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September 24, 2007

’The Wilberforce Agenda’

Wilberforce This National Review article by John O'Sullivan is still subscriber-only, though I hoped it would be widely available by now. It's too bad, because the piece -- which talks about how, in the spirit of William Wilberforce, evangelicals could work with other groups to promote "an agenda of moral issues, covering national and international issues" -- strikes me as a must-read with a presidential election coming up and both parties in disarray. (Of particular interest to us at PFM: "Many liberals would be astonished to discover that the Christian Right is campaigning to stop prison rape.")

This blog post gives a pretty good rundown, although the blogger misses the point that O'Sullivan tries to set opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage "in a broader human-rights context." As he says:

Evangelicals could patiently explain that their positions were rooted in the same concern for suffering innocents as leads them to campaign for trafficked women, AIDS victims, Tibetan Buddhists, etc. They would campaign for the Wilberforce Agenda in this ecumenical spirit, seeking to forge a coalition on issues of common interest across a cultural divide that now appears unbridgeable.

I know that many would take issue with and/or misunderstand the reference to same-sex marriage in this context. I'm guessing O'Sullivan is looking at it as part of a bigger picture in which adults feel free to redesign traditional -- and Christians would argue, God-ordained -- institutions, regardless of what such a redesign might do to the already eroding family structure in our society and of the effect that erosion has on children. Like it or not, built into every family headed by a same-sex couple is the inherent idea that having a mom -- or, as the case may be, a dad -- in the home with the kids is not necessary. Even though in some cases the absence or loss of a parent is unavoidable, and many parents do a great job under such circumstances, the deliberate promotion of this idea has not been kind to kids. See (or rather, hear) Mark Earley's Point broadcast on that subject from this morning.

Anyway, find and read this one, from the September 24 issue, if you can. I'll post an updated link if one becomes available.

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Comments

Brian

I'm always confused to when anti-abortion positions (which I believe in) and anti-marriage equality positions (which I think are unconscionable) go hand-in-hand.

How can you profess to care about children while campaigning to destabilze children with gay or lesbian parents?

And how can you continue to overlook the experience that shows children raised by a single gay/lesbian parent are on par with those raised by a single straight parent and children raised by a gay/lesbian couple develop the same as those raised by a straight couple?

You are correct at praising single parents who overcome the hurdle of going at it alone. Luckily, children raised by gay couples have two loving parents and that idea, contrary to your assertation, HAS been kind to kids!

Brian

I forgot to include references:

An APA article that cites numerous studies: http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/lgpsummary.html

A more conversational look at children with gay parents: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07161/793042-51.stm

Gina Dalfonzo

"You are correct at praising single parents who overcome the hurdle of going at it alone. Luckily, children raised by gay couples have two loving parents and that idea, contrary to your assertation, HAS been kind to kids!"

Brian, to make that argument you have to assume that mothers and fathers are interchangeable and that they bring exactly the same things to a family. This is not the case. The sexes are not exactly the same, and each sex contributes something valuable and unique to child-raising.

I once heard it put this way: Most single parents are leaving the door open to the chance of bringing a parent of the other sex into the household. Same-sex marriage by definition rules out that possibility.

To take these facts into account is very far from wanting to destabilize children, or from wanting to hurt or insult homosexuals for that matter. It simply means asking, what is the situation that will be most beneficial to the child and to the family in general? As your article pointed out, the number of studies we have is not that large yet and appears to be based mostly on self-selected samples.

Brian

Gina, You make the (unsubstantiated) claim, "to make that argument you have to assume that mothers and fathers are interchangeable and that they bring exactly the same things to a family," which troubles me for a few reasons.

One does not have to make that claim at all. My mother and father do not bring the same to the parenting me but neither does my mother bring the same thing as my neighbor's mother. It's not just that genders are different, people are different. It is entirely possible to have two people of opposite genders who don't compliment one another's parenting as best as possible. It's also entirely possible to have parents of the same gender who are as close to a perfect parenting fit as you can expect to find in humans.

I ask you (I'm seriously asking you to do this) to find a committed gay or lesbian couple, who has been together many years, and who is raising a child. Get to know that family for a few months.

And I would like to close with this quotation from the APA article. Despite your repeated claims that same-sex couples are not acceptable as parents:

"Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth."

Of course this area of inquiry is relatively young and there is still much to learn. But as we learn more, the evidence that gay and lesbian couples make excellent parents is only strengthening. And not only that, there are real people out there creating real families and I'm so blessed to have met a few!

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