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Friday, September 19, 2008

A Liberal Defends Marriage and Children

I seldom encounter an article that offers fresh perspective and insight on the issues of marriage, family and sexuality. That is true in conservative media, but especially in the "mainstream" media.

I was surprised by an article entitled "Protecting marriage to protect children" by David Blankenhorn in the LA Times today.

Frankly it's astonishing that a liberal could hold the kind of morality, honesty and insight displayed in this article and still call himself a liberal, but okay.

Blankenhorn calls himself a liberal Democrat who does not favor homosexual "marriage." He says he has spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage and has come up with a conclusion very different than most liberals.

He says that he found in his studies that marriage is not really a license to have sex, receive benefits or attain recognition, but is primarily a license to have children.

While that may initially sound shocking and a bit incredulous--even to pro-family ears--he has a point. To get a license to drive, one must demonstrate that they are serious about driving properly and respecting public safety. It is therefore not a stretch to realize that (ignoring for a moment the biological ability to circumvent the proper "licensing" mechanism) in order to be properly licensed by society to produce and raise children, one should be required to demonstrate that they are serious about establishing a proper, healthy, stable environment for those children, and that they are serious about protecting public safety through their parenting. Few observant people would disagree that improperly parented children are a threat to public safety and welfare.

Blankenhorn does an admirable job of defining an institution so basic and fundamental to human existence that it can be hard to put into practical terms:

Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and to each other.

Blankenhorn cites philosopher and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell in pointing out the interest the state has in preserving marriage:
"it is through children alone that sexual relations become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution."

He also points to research, such as that from Child Trends, which shows the value and importance the marriage of a man and a woman has to children:
"family structure clearly matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage."

Many studies have shown that an intact two-parent home with both mother and father present provides tremendous advantages to children compared to children without: better mental health, better emotional stability, better behavior, greater academic achievement and less poverty.

Blankenhorn says that even the ultra-liberal U.N. recognizes that "insofar as society can make it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world."

What about the same-sex home?
Every child being raised by gay or lesbian couples will be denied his birthright to both parents who made him. Every single one. Moreover, losing that right will not be a consequence of something that at least most of us view as tragic, such as a marriage that didn't last, or an unexpected pregnancy where the father-to-be has no intention of sticking around. On the contrary, in the case of same-sex marriage and the children of those unions, it will be explained to everyone, including the children, that something wonderful has happened!

Did you get that? While heterosexuals frequently mess up and leave children deprived of what they need and deserve, every single one of the homosexual homes will intentionally deprive the child of a father or mother--and will compound the injury by calling it something to "celebrate."

While Blankenhorn is definitely not anti-homosexual or even anti-homosexuality, he nevertheless has the intellectual honesty to see and admit the devastating consequences of undermining marriage.

For that, I commend him. And pray that others may listen to him.


Anonymous said...

I have three questions in response to your posting.
Your first quote from Blankenhorn claims that marriage tells children that they will be cared for by the "man and woman whose sexual union made" them. Do you mean to imply that adoptive parents are worse parents than biological parents?
As for the quote from Bertrand Russell, you are of course aware that Bertrand Russell believed that sex between men and women who are not married to each other is not immoral? Russell also advocated trial marriages and easy divorce, except for when couple had children. Russell believed that if a married couple with children wished to separate, they should remain married for the children's sake, but with the understanding that each would be free to pursue sexual relationships with other partners. Your inclusion of this quote by Russell leads me to believe that you also support these permissive views on extramartial sex. And yet, you would claim that an unfaithful heterosexual couple is somehow superior to a faithful homosexual couple. Perhaps you and Mr. Blankenhorn ought not to assume that Mr. Russell would share your viewpoints if he were alive today.
You have asserted that there are "many studies" that show that children from intact heterosexual marriages fare better than children in all other situations. I would be interested to see which studies compare children from intact heterosexual couples with children from intact homosexual couples. Why have you not listed any of these "many studies" that support your claims? True, it's hard to know whom to believe these days, what with Dr. James Dobson and the Family Research Council on one side, and the American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association and American Psychological on the other, with each side claiming the other is using flawed methodology and distorting data to fit a desired conclusion. Still, I think that integrity demands that you not claim to have a study supporting your viewpoint without providing some source material.

And once again, please don't take Bertrand Russell out of context.

Bob Ellis said...

I mean to imply that all things being equal, biological parents are better than adoptive parents. And two parents are better than one parent. And a mother and father is better than the lack of one or the other.

I have no idea what else Bertrand Russell believes, but he is right when he says, "it is through children alone that sexual relations become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution." If you believe this is incorrect, how so?

