This is a comment from a friend of mine, in response to Dennis Prager's article, What does 'Judeo-Christian' mean?
She started out by declaring herself appalled at his claim that Europeans believe in equality rather than liberty, "and the inference that the British, Germans, French, Spanish, Italians, and Netherlanders can be lumped in with the Hungarians, Poles, Rumanians, Albanians, Yugoslavians, and Russians." She wound up with the following:
If it is that important for children to be raised by both a man and a woman, then it would be logical for the government ot punish widows and widowers who had children but didn't remarry (perhaps by taking their children away to be raised by a pair of foster parents, perhaps merely by denying them deductions for their children on their income tax), just as it would be logical to punish divorced or single parents who didn't (re)marry and even married parents who didn't live together, or who had their children raised by nannies, au pairs, or boarding schools. In fact, it would logically follow that boarding schools should be required to have male and female couples as quasi-parents for children. I've read of some European Jewish communities that had the custom of requiring people who'd been married a certain amount of time (twenty years?) but had no children to get divorced and try again, and this would seem logical if the chief reason for marriage is to have children who are raised by a man and a woman. Has Prager denounced non-homosexual but single-sex parenting shows like "Family Affair" (with Mr. French) and "My Three Sons" as setting a bad example? (I don't watch sitcoms much any more, but I'm sure there are current ones that would also qualify for such denunciations.)
Quite a laundry list of comments on same-sex marriage. I've reproduced it in full here, typing it in from paper. Now, on to the fisk...
If it is that important for children to be raised by both a man and a woman, then it would be logical for the government to punish widows and widowers who had children but didn't remarry...
Hmmm... I think we need to be precise here. Many people argue that if marriage is about children, then any married couple that remains childless should have their marriage revoked, and infertile people should not be allowed to marry.
I'd say the point of marriage is to create the basic structure for a child-rearing unit – the "container" for children, if you will. Our society has decided the family structure it sanctions is a mother, a father, and an arbitrary number of children. By allowing only one person of each sex in any marriage, this guarantees the "container" into which children will be introduced meets that standard. You don't throw out a cup because it's empty at the moment.
Widows and widowers rarely become widows or widowers by choice. To punish them for an event beyond their control would do serious violence to our sense of fair play. Furthermore, the effect of a parent who dies is not the same as that of a parent who leaves the marriage. A dead parent will "live on" as a role model in the memory of the survivors. It's not the same as having the original parent around, but few things are.
Indeed, studies show that step parents are, among other things, more likely to abuse their step children, so forcing widowed parents to re-marry may be the cure-worse-than-the-disease. All social policies involve trade-offs, and this is one of them.
...it would be logical to punish divorced or single parents who didn't (re)marry and even married parents who didn't live together, or who had their children raised by nannies, au pairs, or boarding schools. In fact, it would logically follow that boarding schools should be required to have male and female couples as quasi-parents for children.
A lot of what I wrote about widows and widowers applies above.
One observation I have about divorce is that it's more important that both parents stay involved in the child's life than that they live under the same roof. It's one thing to divorce a spouse, but the expectation should be that you don't divorce the children. Indeed, a lot of changes in this area would be very useful. Among others, the default custody option should be a 50/50 split. And since the court retains jurisdiction, a parent who wants to relocate to a distant area should have to convince the judge that either it's necessary, or the relocating parent can continue to parent from that distance.
Nannies and au pairs should be able to meet high standards of ethics and professionalism. Many do. Some don't.
One of the drawbacks with nannies is that children are liable to bond to them. When they eventually leave, that's virtually the same as a divorce.
As for boarding schools, if the child is going to be spending significant amounts of time in one, there probably should be a set of "house parents". Legally, the school is in loco parentis to the child, but a whole school can't make the decisions about a child's care. Maybe boarding schools should be required, or at least strongly encouraged, to have "virtual parents" on staff. It's not one of the things we've thought about very hard. In the past, children's needs haven't been considered that important. (And nowadays, there seems to be an egalitarian trend which minimizes any differences between children and adults.)
Has Prager denounced non-homosexual but single-sex parenting shows like "Family Affair" (with Mr. French) and "My Three Sons" as setting a bad example? (I don't watch sitcoms much any more, but I'm sure there are current ones that would also qualify for such denunciations.)
This strikes me as a red herring. Now, I don't know the reason why the opposite sex parent isn't around, but given the time period I'm willing to bet large sums of money that the family started out with a mother and a father, and one of the parents died.
Dennis Prager has criticized shows where people set out to build a family without both a mother and a father from the start. "Murphy Brown", for example, where a single woman was planning to raise a child as a single mother. (The handyman may or may not have been a surrogate father.) I know he doesn't watch TV, so he may not be up on the latest sitcoms. If, however, anyone considers his point invalid because he hasn't denounced the latest sitcom that sets a bad example, do we get to consider that person's point invalid because he hasn't spoken up to defend the latest sitcom?
Ultimately, I'll pose the question Dennis poses when the debate over same-sex parenting, adoption by single parents or parents of one sex, or other alternatives to a mother and a father as parents.
Do you believe men and women bring different attributes to the table, or do you believe that men and women are (except for plumbing) interchangeable? If you believe there are no differences in what a father brings to the family and what a mother brings, it doesn't matter what sex the parents are, as long as there's the right number. If you believe the sexes are different, then it's very difficult, at best, for one to substitute for the other.