One of the insidious rationalizations used to permit same-sex married couples to adopt children argues that life in a home, rather than an institution, serves the best interests of orphans. While the adopted child in these situations may enjoy a quality of life that rescues him from poverty and homelessness and receive the benefits of proper food, housing, education and medical care, he does not experience a normal, natural family life. If the child is a boy adopted by two men, he does not learn how a husband appreciates, honors, pleases and sacrifices for his wife. The boy has no ideal or model of husband and father for imitation as he grows into manhood, and he never acquires an understanding of chivalry, the willingness of a man to serve a woman he loves. He receives no prior education for marriage and learns nothing about a boy’s relationship with his mother. To have no experiential knowledge of a mother or maternal figure desensitizes a man and does not acquaint him with a woman’s sensibility—an important area of knowledge in preparation for marriage. If a boy cannot please or love his mother or understand her female nature, he lacks an important introduction to married life.
If the child is a girl adopted by two women, a similar dilemma presents itself. She never sees the interaction between a husband and wife or learns to appreciate their complementary nature. Just as the boy never discovers the virtues of a motherly, caring, sensitive woman, the girl never encounters the virtues of a devoted, providing, generous father who lives, works, and sacrifices for his family. The child in these abnormal situations does not experience the balance of love and discipline, mercy and justice, unconditional and conditional love that a mother and father provide. Fathers by nature are more prone to punish and discipline children, mothers by nature more inclined to forgive and be lenient. The traditional wisdom of the world acknowledges the balance of both of these virtues to cultivate in the young both strength and gentleness: will power, perseverance, and discipline on the one hand and kindness, compassion, and graciousness on the other hand.
Boys, of course, learn masculinity from their fathers and girls femininity from mothers. This ideal of masculinity involves not only learning the virtues of fatherly men but also respecting, idealizing and honoring the wife and mother of the family. The ideal of masculinity that boys see in devoted fathers naturally inspires them to imitate the virtues of generosity, dutifulness, responsibility, and care of all who depend upon them. Boys who grow up in large families are naturally inclined to follow in their father’s footsteps to be generous with life. Likewise, the ideal of femininity involves not only the tenderness of caring for children and the management of a home but also honoring, cherishing, and admiring the husband and father of the family. This ideal of womanhood that girls see in good mothers naturally influences their own view of marriage, family, and children. Children learn their roles, their obligations, and the norms and ideals expected of them as they interact with a mother and a father who teach them, directly or indirectly, the virtues of a good father and a good mother—human wisdom that one generation passes on to the next.
Same sex marriages that adopt children cannot duplicate this tradition of human wisdom transmitted from families to children. Children by nature imitate and learn from their parents. What will children in these abnormal situations learn? They will not learn the meaning of a traditional marriage inscribed in the language of nature (“And the two shall become one flesh”) and designed by God:”male and female he created them.” They will not learn to appreciate the goodness of both manhood and womanhood. Boys will not receive role models of how to love, honor, cherish, and care for a wife. Girls will not have examples of how to respect, please and love a husband. In other words, the children of same-sex marriages will have received no encouragement, inspiration, or incentive to love as men and women are intended to love, marry and found families. Without this transmission of human wisdom and moral norms from one generation to the next, the venerable traditions of civilization have no continuity from one generation to the next. Even for one generation to lose its inheritance from the past does irreparable damage to a culture’s normative way of life, as nations ruled by Communist ideology testify.
Just as holy, fruitful marriages inspire their children to follow this ideal and just as divorced parents influence their offspring to disregard the indissolubility of marriage from the example of their own family, same-sex marriages will encourage and model their own way of life—more same-sex marriages. This abnormal, disordered life will be foisted upon the young by way of indoctrination. Just as the plague of fatherless families has caused an increase of crime and violence and a disproportionate percentage of black youth in prison, another plague of dysfunctional young people will suffer the consequences of irresponsible adult decisions ignorant of the wisdom of the human race and oblivious of the damage inflicted upon the young. The meaning of marriage is to give love, the best that one has to offer to a spouse and to one’s children, not the worst. Marriage is meant to enrich them, not to impoverish them, deprive them of human norms, or introduce them to a way of life condemned throughout the ages and by all the religions in the world as a transgression against the natural law.
Look what divorce has done to children, reducing them to the status of “the poorest of the poor” as one archbishop has observed. Look what abortion has done to the young by its slaughtering of the innocents, the scourge of 60 million deaths just in America alone—a figure that resounds like the number of dead in a world war. Look what single-parenthood has done to children, reducing them to a life of welfare and a vicious cycle of delinquency. Look what same-sex marriages will also do to children, robbing them of their innocence, violating their purity, and despoiling them of a normal life. Respectable orphanages, while they cannot replace a father and mother, do not wantonly lead children into temptation or subject them to deliberate harm. The desire of same-sex couples to adopt children amounts to another ploy to legitimize and normalize disordered, immoral acts. It creates a false image of respectability, a disingenuous semblance to the ideal of marriage and family to neutralize and conceal the actual evil it causes.