Father’s Day is this Sunday. I am blessed to be a father. As I thought about the day, having had a great father myself, I couldn’t help but think of the old television show, “Father Knows Best,” and a bit a news that came out this week.
The show, which I really am not old enough to remember, would today be deemed corny, out of touch, unrealistic, and old-fashioned. It is clearly from a bygone era and, even during its time, didn’t reflect everyone’s home life as it then existed. But what it did portray was what was considered to be an ideal family, at least at that time, where mom and dad loved each other, dad was not a goofball, God played a part of their family life, and the kids were respectful of their parents and weren’t the “brains of the family.”
But today we want “authenticity” in our programming. We want to see things “as they are.” We want to “be real.” We don’t seem too interested in projection of some kind of ideal. And perhaps it’s because we don’t know any more what we consider to be “the ideal” for much of anything, even for a family. Ideals, by definition, require an objective standard on which we agree.
This thought, however, about ideals and reality ties into a new study released this week comparing the well-being of children raised by heterosexual parents versus those raised by homosexual parents. It was authored by Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The study will be published in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research, and is currently available online.
Reaction was sure and swift, challenging the credibility of the study (and some good points were indeed raised as to methodology and what the report actually did and didn’t “prove”). But the study is reflective of what is going on among social scientists, trying to determine the well-being of children raised by an intact biological mom and dad vis-a-vis a couple who engage in homosexual sex. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how important those studies are or will be because whoever doesn’t like a study will always find reasons to discredit it and, even if the results are not seriously subject to debate, will it really change what we do as a matter of public policy?
After all, on the heterosexual front, we’ve known for a long time that, statistically speaking, children raised by an intact, biological mom and dad will do much better and have fewer problems with drugs, crime, education, etc., than those who come from single parent families affected by out-of-wedlock childbearing and divorce. But, still, we’ve not shed the policies of our failed experiment with no fault divorce. We have not gone hard after the policies and promoters of promiscuity that foster lifestyles that tend to lead to out-of-wedlock birth. (Though in Tennessee FACT just helped change our sex education laws – Senate Bill 3310 – and the howls of protest from the left were histrionic)
Of course, these statistical studies do not mean that no single parent and no homosexual couple will never raise or never has raised up a child to become a responsible young person who contributes in wonderful ways to our culture and society. And these studies do not mean that every child raised by an intact, biological mom and dad turns out better than those raised in different environments, or that every one of those children becomes a responsible, contributing member of society.
But the question I have to ask myself, beyond the dueling statistical studies, is whether, as a professing Christian, I think the design for the family laid out in Scripture is God’s intention, His suggestion, or merely one good idea among many different good ideas? If God, in the beginning, laid out that children would come into being through a mom and a dad who were intended to cleave to one another for life, am I wiser than He to think other arrangements, on the whole and for the long term, are just as good?
I’ve come to see that thinking I am, or can even become, as wise as my Heavenly Father has been the root of the problems I’ve brought on myself over the years, and it’s really the root of the problems all of us have brought on ourselves ever since the beginning when Eve, looking at the forbidden fruit, applied her own logic and reasoning to what she saw, and decided to eat what God had forbidden.
You might say that Eve forgot that “Father knows best.” And from a look at our culture and the wrecked lives left in the wake of Eve’s actions, I think it’s something a lot of us have forgotten.
This Father’s Day, let’s give thanks for the biological fathers we have. And let us also give thanks for the Heavenly Father who cared enough about our well-being to show us the way we should go.