Loved into Existence, part two

July 23rd, 2011

by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

How science is consistent with the ancient Christian teachings

Now after all this theology and philosophy, you may be astonished by my next move. I am going to show that science now substantiates many of the important claims that Christianity has been making since the beginning.  Let me begin with the most basic. The human person is meant for love.

The human person is meant for love: sexual attachment

Since we have been talking about sex, let’s start with that. Men and women attach to each other, through the sexual act.  Men secrete vasopressin, which creates a feeling of bonding. This hormone is sometimes called the “monogamy hormone,” because higher levels of it are associated with greater loyalty in some kinds of animals. This hormone helps to counteract the male tendency to pursue multiple sex partners. [1]

When women are being sexual, we secrete a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone creates feelings of attachment, relaxation and contentment.  Our levels of oxytocin surge during sexual activity, childbirth and nursing. The title of one of the early papers on this subject tells the story, “The Role of Oxytocin Reflexes in Three Interpersonal Reproductive Acts: Coitus, Birth and Breastfeeding.”[2]  A woman’s body responds to these community-building acts. The flood of oxytocin increases her desire for further touch with both her mate and her child. The hormone itself connects her to her child and her child’s father. We tend to attach to the man we are being sexual with.  We also secrete oxytocin when we are nursing our babies. The sexual act itself creates an “involuntary chemical commitment.”

Becoming “one flesh” is not so easily undone as getting a divorce from our husbands or moving out from our boyfriends. We often experience significant attachments to our sex partners, long after reason would have told us to “move on. You could say this is nature’s way of creating a family. Or you could say that this is God’s way of writing our need and capacity for love into the human body itself.

The human person is meant for love: infant attachment

Let’s turn now to the most universal of all human experiences: infancy. The human infant is born helpless and dependent. It is worth noticing that this is not true of all animals. Some species are born more or less ready for life: snakes hatch and slither away from their parents. But human infants have a long period of dependency before they are prepared for adult life.

Children who are abandoned by their families often end up in orphanages. Their experience reveals some things about human development we might otherwise overlook. Children who are deprived of human contact during infancy sometimes fail to gain weight, or to develop. This “failure to thrive” syndrome is well documented. Some scientists now believe that the presence of a nurturing figure stimulates the growth hormones.[3] All the bodily, material needs of the child are met in these orphanages. The child is kept warm and dry. The child is fed, perhaps by having a bottle propped into the crib. The child contracts no identifiable illness. Yet the child fails to thrive, and may even die. The widely accepted explanation is that the children die from lack of human contact. [4]

Their plight is reminiscent of the monkeys that are deprived of their mothers. The baby monkeys who just get food and no mommy develop some weird behaviors, head-banging, rocking and other forms of self-stimulation. Orphanage babies sometimes do this too. [5]

The human child’s brain is not fully developed before birth: if it were, the infant’s head would be too big to make it down the birth cannel without harming the mother. So the brain continues to develop after birth.

The brain has three basic parts, the reptilian brain or the brain stem, the cerebral cortex and the limbic brain. The brain stem governs basic biological functions and runs pretty much on auto-pilot. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that does algebra and balances check books and plays chess. The limbic brain governs the person’s ability to be in relationship, to intuit people’s emotions, and read people’s faces.

And it is the limbic brain that develops in the first year after birth, by being in a relationship with the mother. The limbric brain is unique to mammals, and allows us to have the kind of social life that is unique to animals whose young are born alive, and dependent. The limbic brain is the part of our physiology that controls our bodily responses to other people. This is the part of the brain allows us to respond to touch, proximity, and other people’s emotions.

This is the part of the brain that makes a hug feel good. It is this part of the brain that makes watching a movie in a crowded theater a different, more intense experience than watching it at home by yourself. The close contact with all those other people makes the scary parts scarier, the funny parts funnier, and the exciting parts more thrilling. The responses of the limbic brain make physical contact with other people a healing experience. This is why bringing pets into nursing homes and hospitals can help sick people get better.  The sick people pet the animals, and talk to the trainers. Both those forms of contact can help people feel better.

The limbic brain allows us to “read” other people’s feelings. Our brains are capable of responding to the emotions of other mammals. We can look at each other and sense whether another person is angry, happy or fearful. These basic facial expressions are remarkably invariant across cultures. We can read many of the same cues among other mammals. [6] This is why we prefer mammals for pets.

Here is the part that is really important for the baby, and his relationship to his mother. The human brain is so large compared with the rest of our bodies that it is not fully developed before birth. If our brains were fully developed in utero, our heads would be too big to make it out of the birth canal without killing our mothers. Much of the development of the limbic brain takes place after birth. The limbic brain develops in response to being in a relationship with the mother.

