposite sex applies to everyone equally.

I’m sure this absurd argument was as foul-smelling when it was applied to those in love with someone of a different race in 1967 when mixed-race marriages were still prohibited in 17 states. “There’s no discrimination here. You can marry anyone you want … as long as that person is of the same race as you.”

Christians, you’re being led around by Chicken Little politicians. Think for yourself. Same-sex marriage doesn’t affect your marriage or mine one bit.

Read this series from the beginning: “Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality?

Christians don’t need to be born again.
They need to grow up.
— John Shelby Spong


(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/23/12.)

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  • MNb

    “clear that the best marriage was no marriage at all.”
    I would be nice if more fundies lived according to Paulus’ words.

    “Where’s the problem”
    Their god, full of love.

  • Joe

    It only helps equality more when they make these transparent arguments. Anyone can see through them. Nobody even needs to go to fallacy school to spot these fallacies. At least they could think up some smarter fallacies. But no. So yeah keep on talkin, fundies.

  • Y. A. Warren

    I can tell you that before my church wedding in 1969, they gave even less advice than what you have predicted.

    Christians don’t need to be born again.
    They need to grow up.
    — John Shelby Spong

    John Spong really nails the difference between followers of Joyful Jewish Jesus as their Christ and the political system that should be called “Christendom” instead of “Christianity.” Whatever the religions based on RCC BS choose to call themselves, they are not following the example of Jesus as their collective Christ. Hitler may have been an appropriate role model for many of them.

  • wtfwjtd

    What’s the best situation for the child? Mom and Dad isn’t an option; they’re divorced. Mom and Stepdad aren’t an option;

    Remember, we’re talking about biblical marriage rules here. Even if mom wasn’t a lesbian and remarried, according to the holy book she’s still a sinner who’s going to burn for the simple act of remarrying. Interesting; I see the religious wringing their hands over gay people, all worried about what’s going on in their bedroom, but never seemed concerned in the least that their holy book condemns divorce and re-marriage in much harsher terms than mere homosexuality. What gives?

    • Scott_In_OH

      I have to say that I was always taught that divorce was a sin, and re-marriage was adultery. Many Christians fought legal changes that made divorce and re-marriage easier, and the Catholic Church won’t re-marry someone unless his/her first marriage is annulled.

      You’re right that the sturm and drang against same-sex marriage is currently more pronounced than the objections to divorce and re-marriage, but I don’t think conservative Christians are quite as inconsistent on this as we sometimes think.

      • I’m missing the consistency. If the number of divorced straight people is far higher than the total number of gay people, but the garment rending and teeth gnashing is far higher for the gay people, that doesn’t sound consistent. That sounds like ick-driven thinking. (Or perhaps politician-driven thinking.)

        • Scott_In_OH

          The hand-wringing, moralizing, and political lobbying on divorce was huge when no-fault-divorce laws were first being promulgated. Conservative Christians lost, and NOW they don’t talk about it as much, although they will privately tell you that no-fault-divorce is, along with the advent of effective birth control, one of the two main causes of the death of the American family.

          Today’s hand-wringing, moralizing, and political lobbying on same-sex marriage sounds very familiar to me. I suspect they will lose on this, as well, and it will burn as quiet resentment among conservative Christians, who will have to find something else to be outwardly pissed about.

          I guess my point is that if they thought they could succeed, plenty of conservative Christians would try to undo the laws that make divorce and re-marriage easy.

        • A straight couple can happily jettison gay marriage since they don’t care. An older couple can happily demand pre-marital chastity or no abortion since they’re beyond the age when that would affect them.

          But divorce? Would they really cut away that lifeboat (that they don’t need now but might, just in case)?

          Different topic: I wonder how much politics is involved. When the sky is falling, Chicken Little politicians can promise a solution to this terrible problem. Manufacturing problems is to their benefit, and people maturing to accept social change works to their detriment.

      • wtfwjtd

        Back in my fundie days, I saw plenty of inconsistency on this issue, in just the way I described it. Maybe it’s not so bad where you live, and that’s great.
        I’ll go along with you on that some conservative Christians still frown on divorce, but many times with a hypocritical twist. I’ve seen lots of chest-thumping and speechifying on issues like divorce, remarriage, abortion, alcohol consumption, etc. that are directed at other people, but none of it is meant to apply to them personally. This is what always galled me when discussing this issue–as Will Rogers so aptly put it, “Oklahomans will continue to vote for prohibition as long as they can stagger to the polls.” And many of them just seemed blind to the obvious hypocrisy of it.

        • Scott_In_OH

          There’s definitely hypocrisy when it comes to applying to the rules to themselves. No disagreement there.

          On the divorce vs. SSM, see my reply to Bob above.

  • I love the “marriage laws don’t discriminate” argument, because it works so well in similar cases. Anti-discrimination laws that stop Christians from refusing service to homosexuals? They apply to everyone as well, along with that pesky contraception mandate. Somehow that’s different though.

  • Guest

    My biggest issue with the “Marriage is for procreation” argument (and with Christian objections to same-sex relationships in general) is that a major metaphor used by the Bible to describe the relationship between Christ and the Church (or God and the Jewish people) is one of MARRIAGE. The Church contains human men. Also, nowhere is it mentioned in Christian theology (that I know of) that the purpose of Christ’s union with the Church is to produce babies. Furthermore, in the Song of Solomon, even if you interpret it metaphorically (ha), the two main characters are enjoying a physical and emotional relationship with NO MENTION of offspring, potential or otherwise.

    • Nicely stated.

    • Plutosdad

      Your church didn’t have an annual “submit to Jesus night”?

  • Jason Wexler

    With regard to the lesbian divorcee you hypothesized, I would suggest that single mom in certain circumstances may be the best option. If mom has bad taste in partners it could end-up poorly for the child regardless of the sex or gender of the person mom dates. I think there is evidence in the last 40 years that single parenting is no worse than same-sex parenting, nor polyamorous parenting nor traditional parenting… the same factors tend to be the dominant contributor to results of parenting, socio-economics and parental time-involvement and values, everything else is at best peripheral and frequently irrelevant.

    • That surprises me. I’d have thought that two parents would typically be better than a single parent. Sure, I can see how it might be worse (crazy step-parent who favors his/her own children to the detriment of the other child; abuse; etc.). Is this the concern?

      • Kodie

        It’s been my observation for a while that a child needs “more than 1” adult to care for it. The traditional is a mom and a dad, and the traditional breakdown is breadwinner and caretaker. But let’s get modern about it. There is simply too much to do for a child for one person to do it all. In the case where a single parent must work (and who else is going to?), they must hire help with the rest of the things. Housewives (or the modern term Stay-At-Home-Mother – mother [it’s assumed to be the woman]) aren’t paid to do all that so it seems weird, but their work is worth a lot. A father breadwinner already makes all the money for the household so paying his wife with that money is somewhat redundant. Let’s assume he has to make enough money for both partners and the kids either way; rather than give her a wage off of that, it generally supplies her with whatever she needs except the freedom and liberty achieved with earning one’s living. She has a home and food and the task of rationing and budgeting the children’s needs before her own, or else she is considered greedy and a selfish mother.

        In an ideal world, if people had what they needed, they wouldn’t need more money. It is a socialist system or it is slavery, or socialism is slavery – this is one unfinished thought, so I will move on.

        In the case where there is a single parent, if it is a man, he knows what to do. He goes to work, and he has to hire someone to clean his house once a week, put the laundry in the fluff ‘n’ fold, and the child in daycare or free daycare by his own mother, who helps him a lot but he saves money where he can take advantage of someone. Maybe he even gets his mother to do all his housework too. That makes 2 people. If it is the woman, the man is supposed to PAY “child support” and he grows to resent paying his ex-wife to do all the things his children need, to budget his money as he did while they were married. If she has her own job too, they are still his children and why, if she has the custody, meaning all the hard parts of having children, does she also have to pay for all their needs with her earned money and not a pot from both parents? If he died instead, and this happens too often, young parents die without a plan to care for their children financially. This would mean the remaining parent had to work and pay for it all, but pay for the help instead of getting it “for free” by being married.

        When we also talk about abortion and single mothers and what they’re facing ahead of them, it is not that she cannot necessarily be there and love her child, but children do not live on love. She can’t divide herself between breadwinner and caretaker, especially so if she hasn’t finished her education yet. Children need more than 1 adult to care for them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean two parents. They need a roof and roofs cost money, food costs money, “cooking dinner” is essentially a non-paying job, but the food costs money. People who call for the traditional marriage (and the traditional roles in marriage) KNOW THIS. If not, we wouldn’t need men in their roles at all.