You ask for proof of studies that indicate children are better off with a mother and a father, as if such a proposition was incredible. Funny how people who advocate radical, unnatural practices which run contrary to 97% of human practice and the bulk of human wisdom for thousands of years always demand proof that their wild-eyed assertions aren't a good idea.

But okay, I'll humor you.

In Review Of Research On Homosexual Parenting, Adoption, And Foster Parenting by George A. Rekers, Ph.D., Professor of Neuropsychiatry & Behavioral Science, Dr. Rekers found that "the inherent nature and structure of households with a homosexually-behaving adult uniquely endangers foster children by exposing them to a substantial level of harmful stresses that are over and above usual stress levels in heterosexual foster homes." Also among his findings were that "homosexual partner relationships are significantly and substantially less stable and more short-lived on the average compared to a marriage of a man and a woman, thereby inevitably contributing to a substantially higher rate of household transitions in foster homes with a homosexually-behaving adult."

A study in Spain recently found significant increase in low self-esteem, stress, confusion regarding sexual identity, an increase in mental illness, drug use, promiscuity, STD's, and homosexual behaviour, amongst others. It also found the same high rate of promiscuity and lack of monogamy, exposing children to increased family instability. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics agreed with these findings, stating that a "family nucleus with two fathers or two mothers is clearly dangerous for the child".

These are in addition to numerous other studies which have found that children do better in intact homes where the biological mother and father are present, studies done not only in the context of homosexuality or marriage, but also for the purpose of evaluating academic achievement, juvenile delinquency and poverty. You can look them up yourself if you really want to know more.

In the end, I think it more than reasonable to conclude that if someone is going to make an assertion which runs counter to nature, history, established scientific documentation, and perhaps most of all common sense it is incumbent on them to prove the veracity of their outrageous claims--such as the claim that children are not better off with a mother and father.

Barry G. Wick said...

First, as always, you go find information to back-up what you already believe...rather than learn from others...you refuse to do any kind of reading of the reasons for marriage for same-sex partners. You just oppose marriages for same-sex partners based upon your deeply-held religious beliefs. And second, it's so easy to oppose a group of citizens that is out-numbered and therefore not able to effect change in South Dakota. And always, third, what do the efforts of gays and lesbians in other cities and towns have to do with gays and lesbians in South Dakota. Fourth, it was Christians who once claimed to be liberals...helping the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for sick...now Christians seem to be the ones taking from the poor, forgetting the hungry and ignoring the sick.
I'm enjoying the Republican rich falling all over themselves these days to save their fellow rich by bailing out companies that rightfully should fail. The dollars from your childrens' future enrich the greedy. The billions of dollars going to rich companies and greedy Republican executives ought to upset you more than a couple of queers who want to share a legal relationship. The inflation and depression soon to follow are the responsibility of those citizens who are more concerned about a small minority rather than caring about a majority of citizens who are being raped by government and special interests...government they elected and special interests who have lied to you for years. You've been hoodwinked into thinking same-sex marriage is a problem. You've been bamboozled by conservative flim-flam artists into following a philosophical line that simply won't wash with the rest of America anymore. The chickens, Mr. Ellis, have come home to roost.
And there aren't any chicken hawks out there for you to blame anymore.

Bob Ellis said...

Barry, you got a little off topic there about half way through, but we'll overlook it this time. It also sounds like you're a Jeremiah Wright fan.

Most of what I've learned, I've learned from others, Barry. It's a pity so many homosexual activists are unwilling to learn from the rather obvious lessons of biology, science, health, history, sociology and, yes, even Christianity.

It is true I oppose homosexual behavior primarily because of my Christian beliefs. However, it "so happens" that all those areas of learning I mentioned above back up why it is inadvisable in a practical sense.

(As an aside, that's the wonderful thing about God's truth and the things he tells us to avoid: there are practical reasons for his moral admonitions).

I won't go over those reasons again because they are already contained in the post and in the links I placed in those posts.

I will however address one of your off-topic fallacies because it is a common one.

Christians always have been the ones who help the poor and needy--and still do, though our socialistic government has tried to usurp much of that role for the past 60 years or so. But we're working to retake that ground, even as the socialists are grudging to give it up.

Christians have and had have poverty programs--who do you think runs the vast majority of homeless missions around the country, and even here in RC the Cornerstone is a Christian ministry. Christians run it, Christians donate to it, and Christians volunteer there to cook the meals, etc. I have a friend who went from being a homeless drunk and drug addict at the Mission to getting Christ in his life and getting his life straight, then running some of their key programs and eventually on to great success in the private sector. Christ and Christ working through Christians made a profound difference in this man's life--as He does in many others.