We can see the physiological impact of the relationship between and infant and his mother by looking at other mammals, as well as at the behavior of humans. Infant mammals have a predictable pattern of reactions to separation from their mothers. The babies first go through a “protest” phase, and then a “despair” phase, after a prolonged separation. Each of these phases can be easily observed. And the physiological attributes associated with these phases can be readily measured. [7]

In the “protest phase,” the youngsters cry out, run around and search for their missing mommy. A scientist or lab technician can measure more subtle, but hardly surprising responses. The baby’s heart rate increases. So does his body temperature. His little body produces elevated levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, and elevated levels of catecholamine, an adrenaline-like hormone that increases alertness.

The baby can not sustain this heightened level of alertness and tension indefinitely. If the mother is absent long enough, the infant enters the “despair” phase. He stops running around crying for his mommy. He may slouch, huddle himself and look sad. The scientist observer discovers that the infant’s heart rate and body temperature decrease. His consumption of oxygen decreases, his immune system is impaired, his sleep rhythms change.

His little body produces less growth hormones. This is why children raised in orphanages or who have prolonged hospital stays lose weight, and fail to grow, no matter what their caloric intake. This is the physiological source of the “failure to thrive” syndrome, also called “hospitalism” by its discoverer, Rene Spitz. [8]

The good news is that most people can be reasonably good parents, just by doing the ordinary things that literally, come naturally. Rocking the baby, feeding the baby, looking at the baby, imitating their little noises, bouncing them on your knee, all these things help develop the limbic system of the brain.

A relationship is in part, a physiological event. In the process of rocking the baby, feeding the baby, looking at the baby, responding to the baby, the mother is helping the baby’s limbric brain to continue its development. This is probably why the problems of the little orphanage children are so persistent. These kids are completely deprived of either a mother or even a mother substitute. They are not only psychologically damaged, but their brain development has been hampered as well.

In fact, some physicians have defined a new syndrome to describe the complex of symptoms these kids have. The doctors call it “institutional autism.” [9] When an infant is born, he or she is looking for someone: their mother. When the mother returns the child’s gaze, she is helping the child to make sense of the world. She is also helping the brain itself to develop. The brain begins to make the neural connections that allow the child to make the human connections with others. But if the child is looking out into the world and no one looks back at him or her, the brain does not develop properly

In other words, the human infant’s physical and mental well-being depends upon their being loved.  Hence, my claim: science is consistent with the ancient Christian teaching that the human person is indeed meant for love.

Or consider another possible disastrous outcome for the badly neglected child: attachment disorder. When infants experience an episode of neediness, they cannot solve their problem themselves. They cry out for help. In the ordinary course of an ordinary child’s life, someone comes to help them, to feed them, to hold them, to change their diaper, to play with them. Every time the mother does this, she is building up the child’s internal and unspoken sense that the world is a safe place, that he deserves to live, and that he can safely entrust himself to others.

But for the badly neglected child, no one comes. The orphan cries out, no one comes. The child of a drug addicted or otherwise preoccupied mother cries out, no one comes. Eventually, these children stop crying. They stop asking for help. They turn inward on themselves. They trust no one.

In the worst case scenario, the seriously attachment disordered child never develops a conscience. We often think of conscience development as the process of children learning right from wrong. But that is actually one of the last steps in a very complex process. Children don’t begin with abstract concepts. Moral development starts with something as simple as “My mother will punish me if she sees me doing X.” Then, “my mother will punish me if she finds out after the fact that I have done X.”  The process advances to “My mother won’t like it if I do X.”  And then, “My mother might find out, and if she finds out, she will be disappointed.” Then “I will be disappointed in myself if I do X.” And finally, “I’m not the kind of person who even thinks about doing X.”   At this stage, the person has a fully mature conscience. They have internalized the voice of the parent. No one needs to try to control them. They control themselves.

But for this process to get started, the child must have a loving adult present in their lives, someone whose good opinion matters to them. The conscience is the voice of the loving parent, a voice the child internalized long before he or she was capable of giving reasons or explanations for anything.

And the child without a conscience, the attachment disordered child, is a social problem. This is a child who only responds to threats and punishments, carrots and sticks.  The parent can never turn his or her back on such a child. Of course, as the child gets older, you cannot watch him or her constantly. A four year old, you can pick up and carry out of trouble. For a fourteen year old, you cannot. These are children who will lie, cheat and steal if they can get away with it. As they age, they become more and more scary, and more and more expensive to supervise. Ultimately, these are the sociopaths of society, the remorseless criminals.

Society depends on people having consciences. The system of economic markets depends on people keeping their promises and contracts, and cooperating with each other. The market is one giant system of mutual cooperation.