        We live in a liberated world where women not only can work, they like and want to have a job and earn their own money. But nobody can “have it all” – they can’t do it all. You can’t stay home and raise your children and cook their dinners that look like a magazine spread and have a job outside the home. That is having 2 jobs. 2 at the very least need to share those tasks. What’s at the root of the problem in the modern liberated world is that more and more parents are isolating themselves as a knee-jerk reaction. They are isolating themselves thinking they have to do all the jobs for children in their care with no help or interference or community. Hillary Clinton said “it takes a village to raise a child” and they hated her so much, they did the opposite, and said, “it’s MY child and I don’t share that responsibility with anyone because that’s socialism or they may infect my child with alternate values. They home-school even. They are uneducated people thinking they all know what’s best for their children they won’t let anyone else near them. They want their children to turn out in their vision rather than let the world they live in and will continue to live in shape them in any way.

        TLDR: The traditional 2-parent system does essentially create a form of stability and resources to care for children. 1 alone cannot do everything. A child needs more than 1 adult to fill in all their needs, but now since women can work for a living and divorce is no longer scandalized, the non-custodial parent must contribute financially rather than abandon. 1 adult alone cannot watch a child, do all the housework chores, and work for the money to support that child’s food, clothes, and shelter. They need to hire some of that out or take help from another adult in the community like a grandparent.

      • Jason Wexler

        At this point it almost seems silly of me to respond to you after what Kodie so brilliantly responded with. I actually tend to be a proponent of the it takes a village hypothesis in which case many of the problems for the single parent that Kodie illustrates are resolved by having the whole community take a part of the parenting job. However in the context of real life nuclear families as they work in our current society, for all the obvious benefits Kodie talks about in having the second (or why not a third and fourth person as well), if the people are to put it politely lower quality in terms of parenting skills, than the problems of the single parent may be preferable to the abuse or neglect heaped upon a child by multiple bad parents. You wrote “…would typically be better…” and that typically is the key word; no one solution works perfectly all the time, and sometimes the alternative which is clearly worse in the ideal case is actually better in the specific real case. Basically I was aiming for a caveat in the generalization that two parents are better than one, all other things being equal yes that is true,

  • Machintelligence

    I think a cogent case could be made that the main societal benefits that marriage provides are a stable economic platform for the raising of children and a basis for the transfer of wealth between generations. The gender (or numbers, really) are not that important. Tribal traditions, with communal child raising and ownership of property perform the same function, but with reduced personal liberty.

  • Plutosdad

    Whenever someone says marriage is for procreation, or says marriage has been defined for thousands of years (or even hundreds) i know they have not bothered to study history. Either history of marriage or the function of children in society.

    The idea that marriage is for procreation begs the question that procreation was a noble purpose in and of itself. As if every society – christian or no- thought having children was some divine commandment that was good “just because”.

    Marriage has only been about love in the west for a little over a hundred years, marriage was not even a church sacrament 1000 years ago – (and, in fact, many argue the reason the Church got involved in marriage was to gain control over wealthy Europeans so their inheritance and power mergers would be influenced by the Church – not because it was holy to begin with) Marriage was civil, and it’s main purpose was for property protection and inheritance, increasing family power, etc even for the non rich as we can see arranged marriages throughout history in the west. And certainly procreation wasn’t for its own sake – it was to pass on your wealth (what little you may have had) and have little workers. Parents had a right to simply take all the earnings children earned up to 18, in some states when they were as old as 21. (Lincoln was famously angry about this when he was 20).
    these first two links are the best

    But this one hilariously claims it was the early Christian church that argued marriage is not only for making babies! (and in fact the Catholic church would refuse to grant annulments merely because one parent was infertile)

    I just googled those in seconds (though I’ve read the 2nd link before). Any of these people arguing marriage is for babies could have done the same but didn’t. All they had to do was google “history of marriage” but they don’t bother – I suppose because they think they are right, and also they don’t want to see any information that would undermine their privilege and prejudice.

    • Kodie

      Marriage isn’t “for” procreation – marriage is for a man who can’t just spawn clones of himself, and for free maid service in exchange for housing a supposedly trustworthy woman of his choosing who has few choices. He may fuck some prostitute (i.e. single woman) and she turns up pregnant – without DNA proof, he can deny those children are his. He loses nothing even if they are his. When he marries, he wants a woman to own, he wants a brand-new unused one to supply him with children he can depend on to be his. Men are insecure about this because they can never really know, and being the practical gender, lol, do not want their personal resources spent on another man’s children. Watch some talk shows in the past two decades and see what I mean – a man will deny a child that looks just like his baby picture if he hates or doesn’t trust the mother of that child, because she had sex with someone else or he even thinks she did. A man will be insecure if his wife dresses the way she likes or attracts attention from other men. He will have her followed, he will make her cover up.

      But men can’t make their own wanted offspring at will, and women can’t do anything else! Marriage is made to uphold stereotypical gender roles and the ownership of biological children and wives who contain them until birth and clean them ever after. Making 2 men or 2 women together (a) cannot produce biological children of both partners, and (b) upsets society’s expectations of gender roles to model for the offspring. Either one or both parents is set to raise a child even though it is not biologically theirs. They don’t like it for a woman to be too controlling or decision-making or for a man to serve another man like a woman should, or for children to have to get mixed up about who they should grow up to be. They might even think it’s ok to be gay.

      The heterosexual 2-parent household is a form of birth control ultimately. We’re animals who want to have sex, and sex can make a pile of unexpected babies who need and deserve to be cared for. We have since come up with a few other ways around this enormous obstacle. Society still demands people get married even if they don’t want to, to marry someone, anyone, as long as it’s the opposite sex, and you’re getting old and you need to bear children like everyone else. Unless you’re serving some other awesome purpose (like the priesthood or devoting your life to curing cancer), you’re not excused. Even so, a man can cure cancer all day if he has a wife to mind his children, and he has to find the right woman to support his goals, i.e. in this day and age, someone who doesn’t want her own career competing with his at the cost of his children’s well-being. Fertility rites and symbols are a huge tradition in marriage ceremonies throughout history and across the globe. Even people who don’t want children include these gestures often in their marriage ceremonies because we’ve all grown up (I mean women) with the ideal wedding ceremony building in our heads until we can finally make it come true. Even now, women are still expected to fulfill certain roles with in a traditional heterosexual marriage, no matter what career they have, we expect it of each other and ourselves. Women divide themselves up between mothers and non-mothers, and mothers divide themselves up between stay-at-home and work-outside-the-home.

      • purr

        There is a dude from the blog ‘secular pro life’ who fantasizes about becoming pregnant. Creepy.

    • Helpful sources, thanks.

  • Kodie

    As I’ve said before, marriage is a form of birth control. Heterosexual people want to have sex and sex can result in children, and a long time ago, women had no options to work and could only hope to get married and not because she wanted to have children, but because they could not easily be prevented from happening.

    This is why they get so angry about “fornicating”, and who should be responsible for these offspring? Well, the woman should have known and kept herself pure! To be chosen by a good prospect who would agree to support her offspring. He wants to make sure they are his, and only when he can trust a woman is not fornicating with just anyone or has not proven herself to be weak-willed and let some other man persuade her without marrying her first. In the case of single people having sex without responsibility, they are extremely judgmental. If marriage is “designed” for procreation, sex has to wait until two people have established a stable household. Without a contract, a man, they say, should be off the hook, and nobody feels sorry for the woman who could not wait. If she is 5 weeks pregnant, oh well, that’s her expected consequence. To discourage “irresponsibility” they also don’t want young people to have access or knowledge about preventing pregnancy.

    Instead of be honest about pregnancy and why nobody should want to have babies, they judge young women. No man will want you if you’ve had sex with someone else, it’s like eating a candy bar someone else has taken a bite of. If you had the harsh reality of pregnancy laid out honestly and no methods of preventing it or reversing it, maybe people would not take that risk. Instead, they scandalize mothers, they scandalize women from falling off the pedestal, and they scandalize children born out of wedlock or whose parents have divorced.

    For one thing, marriage is a contract. They believe it is blessed by the lord and joins two people together forever. In one sense, if there is a child, this is correct. The biological product of sex creates a project not owned by one person or the other. So marriage sort of ensures that you are in it together, but it is not the only way to make a promise to each other or a child. The state encourages marriage on the books rather than leave it to private citizens by offering incentives, and something of a registration of who is your family member and who is not. Your feelings do not matter – a cold clinical official document certifies you.

