I’m overdue on writing this post, long since promised to a reader. Just FYI lest anyone mistake me, I procrastinate because this is a topic I would rather not write about. If live-and-let-live were an option, that’s what I’d be doing. But it’s not. We’ve reached a point where Christians in the US are being sentenced to re-education for failing to support same-sex unions. Justify it however you like, the plain truth is that a US judge has decided that it’s A-OK to send people for thought-training.
Evil. Talk about religious coercion. Evil.
Back to today’s topic: Why shouldn’t we think of this contentious issue as something akin to say, racism? Why is it moral to deny a same-sex couple (or trio, or any other novel combination other than one man and one woman) a marriage certificate, when it is grossly immoral to discriminate on the grounds of race, national origin, and so forth?
The answer isn’t complex. It confuses, however, because the question is often framed incorrectly. A review of some basic moral facts, and then some perspective:
1. Homosexual acts are immoral, but having an attraction towards those of the same gender is not immoral. (Similar: Drunkenness is immoral — a mortal sin, actually — but having an untoward attraction towards alcohol is, though a disorder, not immoral.) These particular nuances have almost no bearing on the question at hand. I review them in order to dismiss them.
2. Unjust discrimination towards those who experience same-sex attraction is immoral. (Similar – unjust discrimination towards alcoholics is immoral.) This, too, has almost no bearing on the question at hand.
3. It is tempting to lump homosexual acts in with fornication and adultery. The reason homosexual acts are immoral is much more akin to the reason that contraception, masturbation, and bestiality are immoral.
4. The reason homosexual “marriage” is immoral, however, is different: It is very closely allied to the reason that fornication, adultery, surrogate pregnancy, and third-party artificial insemination and IVF are immoral.
5. It is also allied to the reason that divorce should be undertaken only for the most serious reasons.
The reason is this: Every child has an inherent right to be raised by his mother and father.
We know this, instinctively, when we acknowledge the grief of anyone — young or old — at the loss of a parent.
We know this when we acknowledge the real suffering that children experience when their parents divorce. (Even if the divorce occurred for entirely necessary reasons.)
We know this when we acknowledge that real sense of loss that adopted children often experience, and the related longing to know and connect to their birth parents, even in the context of a perfectly happy forever-home with loving parents. It may well be, and recognized by all involved, that the adoption was the very best thing, a redemption of tragedy into true love; and still the child does, very naturally, experience a sorrow at what should-have-been that deserves recognition.
We know this desire to have both a mother and a father when someone speaks of a beloved friend or relative as “my other father” or “the mother I never had.” Whether it is a loving adult who steps in to fill an unfortunate void, or merely a kind soul who fills a small need the otherwise excellent parent never could have, this need to be parented, and to be parented by both a mother and a father, is so powerful that what we lack we seek and acknowledge.
The Problem Didn’t Start with Same Sex Unions
One of the reasons I loathe this topic is because I’m fully aware the problem of un-parented children is not a “homosexual problem”. It’s a modern-culture problem. Adultery, fornication-and-abandonment, prostitution, unwarranted divorce — all of these have laid the groundwork. All of these have been approved and widely practiced for decades now. We are so used to children growing up in homes without both their parents, and we are so used to justifying these practices, that we think them normal.
They are not normal.
All of these are painful, child-harming situations.
Same-sex unions aren’t immoral because they are worse; they are immoral because they are more of the same.
What Makes Same-Sex Unions Different?
Thus at the heart of the problem isn’t tax benefits, or hospital visiting privileges, or inheritance rights. The problem is that marriage is oriented towards children. To enter into a same-sex union is to announce from the very outset that any child brought into the union shall not be raised in a home with his mother and father.
I repeat: It is to state that from the very beginning of the relationship the intention is to deny any child of the union a home with both mother and father.
Think about that. Imagine walking up to a child and saying to that child, “It is my desire to show my love for you by making a legal arrangement that ensures you will no longer live with your mother and father.”
We can think of a number of horridly abusive situations in which that must be the unfortunate and painful remedy. But it is ghastly to say to a child not yet conceived, never met, yet unknown, to be born of parents who may well be as good as any, “The best thing for you is to deprive you of a home with your mother and father — allow me to lay the legal groundwork for this.”
Familiarity Breeds Content
Because we are so used to broken families, we don’t even know them when we see them.
Of course we have eyes for the good, and we should: The parent who does his or her best despite a sad series of prior events. The stranger who takes in the orphan and provides the best that can be managed in the face of death or betrayal. The parent who acted wrongly in the past, but tries now to make amends, to heal what can be healed. These are noble acts. These are good acts, or at the very least good efforts.
But it does no good to say, “I am trying to do something good!” when your action — your freely chosen action at this moment, not some irretrievable error from the past — is certain to cause harm.
Ladies and gentleman, don’t have sex with someone to whom you are not married. Don’t undertake procreative acts with persons who have no intention of rearing your children with you. Do all that you can to give every child a home with his mother and father. And when that is impossible, do what you can to provide a home with a mother and father who will be what was not possible otherwise.
Comments are closing because I really didn’t have time to write this post. I’m sorry. I know you have questions, thoughts, lots to share. By all means respond at your own place of internet-residence. I wish you all the best.
Artwork: Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–1464) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons