Critical Differences: Marriage, Gender, and Role Models
- 2004 8 Jun
Recently, a congressman whom I have known for many years and whom I greatly respect asked me about objections he's hearing to the Federal Marriage Amendment. He said, "I don't have a good answer when people say to me, 'Isn't it better for kids to be raised by two fathers or two mothers than single parents raising kids.' Why is gay 'marriage'bad for kids?"
My response to him was that if two were better than one, why wouldn't four be better than two? If it's just a matter of the number of people in the home, then polyamory is best, or maybe we should legalize polygamy. He understood that, but he kept returning to the question of the single parent. How does the single parent model the proper role for raising children?
I think single parents -- beginning with my own daughter -- deserve special medals for valor. They do an heroic job under adverse circumstances. But in most cases, children know their other birth parent, and usually that parent is there when they need them. That is, except for instances of death or the most egregious desertion, children know both parents. That means children have male and female parental role models -- as imperfect as they may be.
This is vitally important in understanding what's going on with the same-sex "marriage" debate. In this whole issue our opponents are basically denying the differences between men and women and, thus, the need for children to have one of each in a family. As Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family notes, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts declared that traditional marriage, as codified in the law of the state, "identified persons by a single trait [that is, the ability to reproduce sexually] and then denies" those without that ability equal treatment under the law.
Stanton goes on to write: "The court would have us believe your wife's only essential value as a woman is her womb or your husband's, his seed. That, they say, is the only unique thing we, as gendered-beings, bring to the table. Everything else, the court would have us believe, is 'bridgeable.'"
The court's reasoning is foolish. When it comes to the family, there is a clear role for a woman and a clear role for a man. Is it possible that members of the court haven't noticed the differences between "Mars" and "Venus"? Both roles are essential to the proper functioning of many aspects of our society -- certainly for the character formation and nurturing of kids.
In considering the meaning of marriage in the public square, our first consideration ought to be what is good for society as a whole. We are fighting to preserve an institution that is required for procreation and is the best possible environment for raising children. That's been proven. Marriage is where the future comes from.
Maybe it's not always ideally fulfilled, like in single-parent families, but that doesn't mean we should alter the law to reflect the lowest common denominator.
This debate is about what is best for America's children and what it means to have a just society. And the evidence over the centuries is on the side of traditional marriage, which is why President Bush gave such a ringing endorsement to the marriage amendment. But the critical thing here, friends, is to learn how to make this case well so our secular neighbors understand it. There's nothing less than the survival of our civilization at stake.
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