A couple years ago my parents finally obtained the financial
means to visit Ireland. They were able to spend three weeks in the homeland of
our ancestors. They travelled the country and visited all the places associated
with our ancestrywhich, of course, included several pubs. They met wonderful
and friendly people who were either distant relatives or knew the local
histories associated with the people from whom we came.
This desire to become familiar with our family trees, to
visit the lands of our ancestors, to know what they thought and what they did
is evidenced by the growing popularity of ancestry websites and services. But
what does this have to do with the debate over redefining marriage? In short,
Why do we have such a profound desire and need to know the
people with whom we are biologically linked: because who we come from shapes
who we are. Our link to our relatives and ancestors informs our
self-understanding and shapes our identity. Marriage is not just the only
public institution that unites men and women to their children and each other:
it is also the only public institution that connects children to their family
If we allow the definition of marriage to be changed to
accommodate same sex couples, we will be responsible for the vast deforestation
and devastation of many children’s family trees. This means that we will by
purpose and design uproot children from the very moment of their conception.
The roots of their family treefather and/or mother, brothers and sisters,
grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousinswill be severed by design.
And what does this mean for these children? We will deny
them the opportunity to know who they are by cutting them off from whom and
where they came. It means that we will publicly sanction limiting some
children’s ability to develop their full sense of identity and
self-understanding. Moreover, it will prevent grandparents and other relatives
from ever loving and experiencing the love of these children.
The measure of a truly just society is whether it promotes,
protects and safeguards the fundamental rights of its most weak, vulnerable and
powerless members. It is a mark of barbarity and injustice to injure those who
are unable to defend themselves. Children have a fundamental human right to
develop their identity by experiencing a loving relationship with their
biological mothers and fathers whenever possible and being linked to their
family trees. To deny children this fundamental right in order change the
definition of marriage is an injustice of the highest order.
It is, of course, a
great tragedy and sorrow for children when their biological mothers and fathers
are unable to care for them. A just and healthy society will try to remedy this
sorrowful situation through the institution of adoption. In fact, one could
argue that it is precisely because certain children are not able to experience
the love of their biological parents that society must strive all the more diligently
to place them with an adoptive mother and father. Husbands and wives have the
unique capacity to provide a home where adopted children can experience the
love of a mother and a father, and they have the unique capacity to link their
adopted children to the maternal and paternal lines of their family trees.
marriage is to intentionally deprive some children not only the opportunity to
experience the love of their biological parents, but to purposely deny them the
opportunity to ever experience the love of a mom and dad. Two men might each be
good fathers, but neither can provide the child with the love of a motherand
vice-versa for two women. The ideal for children is to
experience the love of their own biological mother and father. Where this is
not possible, children can nevertheless experience the love of a mother and
father through adoption. No same-sex couple can provide this fundamental right
of children, and to redefine marriage is, therefore, to deny the fundamental
human rights of some children.
This, among other important reasons, is why we must promote
a strong marriage culture and fight to defend the authentic definition of
marriage in the public square: marriage is the only institution that unites
moms and dads to their children and each other and, thereby, promotes the
health of the family tree. And, in the case of adoption, marriage is the only
institution that provides orphaned children the opportunity to experience the
love of a mom and a dad and be grafted onto a family tree that possesses
maternal and paternal branches.