January 24, 2011
Defenders of marriage should draw hope and courage from the pro-life movement’s success.
As an advocate of conjugal marriage, I am often told that I am on the “wrong side of History.” The justice of “marriage equality” is overwhelming; the younger generation favors it; same sex marriage is inevitable. But this analysis is false. Indeed, there is ample reason to think that the March of History storyline will be proven incorrect. The reason? We were told all these same things about abortion.
“You need to accept Roe v. Wade. The unlimited abortion license is nothing but simple justice for women. Besides, the next generation will completely accept abortion. They will grow up knowing nothing else. They will not have all your hang-ups about sex and your squeamishness about scraping a bit of tissue out of a woman’s body. Reproductive freedom is the wave of the future. You are on the Wrong Side of History.”
A funny thing happened on the way to History: the people did not perform as promised. Last year, I took a group of Ruth Institute students up to the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco. Official estimates place the attendance at over 35,000. But I wasn’t counting. I was looking at the faces. I saw what anyone can see, if they care to look: the pro-life movement is a youth movement.
The average age of the walkers at the West Coast Walk for Life was probably around late twenties, and even lower if you count babies in strollers. Toward the front of the parade were the Berkeley Students for Life (yes, there is such a thing) and the Stanford pro-life club, (yes, they exist as well), their long-standing cross-Bay rivalry set aside for the day. Busloads of high school students, college students road-tripping in from all over the West Coast, whole church youth groups, families with small children, babies in arms, backpacks and strollers. The next generation is not going along quietly with the Inexorable March of History.
And why should they?
The pro-abortion forces did not correctly predict how the young would react to the Abortion Regime. Simple demographics favor a pro-life next generation: advocates of life have more children on average than their opponents. But beyond that, every person under the age of 38 is in some sense a survivor of the abortion regime. Any of them could have been killed. And some of them realize that.
Many of them have seen friends have abortions to save relationships with boyfriends, only to have the boyfriend end the relationship anyway. Some of them have learned from experience that recreational sex is not as fun as they imagined. The coarsening of sexual relationships, the pressure on women to perform sexually, the easy escape for men from responsibility for their unborn children: some of the Millennials have put two and two together and figured out that the abortion regime enables all this.
Katelyn Sills, President of Berkeley Students for Life, attended the 2011 Walk on Saturday. She reports that the pro-life initiative comes from the young people themselves, not from their parents or other authority figures. When high school students form a pro-life club, it isn’t to pad their resumes: that particular extra-curricular activity won’t impress most college admissions offices. Students form pro-life clubs because they see the injustice of abortion: they identify with the child.
It is the interests of children that the Abortion Regime set aside in order to accommodate the desires of adults. And it is the interests of children that the redefinition of marriage is in the process of setting aside as well. Remember the old pro-abortion slogan, “every child a wanted child?” Who can take that seriously today? “Kids just need two adults who love them” will come to sound every bit as hollow.
Same-sex civil marriage tacitly but surely asserts that kids don’t really need mothers and fathers, and that mothers and fathers are interchangeable. The next generation will grow up with the consequences of institutionalizing this belief throughout society. Same-sex civil marriage is turning the drift toward artificial reproductive technology for infertile married couples into a tidal wave of entitlement for anyone married or single, straight or gay, of any age, to manufacture children for any reason. Redefining marriage will come to mean that there is no particular reason to insist on two parents. Some in the next generation will have three or four parents.
Advocates of redefining marriage assure us that all will be well. Children will do fine, whatever the loving adults in their lives decide to do. IVF children will be so wanted by their legal parents that the lifetime separation from their natural parents will not trouble them. And children of unconventional family structures will have more adults to love them. Divorce, separation, complex custody quarrels, kids shuttling between four households with their sleeping bags and backpacks: that’s just anti-equality hysteria and will never happen.
As time goes on, it will become more obvious that “marriage equality” requires us, men, women and children alike, to ignore biology. Some women who have children with female partners will find that sharing the care of her child with another woman, is not the same as sharing the care of her child with the child’s father. Some men who agree to be sperm donors as “friends” will find that they want more of a relationship with their own children than they had anticipated. And some children are going to have feelings about their absent parents, uncomfortable questions about their origins, and complex emotions about being partially purchased.
Advocates of same sex marriage typically respond, “That’s just biology,” as if biology were nothing. These advocates are asking people to set aside the natural attachment of parents to their own children, the natural difficulties of treating another person’s child as if they were your own, the natural desires of children to know who they are and where they came from. And these advocates are asking the whole of society to ignore sexual differentiation in parenthood: no mothers, no fathers, just generic parents. These enemies of the human body seem to forget that there are no generic people, just men and women.
As acceptance of gender-neutral marriage spreads throughout society, some same sex couples will not be “gay:” they will be forming same sex unions of convenience. And even among the gays and lesbians who marry, not all of them will be the most committed ideologues. Some will just want to live the ordinary lives that advocates of same sex marriage have been promising them. But biology will assert itself.
Children with father-hunger will start to speak up. Young people will start to notice that some of the differences between men and women actually matter. Mothers in same sex unions will start to notice that raising sons without fathers is harder than they had been led to believe. Suppressing all these feelings in all these people will simply not be possible indefinitely. Not everyone will remain silent. Abortion advocates never anticipated the Silent No More campaign, wherein women suffering the after-effects of their abortions began to speak up. As time marches on, the brutality of the marriage “equality” regime will become just as obvious as the brutality of the abortion regime is today.
The children themselves will eventually have something to say about all this. Today, the energy and enthusiasm of the young is on the side of life. And in spite of everything we hear today, the same will be true of natural marriage. Conjugal marriage is the Right Side of History.