    So does adoption. Adoption is not simply, for example, your neighbor disappears, and you see their children are left alone so you decide to care for them at your house without anyone overseeing the circumstance. That is called kidnapping even if you care for them very well. You have to go through official channels. If no family member can take them in, they are wards of the state and then you have to apply to be their legal guardian or adopt them or foster them until they can be adopted. But then, they are legally your responsibility and you cannot get rid of them as easily as you found them.

    I do not think marriage is for procreation. They only accomplish this by judgment, their judgment, which they back with the bible. Marriage between a man and a woman only creates a stable household in which children that cannot otherwise be prevented (without interfering in god’s will*) will be cared for and not abandoned or left to a single woman who can’t work and is rejected by future marriage prospects. If we allow women to work and no longer find having sex (or children) before marriage a social disease, they don’t really have a point. They have only their judgment of other people to stand on. I always wonder why they do that, because if they stopped, then there would be nothing left to do. They worry about women’s reputations and children being rejected by their teachers and peers. They warn if you have sex, no man will want to be with you, and if you’re not married, the man doesn’t have a contract willing him to support you. How could you do that to your children and let them be bullied at school for being a bastard?

    How about putting the stark reality of pregnancy and child-rearing first? They do this for inter-racial children and they do it for gay or transsexual children. How could the parents allow children to be like society doesn’t want them to be? The world will be cruel and judgmental to your children! So they continue to be cruel and judgmental to adults over appearances – the worst thing you could do is allow your children to be mocked by a society that can’t handle the way they are, so they perpetuate stigmas and judgment.

    I want to go on record and say I’m not married. I don’t know how close I ever came, been engaged several times, but I never got the planning bug or that would have started the chain reaction, the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark comes to mind in retrospect. I have lived with a guy before. Didn’t really love it, loved him but he became extremely mentally ill and not just a different person on his medication, I devoted myself to live with these circumstances nevertheless, but his family interfered, and it’s probably for the best. I moved somewhere I didn’t want to live for him, and by the time he could move in with me, I didn’t want him to anymore but I didn’t stop him. Looking back, marriage would have been a raw deal for me, in every single case of every long-term relationship I ever had. I was born to want to get hitched and produce children, meaning I am a woman in a man’s world where women are trained from an early age to dream of nothing else. But I look at these relationships with these men and say “phew!” I can’t take care of someone like a wife that they wanted and I wanted when I was young to be for a man.

    I find a lot of the witch hunt surrounding gay marriage equality to be that they can’t produce together a nuclear family and are merely fornicators. Straight people can also be fornicators which I spend a lot of time analyzing as well. If you can’t make a baby, the sex is for naught! It’s a dead end. You’re just doing it for pleasure and nothing else. This is what they’re judging against.

    They are also judging about “the lifestyle” of the mere fornicator. I have often found the “problem” of abortion (I am going somewhere with this) is that they knowingly abide living in a world of fornicating straight people, for whom they close off all avenues of solution except adoption. They steal women from abortion clinics and make false promises because they are in business for Christian couples who can’t have their own babies. They only want babies that are close enough looking because APPEARANCES matter. Nothing else matters, as I said above. The world as they prefer it is cruel and judgmental if the kids don’t match the parents. People will be curious and ask questions! They will be able to tell you’re fucking toward a dead end too. And because those babies are marked and swiped by a good-Christian-home cartel, they don’t want to compete with loving gay parents who, because of how they were born, can never know the true joy of biological parenting together, as god intended not just for married humans, but for a majority of living organisms on the earth by default. The recipe is simply a sperm and an egg, and we have technologically and societally overcome the problems of procreation that some situations call for.

    The other situation I find fairly obvious is the division of labor. In a traditional Christian marriage, the man is the head of the household and the woman is his helpmeet or whatever. He can’t make his own offspring, and though society does not stigmatize a bachelor as much as an “old maid”, his parents probably pressure him. I know several men who were uh, encouraged to get married when they ought to have not. My sister’s ex-husband has some grass-is-greener motions, like “this was a lot easier if we just stayed together” kind of, but that’s not love. Some people still wonder aloud who is the man and who is the woman and I don’t think it’s about sexual positions. How can a child raised by homosexuals know how to be a man or a woman if both their parents divide up the work how it makes sense? In heterosexual couples, they also judge if the man stays home and the woman works, or the man cooks dinner or any other “women’s work”. They say liberated women are messing up the perfect balance and neglecting their children and making their husbands pitch in, which emasculates them and makes them resent marriage after all. And women aren’t allowed to resent marriage – it’s for the love of a good man to keep them and we have to be grateful and never complain.

    So how do gay partners divide the work and demonstrate masculine leadership of the family or feminine subservience and martyrdom? HOW???? They can’t! They are mixing up and damaging those children to believe women can fix a faucet or men can sew a button. How dare they show children such perverse lifestyles while doing it on the dining room table. If a girl doesn’t learn subservience from her only female mother, her own marriage prospects will be damaged and she will be subject to cruel and judgmental judgment from society. If a boy learns that he can and must share housework with another person, he will be subservient to a woman his whole life and that’s not manly, or he will “turn out” gay because that’s what is modeled for him – and subject to cruel judgment also. He will not know what is expected for his wife. They don’t care about how these children are cared for at all – they care how they are modeled to fill their expected and severe gender roles. They can’t tolerate a world that doesn’t judge them that’s changing to accept them, or for people to find a partner they fit well with instead of one that fits society’s expectations. They don’t want people happy in marriage, they want them to do the job determined by the sex they were born, and a household doesn’t need two people who can fix a faucet and none who can sew a button, so the kids turn out “alright” instead of choose to fornicate. Oh yeah, they say god demands and prescribes it, but he leaves it up to people to ensure that children are harshly judged and rejected (by a smaller and smaller segment of society).

    What it necessarily boils down to is children do better with two people at least doing all the jobs necessary to create a stable household. That doesn’t mean the parents have to be straight or married. We don’t talk enough about how expensive it is to care for children, we only expect people to fall into roles – traditionally one male breadwinner and one female homemaker, then the children born in the marriage are presumed to be taken care of. This takes all the guesswork out of it, but let’s remember, people can talk to each other and figure out who can do what and allot their time and money resources accordingly, including not having unplanned children, which gay people have it pretty easy there, and if they can get married, “being gay” is not a mark on their adoption application. Take help from other people or hire it out.

    • purr

      I find it interesting that the groups that are behind the recent anti gay laws in Russia are ‘ focus on the family’ style organizations. Natch, they also oppose abortion.

  • Kodie

    I had some more thoughts about this. With the idea that marriage is for procreation, we go back to the Christian fixation on sex, and the suppression that that’s what “it” is all about. As soon as someone is pointed out as gay, they can’t relate to them as a person anymore, but only the way they have sex. It gets in the way of two people being friends or neighbors or in the same family. When we’re all presumed straight, we don’t talk about it … well we do. The whole “men and women can’t be friends” thing, and the way men are threatened in all-man settings from a woman reporter in the locker room or a gay team-mate or military brother. And how society treats rapes like women really want it or they would police themselves better to keep men from “erring”. It is really hard to tell in the media where a woman is being sexualized and objectified and when she is empowering herself. Anyway, the so-called “problem” of being identified as gay draws attention to one’s sexuality and can no longer function as a regular person like a parent or a colleague – sex is their identity and they’re fornicating so a Christian can’t ignore it. Anyway, so I found this on the onion website:
    So-Called Christian Has Erection

    Why don’t we treat everyone like a sexual time bomb?

    Another thing I recalled was an episode of the TV show Kate & Allie from the 1980s. I don’t remember seeing it air, but I saw it a couple years ago on youtube and found it. (For those unfamiliar, it is a comedy series about 2 divorced women with kids living together that is kind of an “odd couple” situation of a home-making type and a career-woman type.) The episode is condensed to the major plot of a landlady raising their rent since they are “two” families instead of a married lesbian couple, where the landlady is a lesbian and Kate and Allie pretend to save on rent. For the ’80s, it is mostly progressive, featuring acceptance, with some recognition that this is not widely accepted (yet – but by now it should be, right?) with a lot of the typical ridicule of “we have to pretend we’re gay and isn’t that funny and sort of icky” that’s anti-progressive, mostly resolved by the end of the episode as far as I can tell.

