Shouldn’t We Just Focus on Divorce?

I don’t think it’s a good idea to redefine marriage.  One of the reasons I don’t think it’s a good idea is because relationships involving people of the same gender cannot provide a child both a mother and a father. To me, this represents a material difference between the relationships that should be acknowledged both practically and in our language.

While I’m surprised at the number of people who take offense at this argument, I don’t feel at all guilty stating my belief that it is preferable for kids to have both a mother and father.

However, when I do, there is a typical response that goes something like, “If you really cared about kids having moms and dads, then you would be spending your time trying to stop divorce rather than trying to stop gay people from being happy. So stop using children as pawns in your conspiracy of hate."

There are a couple points to be made here.

If we all can agree that the divorce rate it too high, I believe we’ve actually stumbled upon some exciting common ground. For those of us who believe divorce is regrettable, we feel that way not just because of a rigid commitment to commitment, but also because we acknowledge that there are consequences to divorce, particularly when children are involved.

Divorce has a significant destabilizing effect in the life of a child which has a negative impact on their emotional well-being, physical well-being, social skills, and education. While we acknowledge that there are some genuinely difficult and occasionally unavoidable circumstances in life, in the aggregate, divorce is simply bad for children.

So, when proponents of redefining marriage tell us we should be focused on stopping divorce, it would appear to be recognition of the fact that we want to increase the probability that kids will be with their mom and dad throughout their lives.

But they can’t mean that. The argument that heterosexual and homosexual relationships are in every way identical requires one to believe that it is not desirable for kids to have a mom and dad present in their lives.  The equally desirable alternative, they argue, is that there be adults who care about them.

In truth, the effort to redefine marriage is fruit from the same tree as the divorce problem.  In both cases, the happiness/fulfillment of the adults is valued more highly than the well-being of the children that may be involved.

If someone tries to use this argument against you, they probably aren’t operating out of a deep concern over the divorce problem.   More likely, they just want to make you look like a hypocrite. After all, when someone runs out of arguments, the tendency is to default to ad hominem attacks. 

But don’t let them get to you. Focus on the common ground that you have just found with them.  We don’t like divorce because it separates kids from their parents. And when kids are separated from their parents, bad things happen to them. Build on that theme.

Furthermore, while we recognize that divorce does significant harm to children, it does not follow that intentionally depriving children of one of their parents in other circumstances is the remedy.

This would be similar to criticism from those fighting heart disease, directed at those fighting diabetes because heart disease is the leading cause of death, where diabetes is only the 7th leading cause of death.

I’d like to think that we can multi-task.


Posted by Penee Paine on April 19, 2012
I do believe that God designed both sexes to compliment each other and that both sexes are beneficial and indeed necessary for the well-being of children and marriage. Not to say that we dont mess it up alot of the time. It doesnt negate the original design.
Posted by David on April 17, 2012
Carol, we are a licensed foster home. What are your credentials for benevolent altruism?

Your fixation on gender and biological imperative seems neurotic. In reality, every home situation provides a unique admixture of benefits and deficits. For example, stupid parents deprive their children of benefits that might be afforded by smarter parents. Monolingual households deprive their children of a certain richness of expression.

But these concerns don't even register with you. So entrenched is your clucking distaste for gay people that you choose to fixate on the cruelty and selfishness of providing a child with a loving home and a stable upbringing.

It was certainly cruel and selfish of me to tend to the relentless three hour cycle of feeding, eliminating and sleeping that defines the first six weeks of life. Cruel and selfish was the dedication to our daughter's life that led us to spend eight years preparing the way for her.

Please remind me again, why exactly am I supposed to pretend that your unabashed bigotry is somehow a mere difference of opinion?
Posted by Carol on April 17, 2012
It is a cruel and selfish thing when homosexual couples adopt a child. They know that they are denying that child a mother or a father. They don't care. Cruel and Selfish.
Posted by Peter on April 17, 2012
Again, FPIW's fight isn't really about children at all, as evidenced by this falsely framed debate. Gay adoption is already legal in Washington state. That's true regardless of the marriage equality law, and Joseph Backholm knows that. Plus, his position rests entirely on the presupposition that the ONLY purpose of marriage is child-rearing. Once we inject the reality that it's not -- that many same-sex couples have no desire to raise children but simply want their relationship recognized equally under the law -- the whole argument comes crashing down. Weak. By the way, what evidence do you have to support your contention that children are somehow harmed if they aren't raised by both a mother and father? It sounds like it's purely anecdotal and speculative ("Oh, well, EVERYONE believes that, so it MUST be true!") I'm asking for objective academic research that yields tangible statistics from someone who doesn't have an agenda like yours. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
Posted by David on April 17, 2012
Rebecca, my daughter is a real, living human being whose life will be materially affected by the fate of Referendum 74.