That is why it is no exaggeration to say that the economic order requires love. The love of the parents for the infant motivates them to give far more than they receive directly in return.  The parents make the generous first move required to begin the process of mutual cooperation. Infants grow into children who are willing to give in return, to cooperate, to restrain themselves, to trust. Without the vast majority of people having these skills, the market order is not likely to last long.

The economic realm, which appears to be comprised of impersonal exchanges of material objects among strangers, is actually based upon love.[10]

Unmarried families are a financial burden to the state.

The break-up of families, or the failure to form families, also leads to an expansion of state expenditure. Children from disrupted families do worse than the children of intact married couple households in virtually every way.[11] Children are more likely to have physical and mental health problems. Even accounting for income, fatherless boys are more likely to be aggressive[12] and to ultimately become incarcerated. [13] A recent British study offers tantalizing hints about the possibility that the children of single mothers are more likely to become schizophrenic. [14] And an extensive study of family structure in Sweden took account of the mental illness history of the parents, as well as socio-economic status. Yet even in the most generous welfare state in the world, with very accepting attitudes toward unmarried parenthood, the children of single parents faced double the risk of psychiatric disease, suicide attempts, and substance abuse.[15] All these issues are expensive to the taxpayer, through health care, special education services, mental health services, substance abuse recovery, or the criminal justice system.

All of these social pathologies are expensive to the taxpayer and painful to the individuals. A couple of recent studies calculated the taxpayer costs of family breakdown. One American study, prepared by the National Fatherhood Institute, announces its conclusion in its title: “The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man.”[16]  This is their estimate of the taxpayer costs of fatherless. Another study, by the Institute for American Values, using slightly different methodology, concludes that the total annual cost of fatherlessness to federal, state and local taxpayers amounted to $112 billion.[17]  At the time this study was done, this amount, $112 billion, was the equivalent of the GDP of New Zealand.

Speaking of New Zealand, the taxpayer cost of family breakdown there has been calculated to be around $1 Billion, or about $300 per year per taxpayer.[18] Likewise, in the UK, family failure costs the government about £41.74 billion. This means failed relationships cost each current UK taxpayer £1,364 a year.[19] In Canada, family breakdown costs the government about $7 Billion per year.[20]

These observations support the wisdom of the ancient Christian teaching that sex and childbearing belong within marriage. The alternatives to marriage are expensive to the taxpayer, as well as being a source of great unhappiness for individuals.

Family breakdown burdens the government with trivial matters.

The American experience with no-fault divorce illustrates that the dissolution of marriage involves the state in trivial family matters. This section of the talk may be somewhat surprising to a Chinese audience, because your society may very well have different ways of dealing with the problems I am about to discuss. Nevertheless, I think this discussion of the American experience with changing divorce laws will illustrate an important general point.

In 1968, California removed the “fault” basis for divorce. The old rule had been that a couple could get a divorce, only in the case of some “marital fault,” usually desertion, adultery or cruelty.  “No-fault” divorce means that one person can get a divorce for any reason, or no reason.

Presented to the public as a great expansion of personal liberty, no-fault divorce has led to an increase in the power of the government over individual private lives.  That is because no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Therefore, the divorce has to be enforced. The coercive machinery of the state is wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Family courts tell fathers how much money they have to spend on their children, and how much time they get to spend with them. Courts tell mothers whether they can move away from their children’s father. Courts rule on whether the father’s attendance at a Little League game, a public event that anyone can attend, counts toward his visitation time. Courts rule on which parent gets to spend Christmas Day with the children, down to and including the precise time of day they must turn the child over to the other parent. I have ever heard of a judge deciding what dress a teenage girl should wear to a dance. The estranged parents could not agree.

Involving the family court in the minutiae of family life is hardly the behavior of an efficient modern state. In America at least, there is no other agent of the government that we permit to intervene in people’s private business, so intimately, so frequently, and so routinely. The activities of the family courts amount to an blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of the family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. [21]

Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which was accepted as an expansion of personal liberty has resulted in an unprecedented intrusion of the state into the private lives of ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

These observations too, support the wisdom of the ancient Christian teaching that sex and childbearing belong within marriage. The social experiment of no-fault divorce, which was accepted as an expansion of personal liberty has resulted in an unprecedented intrusion of the state into the private lives of ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

Even the phenomenon of teen pregnancy can be better understood when viewed through the Christian lens. We believe the human person is meant for love. This helps us understand that many out of wedlock teen pregnancies are not really “unplanned.”  In fact, some girls get pregnant precisely because they want to be loved. The sexual experience is for them, not so much a result of lust, but of the desire to be loved by their boyfriends. Some girls get pregnant because they believe that their babies will fill an empty hole in their hearts with love.

Conclusion: What we ought to do

This is what we believe: God loves each of us into existence, and wants us to participate in His creative process through love.