    What I find interesting about it the most is that by now we are farther behind. There are programs that feature gay people, but permanent couples married or living together are not that often seen and when they are, are stereotypical and their characterization is how gay they are and isn’t it gay and great and so so gay? There aren’t a lot of shades, but I have to say they offer stereotypical straight married couples a lot too. The ’70s and ’80s seemed to show a lot more liberal and progressive visions (on shows that intended to break such barriers) than they do now. Divorce, living together, unplanned or unmarried pregnancy, biracial couples and gay people were not never seen before, although the television landscape had been primarily homogenous and alternate non-white, non-straight, and non-Christians being mostly clown versions held up for ridicule in a “as long as my tenant is gay, he can live platonically with 2 women and I can make fun of his harmless fruitiness” kind of way.

    I sort of don’t remember too much impact from Kate & Allie regarding their divorced “lifestyle”, but it was a popular show that dealt with more real situations than most, and then we all seem to have gone backwards. I guess it impacted me that I didn’t think it was shocking at all by exposing me to all forms of normal situations outside of a nuclear family, which is what conservatives protest. I don’t think an episode of television like this could air today, 30 years later, without a lot of people getting upset on behalf of children who watch tv, and yet it had aired and people have totally forgotten about it and didn’t let it ruin their deeply held personal beliefs. I mean, it would have been one thing to resolve the episode by coming clean about their heterosexual household blending, or have a landlord that was going to throw them out assuming they were lying about not being gay, but the landlady and her longterm partner existed and promoted pride and differences and did not resemble stereotypes while they were at it. We should be so much further along by now.


  • avalpert

    Sex isn’t particularly well designed for procreation (it does a much better job of delivering pleasure) and now we are supposed to pretend that marriage is?

  • Gregory Peterson

    I always say that if human sexuality was primarily about procreation, women would have an obvious estrus cycle…and then we wouldn’t be human.

    • smrnda

      Human sexuality kind of has to be about pleasure and bonding first, since it isn’t like humans have sex, lay eggs a bit later and then the little humans crawl out totally self-sufficient. Without a stable social environment, a human child isn’t going to do to well.

  • ZenDruid

    IMO, the Vatican Boys’ Club rationale is that every adult (except them) should have a breeding partner to keep them in debt, theoretically cranking out larvae at every opportunity. That, in general, puts the damper on extraneous crap like social activism and so on. Even having the wherewithal to support innumerable progeny, the people thus burdened with family have no time, nor energy, to work in most creative fields toward a better civilization in general.

    Gay couples with a love for life and togetherness do not succumb to that basic biological consequence, and are free to continue loving and acting, learning and creating, incidentally enriching world culture, much to the discomfiture of the high-flying, freewheeling Vatican Boys.

    Lesbians (and I expect to be trounced for this) just need to be impregnated through rape. That’ll get them off the street… just as long as they can’t get access to retroactive contraception.

    • Kodie

      I kind of wonder if most people have a natural biological “urge” if you could call it that to have children or mostly it is societal pressures (combined with a fairly recent history of inevitability). I heard recently, and it makes a lot of sense that it is almost obvious, that human capacity is fairly limitless without children, but once you devote your life to the project, you, for the most part, have to lower your expectations for your own accomplishments. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it affects men and women, even gay men and gay women, who want to do the kid thing. It’s either this or that, and once you have kids, you can’t put ’em back the way you can reinvent your career multiple times without kids to keep you obligated to their needs.

      I also think that, in addition to replenishing the supply of worshipers, having children tends to set people in a rut. They are too consumed with having to keep a mediocre job to buy groceries and all that to change what they do. They may have promised when they had kids they wouldn’t do it like their parents, but they do (they claim to finally understand, and the “and I turned out ok”, well let’s let someone objective decide). They may have left the church while young and single, but go back so their kids have a decent upbringing and community. I expect to be roasted about making sweeping judgments about parenting, and I’m sure plenty have rewritten the book and overcome their own childhoods or overcompensated in some way, or forging their own parenting journey, but of course the church is in favor of marriage and children. What else could drive you to the brink, what else could make you feel so inadequate as a human being as worrying if you are doing everything you can, so you revert to your maybe weak religious beliefs and haul the kids in on Sunday just in case it turns out to be necessary. Having kids doesn’t seem to give people a lot of time to think, and I’ve heard all the beautiful and lofty aspirations go out the window when a real kid has to have their needs met immediately and ongoing. And apparently their growth and development continues to be surprising, as there is no plateau when a parent can rest with a working method before their kid changes the rules of the game.

      I want to make a “Dr. Phil”-style example of a parent training a kid to utilize tantrums by giving in, which is where the child – and society – train the adult to take the shortcut of ending it for the short-term but perpetuating the pattern because tantrums actually work. It is really hard then to steer the course of this pattern. You are hurdling into the future and it will always be like this but different. There is no simple time to try other methods and re-train the child. I just spent the weekend watching my sister parent like my mother – super-moody, over-sensitive, and martyr-tastic. She can’t stop and breathe and try something else when her kid acts shitty, but to tell you the truth, I noticed he was a lot more receptive to everyone except her than he was 6 months ago, and he’s not even 5 yet, and then she will defend him when he’s acting shitty in my mother’s house because that’s just how he is. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying parents have very little time to think of a new plan when what they’re doing obviously doesn’t work, and then rationalize that it’s working just fine.

      Gay couples are not obligated (neither are straight couples) to go down this path, but it’s the normal thing to do. Everyone does it and recommends it and judges people who are “selfish” for not doing it. Then they might resent gay couples who want to resemble a typical family – they no longer have to choose between a sham marriage with kids and being themselves. Gay couples opt for this, why? Because. I know people who never had kids in their 50s and 60s now (all hetero) and they have so much disposable income, they’re actually having fun and have a lot of energy. They look young and act young and have the time and money to do and try lots of things. People with kids never seem to believe anyone else is really satisfied with all that freedom, just like religious people seem to think we all have a god-shaped hole and are just rationalizing all the non-god things that could fulfill us.

      Oh, you know what the funny one is, is when they think gay people getting married will cause a sharp decline in the population. Like, force them into sham procreative marriages, so even if they are still gay, they still have the right to get married and raise a family. It’s not about being gay – it’s about choosing to act on sinful urges. It’s almost like they think there is a state limit on the number of couples who can get married and if we let gay couples marry, they will take up too many slots, and the straight people will not be able to, you know, just have sex and make babies like they were going to, since they won’t be able to apply for the marriage license lottery again until next year. If only biology were constrained to a human-created legal contract.

      • avalpert

        “I kind of wonder if most people have a natural biological “urge” if you could call it that to have children or mostly it is societal pressures ”

        Do you really wonder that? It would be quite shocking if humans turned out to be the one species that didn’t have an innate biological ‘urge’ to procreate – frankly, if that turned out to be true it would almost present evidence of special creation.

        “that human capacity is fairly limitless without children”

        Total BS, human capacity is very limited even without children – what with us being finite beings with finite lifetimes.

        ” I expect to be roasted about making sweeping judgments about parenting”

        As well you should, your comments here are filled with projection and narrow mindedness – essentially the same sort of blind, unfounded judgement as those Christians make about say gay people.

        “People with kids never seem to believe anyone else is really satisfied with all that freedom”

        And you seem to be blinded to the possibility that someone may be really satisfied with raising children and watching them become productive adults. Really, you are dripping with judgmental gibberish here that comes across as the rantings of a bitter person – not someone who is satisfied with their own life choices.

        • Kodie


          I do really wonder that. I didn’t mean to imply that I really think there is no biological urge at all, but this is necessarily combined with a very huge social pressure. If you don’t have a husband yet and your best friend just announced she’s pregnant for the second time on facebook, well, people are made to feel inadequate about that for some reason. People who know they don’t want kids are asked over and over again when they are going to change their mind or expected to change their mind. Are you really denying that is a thing? Have you never, ever observed people?

          I mean without kids, the decisions you make can be about you, and not have to be about them. I am being honest here, like people with kids never seem to be. You are constricted financially and emotionally to small needy people who need everything from you for a long time, and you can’t just follow your own whims anymore. Your one and only life where you want to do anything you want to try has to be traded in for … ok, the person didn’t say that having kids wasn’t rewarding, ok??? He just said that it’s either/or. You can do a lot of interesting projects and follow a lot of interesting dreams and achieve some goals that you always had – OR, you can throw all that into raising children. They limit your resources, your time and your money.

