Cognitive Dissonance on the Issue of Marriage and Procreation

Can you correctly identify who made the following comments on the importance of fathers for the well-being of children and the health of our communities?

When fathers are absent . . . we know the damage that does to our families. Children who grow up without a father are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They’re more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home, and become teenage parents themselves.

There’s no more important ingredient for success—nothing would be more important for us reducing violence—than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.

A father’s absence is felt by children, families, and communities in countless ways, leaving a hole that can have lasting effects.

 If you guessed these comments were made by a right-winger or by a pastor, preacher, or priest—you are incorrect. These were, in fact, words spoken by President Obama. If you want to read more about how essential involved fathers are for the health and well-being of our children and communities, visit the website for the President’s Fatherhood Pledge.

Those of us in the movement to promote marriage and safeguard it from being redefined welcome President Obama’s statements. He rightly understands both the unique and necessary contribution of fathers and the explicit link between fatherhood, the well-being of children, and the health of our communities. Yet, in light of his current policies, we are left scratching our heads.

How can the President argue that fathers are necessary for the well-being of children and the health of our communities—and even found a national initiative promoting increased involvement of fathers—but, at the same time, promote policies and laws that would intentionally create fatherless children through the use of Artificial Reproductive Technologies (anonymous sperm donation, surrogacy, etc.) and the redefinition of the only public institution that unites fathers and mothers to their children and each other (marriage)?

What accounts for President Obama’s cognitive dissonance on these issues and leads him to support policies and laws that work at such clear cross-purposes? I believe the answer can be found by simply examining whose particular interests the President looks at when he considers these issues. When he champions fatherhood and the need for increased involvement of fathers, the President’s focus is obvious: the rights and needs of children. When he champions the redefinition of marriage and the creation of children through ART (anonymous sperm donation, surrogacy, etc.), the President’s focus is equally obvious: the desires of adults.

Whether wittingly or not, President Obama’s policies have the effect of putting children’s well-being and their basic human right to know and, as far as possible, be cared for by their married biological mother and father in competition against same-sex attracted adults who desire to redefine marriage, gain public recognition of their relationship, and intentionally create fatherless (motherless) children. This becomes clear in light of the President’s cognitive dissonance. When he views marriage and procreation through a child-centric prism, he accepts what both our shared human experience and social science confirms: mothers and fathers are different and bring their own unique gifts to raising children; children do best when they know and are cared for by their married biological mother and father.

However, when he views marriage and procreation through an adult-centric prism, he is prepared to jettison human experience and social science—which involves mental gymnastics and tortured rationalizations: mothers and fathers are not different and do not bring their own unique gifts to raising children; children are resilient and will fare well without a father so long as they have two mothers.

We need to address the President with a plea to overcome his cognitive dissonance on the issues of procreation and marriage. Reflecting on his own painful experience of not knowing and being raised by his father, President Obama said: “I still wish I had a dad who was not only around, but involved.” Perhaps we can ask him to apply his pain to future American generations by opposing the intentional creation of fatherless children through ART (anonymous sperm donation, surrogacy, etc.) and intentionally raising children in fatherless families (redefining marriage).

Mr. President, please craft policies that encourage men and women to have children after they are married. Please protect marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman: it is the only public institution that achieves your goal of decreasing fatherlessness and uniting children with both their fathers and mothers.

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About Bill Maguire 20 Articles
Bill Maguire earned his Master's in Theological Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. He served for two years as the managing editor of Communio: International Catholic Review and has worked with youth and youth adults in various capacities: youth minister, campus minister, and adjunct professor of theology.