We also do things like build low-cost housing for people with programs such as Habitat for Humanity--I've worked on several building projects myself over the years.

Christians also provide through programs like Love INC run by John Ligtenberg. Love INC has chapters across the country and one that has been in Rapid City here for something like 5-10 years. Many Christians like myself donate money to it, many churches also donate money and do clothing drives and "backpacks for kids" drives, and other Christians like one I work with donate their time to teach money management and life-skills, and still others volunteer their time to mentor people trying to learn a better way of living.

There is also the Salvation Army--a group started by an evangelical Christian in the 1800s and which is still a Christian institution.

Then there are the prison ministries where Christians reach out to people at the jail, JDC and other corrections facilities to help broken people find a better life.

An effort is under way even now to start a transition home for women--especially those who have had drug problems--to make a good transition from prison life to regular life, and stay drug and crime free.

Many churches like my own also run benevolence programs; people within the church donate money specifically for that program (above and beyond their normal tithe) and the church leadership uses that money to help people who approach the church with needs like groceries, rent, clothes, utility bills, etc.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Christians already do so much--and should do so much more. And hopefully we will, if we can wrestle this role back from the hands of an ineffectual government, and if we can retrain society to support private charity instead of throwing money down a hole in useless government charity programs.

Anyway, enough on this post. I hope I've provided some insight into what Christians actually are doing. Our Lord calls us not to make a big deal of it and not to call attention to it(though sometimes you have to somewhat in order to raise funds to provide those services), so you may not hear as much about it as the government social programs that get all the ink in the newspapers.

But it's there, it's real, and it's making a difference in people's lives.

Barry G. Wick said...

Window dressing isn't commitment. Few Christians were helping in the gay community when AIDS killed thousands and nobody cared.

Dr. Theo said...

Come on now, Bob. Don’t neglect to mention some of the great philanthropic institutions started by atheists and humanists. For example, there is the Karl Marx Institute of Mental Health that did so much good during the era of Soviet Russia; the Margaret Sanger Trust for Eugenics and Racial Purity; the Darwin School of Tautology and Public Relations. And who can deny the wonderful work of the Kinsey Center for Psychopaths, Pedophiles and Pederasty that has done so much to help and support these unfortunate souls who have to deal daily with the prejudice and hostility of a sick unenlightened society and without whom they would be subjected to cruel and inhumane “treatments” designed to prevent the “afflicted” from living a full and satisfying life as they define it. I nearly shudder to think what this world would be without the work of such dedicated and selfless individuals and organizations such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, ACTUP, NAMBLA, the World Workers’ Party, MoveOn.org, Harvard University and MSNBC.

RightDemocrat said...

David Blakenhorn is right. The issue of gay marriage isn't about rights but rather the well-being of children and the family unit. Let's think twice before redefining marriage and experimenting with the basic building block of our society.

alexh2007 said...

"As an aside, that's the wonderful thing about God's truth and the things he tells us to avoid: there are practical reasons for his moral admonitions."

Could you say the same thing about the punishments God set for his moral admonitions? Would you say that it was practical for the Israelites to stone their children for disobedience, to force raped women into marrying their assailants, and to execute men who had sex with men (even the men who were raped by other men - after all, Leviticus says nothing about consent)?

Fortunately, God changed his mind and said that these rules were no longer appropriate. It's a good thing too, because if the Bible hadn't told you otherwise, I guess you would believe that executing your children for disobedience or forcing them to marry their rapist is considered moral parenting.

Anonymous said...

If marriage were about truly only children, as Blankenhorn claims, he would be advocating that the law be changed such that unmarried parents would be required to marry and forbidden to divorce, and sterile and intentionally childless couples would be forbidden to marry. None of these are the case. Whether gays can marry or not is irrelevant. I find Blankenhorn's argument sorely lacking.

Bob Ellis said...

I think what you meant was that you found it sorely unpleasant.

While potentially desirable on the surface, a theoretical law requiring unmarried parents to marry is unenforceable and impractical.

Unless you want a police state that makes China and the old Soviet Union look tame, you could never stop unmarried people from having sex and reproducing.

To force them to marry once a child was produced would also be impractical; you can't force someone to marry someone they don't want to. Family pressure might accomplish the job, that to give government that responsibility should frighten even a liberal.

Doing away with no-fault divorce would be a great move; it's been a terrible plague on families and children for 40 years.