          This comes up a lot in the abortion threads, but parents are always trumpeting the favorable things about having kids and never the draining parts. You gotta have a baby, it is sooooooo rewarding. You’re tired, but at the end of the day, it’s soooooooo worth it! …. They make it sound doable, gloss over the hard parts, and assuming what we’re here for, that a normal person WANTS to do this instead of anything else. To worry that much about someone for the rest of your life, to work so hard for someone else instead of yourself? It’s not for everyone. It’s not always good timing for people, or they picture it in a fantasy, without all the horrible parts. Parents often portray things that are not normal to me as the normal life of a parent, and other parents get that. This is how grown adults talk to each other about their kids all the time, and I am relieved that I am not one. Of course, on the other hand, many people who want to be parents but aren’t yet swear they will never be like that. They don’t want to turn into that. But… they do.

          I’m not blinded to the possibility that some parents are truly rewarded in their situations, but you have to accept that some people are rationalizing because they seem to belong to a cult. It’s just like being into anything, then you find like people to talk about it with you and gang up on people who choose differently, and you’re no longer free to dissent or talk about dissatisfying parts or have doubts. If you were, say, a Christian, and you went to a Christian blog, and had some doubt brought up to you by some comment on an atheist blog, OR VICE VERSA, the answers you get from your own group are going to be interested in keeping you in the herd, talk some “sense” into you until you are back on their side against the other side. You’re doing it right now, you haven’t given me one good thing about parenting, instead you say I’m judgmental and ranting like a lunatic. You sound like a defensive parent, defensive about the sheer glory of parenthood and how dare you accuse any mother or father of being in a rut! OH MY GOD. What have I done?

          I was just saying that parents don’t have a lot of time to try new methods than what works practically in the beginning, once the ball is actually rolling at a speed faster than a non-parent can imagine. Having children is a fantasy for prospective parents that doesn’t match the reality. I am acknowledging that it’s a lot of work that people don’t know they’re getting into when they want to have something their friends have. I didn’t say it wasn’t rewarding, but it would be helpful and truthful for parents to expose, rather than defend, what isn’t rewarding about it. All I was really responding to was a note about kids being brought to church. The Christian proclamation for heterosexual marriage and procreation and family values gets the flock in line to do something maybe everyone doesn’t want to or should not do, because everyone and their religion says they must. That is a social pressure and not indicative of a biological urge.

          We can rationally suppress biological urges, like we do all the time when you don’t climb up on your hot new co-worker in the lobby and you hold your pee until you can get to a toilet, and you drive 20 miles until the next exit because you don’t want to eat gas station snacks right now when there’s a full-service diner ahead. We are rationally able to come up with birth control methods to avoid having children at any time, because we can rationally foresee they are needy and expensive but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have sex. That doesn’t mean people taking birth control now will never want to have a family someday. We can say “no” to someone very attractive even when we’re biologically turned on because we rationally know this is a person married to someone else, or we are married to someone else, or they are just a bad person and we know in the future we might regret having sex with them even if it feels good at the time.

          Once people have children, and I am generalizing the people I see, they do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do for the enrichment of the child, including possibly bringing them to church. Most of the people I know aren’t zealous and devout weekly church-goers, and really, if you asked them, haven’t really thought about what they believe, it’s just “god” and “Christian, of course (why, what else is there, I’m a white American? is implied)”. The church says have children not just to replenish the supply but they also must know that people who haven’t been to church in the last 10 years except maybe on a holiday start coming back when they have kids.

          SO SORRY IF I OFFENDED A PARENT AGAIN. I am rather relieved, so if you want to believe I am bitter about my life choices, that’s a generalization that parents all believe about non-parents who, as citizens of the planet earth and in plenty of contact with other humans, dared to make a fucking observation.

        • avalpert

          “If you don’t have a husband yet and your best friend just announced she’s pregnant for the second time on facebook, well, people are made to feel inadequate about that for some reason.”

          People are made to feel inadequate for all sorts of reasons, that too seems to be part of our innate biology as social creatures. That you seem to hone on in on this one area in particular probably says more about your insecurities than anything else.

          People who know they don’t want kids are asked over and over again when they are going to change their mind or expected to change their mind. Are you really denying that is a thing? Have you never, ever observed people?”

          I’ve never asked that of anyone nor seen it asked. Maybe I just hang out in more accepting circles than you. But I wouldn’t deny that people may ask that – just like I wouldn’t deny that people who are trying to make it as starving artists will get asked all the time when they are going to get a real job – so?

          “I mean without kids, the decisions you make can be about you, and not have to be about them. I am being honest here, like people with kids never seem to be.”

          Again, this is BS. I mean, sure if you are a sociopath than the decisions you make can be about you and not others all the time – but this is just as true of sociopaths with kids as it is of those without them. Otherwise, denying that your decisions are colored by their impact on others is just denial – or dishonesty.

          “You are constricted financially and emotionally to small needy people who need everything from you for a long time, and you can’t just follow your own whims anymore.”

          Oh no, social animals being constricted to others of their species how unusual. Not being able to follow your own whims is part of the human condition – if your whims involve say stealing someone’s purse can you just follow them? That you see social relationships as constricting is actually rather sad.

          That said, I haven’t found kids to be all that constricting at all. But of course I am lucky enough to have an income far above my needs, plenty of vacation time and adventurous children. I’m sure there are those for whom kids are a huge burden, just as I am sure there are those for whom the fact that they live hand to mouth without kids constricts their ability to act on their whims. But hey, since you have the luxury of choices who could possibly blame you for projecting your decisions on everyone.

          “but you have to accept that some people are rationalizing because they seem to belong to a cult”

          And you have to admit that some people who chose not to have kids are rationalizing that decision because they seem to belong to a cult -at least that is how you come off. If only you were capable of limiting your justification to your own decisions and not having to assert that others choices are misguided.

          How very intolerant and Christian of you.

          “SO SORRY IF I OFFENDED A PARENT AGAIN. I am rather relieved, so if you want to believe I am bitter about my life choices, that’s a generalization that parents all believe about non-parents who,”

          I’m not offended so don’t worry about me but I hope you realize how absurd you come across complaining about someone using your whiny rants to make comments about you in particular as ‘a generalization that parents all believe about non-parents’.

          Maybe you should pay a little bit of attention to who is generalizing here and what that says about you.

        • Kodie

          First, I hear “plenty of vacation time.” Wow. Wow. That’s amazing.

          Second, I’m not a Christian, did you mistake me for one? Where I work, there are plenty of kids and their parents. I don’t know where you’re coming from because no non-parent can understand what it’s really like, and how fulfilling and awesome it is to have kids.

        • avalpert

          Not amazing, lucky for being in the right place at the right time a few times across my career.

          And no, I didn’t mistake you for a Christian just thought your faux righteousness here made you seem like one.

        • Kodie

          Sorry you missed the sarcasm. I am sorry you’re so sensitive about criticism of parenting, but that only fits the profile, it doesn’t set you apart. So, way to make a point opposing “generalizations.”

        • avalpert

          Hmm, seems as though my reply was deleted.

          Anyway, I just pointed out that you I’m sorry you are too blinded by your emptiness of not having a child but that only fits the profile – it doesn’t set you apart.

          So way to make no discernible point at all.

        • Kodie

          Why do parents take it personally all the time and think that parenting is beyond criticism by anyone with two fucking eyes in their head. If anyone sounds like a Christian here, it’s you.

        • avalpert

          Why do the childless take it personally all the time and think that their fallacious attacks against all parents are beyond criticism by anyone with two fucking eyes in their head.

          By the way, have you noticed that you have done the attacking of others choices while nobody has attacked your own? Seriously, reread yourself and see if maybe, just maybe, your hasty generalizations and broad proclamations are maybe coming from a place of zealotry and not rationality.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think I said anything wrong, and if I did, you didn’t come up with a response to it except to over-react and jump down my throat about being bitter.

        • avalpert

          Okay, here are some quotes from your first post – can you honestly say they reflect reasoned ideas and not hasty generalizations of people who choose to have children:

          “but once you devote your life to the project, you, for the most part, have to lower your expectations for your own accomplishments.” (as if people with children haven’t had high accomplishments in every field imaginable)

          “I also think that, in addition to replenishing the supply of worshipers, having children tends to set people in a rut.”

          “They are too consumed with having to keep a mediocre job to buy groceries and all that to change what they do.” (as if the higher income brackets are filled with the childless?)

        • Kodie

          Yes, they honestly reflect reasoned ideas. Maybe you couldn’t read them because you were reading into them.

