Sunday, March 31, 2013

ZenTiger The Right to a Mother and a Father

I came across this post where it was suggested that fathers going off to war meant that a child didn't have a right to a father, because his actions trumped that right. [Full post here] It lead me to a discussion on the redefinition of marriage. Part of the divide in this debate is that gays define marriage as a "right", whereas traditionalists see it as an ideal, one that excludes gay people. I can see why this causes so much tension. After all, if looking at this as an ideal for heterosexual marriages - how close to that ideal is the reality anyway? How many marriages survive intact nowadays? How many remain a life-long commitment? Unfortunately, not nearly enough, for all sorts of very human reasons. Anyway, I reproduce my comment here because this issue is the current debate, and whatever the outcome, I think it a duty in a democratic society to have the debate - to consider all angles and attempt to see all perspectives.

There is no such right. Obviously every kid has a biological father, but that doesn’t guarantee any rights for the child (or father).

WW I and WW II are prime examples of the priority many fathers put on fighting for their country over being a father for their children.
Firstly, your assumption that men going to war means that kids don’t have a right to a father is flawed. Many men go to war out of a sense of duty, which at it’s heart is protection of the child, the family and the society he wants them to grow up in. Just because a man goes to war to protect his family, you cannot conclude that this “over-rides” a right to have a father, you misuse the concept of rights in this way.

The concept of “rights” is bandied about nowadays as an excuse to get something. Thus, the “right” to marriage equality. It’s this constant redefining words to suit self-interest that is at the heart of most of these debates. On that basis, kids clearly have a “right” to a father and mother. That circumstances remove a parent is not to take away their rights, just to change their situation. Part of what society needs to strive for is to promote and protect a basic set of ideals that clearly set out what the optimal situations, ethics, morals and behaviours are. They become goals that may or may not be achieved, but nevertheless, appreciated for their intrinsic virtue.

This is the other problem – by declaring a standard, some people refuse to be measured by them, or take offense at them, and want to destroy those standards. We need to strike a balance between having ideals that lift us up, and recognising that not every-one will make them. This is where it is important not to judge and not to condemn others, as we are all far less than perfect on one matter or another.

Civil Unions granted that legal recognition, and marriage was a word reserved for an ideal in family structure, and recognition of the complementarity of the sexes, and that each child would usually fare best being raised by both a mother and a father. Once the word marriage no longer means this, society will change for thee worse. Actually, it has already changed for the worse, because marriage used to mean “until death do us part” and that change was, in my opinion more harmful than the gay marriage debate. I suspect it is the “protection of marriage” where gays are feeling the brunt of a reaction to the sum of grievous blows to the ideal of marriage (and family) that has been hammered into us from the 60′s. Easy divorce, adultery, mothers forced to put children into child care sooner and longer than they would like as they need to pay the mortgage, and even the shift of focus to self-actualisation and the philosophy that we need to put ourselves first; before God (which is to say, before our moral obligations and our self-interest), before family, before children.

We’ve watched all of this slipping away from the ideal, and those ideals being reduced to “seek happiness, and if you don’t get it immediately, look after number one. Walk out. Change partners. Get angry. Get even.” So, the slippery slope argument doesn’t start with gay marriage, and slide down into polygamy, and then down to children produced and sold to fill a new market – the market of the non-biological family. The slippery slope started the moment that we believed that our vows could be broken because our feelings define us rather than our integrity. This in turn meant that rather than strive to be a better person, to live up to our word, we started to act as if we had a “right” to happiness, and anyone standing in the way of that “right” was the enemy.

So if you are going to take away the child’s right to both a father and a mother, you will have to be as casual with that term with every other person demanding their right to do what they want, as long as it hurts no-one. And just in case multiple families, and splitting children up and sending them around with 5 or 6 “re-marriages” can be argued to be hurting them, well, now I see just why it’s so important to declare that children will not have any “rights” that might harm the newly emerging attitude that children should be grateful just for not being aborted, and if they keep complaining, there are two nice old men getting tired of the gay scene willing to adopt them.

My feeling is the gay marriage debate is lost. The concept of marriage and traditional family is lost. Children will increasingly become commodities. The next phase of this debate will be religious persecution. Ultimately, all ideologies seek to stamp out any rival, and secular atheism will be no different than Islam in it’s desire to stamp out Christianity.