I hope that this analysis helps you understand the Christian teaching about many policy areas that are now considered controversial. Why sex outside of marriage is so often so deeply disappointing, even if it is safely contracepted. How marriage itself prepares the couple for parenthood. Why marriage is properly permanent and exclusive. Why conception outside the womb is an act of injustice. Why Christians consider abortion a heinous crime.

These beliefs impose obligations on us, obligations which sometimes feel onerous. Those of you who are not Christian may sometimes look upon us with scepticism: is it really possible to live the way Christians advocate?  And even for those of us who are Christian, living the lifestyle may seem daunting.

All too often, we know what we are supposed to do and to think, but we cannot completely explain why.  Living up to the challenge of the full Christian teaching will be very difficult, if we do not understand the reason for that teaching.  In the United States at least, I can say for sure that a great many Christians do not meet the challenge. This is partly because they do not fully understand the depth and beauty of the reasoning behind it.

At the center of the universe, is a deep abiding love. We are called to be part of it. We are not ashamed to believe this. We invite everyone to accept the challenge to live as if we are loved into existence.

 


[1] The Alchemy of Love and Lust, by Theresa L. Crenshaw, (New York: Simon and Schuster, Pocket Books, 1997), pg. 94; 102-106.  Matt Ridley, Nature via Nurture:Genes, Experience and What Makes us Human, (New York: Harper Collins, 2003), pg. 42-46.

[2] Niles Newton, “The Role of the Oxytocin Reflexes in Three Interpersonal Reproductive Acts,” Clinical psychoneuroendocrinology in reproduction, L. Carenza, P. Pancheri, and L. Zichells,eds. (New York: Academic Press, 1978) pp. 411-18. (Cited in Crenshaw, pg.97.)

[3] This syndrome is known as the Kaspar Hauser syndrome, or psychosocial dwarfism. See Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry/VI, Vol.2, Sixth Edition, Harold I Kaplan, M.D. and Benjamin J. Sadock, M.D., Editors, (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.) See Chapter 40, and sections 43.3, 47.3.

[4] See Ibid, Section 43.3, “Reactive Attachment Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood.” The locus classicus is the work of John Bowlby, Attachment and Loss. Vol. 1: Attachment, (New York: Basic Books, 1969). Also, Mary Ainsworth, Mary Blehar, Everett Waters and Sally Wall, Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation, (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1978).

[5] Deborah Blum, Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, (Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2002), especially pg. 214, where John Bowlby tells Harry Harlow, “Harry, I don’t know what your problem is. I have seen more psychopathy in those single cages than I’ve seen anywhere on the face of the earth.”  The monkeys were sucking themselves, rocking back and forth, cuddling their own bodies. “You’ve got some crazy animals.”

[6]A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon, (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 2001), pp. 39-40.

[7]A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon, (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 2001), pp. 77-78;  Deborah Blum, Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, (Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2002), Chapter 8, “The Baby in the Box.”

[8] A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon, (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 2001), pp. 79-80.

[9]Ronald S. Federici, Help for the Hopless Child: A Guide for Families (With Special Discussion for Assessing and Treating the Post-Institutionalized Child), Second Edition, (Alexandria VA: Ronald Federici and Associates: 2003).

[10] Jennifer Roback Morse, Love and Economics (San Marcos, CA: Ruth Institute Books, 2009) pg 57.

[11]For useful summaries, see “Do Moms and Dads Matter? Evidence from the Social Sciences on Family Structure and the Best Interests of the Child,” Maggie Gallagher and Joshua Baker, Margins, 4:161-180, 2004; “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children and What Can We Do About It?” Kristen Anderson Moore, Susan M. Jekielek and Carol Emig,  Child Trends Research Brief, June 2002; Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World, Jennifer Roback Morse, (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing, 2005).

[12]“Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,  Nancy Vaden-Kiernan, Nicholas S. Ialongo, Jane Pearson and Sheppard Kellan, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 23(5) 553-568, (1995)

[13]“Father Absence and Youth Incarceration,” Cynthia C. Harper and Sara S. McLanahan, Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14(3) 369-397 (2004).

[14]“Schizophrenia much more likely in children of single parents,” Sarah Hall, UK Guardian, November 2, 2006.

[15]“Mortality, severe morbidity and injury in children living with single parents in Sweden: a population-based study,” Gunilla Ringback Weitoft, Anders Hjern, Bengt Haglund, Mans Rosen, The Lancet, 361(9354) (January 25, 2003).

[16] “The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man: The Annual Public Costs of Father Absence,” Steven L. Nock, Christopher J. Einolf, (Washington D.C.: National Fatherhood Initiative, 2008).

