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June 19, 2013

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There is a difference also in the way a couple with a healthy marriage treat each other that demonstrates appropriate respect for different aspects of authority. Single parents are left to try to garner the respect of their children all by themselves. But in a healthy marriage, a mother can call her children to respect their father in the way she credulously respects him. Likewise, the father can call his children to respect their mother by the way he credulously respects her. But for the observations given in this article, that's going to look a little different for each one. And when the children encounter varieties of authorities in adulthood, they will understand how to show proper respect.

It certainly is sad that a discussion of this subject even has to take place in society today. It was once considered common sense that, in order for families to produce healthy, adjusted children, a father and mother are both necessary. But the secular devolution of culture as it is today has brainwashed a whole generation of people to think fathers are superfluous. Men are made to look like fools in most forms of media, furthering the notion that they are expendable.

@Jim Pemberton--your comments are spot on and a welcome breeze in the world today!

In the past when I’ve claimed that mothers and fathers are both necessary because they make unique, complementary contributions to the lives of their children...

Necessary. What does that mean?

Lets take 'needed to achieve a certain desired effect or result'.

So, without something that is necessary you can't get a certain effect.

Certainly both Mom and Dad are necessary - biologically.

But otherwise?

No.

In fact, some fathers (and mothers) are not just unnecessary; they do damage.

And, lot's of people do fine without Dad, or without Mom, or without either.

And, others do more than fine in spite of Mom or Dad or both.

So, were talking about a tendency, not a necessity.

We don't need such 'unique and complementary' contributions.

A balance of positive contributions seems more important; or at least a selection of positive contributions.

RonH


Apart from the seeming self-contradiction in the list of attributes (fathers "encourage risk" and also "protect their own"), there's the broader question of what these "findings" would indicate in terms of "preferred" parenting configurations.

Having two parents of opposite sex seems to be the most preferred pattern - although I don't think enough attention has been paid yet to extended family environments: having grandparents and/or aunts, uncles, older cousins, etc, in frequent contact with children would seem, intuitively, much better than just a nuclear family operating in isolation with the two biological parents, even when the two are operating in full collaboration.

But then what? Might it be the case that having two people of the same sex working together as parents is better than having only one person in that role? I believe there is good reason (and good evidence) to support this.

It seems fairly clear that when one person stands alone as the parent, this is a very difficult situation, and it should be incumbent on his or her near relatives, and/or others in the community, to provide assistance as needed. When assistance must be paid for, it needs to be affordable for the single parent, even (or especially) when this requires public subsidy of the expense.

There is simply too much evidence that demonstrates the unacceptable price we all pay when, as citizens of a state or nation, we chose to pinch pennies and deny decent child care to those who need it most. Even the traditional father+mother setup will prove insufficient when both parents have to work to keep the family sheltered and fed, and they must move away from their extended-family support groups to find work.

If your real concern is to maximize the benefit to children, don't allow yourselves to be distracted by the false alarms being raised regarding same-sex couples. By every metric, addressing the problems faced by single parents (and impoverished husband/wife couples) is by far the most vital issue, rendering the matter of same-sex couples utterly insignificant.

There are plenty of things that can and should be done: more (and more effective) counseling before and during marriage to reduce the divorce rate, and more and better public programs to expand and sustain support services for single parents, to name just a few.

Naturally, church organizations can (and do) help a lot. It would seem most consonant with Christ's teaching if their help is offered without passing judgment. I know it's asking to much to hope that you might avoid proselytizing as well, but isn't it "more Christian" to help people regardless of whether they accept your religious doctrine?

That children can succeed and even thrive in sub-optimal living arrangements says nothing about the validity of those arrangements; nor does it do anything to negate what the optimal arrangement is. It simply shows that children are adaptable.

Darth Dutch

Now: the 'necessary' 'arrangements' of he OP have become merely 'optimal'.

Now: we have a volunteer for the job of accessing the 'validity' of 'sub-optimal' 'arrangements'.

And now, we have confirmation: children can 'adapt' to what is 'sub-optimal'.

@RonH--you wrote:


"And, lot's of people do fine without Dad, or without Mom, or without either. And, others do more than fine in spite of Mom or Dad or both"--

Since you challenged the OPs use of the word "necessary" and alleged it to be false, (per your worldview), what is your definition "do fine" per your understanding, and why should we accept it as true?

You also stated:

"In fact, some fathers (and mothers) are not just unnecessary; they do damage." To be sure. But I would say that, per MY worldview, ALL homosexually joined partners damage children. I don't believe they "do fine" at all--I think such situations undermine the psychological and moral and healthy mental development of children.

@Otto Tellick--you wrote:

"Might it be the case that having two people of the same sex working together as parents is better than having only one person in that role? I believe there is good reason (and good evidence) to support this."