Christians need to prepare for this inevitability. I argued a while ago that Christianity is now counter-cultural. It helped build this society, now it is a thorn in its side. However, it’s central tenets of love, self-sacrifice, family values, a strong work ethic, and overall, a long forgotten call to turn ourselves into saints is attractive to many people who will turn away from the materialistic and self-absorbed culture replacing this. This is why I believe the Church can offer a new form of marriage, one it defines and carves out and sets as a goal for its own people – sacramental marriage, or covenant marriage. We need to fight now for the freedom to define this term and allow Church members to strive to meet the criteria. Like the Roman times, Christianity will serve as an example to others, and it can only do that by becoming an example. For that to happen, we need to just get on with living our lives in a Christian way.

7 comment(s):

Chris Sullivan said...

I think that if one understands marriage simply as a relationship of mutual love and support, and not as intrinsically about the sort of relationship which begets children, which sadly seems to be the common modern understanding, then gay marriage makes perfect sense and not to support it really would be bigoted and prejudiced.

I'd warn against hyping up too much the "coming persecution" meme, although we do need to be careful to insist on our religious freedoms which ARE being undermined by some of the Gay Marriage push. Some of the Gay marriage proponents should be ashamed of themselves for pushing such intolerant and undemocratic provisions as are in the proposed NZ law; the compelling of the consciences of SOME religious ministers whose Churches do not have a position against, to perform gay marriages.

God Bless

ZenTiger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Muerk said...

Have you seen this -

ZenTiger said...

Quote - "I think that if one understands marriage simply as a relationship of mutual love and support..."

Yes, and if one understands marriage as something that includes this but is also more than this? Then what? Is that thought allowed?

Quote - [if one defines marriage a specific way then] gay marriage makes perfect sense and not to support it really would be bigoted and prejudiced.

I'd warn against hyping up the "bigoted and prejudiced" homophobic meme. The issue is that the word marriage is implicitly defined as being between a man and a women, which is why the legislation must be changed, as well as changing paired terminology like "husband and wife". The ripple effect is considerable, and merits some discussion without reducing it to calling opposition merely homophobia. That would therefore call many people in this debate who support civil unions homophobic, which doesn't seem rational.

Quote - "Some of the Gay marriage proponents should be ashamed of themselves for pushing such intolerant and undemocratic provisions as are in the proposed NZ law"

Problem is, some of those proponents MAKE the law, and the most certainly are not ashamed of their intolerant and undemocratic provisions, which is why, like other countries we shall see a continuing decline in religious freedom.

The issue again is once the law is passed, then it will be illegal to consider using the term marriage in any other way than how the marriage act defines it. What this ultimately means is that it will be discrimination not to marry people who are legally entitled to be married, in spite of the so called "intent". In 10 years (if that), the intent will be judged how the act is worded.

Very soon, religion will be something we are only allowed to do in the privacy of our bedrooms.

ZenTiger said...

Hi Meurk, not sure what to think about the whole thing, other than it's messy. I've seen stories of a similar vein where a gay couple are refused business, so they sue. I guess these guys should take the same approach, but I doubt they will.

On the other hand, a business has a right to refuse patrons to a point.

The underlying story really is that it is a shame that this political process and contest of ideas must become so violent and polarized.

The irony is that gays are not new to persecution and bigotry, and neither are Christians (especially outside of the Western world) and we have a common experience of this.

I foresee far worse than this minor incident.

Matthew said...

Hi Chris,

I can't agree with your proposal to treat marriage as one that only has mutual love and support as a concept. I understand that old people who are naturally past child bearing age may not be able to have children, but then who are you or I to limit our God from performing such a miracle? As you know, that has a Scriptural basis to it.

ZenTiger: what you wrote towards the end of your post reminded me of Jesus' own words in Matthew 24:9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake."

Muerk said...

Zen Tiger:

I was highlighting it to show the level of intolerance towards faiths that hold to a traditional form of marriage. I know people disagree with it, but to pressure a business to withhold a service because they find it so offensive worries me.

This was a little church that left the Presbyterian Church so that they could follow their consciences. They didn't try to litigate for their building, they just wanted a space to hold a service. I mean how quiet and inoffensive can you get. It's not as though they were singing "Repent or Perish" in the middle of town.

If quiet Christian worship of a traditional bent is now so offensive, what hope for us? Will we return to the catacombs?

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