By contrast, your "ideal" is something you've pulled not from reason, history or nature, but from your tradition.

If I were to make an argument, it would be that your side is behaving very badly. This is not because I have a problem with people expressing different opinions, but rather because I have a problem with people who want to mess with my family in the name of some ideal I neither share nor respect.

With all due respect, this posting brought the topic of children into the conversation. Children are neither required to legitimate a marriage, nor is a marriage required to produce children. The argument is a red herring.

SB 6239 has nothing whatsoever to say about Washington State adoption laws or what constitutes an ideal family. That you don't feel compelled to take my opinion seriously comes as no surprise to me. Your side clearly is unconcerned about the welfare of my family, yet you use the pretense of concern to construct elaborate rationalizations for your abhorrent behavior toward your neighbors and fellow citizens.

But at least you have your ideals.
Posted by Rebecca on April 17, 2012
David, with all due respect, you brought your daughter into the conversation. The subject of discussion is one of public policy, in relation to marriage and parentage, every citizen of this state, including Mr. Backholm, myself, and I assume you and Dan (I assume because I don't know who you are and whether you are registered to vote in this state), have the authority to participate in that public policy decision. What is best for your daughter is not a question of authority, but of fact. You may have the authority to make decisions for her, based on what you believe is best. But what actually is best for her, none of us gets to decide, we can only try to discern. Maybe you just chose your words poorly, but you seem to have a problem with people expressing an opposing opinion. Back to the policy issue, if you don't have an argument, then I don't have a reason to take your opinion seriously. P.S. I don't know why you chose to adopt. But the question here is not adoption per se, but whether a relationship which cannot produce children, and which is not the ideal for raising children, should be given the same status as marriage. I do believe, as I think Mr. Backholm also alluded to in his article, that sometimes circumstances create a less than ideal set of choices, and we have to choose the lesser evil. I don't know what the alternative choice was, if you had not adopted this girl, so I make no judgement as to whether your home was the best choice for her. But I do say that, as a general rule, the ideal would be for a child to be raised by two parents, of opposite sexes, living in a committed, nurturing, married relationship.
Posted by Tom on April 16, 2012
It requires a mom (female) and a dad (male) to produce a child. Any other combination trying to raise a child is raising somone elses' child. If a child from this other combination gets into trouble, it is not the fault of the parenting but the genetics. It is an impossibility for an other combination to be the same as, function the same as, equal to, 'one husband (male) and one wife (female)' as a married couple. And there is no phobia involved in this fact, this reality.
Posted by David on April 16, 2012
Dan, with all due respect, neither you nor Mr. Backholm have any authority over what's best for my daughter, for which I am thankful. She loves her female grandmother as well as other strong female figures in her life. Your opinions about what is best for my daughter are irrelevant, and have absolutely nothing whatever to do with Referendum 74 or the subject of marriage equality. They are also based on nothing more substantial than your own bias. My husband and I dedicated years to thinking about what's best for our daughter long before she was ever conceived. Your insinuation that we adopted her to serve some selfish motive would be weirdly offensive to any adoptive parent, yet we understand that it is your own deficiency that allows you even to entertain such nonsense, not ours.