          For #1 – people with children have had some of the big accomplishments in every field imaginable. I do not disagree with this statement, but that’s not about what I did actually say. If you are going to put a spotlight on the triumphant examples, then you are just totally missing the point. Maybe I wasn’t crystal clear, but I am looking at ordinary people who can never get away anymore. I don’t mean on vacations, I mean in their life. They are prisoners, and maybe happy after all, but it means they’re never going to be a rock star anymore. They probably weren’t going to anyway. That doesn’t mean no rock stars have kids – plenty do, but they also have a history of ignoring their kids and leaving them with mothers who are not rock stars.

          #2 – Out of context. The parents I see, and I don’t mean at the store, I mean know them and their kids and see them all the time, are on a train to wherever they get to. They don’t say “this isn’t working”. Perhaps it has something to do with patience. A lot of things don’t seem to work and you need to get an immediate result. A lot of the parents I see excuse the behaviors of their kids because they are not child psychologists, and are rather unconditionally accepting and defensive about it. “That’s just how he is, there’s nothing we can do.” There is a world of difference between defending the behaviors of a normal 4-year-old boy and accepting a little direction that maybe he is old enough to start learning how to behave inside his grandmother’s house. NOPE. “That’s just how he is.” And then she’s allowed to yell in his face when he’s a turd to her, but not if he’s being a turd to everyone else. I would not say that’s working.

          In the context, I was saying that is why the church promotes families. People don’t have a lot of resources to help them know how to parent, and often revert to how they were parented, like taking their kids to church without thinking if that is really the best thing. I said this because people who don’t go to church anymore don’t question why they don’t like it or need it as adults but suddenly become extra careful about giving their children a positive upbringing like they had, where, for some unknown reason, church was essential. They don’t know, they don’t think, they just repeat patterns.

          #3 – Again, you are pointing at outliers instead of the majority of humans who decide that it’s a good time to have children because what else is there? Most people have sucky jobs – I mean, they have what I would consider pretty sucky. The kind of job where your kid asks you what you do, and you don’t even know how to describe it to them. Pushing papers at the clean end. I cannot guess that most people find their jobs oppressive, but I have a lengthy work history where I have felt oppressed at work and say “I hate my job,” and instead of having someone understand, everyone says to me, “well, everyone hates their jobs, you still have to go, you have to keep your job!” No, I do not. If it was a husband, I would hope all those people would tell me to leave and never look back.

          See, that’s the thing though. If you have kids, you can’t just bolt and be free. You have to consider and weigh your options. You could stay in a bad situation because it’s steady income and you need it to pay for things. Even if you are married, you can’t just file for divorce, you have to try to work it out, you have to consider how bad it would be out there and bouncing the kids back and forth. If I’m the only one who depends on my income, let me decide when to cut my losses and live on a shoestring for a while and if that’s ok with me, I don’t have to ask anybody else. We’re not talking about the richie riches or anyone who actually feels totally fulfilled in their line of work. I’m talking about everyone else. For myself, I don’t choose to work myself to death at a job I hate for and with people I loathe just to eat dinner and wake up tomorrow to do it again. I don’t find that a reason to keep a job, or to live, frankly. When you have kids, you have to suck it up and cling to it. You might even have to do it well so you don’t chance losing it. When people depend on you having that job, you can’t quit and eat beans, you don’t even have time to hatch an escape plan.

        • avalpert

          There is so much wrong in here and I don’t have as much time today to play pin the tail on the internet nit wit so I will try to biol it all down for you to give you one last chance to see how ridiculous you are being:

          There are some things upon which you can be right or wrong such as do all living creatures descend from a common ancestor, did a worldwide flood drown all people and dinosaurs except for the family of noah, was the son of god resurrected in 1st century Judea etc.

          Then there are things which are purely personal value preferences that have no right or wrong such as do corn flakes taste better than frosted flakes, is premarital sex immoral, should you have an abortion or not, is the pleasure you will gain from having children worth the cost.

          That you insist on raising your personal value judgment on the last question to a matter of right/wrong (with the other side just being dishonest) puts you in the same category as those who insist their value judgement on abortion is the only right one and you shouldn’t be allowed to have one or insist that premarital sex is immoral and should be illegal. You are acting exactly like they are – you are acting like the Christian who, to maintain the insistence that their value judgments are the only right one must deny things that are actually none to be true such as humans sharing a common ancestor with apes.

          As for whatever personal issues you have with your sister, rather than project that out to others I suggest you deal with that with her – you are family after all.

        • Your reply is probably still here. Click on “Load more comments” repeatedly until all comments are here. Then search for your comment.

          Blame Disqus.

        • avalpert

          “Blame Disqus.”

          I always do.

        • purr

          I love how avalpert is proving your point.

        • avalpert

          Ha, I love how you demonstrate that the inability to recognize your own irrational views is not limited to theists.

        • purr

          Nothing irrational about pointing out that people don’t have kids out of pure altruism.

        • avalpert

          Who ever said they do? People don’t do anything out of pure altruism. You’re right, pointing that out isn’t irrational it is just a straw man fallacy (unless you confuse biological urges with altruism…)

        • purr

          Yeah, not like you’d know anything about strawman arguments..

          avalpert wrote to kodie:

          “” I just pointed out that you I’m sorry you are too blinded by your emptiness of not having a child but that only fits the profile – it doesn’t set you apart.””

        • avalpert

          Fair enough, but it is malpractice to not quote her post that I was responding which used the same exact ad hominem formula on me. Or maybe you didn’t notice that part because you too are so blinded by your own emptiness…

          Maybe it’s wrong, but I like to reply to trite web attacks in kind.

        • purr

          Or maybe you didn’t notice that part because you too are so blinded by your own emptiness…

          Yeah. You got me.

        • avalpert

          It’s ok, but that only fits the profile, it doesn’t set you apart.

        • Kodie

          Maybe it’s because you came at me for things I didn’t actually say, and assumed it’s because I’m bitter and empty inside that I dare criticize parents at all for anything. They’re all saints. You’re a saint. You’re doing great, keep it up. You wanted to have kids for all the right reasons and that makes any motive of any parent I see beyond making a critical observation noting the contrast between what they say and what they actually do.

          Parents are just touchy about the choices they’ve made for some reason, and I feel pretty lucky that I didn’t strap myself in for that ride like I was biologically inclined (NEVER AT ALL SOCIALLY) to do.

        • avalpert

          Really, I came after you for things you did said and you went straight to lines like:

          “I am being honest here, like people with kids never seem to be.”

          That doesn’t sound like an ad hominem to you? – completely unprovoked. That isn’t daring to criticize parents for anything that is suggesting that only your are honest and whenever they offer alternatives on the value of children they are being dishonest.

          Maybe some day you will read back through this thread and see how abrasive you come off from the start, how your broad strokes against how dishonest parents are, how they are all really struggling and unhappy, how they “They are too consumed with having to keep a mediocre job to buy groceries and all that to change what they do” is really more about you than it is those dishonest people with kids.

          “Parents are just touchy about the choices they’ve made for some reason”

          The childless are just touchy about the choices they’ve made for some reason and I feel pretty lucky that I didn’t condemn myself to that bitterness.:

        • Kodie

          I’m saying these things because that’s all you deserve at this point. You are over-reacting and you haven’t made a productive response as of yet.

        • avalpert

          Ironic isn’t it, that’s the same reason I am saying it – frankly, it is a little more than you deserve but I have the time this evening. And of course, you haven’t made a productive post yet either.

        • Kodie

          No it’s not ironic, it’s typical, because that seems to be the knee-jerk reaction from most parents when you dare criticize any parent or parenting method or parenting motive of anyone ever. You didn’t respond to what I did say, you responded to what you expected me to say. I don’t know why you are wasting your time, don’t you have kids? Is this the world you want to make for them?

        • avalpert

          You didn’t dare criticize any parent or parenting method or parenting motive of anyone ever – you criticized all parents decisions. I responded directly to what you did say, with quotes and all.

          Typical knee-jerk post from childless spinsters.

          (Oh, and my kids are sleeping. And the world we have is not the one I would make for them but it is the one we get)

        • Kodie

          And the world we have is not the one I would make for them but it is the one we get

          That doesn’t address what I actually said, again. You are making the world for them by wasting your time on internet assholes like me. What is there to gain except that you told me for sure! You let my opinions matter to you, and took your precious free time to let me know all about it. Why? What do parents really have to deal with that it hurts so much to have someone make an observation, and maybe, maybe I’m not totally correct, but how I was wrong, how wrong?

          So far, some of your answers seem to miss the point completely. I am making generalizations, sure, but then you are making exceptions, people who make a lot of money or have had major accomplishments in every field, and you get vacations. Sweet. Vacations are great, I am in favor of them, but they are naturally exceptions to the rule of everyday existence that one deals with. Parents can even take a vacation without their kids!