[17] “The Taxpayer Cost of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-ever Estimates for the Nation and All Fifty States,” Benjamin Scafidi, (New York: Georgia Family council and Institute for American Values, 2008).

[18] “The Value of Family: Fiscal Benefits of Marriage And Reducing Family Breakdown in New Zealand,” Report to Family First, New Zealand, October 2008, available on-line: http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/files/docs/nz%20report%20executive%20summary.pdf

[19] David Wong, “Counting the Cost of Family Failure: 2011 Update; (Cambridge: Relationship Institute, 2011.) available on-line: http://www.relationshipsfoundation.org/Web/OnlineStore/Product.aspx?ID=132

[20] “Private Choices, Public Costs: How Failing Families Affect Us All,” Rebecca Walberg and Andrea Mrozek, (Ottawa: Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, 2009) Available on-line: http://www.imfcanada.org/article_files/Cost%20of%20Family%20Breakdown%20finalHR.pdf

[21]Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage and the Family, Stephen Baskerville, (Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing, 2007).

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  1. John Noe
    July 24th, 2011 at 22:19 | #1

    And if we get SSM, the problems will only get worse.

  2. Rose Mary
    July 26th, 2011 at 06:35 | #2

    Working backwards from the incarcerated, drug addicted adult/teen.. we can see that single parenting is problematic.. Adoption should be made more attractive to single unwed mothers and we need to help the Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Adoption Agencies to help the financially strapped mothers make the better choice for their children…. Those families that are affected by alcoholism and drug addiction also need the special attention of agencies that can help them from being incarcerated or losing their jobs…if they instead choose rehab. While in the rehab emphasis could be made in regards to family bonding… even possibly increasing the levels of oxytocin in the parent that is addicted..in order to aid in “bonding”
    The best prevention of teen pregnancy is chastity and modesty… There should be a major focus on this solution via Church groups for teens and Parenting Support Groups to help them help their teens to overcome peer pressure…and even to have “incentives” for dressing modestly and acquiring skills that help others…e.g. volunteerism. These could be started early… 12yrs. is a good age to encourage virtuous living and training for future careers. We need to get the message out…that MODESTY protects CHASTITY..which protects FAMILIES… so let’s get busy… with God’s help and lots of prayer and passion

  3. Anne
    July 26th, 2011 at 07:36 | #3

    “When women are being sexual, we secrete a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone creates feelings of attachment, relaxation and contentment. Our levels of oxytocin surge during sexual activity, childbirth and nursing. The title of one of the early papers on this subject tells the story, “The Role of Oxytocin Reflexes in Three Interpersonal Reproductive Acts: Coitus, Birth and Breastfeeding.”[2] A woman’s body responds to these community-building acts. The flood of oxytocin increases her desire for further touch with both her mate and her child. The hormone itself connects her to her child and her child’s father. We tend to attach to the man we are being sexual with. We also secrete oxytocin when we are nursing our babies. The sexual act itself creates an “involuntary chemical commitment.””

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. How can anyone be willing to dismiss this reality? How can anyone argue that a homosexual person’s desire to raise children supercedes a childs right to this magnificent bond? Is our society really this selfish, cold and indifferent?

  4. Little man
    July 26th, 2011 at 17:16 | #4

    Congratulations for an excellent summary of the sociological studies showing that government does not support natural marriage O U T O F K I N D N E S S, but because it is a lot more expensive not to support natural marriage. Such is not the case with some forms of same-sex marriage – introducing a third party into the legality of bringing a child to life and rearing that child responsibly. If the same-sex union did not engender the child, the couple saves a lot of time, sacrifice, and $. A lesbian couple can bring a child to life, and can rear the child, but the government doesn’t have to financially support that union, because it involves more than the couple, and because lesbians are going to try to engender children and rear them, their way, just to show that they can do a good job. So, no need to provide extra support, through tax breaks, etc. What they really want is to be able to bring a partner from another country, and apply for US citizenship. Adults can get very nice and obedient partners if they can offer US citizenship or Permanent Residence as part of the deal. Of course, i don’t think getting US citizenship should be that easy, but that’s the way it is now.

  5. Sean
    July 26th, 2011 at 19:15 | #5

    “How can anyone argue that a homosexual person’s desire to raise children supercedes a childs right to this magnificent bond? Is our society really this selfish, cold and indifferent?”

    When a lesbian woman in a relationship gives birth to a baby, doesn’t she lactate and breastfeed her baby just like a straight woman, and therefore bond? What does sexual orientation have to do with women giving birth, and attendant hormonal changes?

  6. John Noe
    July 26th, 2011 at 22:04 | #6

    Thank you Anne, that was brillant. The post alone shows how absurb Sean’s position is.