And I believe there is good reason and good evidence to support the fact that this will ultimately have a very negative effect and consequences--per MY worldview. We can likely both cite references to build our cases, but the underlying view is what dictates our opinions. And we could argue all day about what you see Scripture saying or not saying about homosexuality and what I see it saying--but the bottom line is that there are far-reaching implications to our held beliefs on the lives of children. Apparently in society today, the rosy picture envisioned is a world where homosexuality is embraced as completely normal, and whole new generations of kids will grow up embracing this. How open-minded. How free from those horrible close-minded, "haters". But those who see God's Word as His Word and accept and treasure its truth without arguing with Him, know this is folly. God will not be mocked. He made the rules--and He made them for our good, for us to thrive. Opposing Him has never brought either one of those things.

Ron,

I've noticed you have done this switcheroo quite a bit - you take something I have said and then say that I am changing what the OP says and use that as an argument to invalidate the OP.

Please at least be honest and deal with what I am saying directly. I was simply making an observation in response to your claim that because children "do fine" in other arrangements, then all must be okay. My point is even if they "do fine" it doesn't invalidate the necessity of a father & mother and it doesn't validate those other arrangements in an of itself. It seems pretty straightforward, but
I'm coming to the conclusion that you are simply a contrarian as has been pointed out by others.

Darth Dutch

Let's suppose, Ron, that you are right. In an individual case, father might not be necessary and might even be harmful. Ditto for mother. At best, all we can say is that, on average, or for the most part, a two-parent, opposite sex family is optimal for raising healthy well-adjusted children.

But Amy didn't say that father and mother are both necessary in every case.

She said that fathers and mothers are necessary. Necessary for what?

How about this: fathers and mothers are both necessary for achieving the optimal societal result of raising the next generation to be, for the most part, healthy and well-adjusted.

Now, when I read Amy's remark, that's the way I took it. My first thought was not that she was involving herself in an exercise in modal logic. But I suppose others might have understood it differently.

Thanks WL, and DD all for your responses.

Carolyn, you need to include something about the subject.

Hint: the subject is not me.

######

Necessary is a word that quantifies.

It's identifies a requirement not a mere advantage.

It denotes 'all the time' and not 'for the most part' and not 'on average'.

If 'in an individual case', the father is not necessary, then fathers are not necessary. They may be absolutely wonderful to have; but they are not required.

Mistaking an advantage for a requirement is not a small mistake.

Ron-

Very little that you said about requirement and advantage is true.

Do you really think that Amy was engaging in an exercise in modal logic and not trying to talk about social policy?

Talk about mistaking advantage for requirement!

But then, I really don't believe that that is what you think.

@Carolyn:

Thanks for your very clearly stated summary about the differences between you and me regarding our assessments of parenting by same-sex couples.

It's possible that you might be able to point to some specific cases where children raised by two women, or by two men, were evidently damaged by that family environment. Are you personally acquainted with any such cases, or have you seen reports that describe such cases in any sort of accountable detail? If so, can you summarize the particular kinds of damage at issue?

In order for the instances you cite to be valid as evidence for your position, they cannot include cases where the damage was actually caused by a social environment that was hostile to same-sex couples (e.g. where children were assaulted or ostracized by other children because of community attitudes that overtly discriminate against same-sex parents). To make this clear: if you were to use such cases in support of your opinion, it would be equivalent to saying that it's wrong for people to be born with dark skin in the U.S., because people with dark skin in the U.S. tend to live in impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhoods, etc, and are damaged as a result. It's a matter of asserting that bigotry should determine what is good.

I can certainly point to cases, both in personal acquaintances and in well-attested, confirmable reports, where children raised by same-sex couples are every bit as happy, healthy, normal and worthy of respect and admiration as any children of hetero couples (including my own).

I can also point to cases where the children of hetero couples have not turned out so well (have clearly been damaged), usually owing to problems of abusive relationships between the two parents, or between parent(s) and child(ren). Are such cases more or less likely among hetero couples, as compared to same-sex couples? There's not enough evidence yet, so let's keep an open mind about that, shall we? (And let's not rule out in advance the possibility that hetero and same-sex couples might turn out to be comparable with regard to the likelihood of forming abusive relationships, other things being equal, such as the kinds of family environments in which the coupled individuals were raised.)

In the cases where abuse leads to divorce, we may well expect to find that children are better off in the resulting single-parent household than they were in the original "traditional" family. Of course, we'd like the divorced parent with custody of the children to get a second chance, to find a new partner who can be a stable, supportive second parent and companion. I've been fortunate to know some cases where this has been the outcome; interestingly, in some of these cases, the new partnership has been a same-sex couple.

