Shouldn’t We Just Focus on Divorce?
by Joseph Backholm | April 16, 2012
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.