      • purr

        Great post kodie. People used to have kids for economic reasons – inheritance and slave labor for the farm. Now they have kids because biological clock, a belief that their genes are special, and social expectations.

        • avalpert

          Yeah, I’m sure biology has nothing to do with it I mean we all know that Chimps have kids for the slave labor or their biological clock.

        • purr

          I mentioned biology…ffs.

          Why are you so so angry? And yes, traditionally, people have had 10+ kids because they lived in agrarian societies + high infant mortality + lack of access to reliable birth control.

        • avalpert

          Oh, you are right – so now they do for the biological clock but before it wasn’t because of biology? Yeah, you definitely mentioned biology in a sensible way.

          And where do you get anger from? I know reading emotions into comments is a fun past time but there is no anger here.

          Traditionally, I’m not sure it is accurate to say people had 10+ kids I have never seen that number bandied about as the historical family size even among royalty. I vaguely remember the number 7 of average total births among Vikings but that is still ways off from 10+.

        • purr

          No, they had biological urges then too, that is a given. But people primarily had large families for economic reasons. And if they had more kids than they could feed, they starved the newborns to death. Because people still like to fuck, even if it will result in unwanted children.

        • avalpert

          “But people primarily had large families for economic reasons. ”

          “Because people still like to fuck, even if it will result in unwanted children.”

          Don’t see any tension between those two sentences at all?

        • purr

          People have sex for pleasure.
          People have sex because they want to have kids.
          People have sex because they get pleasure thinking about how fucking to have baybeez is HAWT.

          The fact that people have an urge to have teh hot dirty sex does not necessarily translate to ‘must make baybeez making baybeez is what gets me so hot’

          Also, people can purposely have sex just to have a kid. In certain hunter gatherer societies, people will have sex with one goal in mind – creating more people for the tribe, because it’s a survival thing.

          Yet, you will have people living on 1 acre of land with 6 kids on a dollar a day – and they will STILL fuck, even if they can’t afford more baybeez, simply because they like to fuck!

        • avalpert

          You missed several reasons why people have sex but that is neither here nor there.

          “In certain hunter gatherer societies, people will have sex with one goal in mind – creating more people for the tribe, because it’s a survival thing.”

          Have a citation for that assertion?

          As for actual biology, I don’t have my research on that with me so I’ll have to get you the cites tomorrow or Friday, but basically there is evidence in humans and other primates that there is a tendency towards innate desire to raise children independent of the desire for sex (just as there is a desire for sex independent of procreation).

        • purr

          Pick up a Marvin Harris book. Hunter gatherers are not stupid, you know. They are able to make the connection between sex and baybeez. Furthermore, they will even go so far as to artificially create sex ratios – such as, raise more boys, for purposes related to fighting wars.

          About your last point, here you go:

          And it has also been hypothesized that gay males exist for two reasons:

          1) fertile women pass along a gene that has a greater chance of creating gay offspring

          2) gay males in the family can help to raise the kids, and thus lead to a healthier family/clan unit whatever

          You missed several reasons why people have sex but that is neither here nor there.

          K strategy reproduction/social bonding. That, however, is tied in with ‘sex for pleasure’. Which is one reason why people will continue to have sex, even if they don’t necessarily want more children. It keeps them together to raise the kids that they already have. Human children are costly. They aren’t like baby gazelles that pop out ready to run 100mph.

        • avalpert

          Ok, you are going to have to spell out for me what cooperative breeding or potential selection benefits of gays has to do with an innate desire to raise children cause I don’t see it.

        • I thought I heard that gay males were more likely as a woman had more children. The idea was that future boys might create conflict or a woman shortage, so a few gays in there will help tone that down.

        • avalpert

          Actually, it is particularly older brothers that some studies have found to have a correlation with increased likelihood of being gay.

          I’ve never hear that explanation before, the ones I have seen in the literature suspect immune system reactions in the mother or hormonal balances in the womb as a possible cause.

        • That is surprising. I’m certain that I’ve heard correlations of male gayness with later birth. But I’m no expert.

        • avalpert

          This isn’t his original paper but here Ray Blanchard summarizes the findings of the earlier work:

        • This paper agrees with the point I was making: later boys are more likely gay. (Said another way, the first born is least likely to be gay.)

        • avalpert

          Yes, but the impact is only on the sexuality of males and only when the older siblings were male – if you have 4 daughters and a son the son is exactly as likely to be homosexual as if he were a first born, if you have 5 sons the fifth son is 33% more likely to be homosexual than the first.

          The impact has also been found to hold true regardless in length of overlap in the home between older/younger brothers and does not hold true when including adopted boys strongly indicating that whatever the cause may be it is prenatal.

        • OK, this matches what I understood.

        • purr

          There is not just one factor. This is at least one of them, so far.

        • Kodie

          It’s a social urgency based on biological reality. People know how old they are, let’s assume, and they have learned that if they do want a family for whatever reason, they have a biological limit as to how late they might be able to. I still think it’s because everyone else has a baby and if you don’t, you’re kind of in a hurry to check that off the list and be normal. That is not the same as a biological urge.

        • avalpert

          You might want to dig deeper into the biological basis of behavior – hormonal cues for example may play a much bigger role than you give it credit for and swamp the ‘social urgency’ that may place on top of it.

        • Kodie

          That’s the first relevant remark you’ve made so far to me. I never said I was a scientist. I’m sure there’s also a biological basis for caring what other people think of you. Becoming socialized in the group is rather essential to being considered part of the group and share resources, and people worry about being marginalized when they don’t fit the plan, and perhaps worry about that more than they can overcome it with rational thoughts, such as “I don’t really like doing the laundry I already have so I don’t want to spend a lifetime doing more for a demanding little bossy thing,” or “I don’t feel stable enough in my finances to add children” and “we live in the modern world where if I don’t have to spend all my money on someone so I’ll have them to take care of me when I’m old, I can still make it ok without them.” Some people can calculate rationally the reasons they really don’t want to have children, and still care what society thinks and do it anyway. It wasn’t too long ago women didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Getting married and having kids is just what you do, and holy moly, we can actually avoid it? We can get through life and be just fine?

        • avalpert

          Actually, the hormonal cues I was thinking of were internal and driven by the aging process. There certainly could also be hormonal impact of, for example, being around other pregnant woman or children. There would be a very plausible evolutionary explanation for that as it may increase the overall survival rate by having children at closer intervals (either from the co-operative support or because it can satiate predators without them eating them all etc.).

          But all of that goes deeper into biology than social constructs and is not something happening at the conscious level. There is a much broader discussion here but I find in general humans tend to downplay their biological drives and give too much credit to the conscious decision making process.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think it’s really a conscious decision making process or else fewer people would have kids.

      • MNb

        “I kind of wonder ….”
        It’s a well known fact that people get less children if their income rises. In Thailand for instance fertility has dropped from 4,6 kids per woman in 1975 to 2,3 in 1987.

        • purr

          Incomes are rising in brasil and women are having 2-3 kids vs. 6-8. No need to have 8 kids to look after you in your old age. Women are getting their tubes tied after their 2nd kid now.

        • But then the Brown People will out-populate us! Onward Christian soldiers!

        • avalpert

          Yes, the theory is basically at some point the reward from investment in quality outweighs the marginal value of an additional child so people choose fewer children with great investment in each – Gary Becker’s Treatise on the Family is the classic work in the field.

        • Kodie

          The richest person I know doesn’t have any kids, but I don’t know if he already had that money when he and his wife were young enough to have any. And for what it’s worth, he describes her as super-Christian, really into helping out at their church all week. I was mostly thinking whether it was between having any kids at all and having none, though. I think there is a social pressure to bear offspring, although I will concede certain social pressures are driven by biological urges to fit in.

          I might also add that I think people are weird and do weird things for weird (to me) reasons all the time and I don’t get it. I am not totally fixated on being what most people would consider normal, nor do I think I am I driven by a need to stand out and be different or “unconventional” on purpose. That would just be another weird thing to do for no real purpose as far as I’m concerned. I just do think some conventions are “just there” and people don’t question them or think they’re a little irrational because they’re totally normal if mostly everyone follows them. I don’t have enough data to report back to my home planet, and thus, I can only laugh except when I cry.

        • MNb

          Keep in mind that “rising income causes decreasing fertility rates” only applies to large groups of people, not to individual cases. Moreover I didn’t mean to contradict you; social pressure causing higher fertility rates is a totally valid hypothesis. It’s something I’d like to see investigated as well.