As for your closing remark about opposing God and His Word, here's the problem I have with that: the stuff that you identify as "His Word" is, to the best of my knowledge, the work of men. These men have claimed to be divinely inspired or to have received direct revelation from God, but their claims are actually not well founded (at least, no more so than the authors of foundational texts in other religions). Jesus, who claimed that he was the Son of God, was never quoted as having said anything directly condemning homosexuality; the passages in the OT that do condemn it are found in the same book that condones slavery and describes acceptable standards for beating slaves. The relevant NT passages are cases of "guilt by association", and do not present any reasoning or rationale to support the lumping together of homosexuals with murderers, etc.

This doesn't make anything close to a firm case for accepting the Bible as a valid source of moral authority for condemning homosexuality. You'll need a much better foundation than that to support your condemnation (hint: it should be based on evidence), and frankly, I don't expect you'll be able to come up with one.

@Otto Tellick:

These topics: Divine inspiration of Scripture, Inerrancy of Scripture, Interpretation of Scripture, Faith in Scripture and the Author of Scripture--are much too involved to address in a snippet of an answer on this blog. As far as your words, "This doesn't make anything close to a firm case for accepting the Bible as a valid source of moral authority for condemning homosexuality" are concerned, no such case was being presented on my part. I was explaining the source of MY worldview--and openly accepted that your own worldview is 180 degrees different. As such, I don't feel compelled to address all of the problems with your worldview as seen from mine. My foundation is God Almighty, Otto, and His Word is plenty sufficient; indeed, His Word is all the evidence needed.

Despite whatever the Supreme Court comes up with as far as this subject of homosexuality is concerned, nothing will change the Word of God. People are free to dismiss it at their own peril. Christians are not called to an easy road, but one with challenges and burdens which test our faith. The Believer does not have to fear the capricious twists and turns of popular opinion and ungodly behavior in the world because none of it is news to the Creator. He has already redeemed the world and will save those who have accepted Him and bent the knee to His authority. There is no better foundation!

@RonH

Again, tiresome, predictable.

It's possible that you might be able to point to some specific cases where children raised by two women, or by two men, were evidently damaged by that family environment. Are you personally acquainted with any such cases, or have you seen reports that describe such cases in any sort of accountable detail? If so, can you summarize the particular kinds of damage at issue?

Otto, that was the purpose of this post. There is plenty of evidence about how children are affected by not having a father in the home (likewise with a mother). See the studies referenced in the article I quoted above, because they all apply to this question. They're especially helpful because they isolate the very thing people are concerned about when it comes to same-sex marriage--the child's need for a mother and a father. They're also helpful because those studies would not have been tainted by an environment that was hostile to same-sex couples, and we can study more children for a much longer period of time, than if we were merely studying children of same-sex couples.

But if you'd also like a particular example, one who comes to mind is Robert Oscar Lopez. Here's an excerpt:

[W]e explained that children deeply feel the loss of a father or mother, no matter how much we love our gay parents or how much they love us. Children feel the loss keenly because they are powerless to stop the decision to deprive them of a father or mother, and the absence of a male or female parent will likely be irreversible for them.

Over the last year I’ve been in frequent contact with adults who were raised by parents in same-sex partnerships. They are terrified of speaking publicly about their feelings, so several have asked me (since I am already out of the closet, so to speak) to give voice to their concerns.

I cannot speak for all children of same-sex couples, but I speak for quite a few of them, especially those who have been brushed aside in the so-called “social science research” on same-sex parenting.

Those who contacted me all professed gratitude and love for the people who raised them, which is why it is so difficult for them to express their reservations about same-sex parenting publicly.

Still, they described emotional hardships that came from lacking a mom or a dad.

@Carolyn: Regarding this statement of yours:

as far as this subject of homosexuality is concerned, nothing will change the Word of God. People are free to dismiss it at their own peril.

Two things come to mind:

(a) Yes, we know that great effort is taken to "preserve" the "Word of God" with some pretense to "exactitude" - but the increasing number of distinct translations into English indicates what a slippery notion this is, and in any case, the "Word" lends itself easily to a variety of interpretations - just preserving a fixed orthographic form doesn't assure a constant meaning.

(b) Why hold the Word to be rigidly unchanging with regard to homosexuality, while granting some leeway with regard to slavery, and the stoning of adulterers, disobedient children, witches, etc? Something Jesus was quite explicit about was a disapproval of divorce - do you agree with the Catholic tradition that divorce is every bit as bad as homosexuality? (Since Jesus didn't speak directly about homosexuality, but did speak directly about divorce, one might make a good case that being divorced is worse, in God's eyes, than being gay.)