  7. Anne
    July 27th, 2011 at 04:11 | #7

    @Sean
    “When a lesbian woman in a relationship gives birth to a baby, doesn’t she lactate and breastfeed her baby just like a straight woman, and therefore bond? What does sexual orientation have to do with women giving birth, and attendant hormonal changes?”

    Who’s going to lactate and breastfeed Neil Patrick Harris’ twins?

  8. Ruth
    July 27th, 2011 at 08:00 | #8

    @Sean
    “What does sexual orientation have to do with women giving birth, and attendant hormonal changes?”
    “Sexual orientation” has nothing to do with women giving birth.
    Sexual behavior has everything to do with women giving life to their children, via the connection they are choosing to have, and to maintain and strengthen, with the child’s father.
    You are smarter than this, Sean.

  9. Deb
    July 27th, 2011 at 09:03 | #9

    @Sean

    What about the male-male partners who adopt newborns (Elton John for example)? They cannot lactate their newborns and therefore deny the child this early magnificent bond with its mother. Should we outlaw lactation on the grounds that it is not “equal”? Are you not always saying everyone must be equal under the law?

  10. Sean
    July 27th, 2011 at 17:33 | #10

    “Who’s going to lactate and breastfeed Neil Patrick Harris’ twins?”

    What business is it of yours or mine? Since the salient point was breastfeeding moms bond with their babies, I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy, because you don’t breastfeed! Maybe Neil will choose the path of women who don’t breastfeed: not breastfeed at all, or hire a wet nurse. But of course, it’s all our business and we should probably email him to instruct him what to do.

    “Sexual behavior has everything to do with women giving life to their children, via the connection they are choosing to have, and to maintain and strengthen, with the child’s father. You are smarter than this, Sean.”

    I am way smarter than this. That’s why I don’t get caught up in irrational arguments about marriage having to be one thing or another, or “Well, god wants things this way….” etc. I know your religions require that you think of sex as sacred and marriage as a sacrament, but you don’t seem to object to legal fornication or Atheists getting married. I’m always struck at how the real object of your scorn is only gay people.

    Why not put your religious principles to a real test and apply them to straight people too?

  11. Anne
    July 28th, 2011 at 11:52 | #11

    Has anyone seen Sean? I think Elton John’s and Neil Patrick Harris’ kids are looking for him.

  12. Heidi
    July 28th, 2011 at 13:17 | #12

    @Deb
    Deb, what about the women who choose not to breastfeed? Are we going to force them to do so just so the child is not “denied” the “early magnificent bond”? I breastfed my biological daughter, but obviously did not breastfeed my biological niece who my partner and I are raising as our daughter. My bond with both of my children is the same, however, regardless of breastfeeding! I don’t love my younger child any less just because I didn’t breastfeed her. And two dads don’t love their children any less either.

  13. Ruth
    July 28th, 2011 at 14:16 | #13

    @Sean
    Scorn?
    We want to see anyone who is trapped in sin get out of their sinful lifestyle.
    Sin leads to death, but we have a choice.
    Choose life.

  14. Sean
    July 28th, 2011 at 15:38 | #14

    “We want to see anyone who is trapped in sin get out of their sinful lifestyle.
    Sin leads to death, but we have a choice. Choose life.”

    No you don’t! You only want to correct gay people. You don’t mind people getting divorced, or having pre-marital sex, or committing adultery, or eating shellfish, or dishonoring their parents, etc. Why are you so concerned about gay “sinners” but not other varieties of sinners?

  15. Anne
    July 28th, 2011 at 19:57 | #15

    @Sean
    “No you don’t!”

    Ruth doesn’t want what she says she wants because Sean says she doesn’t?

    What makes it so hard for you to accept that we believe in a permanent bond in marriage that doesn’t include divorce, pre-marital sex or adultery (or homosexuality)?

    You are the one who wants this to be about religious people hating gays. It is what it is. It’s not what you want it to be.

    It’s a disagreement about what is fundamentally right for families. That doesn’t make it hate. No matter how many exclamation points or derogatory names you use.

  16. Anne
    July 28th, 2011 at 20:00 | #16

    @Heidi
    “I don’t love my younger child any less just because I didn’t breastfeed her.”

    Why did you breastfeed your older daughter if it doesn’t make a difference?

    Just because it doesn’t matter to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to them.

  17. Anne
    July 29th, 2011 at 05:50 | #17

    @Sean

    “Since the salient point was breastfeeding moms bond with their babies, ”

    The salient point is that there is a beautiful and purposeful, natural bond between children and their natural parents which is dissolved when the children are removed.

    “What business is it of yours or mine?”

    1-I don’t want my children taught in schools that this bond is meaningless in light of the fact that adults want to have sterile sex.