        • You could be right, but so far this is just a correlation.

          One other cause/effect relationship that I heard was that turning kids from money makers (workers in your field) to money sinks (freeloaders that you have to feed before they head out to school) is an important change that drops the number of children.

        • MNb

          “so far this is just a correlation”
          It might be very well more. There is a theory describing the relation and I’m not aware of any falsification.
          I am not familiar with the alternative you give. It sounds interesting. Do you have any link?
          Note that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

        • purr
        • No, I don’t have a link. It came from a reliable source, but admittedly that doesn’t mean much.

          I don’t see a causal link when you point out the correlation between increased income and fewer kids. Is it that fewer kids give you more disposable income? But that still doesn’t point out the driving force that would push a society in the direction of fewer kids.

        • purr
        • A fascinating case study, thanks. 40 years ago, when people were freaking out about the population explosion, who’d have imagined?

        • avalpert

          Gary Becker is the economist who pioneered the field – his Treatise of the Family explores some ideas.

          When I took a class on the economics of family and gender in the late 90’s the prevailing theory was that as income increased to certain levels and the ROI for investing in children’s education and development increased people begin trading off quantity of children for quality so they would have fewer and invest more in each.

          I haven’t really kept up with the literature in this area so I don’t know what innovative theories have come out since then.

        • MNb

          “that doesn’t mean much”
          Oh, you being reliable in such matters it means at least I must keep it in the back of my head until I meet the theory somewhere else.

          “Is it that fewer kids give you more disposable income?”
          The other way round. Better income decreases the worries for old age. You need less children to take care of you. Hence there are more attractive ways to spend your time and money than a whole string of babies. Also there is the matter of inheritage. People generally like to pass on their valuable stuff, not to split it.

      • Ella Warnock

        “I know people who never had kids in their 50s and 60s now (all hetero) and they have so much disposable income, they’re actually having fun and have a lot of energy.”

        That’s my husband and me. We really are having a blast, and a few people we know are clearly somewhat resentful. I don’t enjoy any schadenfreude for their plight, but I do know that simple observation of their own or other parents would have clued them in about what they were getting into and what they could expect in the future.

        • Kodie

          That’s why I said parents were not being honest. They do say a lot of the time that it’s hard work, and you’re so very tired, but there’s all that “so rewarding” and all. I get this from having been a kid once myself, and watching kids and their parents. You don’t learn that having children is that hard, because everyone is always recommending it. Even prospective parents live in a fantasy of how they’re going to be different or better, and how their child is going to be easier and then they never did anything so hard in their lives, and it’s just so hard. But also so rewarding. I can’t imagine how rewarding it must be to get these looks once in a while, and the nostalgia and the pride. A whole new person learned to walk because of me! I made that. I can’t wait to teach them everything I think they need to know and they do this cool thing like sing along to the radio.

          Anyway, it comes up a lot more in the abortion topics where it makes sense. People who are opposed to abortion seem to think all that love will make all the hard parts so worth it. They’re just kind of sneaky how hard the hard parts are and sweep that under the rug. It also sounds a lot like the rewarding parts aren’t that great. I mean, they’re only great if they’re your own kid, if you have them at all. If you don’t have them, they might as well be talking about someone else’s kid, a stranger you get bored hearing about all the time by proud grandparents who never can stop talking about them. I’m sure someone loves that kid, but that’s not my kid, I don’t have a kid. Those things are actually only rewarding to that child’s family, and most people can relate because they are similarly enamored with their own children, nieces, and nephews, but it still really doesn’t sound that big a deal if those kids never exist.

          And I certainly don’t need to go picking pumpkins or hang out at the indoor play park. That shit’s boring as hell, but allegedly rewarding given all the photos I’ve seen of kids I don’t know loving the shit out of it.

    • That’s a point, but lots and lots of new people can create crowding and scarcity and social unrest. I wouldn’t think that would be good for an institution like the church.

      • ZenDruid

        Crowding and scarcity and social unrest indeed cause suffering. The Vatican paradigm seems to be that suffering is god’s special gift and should be valued, so no problemo.

        • Ron

          Ha! That reminds me of this anecdote:

          One day I met a lady who was dying of cancer in a most terrible condition. And I told her, I say, “You know, this terrible pain is only the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you.” And she joined her hands together and said, “Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me”.

        • Incredible that she couldn’t see the irony.

          It’s amazing that she told this herself, rather than having a detractor tell it about her.

  • Eric Sotnak

    Me: “Why is it ok for infertile heterosexuals to marry?”

    Otherguy: “They could be cured of their infertility by God. Miracles happen, you know!”

    Me: “Why couldn’t God miraculously allow a gay couple to have a baby? Isn’t he omnipotent?”

    Otherguy: “That’s just stupid!”

  • Tommykey69

    By that logic, senior citizens shouldn’t be allowed to get married, since they’re not going to make babies.

  • smrnda

    Marriage, like any social institution, is about what people want and need. If it’s something people invent, then we make the rules. The only way for marriage to be ABOUT SOMETHING is if you believe some god showed up and declared marriage to be for some purpose, so the only straw to grasp is the god said so straw.

  • purr

    So about that whole ‘breed for social acceptance’ thing..

    Every couple of weeks there is a ‘heartwarming’ story just like this that goes viral:—newborn-baby-refuses-to-let-go-191213745.html?vp=1

    As a disclaimer I will say that no, I am not cynical about mother/child bonds, in one sense it is ‘beautiful’, all that shit, however, the purpose of spreading stories like this is NOT to simply glory in the beauty of new life, it is to make a point, which is to promote procreation. Stories like this are cynically exploited, period.

  • Rudy R

    If the purpose of marriage is procreation, then marriage is irrelevant, because non-married people can procreate.

  • Noname Simba

    Sin has led to this confusion. An individual being attracted to others of the same gender isn’t the problem. A heterosexual couple fornicating is just as sinful as a homosexual couple fornicating. The sin; however, is not what many people think it is. The sin is self indulgence at the expense of someone else which is established through pride which manifests in fornication. How many folks these days actually believe in exhausting themselves often to the point of death for the well being of others? Is it not true that women in labor are closer to death than any other time in their lives by bringing a new life into the world? The love a mother has for her children runs even deeper than that. The only time physical matter ever truly unites is when sperm fertilizes an egg and a cell is produced that continues to replicate DNA information to form a child in a womb. So outside of fertilization a mother and child are the only material things in existance that ever physically touch. This is proven scientifically because of the way atoms are structured and their reactions when electrons are present. So technically nothing and no one ever touches anything outside of a pregnancy. So what does this have to do with same sex marriage and procreation as the reason for marriage?
    From a “religious” persective Love is naturally self replicating and all encompassing. To the “religious” God is Love. So God/Love is willing to be exhausted to its endpoint in order to produce life. (does anyone see the Judeo Christian ideology?) Humanity, on the contrary, has stolen and misused this concept by replacing it with an ideology and that says to do whatever feels good to our bodies despite any spiritual ramifications. If this means doing things contrary to natural processes then so be it regardless of preference or orientation so long as it is self satisfying (or simply; pride). So when individual satisfaction at the expense of another transpires an imbalance insues because there is often no mutual concern. Now two consenting individuals coppulating out of mutual affections regardless of gender is certainly possible and happens quite often. But; the breakdown happens because A) there is no solid foundation other than selfish desire, B) there is no reproductive component to the relationship and/or C) if reproduction occurs the patriarchal and matriarchal relationship is subject to failure because of differing self interests or, again, no mutual concern. So true Love is not established and therefore cannot be a testimony.
    This is not to say good things can’t happen outside of a traditional marriage but it is mainly about structure and minimizing confusion in support of a society’s overall well being and sustanence; thus its strength. This is the reason many believing folks take issue with same sex marriage. Unfortunately many of us are unable to articulate the reality of the issue and begin to judge people without considering their own misgivings. If a homosexual individual truly believes in God and the sanctity of marriage then they will act according to what they believe. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin (Mark 12:31) The Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuals. The Bible condemns sin.

    • purr

      Bullshit. The bible was written by men and people can have sex for fun regardless of their sexual orientation.


    • Pofarmer

      Read the book “Sex and God”. Sex has many more functions in society and in relationships than procreation. Reducing humans to,the level of animals by introducing the idiotic concept of sin is just ridiculous.

    • Drop the concept of sin, and things are a lot clearer.

      Yes, I understand that love exists. Adding God to the equation doesn’t help.