Sunday, May 10, 2015

Unwriting man

Redefining what is marriage suborns natural familial relations to the will of the state. Jeff Shafer writes an article at the Federalist that belongs in the canon of warnings of the consequences of reordering the cosmos to make same-sex pairings equal to heterosexual pairings. It’s equal parts Berdyaev and Gilder. Excerpts:

The ideology denying the meaningfulness of biological ties for human identity is called same-sex marriage.

There is a biotechnical revolution upon us that treats children as products to manufacture. In the United States and around the “civilized” world, individuals flip through catalogues or search online to purchase sperm and eggs from (usually anonymous) donors whose genetic characteristics they find appealing. These shoppers then hire lab technicians to create embryos for implanting in a womb, often of a leased surrogate, for purchaser retrieval after gestation completes.

Thereby do these people manipulate children into existence in a manner divorced from marital love, in which adults intend to deprive them of relationship with or knowledge of at least one, and perhaps both, of their biological parents, as well as their extended kin.

This practice of human reproduction without relationship, of reproduction arranged by commercial transaction with service providers, graphically instantiates the precepts of same-sex marriage ideology. By eliminating the husband-wife marital norm, that ideology sunders even the conceptual connection of the marital union and fertility.

Commercially arranged reproduction also abolishes the togetherness of mother and father in the act culminating in the child’s origins. Indeed, in theory (and ordinary practice) the mother and father are strangers to each other. A typical case involves individuals who sell their gametes intending to never know or be known by their children or co-parent. So also with another alien to the marital relationship: the surrogate; her womb is not understood as a natural component within the relational complex of marriage and motherhood, but as a utilitarian machine to be leased and exploited by those with the economic advantage to do so and the wish to summon a child into being for their custody.


The defining feature of the historic marriage community, after all, is the sexual difference of its non-fungible constituents. To obliterate the sexual-difference feature of marriage is not a charitable expansion of its borders, but a radical repudiation both of its character and, ominously, of the character of the human person it acknowledges and protects.

The change in civilization that stipulates marriage as sexually undifferentiated, that denies the deep human relevance of being male and female in relationship, necessarily entails redefining parent. For if marriage is to be the egalitarian institution of adult rights now insisted, rather than a relation founded in sexual difference and child-regard, the requirements of “equality” mean (although this implicates an enormous irony) that same-sex couples get to have and raise kids, too.

But couples of the same sex don’t and can’t do anything procreative within their relationship. So by redefining marriage, the law must make some other moves, too: among which is valorizing the technological and other innovative takes on parenthood, equalizing their status with that of the natural-relational process. That means the law must ratify as normative—not tragic or exceptional—both adoption and the technological production of children from gametes and bodies gathered from outside the partners’ union. In such case, the law denies (among other things) that children’s identity is, in any sense that could be legally prioritized, as the natural issue of the joining of their mother and father. Therein lies the acute alteration to the governing anthropology required of societies adopting same-sex marriage.

So not only does same-sex marriage ideology redefine parent, but also child. For on its account, a child comes into the world not naturally related to anyone, but only transactionally connected to the persons responsible for fetching him through various means. No child in a same-sex household derives from the relationship of the partners in that home; every such child has been torn from at least one parent. Rather than a child’s dissociation from parents being a tragedy, it is a necessity and design feature of the same-sex regime.

Pay attention now. This next part is crucial.

The same-sex ideology, then, presents an unsettling logic that forbids us to even know that an orphan’s condition as an orphan is something to mourn. This nouveau anthropology presents children as, in principle, individuals as such, with no natural relation to or necessary identity bound up in their biological mother and father.

If that truthfully describes their identity, then their continuing detachment from biological parents is trivial. And their assignment to homes (foster, adoptive, or orphanage) is not something we properly may classify as a deviation. In fact, it might be the most enlightened sort of condition for children, as it more vividly incarnates their liberation from assumptions insensible except in terms of the now-renounced marriage model that assigns children’s identity and place with their mother and father.


If, in the name of “equality,” the Supreme Court this summer constitutionalizes a national mandate for de-sexed marriage, it is unclear how the Court thereafter could avoid cleansing its own case law of its “unequal” preferential treatment of biological parents. Or how Congress in the exercise of its Fourteenth Amendment Section Five enforcement authority won’t be within its rights to banish from state domestic relations law those policies based on biological bond favoritism or that otherwise imply a legally cognizable significance to kinship relations. A ruling that traditional marriage law is illegal invites an avalanche.


The refusal to countenance the sexual difference of male and female that is central to the marriage relation implicates more than the roster of who will be called “married.” Replacing the law’s acknowledgement of the essential significance of kinship and man-woman complementarity with contingent preference and egalitarian artifice means the government denies the pre-political and natural dimension of the family that until now authorized its substantial immunity from statist interventions.

Rod Dreher takes the idea and runs with it:

They deny that there is a link between biology and parenthood. That’s something we can accept, to a limited degree; adoptive parents are often much better at fulfilling the emotional role of parents than the biological parents of the child. But that truth does not obviate the general fact that there is a powerful link between biology, parenthood, and the family.

In order to justify biotech reproduction outside the womb, in order to justify surrogacy, and in order to justify same-sex marriage, that natural connection had to be denied. It is the nominalist position: there is nothing natural inherent in the structure of nature; it’s only matter, upon which we can impose our will.

What this amounts to is philosophers saying, as these men do, that biological parents do not possess the right to parent their own offspring. If it is not a right, it is a privilege conferred by the state, and if it is a privilege conferred by the state, the state can modify it boundlessly, even withdraw it, for the sake of the state’s interests.

Once a fact is accepted as true, and the logic that inheres in it takes root, nothing can halt the momentum of logical deductions except acknowledgment of a more fundamental principle. The anarchy of the devolving family—a product of, and soon to be victim of, evolution, secular materialists tell—will not jibe the indomitable will of man, unless its fundamental place in the identity of human beingness is restored in our collective conscience.

So the question posed by Ross Douthat about the rights of parents to educate their children wasn’t an extraordinary one. For the fact of parenthood as a condition of human relations is not politically given anymore.

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