It does, however, make sense and is perfectly enforceable to maintain and reinforce the integrity of marriage by not allowing homosexual couples to pretend they're married, and to safeguard children by not allowing homosexual couples--which would inherently deprive children of either a mother or father, in addition to expose them to higher risk factors of disease and chaos in the home--is also completely practical and enforceable.

Maintaining the integrity of the foundational institution of marriage while advocating sexual morality and restraint in society is the best course to protect and strengthen the family.

We should get serious about both immediately.

Fabio Ferrari said...

Hi. I'm all fine and dandy if you agree with Mr. Blankenhorn's viewpoint, but if I were you, of all the pieces he has written, I wouldn't endorse this one, because (and it's not all that subtle), it's chauvinistic too, unless, of course, you agree with that as well.

alexh2007 said...

I'm still waiting for someone to explain how redefining a word will in any way diminish heterosexual couples' ability or likelihood to create strong families. Also, if gay couples are allowed to marry but not adopt, how would that STILL "threaten" the family?

Bob Ellis said...

And I'm still waiting for you to answer your own question by answering the question I asked on another thread: how would allowing people in Seattle to counterfeit $20 bills diminish the value or strength of the currency used by people in Atlanta?

alexh2007 said...


Bob, in all seriousness, has it occurred to you that maybe I come from a very different world and therefore couldn't understand how you see the issue even if I wanted to? In other words, some things just need to be explained plainly - not due to the listener's possible unwillingness to understand, but because we all experience life in different ways. For example, I am much younger than you are, an unmarried, childless non-Christian who lives in a more liberal part of the country. I work with openly gay people, most of whom are in long-term relationships, and there are many gay-affirming churches in my community. I'm also gay myself, so all of these factors mean that whether I like it or not, it's hard for me to remove myself from the pro-gay side of the issue and understand it from the opposing perspective.

So I'm asking you politely and sincerely to please explain how you feel - analogies and sarcasm aside - and I promise I'll listen with an open mind. Who knows, maybe we might actually talk TO each other rather than PAST each other for a change! What do you say?

Bob Ellis said...

I'm completely serious here, Alex, and I'm not trying to talk past you.

Jesus spoke in parables because analogies and examples are things most people can use to understand deeper spiritual truths. In fact, these simple stories and analogies often convey meaning much better than lengthy and detailed explanations.

We may come from different walks of life, different backgrounds, different experiences, and even different ages.

However, every adult has a basic understanding of money, and I'd venture that every adult also has a basic grasp of why counterfeiting is a bad thing.

And I assure you that the analogy carries over completely to the discussion we've been having here.

In all seriousness, think about it and I have every confidence that it'll come to you. You're very smart and very sharp.

YogaforCynics said...

"Frankly it's astonishing that a liberal could hold the kind of morality, honesty and insight displayed in this article and still call himself a liberal."

Well his "calling himself a liberal" happens to be a lie, as you can see here:
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/10/02/blankenhorn/index.html?source=rss&aim=/opinion/feature which says something about the morality and honesty of conservatives, doesn't it?

Bob Ellis said...

As you saw from my comment, YogaforCynics, I was surprised that a self-described liberal could wield this kind of morality and honesty.

Nevertheless, the article you cited didn't do a single thing to undermine his assertion that he is a liberal. The fact that he receives funding from a conservative source doesn't indicate anything about the rest of his philosophy, liberal or conservative.

If you want to prove Blankenhorn is a closet conservative, why don't you look for assertions from him on other philosophical areas that would lend credibility to the contention that he really is a conservative. Playing the "money trail" game is shallow and doesn't prove much without other evidence to back it up.

Either way, he's right about what he said on marriage; it's just that the funding issue means little by itself.

Bob Ellis said...

FYI, I came across this today.

Blankenhorn wrote a letter to the editor of Salon magazine, published yesterday, in which he addresses the attempts of homosexual apologists to undermine his argument by implying Blankenhorn is lying about being a liberal. He says:

But for the record:

• Contrary to what Eisenberg implies, I never wrote that “It’s perfectly natural to be a liberal Democrat but against gay marriage, because I am.” I don’t even believe such a thing! (Suggestion to Mr. Eisenberg: If you want to state accurately what you call my “theme,” either tell your readers what I actually wrote, or call me up and ask me to clarify.)

• I’m a life-long registered Democrat.

• I’m an Obama supporter.

• I oppose current leading conservative opinion on many issues, including Iraq, abortion, the death penalty, tax policy, climate change, race and immigration, and others.

• The think tank which I founded and direct receives funding from both left-of-center and right-of-center foundations and individuals.

Go to Salon to read the entire letter.

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