    2-The children created for this purpose deserve to be considered. Wasn’t it you who referred to the children as collateral damage? When parents act with indifference to their children it is called abuse and society steps in. I would think you would be familiar with such a liberal concept.

  18. Heidi
    July 29th, 2011 at 07:51 | #18

    @Anne
    I breastfed my daughter because I believed that it would provide the best nutrition for her in the early months of her life. I didn’t do it because I was afraid that we wouldn’t properly bond if I chose not to breastfeed. What about the children of adoptive parents? Are they forever scarred because they didn’t breastfeed?

  19. Deb
    July 29th, 2011 at 08:00 | #19

    @Heidi

    When a woman chooses not to breastfeed, she has done just that: CHOSEN. When “two dads” choose not to breastfeed it is because THEY CAN’T.

    Anyhow, hormones are powerful things. The body chemical changes when a woman gazes at her child, whether or not she breastfeeds, is different than the body chemical changes that occur in the father when he gazes at his child.

    What next, we outlaw male and female hormonal responses so that everyone “feels equal”?

  20. Anne
    July 29th, 2011 at 18:13 | #20

    @Heidi
    “I breastfed my daughter because I believed that it would provide the best nutrition for her in the early months of her life.”

    I think you were right. Then why aren’t you here encouraging moms to breastfeed their children instead of diluting the benefit in favor of gay relationships?

    “I didn’t do it because I was afraid that we wouldn’t properly bond if I chose not to breastfeed.”

    Whether or not the bond was your motivation, if you’ve experienced it, you know what it was worth to your daughter. And what it is worth to any child.

    “What about the children of adoptive parents? Are they forever scarred because they weren’t breastfed?”

    Of course they are. Not just because they weren’t breastfed, but because they were denied the essential natural attachment they were made to have. I don’t know an adoptive person who does not have some scar. Adoptive parents do their best to help heal the wounds, and we pray for healing for these children.

    Many adopted children do very well, precisely because we recognize the wounds and tend to them.

    But we don’t deliberately create wounds in hopes that they will heal well.

  21. Sean
    July 30th, 2011 at 05:45 | #21

    “But we don’t deliberately create wounds in hopes that they will heal well.”

    Sure we do. Single people raise children purposely alone all the time. Straight couples stay in bad marriages, that harm children, all the time.

    I’ll never understand this notion of the perfection of straight parents and/or biological parents. And why single people are never condemned for not giving their children different-sexed parents. If the importance of parenting has suddenly become so important, why not include all parents in your judgments, rather than just gay ones?

    The fact is, all children raised by gay couples are wanted, since gay couples don’t accidentally have children. That is not the case with the children of straight couples, who are often accidents, and who divorce so much that their children are often raised by a step-parent.

  22. Sean
    July 30th, 2011 at 05:49 | #22

    “What makes it so hard for you to accept that we believe in a permanent bond in marriage that doesn’t include divorce, pre-marital sex or adultery (or homosexuality)?”

    Because you don’t object to pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce the way you do same-sex marriage, and in fact you and people like you often engage in pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce!

    If we’ve redefined out country from a secular one to a theocracy, and are now imposing biblical rules on gay people, why not impose the biblical rules on straight people while we’re at it? Let’s write into our state constitutions that pre-marital sex is illegal, adultery is illegal and divorce is illegal. God would be pleased, wouldn’t he?

  23. Deb
    July 30th, 2011 at 08:50 | #23

    @Anne

    Wow, Anne, I couldn’t have said it better.

  24. Anne
    July 30th, 2011 at 13:56 | #24

    @Deb

    Thanks for the encouragement Deb.

    Your comment is quite powerful as well:

    “What next, we outlaw male and female hormonal responses so that everyone “feels equal”?”

    I only hope that our prayerful perseverance will be of some help in this incredibly complex conflict.

  25. Sean
    July 30th, 2011 at 17:14 | #25

    “What next, we outlaw male and female hormonal responses so that everyone “feels equal”?”

    Well, since nearly everyone is a male or a female, with hormonal responses, I’m not sure there’s an “equal experience” issue. Oh, you were trying to make a play about legal equality? Oh, no, see with legal equality, entities need not be identical, but merely “similarly situated.” Legal equality has specific rules and regulations, so to speak. Being identical isn’t one of them. Males are hardly identical to females, but we insist they be treated equally under the law. Fertile couples are likely to create babies once they get married, but we insist they be treated the same as infertile (say, elderly) couples who want to get married.

    Well, you get the idea.

  26. Anne
    July 30th, 2011 at 19:29 | #26

    @Sean
    “Because you don’t object to pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce the way you do same-sex marriage,”

    I already told you several times that I do oppose all of these things. Please stop telling me what I do and don’t object to. If you have a specific question, which I have not already answered, I will be glad to respond. If you are going to completely disregard everything I say every time I say it, there is no reason for either of us to be here.

