Hijacked Children

Adam McIntosh

Gay DadIt is a given that the Catholic Church will oppose the legalising of same-sex marriage in Britain, France and elsewhere with every fibre of its being. Some bishops, among them the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, will do so in a vociferous and offensive manner; others will adopt a more nuanced, pastorally sensitive tone. Among the latter may be counted the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, who, in a pastoral letter issued for the Feast of the Holy Family at the end of December 2012, felt it appropriate to spell out the full consequences for children of legalising same-sex marriage.

The archbishop wrote: “government policy cannot foresee the full consequences for the children involved or for wider society, of being brought up by two mothers without a father’s influence or by two fathers without a mother’s influence. We first learn about diversity and acquire a respect for difference through the complementarity of our parents.” Clearly he imagines apocalyptic consequences for the cohesion of well-being of society as a result of the legislation being prepared by the Westminster and Scottish governments. But is he right?

Even while wearing his pastoral kid gloves, the archbishop is seemingly oblivious to the fact that it is already a reality that children are being brought up by two mothers or two fathers. This development was neither dependent on legalising same-sex marriage nor on introducing civil partnerships. Quite apart from this, where is the evidence to show that children with gay parents are less well-adjusted or more prone to anti-social behaviour compared with those living in ‘normal’ families; or, indeed, those living with just one parent, some of whom doubtless spend the years of their childhood flitting between divorced or separated parents’ homes at weekends and during holiday breaks?

In the end, Archbishop Longley’s words give as much offence as those of Bishop Davies because they rely on making cheap points and not on reasoned argument to plead their case. At a time when families are under threat of eviction from their homes and the number of children living in poverty increases as a result of the government’s austerity measures/changes to the benefits system, the number of children allegedly at risk from being raised with same-sex couples has to be much less serious a problem, if it is a problem at all. Finally, there is the irony of bishops addressing the matter of the welfare of children. Get real, chaps! By all means, plug the traditional Christian understanding of marriage if you must, but do so without depending on bogus arguments.

This text was originally published in the Quest Bulletin, no. 65 (Winter 2012-13)

5 comments on “Hijacked Children
  1. My reading of Adam’s piece is that he is perfectly entitled to employ so-called ‘secular’ or ‘socio-economic’ arguments to criticise the Archbishop’s homily and to point out that policies the government is currently implementing threaten the well-being of children. Theology is certainly not left out of the argument if one accepts that the teachings of Christ relate to a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions.

  2. I would have to say Dave has got a point, while the question is entirely theological the answer that either side of the debate will have to use in order to win the argument must be theological, whereas what you’ve presented is socio-economic, and therefore not particularly relevant. perhaps the blame can be found in the bishop’s address, as it also is looking for socio-economic reasoning in theological waters.

    John, however is waving the flag over the issue I’d like to see resolved… the Catholic Church needs to change, but I feel we can leave the question of ratified marriage to one side for a while and first deal with the lack of good understanding and teaching within the Church’s congregations… there are still those (some of them might work for SPUC in their marketing department!) who see homosexuality as a travesty and are unwelcoming to gay/lesbian individuals… the Church should react with at least the same strength to this problem as the police did in response to the racism scandals.

  3. Dear Good catholics and readers, I would like to tell you my story if you have 5 minutes to spare. Until recently I was a practising catholic who attended mass every sunday without fail since I was a child, I am almost 45. I spent 4 years working voluntarily as a lay missionary in Zambia building clinics and churches in the shanty compounds. I used to be a reader at mass, SVP member as well as undertaking all the maintenance at my local parish church, I was an active parishioner.
    However, recently I have been unable to attend mass due to the recent voting of same sex marriage proposals by the Government, and more to the point, the churches stance on this subject. For 3 or 4 times now I have had to sit and listen to letters from the diocese and talks from parish priests on the subject of gay marriage and the evils of it.
    Before I go any further, I am a gay catholic with strong faith in God . I am now so saddened and angry that I do not feel welcome at church anymore.
    I was handed a leaflet by an organisation called SPUC at mass on REAL MARRIAGE and when you read the leaflet and the crap on their website, they paint a very dim view of gay and lesbians and people like me. It is as though all the abortions, marriage breakdowns and all the problems in the world are attributable to gay and lesbians. Please do not take my word for it ,go on their website and judge for yourselves, they are full of hatred, bigotry, homophobia and are completely out of touch with reality.
    I find it so sad that the catholic church listens to people like spuc and allows them to spread their lies and hatred in church. I mean in reality, and on the subject of gay marriage, who would want to marry in a place where they are not welcome and frowned upon. It would be like asking a Jewish person to join the far right Nazi party. We all know that it is never going to happen.
    I still love the catholic church and will continue to pray for it and it’s shortsightedness, but what I cannot stomach is the ‘ Hitler like’ speil that comes from spuc. Be warned readers , the devil is at work here, do not be fooled by them. If they spent as much time fighting the causes and campaigns they say they stand for, then at least I could have some respect for them. there would be a lot less abortions, suffering and sham loveless marriages.
    In short, we are all sinners and we seek Our Lord , his compassion and love and forgiveness. WE ARE NOT THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL EVIL SPUC !

  4. What is a bogus argument is, from a gay catholic organization, using secular reasoning to justify argument against religious theology. You cannot treat marriage as a sacred bond in a religious setting and use a secular argument to support it. Where is Christ in all of this? Any organization that claims to be catholic but cannot use any religious language to justify its convictions is bogus!

  5. Well said. An entertaining and poignant link on You Tube on the issue of being raised by two mums. Worth watching:

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