FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–My daughters’ pediatrician is a wonderful physician. He is warm, intelligent, and handles my children with such care that I seldom leave his office without thanking God that my children are under his medical supervision. He restores our collective calm when we erroneously assume that all of life’s little “boo-boos” require sophisticated medical treatment.
Frankly, I have never so strongly trusted a physician. But for all of his medical expertise, he is not qualified to offer advice on the spiritual upbringing of my children. If I understand him correctly, he believes that a child’s upbringing is the unique prerogative of the child’s parents.
Unfortunately, the American Academy of Pediatrics and now the American Academy of Family Physicians have called into question the traditional understanding of the term “parent.” The 57,000-member AAP issued a statement Feb. 4 endorsing adoption and parenting rights for same-sex “parents.” The 93,500-member AAFP, at the initiation of its New York chapter, issued a similar statement in mid-October, promoting adoption by nurturing parents “regardless of sexual orientation.”
Yes, you read the statements correctly: “same-sex parents,” “regardless of sexual orientation.” The AAP now says that “children who are born to, or adopted by, one member of a gay or lesbian couple deserve the security of two legally recognized parents.”
The AAP statement also included affirmations that visitation rights should be established if the homosexual couple separates, that the other parent’s custody rights should be respected if the first parent dies, and that Social Security survivor benefits should be applied to the surviving parent.
The AAP and AAFP have accepted the responsibility of caring for the medical and “social health” needs of children since 1930 and 1947, respectively, but for all of their collective knowledge of diseases, medications, immunizations and treatment of the aforementioned “boo-boos,” they are in no way qualified to offer advice on a parenting issue which holds such significant legal and spiritual implications.
Most dictionaries define a parent as someone or something that has a vested biological interest in the child — that is, a progenitor, an originator, an ancestor. “Parent” is even defined as father or mother.
There are cases where that biological link is broken and the child finds comfort and love in a surrogate family, but even in that case the dictionary refers to a surrogate as a substitute authority figure replacing a father or mother.
This change in the term “parent” indicates a further departure from God’s ideal for the family. Jesus said in Matthew 19:4-5 that God created male and female. He even quoted Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
The apostle Paul wrote instructions for husbands and wives in Ephesians 5. He also gave parenting advice in Ephesians 6. He wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
In what conceivable way may two same-sex parents fulfill the historical requirements for marriage articulated in Scripture? Where in Scripture is there any reference to a parenting couple composed of two men or two women? How is it possible for two fathers or two mothers to bring children up in the discipline and fear of the Lord?
Each question must be answered in the negative. Same-sex partners cannot fulfill the definition of “parents” contained in trusted dictionaries and, most importantly, in the Bible. Same-sex “parents” are not mentioned in Scripture, and there is no conceivable way that same-sex parents can illustrate or model a biblical picture of marriage and instruct from that vantage point.
God’s definition of parenting and marriage, we must always remember, is prescriptive. The AAP and AAFP have chosen to define both parenting and marriage descriptively based on the fluidity of modern culture.
The Christian standard, our source, for the definition of the family is Scripture. As long as the canon of Scripture exists, the very words themselves will not change. Multitudes of arguments about cultural contexts, homosexuality within the confines of pagan worship, and now the statement of a few pediatricians will not change my belief that such behavior is wrong.
Worst of all, children will suffer. For years, both the AAP and AAFP have argued that children of abusive parents stand a greater than average chance of being abusive themselves. They also have argued that children of alcoholics will be susceptible to that “disease.” Will they now have us believe that the imposition of a same-sex model of parenting will not encourage same-sex behavior on the part of the child?
Scripture is clear in Proverbs 22:6. Children reared properly will likely behave properly. It follows logically that those reared near and amidst improper sexual relationships will likely follow the same dangerous path down the slippery slope.
Tomlin is news director at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.