November started with a debate about religion, LGBTQ rights, children, and the courts. It began with Pope Francis saying that “gay people are children of God and have the right to be in a family.” In the past, the Pope has said that a “family” is a man, a woman, and their children. In 2016, the Pope said, “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” The issue becomes critical for Catholic social service organizations that refuse to place foster children with same-sex couples.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been serving abused, neglected, and orphaned children for more than 200 years. Because of a court ruling that the Archdiocese was discriminating against gays by refusing to place children with them, they no longer are allowed to care for children in need. The Archdiocese is suing on the grounds that the government should not force them to violate their sincerely held beliefs. The suit has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This issue will impact all religious groups that are involved in caring for children. Like many court cases, the decision is going to be based on secular research information. Do children need a mother and father image to have a stable and productive life? Those of us who work with children have seen the struggles that single-parent children have. Some do very well, but they struggle. Many secular psychologists and sociologists maintain that it makes no difference, and the courts have listened to their testimony. Those of us in the “trenches” would disagree.
There are no easy solutions to this dilemma. The constitution tells us that everyone has rights that are protected by the government. The problem comes when those rights collide with someone else’s rights, such as in the conflict between LGBTQ rights, children, and the courts. The real solution to this issue is to eliminate the need for agencies to provide child-care and protection. While that is not possible, every step to educate people and lead them to God’s plan will reduce the pain for all concerned.
A U.S. Census Bureau report released September 25, 2019, says that the number of unmarried partners living together has tripled in the past two decades. The report says that the number went from 6 million in 1996 to 19.1 million in 2018. There are all kinds of editorials about this data, with some writers referring to it as “increasing normalization.” The report comments that people who cohabitate are “older, better educated, more likely to earn higher wages and more racially diverse.” The report also says that cohabitation is “an alternative to marriage for low-income and less educated people.” What is the truth about marriage versus cohabitation?
Why government reports find it necessary to attempt to explain data escapes me. Interpreting the data in an atheistic way is not only illogical but raises more questions than it answers. What was the population from which the data was taken? How many of the people cohabitating have children, and what effect is the cohabitation having on the children? How does cohabitation provide a viable alternative for low-income people? My wife and I were eligible for public assistance when we got married. We had no money, and I was a public school teacher making $4300 a year. Working as a team, we lifted ourselves out of that poverty and provided a stable home for our three children. On my own, none of that would have been possible.
Another vital aspect the report doesn’t mention is the role of sex in marriage and cohabitation. First Corinthians 7:1-6 describes the concern married Christians should have for the sexual needs of their mates. Every expert from Masters and Johnson to modern specialists has shown that a committed relationship provides the best in sexual satisfaction and the most fulfilling relationship for both men and women. Cohabitation may satisfy the immediate sexual gratification of some, especially males. It does not meet the real needs of both men and women in the long term.
One of the most interesting characteristics of the women’s rights movement is their intolerance of any view that doesn’t fit their idea of what women’s roles should be. A classic example of this is the turmoil produced by a popular Swedish journalist named Greta Thurfjell. She wrote an article in which she suggested that being a housewife was a worthy goal for a woman who chose that vocation. “Feminists are not cool and have gone too far,” Thurfjell complained.
Feminist Jonna Sima responded that Thurfjell and her supporters “have no idea how hard women had to struggle to achieve the freedoms she takes for granted.” Numerous articles on both sides of the issue have filled newspapers in Europe, with abortion rights being the primary focus.
The problem here is that both sides looking at women’s roles are ignoring fundamental human rights in pushing their agenda. Sima characterizes Thurfjell’s view as “longing to be a submissive housewife devoted to making her man happy.” On the opposite side, the need for women to have the same political and economic rights certainly should not be contested by anyone.
No woman who wants to be a wife and a mother should be criticized for choosing that role. The Bible makes it clear that this is a worthy role for women. (See 1 Timothy 5:14.) Those who chose to be career women even in the day of Paul were accepted and honored. (See Acts 16:14-15.) Such women were vital to the financial support of Jesus and of the first-century church. (See Luke 8:3.)
As a public high school teacher, I have seen the disastrous effect of women who felt unfulfilled and abandoned the role of being a mother and a wife. The impact on children is frequently catastrophic. If a woman doesn’t want that role, she needs to think of the effect her choices have on others. God’s way works, but God does not require anyone to marry or to have children. If you don’t want to be a mother, don’t!