For what it's worth, I don't have an argument. I have a family. That's the primary difference here. Only my family is affected by the outcome of this legislation. All you have is an argument.
Posted by Karen on April 16, 2012
The world makes us believers feel like scum if we don't kindheartedly accept, support and promote homosexuality. Supporting a sick perverted unhealthy life style is just plain stupid. Almost all the rich and famous celebrities are over the top about it with the exception of Kirk Cameron, the actor in left behind. Brad and Angelina said they were holding off on marriage until more laws were passed in favor of same sex marriages. It is time to ignore the celebrities if we care about the Lord.
Posted by Dan on April 16, 2012
David (April 16, 2012), I’m not quite sure I followed your argument all the way to your conclusion. You argued that you (presumably, daddy) and your partner (papa) are the “real” parents to your daughter. I follow that. You also have an intention to not forcibly separate your daughter from her biological parents, a presumably laudable intent, but not necessarily a reality anyone can count on. What is reality for this little girl, a reality she can count on, is that her “real” (non-biological) parents are raising her without a female mother. The hope that she would gain that missing piece from her separated heterosexual, biological parents, remains a hope, a good hope, I presume, though not a reality that can be counted on. Your intentions may be very good and your sacrifices for your daughter commendable. But, the point Mr. Backholm is making is that from the perspective of what is best for this girl is that she be raised by a female mom and a male dad who feeds her, clothes her, showers her with love and adoration, comforts her, etcetera. Why does he argue from this perspective? Because that would be what is best for her. What makes it best? It results in her understanding intuitively as well as cognitively that she has been made in the image of God. In so understanding, she will recognize her femaleness is complementary to maleness; that she is necessary in the completion of humanity as both male and female. And she will understand that God designed that the procreation of humanity comes about by the union in marriage between one man and one woman. Mr. Backholm’s argument has nothing to do with his “druthers.” He is concerned about fulfilling God’s intentions for the way He created and designed humanity from the beginning. I’m sorry you have come to think that this “god” is strange or that wanting to follow His commands translates into “abominable behavior.” I certainly did not come to that conclusion from Mr. Backholm’s argument. His perspective shed an important light on the debate. We need to think more about what is best for children, and not what serves the wishes of adults. It’s hard to not agree with him. Thanks for allowing me to respond.
Posted by Todd on April 16, 2012
I appreciate your obvious gesture of love and concern for people, and especially children. I am a facilitator of divorce care and watch as family after family is torn apart by divorce and I affirm your position that in most cases, children pay the highest price. The best thing that happened to me as a child of divorce was that someone shared the love of Jesus Christ with me, and I took it. This is the single greatest event my life has ever known and it has equipped me with hope and sustained me in this life and will throughout all eternity. Simply,...the love of Jesus Christ has changed my outlook on all of life and given assurance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen (Heb. 11:1). Unfortunately, being saved hasn't kept me from sin, and I have experienced divorce again as an adult. Unfortunately, sin will continue until the return of Christ and we will have to continue to deal with the consequences until then. John 17:3 says "this is eternal life,...that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
Posted by Rev Michael De Luca on April 16, 2012
I have been trying to distribute the petition out to the community have run into roadblocks. Organizations do not want to offend any of their members, so they refuse to even have the petition in their organization. Mike
Posted by Richard Emele Jr. on April 16, 2012
Joseph; I appreciate your heart, because you clearly are responding from a platform of peace and concern. I must stand firm on my support for redefining marriage. Not to take away anyone's happiness, nor to put divorce itself into a lesser light. I do not consider myself one of those hateful members of "God hates ---s!" website. I absolutely DO NOT share that view, so much so that I could not type the word even in a direct quote. However, if I am a christian, I must believe God's Word, and scripture is clear on the matter. Please bare with me for a moment, because this is where I lose most people on my trust in God's view on homosexuality. If it where up to me and my pure fleshly opinion, my opinion would be, "Peace! Live and let live! What ever gives you happiness and fulfillment!" But then I'd be compromising my faith. Before I knew Christ, I thought God was there to make all happy in all. But I did not know Him as a person, real and living. He is who He is, and if He is who He is, He can't be anything else. I famous quote, "Those that do not learn from history are destined to repeat it." I am about to sound sexist and closed-minded, but some facts about the social condition of the Roman empire just prior to its fall: 1. Divorce was common and accepted: 2. Women were in the same and equal positions as men in the work force: 3.Homosexuality was common, accepted as normal. These are undeniable. I don't want to sound like that stereo type redneck saying with tobacco juice dripping out of the side of his mouth, "Women ought to be barefoot and pregnant!" I DO NOT agree there either, but I do believe if mothers would be at the home front, always a present security for her children, and the man take care of providing, and spend time with his kids like he should, leading the family with strength and integrity, gangs would not be as they are today, so many confused and scared children self-preserving as best they know how, this (I believe) would not be such a violent, depraved nation. Go back, I say, to the days in our country, when it was a shock to see a pregnant teen, TV was cleaner and wholesome, etc. Sorry for rambling, but on last note on Christianity; it is not "flavor-of-the-month religion" it is truth.
Posted by David on April 16, 2012
We have an open adoption agreement with our daughter's biological parents, so she will never be forcibly separated from them. They gave her up for adoption because they knew we could provide a better home and upbringing for her. They had separated prior to her birth, for what that's worth.

However it's worth noting that her biological parents are in no way her "real" parents because they are not a part of her everyday life. We are the ones who feed and clothe her, shower her with love and adoration, comfort her when she is in want, change her diapers, and provide everything we can to aid her emotional, physical, social and cognitive growth. We are her parents, plain and simple. Her daddy and her papa.

And it sounds like if you had your druthers, you would not only deny her the privilege of having married parents, you would remove her entirely from the care of her parents. I'm guessing your god tells you it's okay to behave so abominably toward your fellow citizens. Strange god you have.
Posted by Lauren on April 16, 2012
What great insight and wisdom into how to respond to attacks on Biblical marriage! I appreciate your advice and your graciously formed article! God bless! ~Lauren
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