@Amy: Thank you for the clarification about the reference you provided previously. Still, it strikes me that the concern focused on discouraging same-sex couples from raising children is misplaced, because it is disproportionate in terms of the impact of this condition has relative to issues that affect all couples (hence, predominantly hetero couples): particularly alcoholism, spousal abuse, and the tendency of couples (indeed, the pressure placed on them) to rush into marriage without the amount of preparation and counseling that might reduce the rampant rate of divorces that occur when children are in their formative years.

If your primary concern really is for the welfare of children, that's where your focus needs to be, because that is where the vast majority of damage is done. The special focus on same-sex couples is a distraction encouraged by prejudice.

As for Robert Lopez's observations about some children raised by some same-sex couples, what's lacking is the consideration of the single-parent alternative: would those children have been more or less hurt if raised by only one adult instead of two?

@Otto Tellick:

I have every reason to believe that God's Word can and will withstand the efforts by culture to misconstrue it, re-write it, and misinform people regarding what it says. The very first thing Satan did was to pose a question regarding what God actually said regarding His warning to Adam and Eve. He's been using that line for centuries in an effort to move people away from what God says. God is sovereign and His Word stands; it does not change to suit culture, fads, lifestyles or sinfulness. To constantly go back to Old Testament law and try to drag elements into the time after Christ is pointless. Christ alone completely fulfilled the law. We are no longer under law, but under grace! To say that there is nothing prohibiting homosexuality in the New Testament because Jesus didn't directly address it, is folly. Paul wrote plenty about it and Believers know that God inspired all that is in the New Testament.

As far as your question about what "Catholic tradition" has to say about divorce vs. homosexuality, that is of no concern here. There are many, many things that Catholic tradition holds to that are not in the realm of mainstream Christianity.

The troubling trend of minimizing sin and trying to make it "acceptable" or "permissible" in our world has enormous ramifications. Those who peddle it will be held accountable per the words of Christ in Luke 17: 1-3:

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Things that
cause people to sin are bound to come, but
woe to that person through whom they come!
It would be better for him to be thrown
into the sea with a millstone tied around
his neck than for him to cause one of these
little ones to sin. So watch yourselves."

We are not at liberty to equivocate about the comparative degree of sinfulness involved in things God prohibits.

All of that said, it is plain that those whom God has called to Himself hear His Word and take it seriously. To everyone else, I fully understand that it's a lot of nonsense. But as is explained in 1Cor. 1:18-19

"For the message of the cross is foolish-
ness to those who are perishing, but to us
who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written:
'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will
frustrate.'"

I, too, would urge those willing to try to rationalize a "better, more open-minded, more socially acceptable" (fill in the words of your choice) understanding of God's Word to examine seriously such actions. We are not called to social engineering, but to obedience.

Carolyn:

Since you say "We are not at liberty to equivocate about the comparative degree of sinfulness involved in things God prohibits," and you have dismissed Catholic doctrine as un-Christian, I'm afraid I still have to ask: What is your view of divorce, in light of what Jesus was quoted as saying about it (e.g. in Matthew 19)? Should it be prohibited ("except for unchastity/fornication" on the part of the wife)?

Oh, wait, that passage also has Jesus saying, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given." (And then he 'explains' this remark by talking about men who are "eunuchs", whether by choice, by coerced castration, or ... by birth.(!) Men who do not have sex with women because they were "born that way"? What in the world was he talking about there?!)

Anyway, I wonder if Jesus was responding to his astonished apostles by saying, "Don't worry - I'm not insisting that everybody has to treat this as a rule that they absolutely must obey." Does that provide sufficient leeway to consider divorce (as practiced today) an acceptable decision for Christians?

Also, isn't it likely that different people could look at that text with as much conscientious attention and faithful striving as they can muster, but still end up drawing different conclusions from it?

Even when you assert that the words were formed by a "divine intelligence" (and translated into English by people who had some claim to "divine inspiration"), there's no escaping the fact that the words are operating within the imperfect mechanism of human language. They are at best an incomplete fragment of what was presumably being communicated at the particular event being reported (assuming such an event actually took place). The text you are reading from is unavoidably limited in its ability to convey what needs to be understood in order to form a sustainable consensus.

The bible alone is not sufficient, and if you intend to claim that it's inerrant, not only will you need to apply some intensively gymnastic interpretations to support that claim, but you'll also need resolve the "inerrancy" of all those divergent interpretations - all of which are claimed to be valid (even "uniquely correct") by the people who hold them. Good luck with that.

@Otto Tellick:

Simply because you make assertions that the Word of God is not inspired, inerrant, sufficient, or anything else--(or that the events recorded ever actually happened), does not demand that I sit down and defend each of these things. We both know that those issues would take countless volumes to explain (and such works are readily available for your perusal), and you would still cling to your very limited human understanding which pits itself against the wisdom of God. Matthew 13: 11-15 is sufficient to explain what is needed here.

Again, you still have today, Otto Tellick, to surrender to Christ; I urge you to do so.

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