    “…..and in fact you and people like you often engage in pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce!”

    ‘Me and people like me?’ Your previous statement proves you don’t know anything about me. Are you trying to be offensive Sean?

    What people do and what they ought to do aren’t the same thing. We don’t redefine what society is supposed to be by the mistakes people make. Well, most people don’t.

  27. Anne
    July 30th, 2011 at 19:48 | #27

    @Sean
    “The fact is, all children raised by gay couples are wanted, since gay couples don’t accidentally have children. ”

    Well, I guess my story doesn’t exactly contradict this statement, but it is certainly evidence of less than noble parenthood from the gay parent community:

    My good friend was adopted at a young age by a married heterosexual couple. As many adopted people do, she formed a strong desire to seek out her biological mother. I suppose she hoped she would find a fairly young woman who had perhaps gotten pregnant unexpectedly and in an act of generosity gave her up in the hope that an adoptive family would be able to give my friend a better life than she could. And of course, she hoped her mom would have been thrilled that she sought her out and want a relationship with her.

    My friend caught up with her biological mother just in time to be invited to her “marriage” to her gay lover. She had apparently given her child up for adoption as she would have hindered her freedom to pursue her homosexual lifestyle.

    Apparently, gay people do have children by accident.

  28. Anne
    July 31st, 2011 at 05:45 | #28

    @Sean
    “Oh, no, see with legal equality, entities need not be identical, but merely “similarly situated.”
    Males are hardly identical to females, but we insist they be treated equally under the law.”

    In other words, men don’t have to be allowed to marry men, in order to be “similarly situated” to women or other men. Since men are all allowed to marry women just as women are all allowed to marry men, they are each similarly situated and as you said, males are hardly identical to females, they each just need to be treated equally.

  29. Sean
    July 31st, 2011 at 08:10 | #29

    “I already told you several times that I do oppose all of these things. Please stop telling me what I do and don’t object to”

    So you want to outlaw pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce? I apologize, I didn’t see where you said you want pre-marital sex outlawed, adultery criminalized and divorce prohibited. You are more consistent in your bible-driven marriage rules than I gave you credit for. My bad.

    “If you are going to completely disregard everything I say every time I say it, there is no reason for either of us to be here.”

    Again, I missed the part where you said you want pre-marital sex outlawed, adultery outlawed and divorce outlawed, as you want same-sex marriage outlawed. While I still would note that we don’t make laws in this country based on ancient religions, at least you are consistent in your biblical marriage views.

    “Are you trying to be offensive Sean?”

    Yeah, a little, since you are. I thought I’d try a little “tit for tat”. But seriously, I’m just pointing out the inconsistency and hypocrisy of demanding that gay couples live biblically, while straight couples get to do whatever they want that is against the bible.

    “What people do and what they ought to do aren’t the same thing. We don’t redefine what society is supposed to be by the mistakes people make.”

    I agree completely. We certainly shouldn’t redefine our cherished notions of equality, and radically alter our society, by treating gay and lesbian couples differently from straight couples.

    “My friend caught up with her biological mother just in time to be invited to her “marriage” to her gay lover. She had apparently given her child up for adoption as she would have hindered her freedom to pursue her homosexual lifestyle.”

    Ah, the “gay people are selfish!” gambit. Of course, straight women never give up an inconvenient child! No, straight women prefer to murder them (Casey Anthony) or drive them into a lake (Susan Smith). Yes, straight people are so virtuous when it comes to children, so noble, that they murder millions of womb babies that a gay couple might only be too happy to raise. So very noble. Children are never luckier than when a straight couple has sex for pleasure and accidently creates a child they don’t want!

    Please explain how wanting to raise a happy, healthy child to adulthood is a selfish venture. Clearly you’ve never had children! They are a lot of work, and somehow nature makes us want to do it anyway! To treat gay adults who want to raise children like they’re using children as some kind of pet is disgraceful. You should truly be ashamed of yourself, especially if you’ve ever been a parent yourself, and understand the emotional and financial commitment that’s involved. There is a gay male couple in Arizona raising twelve (12!) children that straight people didn’t want. The state regularly turns to this couple when it has hard-to-place children. In their selfish gay ways, they keep saying yes, when it must be tempting to say no. But gay people are just so selfish! We all know that!

    But hey, you’re the one who believes she’ll have to answer to god on judgment day, right? What exactly are you going to say when god or one of his minions asks you, “why did you want the children of same-sex couples to be raised out of wedlock?” I thought this whole Christianity thing was supposed to be about love, as in, love your neighbor as yourself (and love god above all else)? Whatever happened to that?!

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