Homosexual Parenting Deemed “Unhealthy” by the American College of Pediatricians1
In July of 2017 the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) posted an update of a 2004 article that asks if it is time to accept parenting by homosexual couples as a legitimate alternative to parenting done by a father and a mother. This question is faced because “Within the last decade…professional health organizations, academics, social policymakers and the media have begun asserting that prohibitions on parenting by same-sex couples should be lifted.” The ACP criticizes this movement to approve homosexual parenting because it is not based on “supporting evidence that is comprehensive and conclusive.” Rather, the evidence leads the ACP to conclude that “it is inappropriate, potentially hazardous to children, and dangerously irresponsible to change the age-old prohibition on same-sex parenting, whether by adoption, foster care, or reproductive manipulation. This position is rooted in the best available science.”
According to the ACP article, research shows, “that children fare best when reared by their two biological parents in a loving low conflict marriage.” The article recognizes that there are times when “single parenthood, adoption, and remarriage” are necessary. In these situations children “face unique challenges” that are not “insurmountable,” but they “can have a negative impact on a child’s development.”
We would agree that in some situations it is not possible for children to be raised by one or both of their biologic parents because of the way God has arranged the circumstances of their lives. Yet the parents (single, divorced, remarried after their spouse has died, or adoptive) and children who trust in God may be certain that He is able and willing to use their trying circumstances to bless them.
But ordinarily and ideally children need a father and a mother. The father and mother are different from each other in a good way. Because of the differences between males and females, “mothers and fathers parent differently and make unique contributions to the overall development of the child.” With a father and a mother, both boys and girls, research shows, enjoy better emotional and mental health.
On the other hand, studies show “that children exposed to the homosexual lifestyle may be at increased risk for emotional, mental, and even physical harm.”
[The] children reared in same-sex households are more likely to experience sexual confusion, engage in risky sexual experimentation, and later adopt a same-sex identity. This is concerning since adolescents and young adults who adopt the homosexual lifestyle are at increased risk for mental health problems, including major depression, anxiety disorders, conduct disorders, and especially suicide attempts.
This is an indictment of homosexuality itself, as well as of same-sex parenting! But there is more. The ACP goes on to describe the risks of exposure to the homosexual lifestyle for children.
Violence between same-sex partners is two to three times more common than among married heterosexual couples. Same-sex partnerships are significantly more prone to dissolution than heterosexual marriages with the average same-sex relationship lasting only two to three years. Homosexual men and women are reported to be promiscuous, with serial sex partners, even within what are loosely-termed “committed relationships.” Individuals who practice a homosexual lifestyle are more likely than heterosexuals to experience mental illness, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies and shortened life spans. Although some would claim that these dysfunctions are a result of societal pressures in America, the same dysfunctions exist at inordinately high levels among homosexuals in cultures where the practice is more widely accepted.
It is not surprising that there are studies that demonstrate that homosexuality is destructive to those who are active in the lifestyle and to those who are exposed to it. God condemns homosexuality as a sin. Even social researchers who do not have faith can see the curse of the Lord upon the evil of homosexuality, even if they do not acknowledge it as the Lord’s curse.
What shall we take away from this study? What application must we make to our lives? Merely that we must condemn and flee from the sin of homosexuality? Of course, we must take it a step further, and maintain and live according to the truth of God concerning marriage and the family. The truth of marriage as revealed by God in Scripture is not merely that man and woman stay together in marriage to seek the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of their children. Many are the husbands and wives of the world who are committed to their marriages and to their children as fathers and mothers. Yet, for all their efforts they do nothing for the souls of their children.
Let us turn to Scripture, not mere science, and be reminded that we must seek to serve God in our family life and activity. Even science recognizes the importance of a husband and wife living together in love or in a “loving low conflict marriage.” How ashamed we ought to be when we as Christians lack love in our marriages, when our marriages become filled with bitterness, envy, hatred, anger, and an unwillingness to forgive and live at peace. Even science says, STOP IT, for the sake of your children! But we are directed by God’s Word, in which He tells of His covenant and the blessings of His covenant that we enjoy in the way of following His will for family life. The way of God’s covenant blessing is for a believing man and a believing woman to live together in love in marriage. Yes, for the sake of their own peace and happiness. And yes, for the sake of the well-being of their children—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. But most of all for the sake of the glory of God. For such a position is rooted in the unchanging will of God.
Game of Gender Identity Politics Played in the OPC and PCA
On July 5, 2017 The Atlantic published an article by Emma Green entitled “A Conservative Christian Battle over Gender.”2 The article covers two significant events. One is a recent podcast in which three women used the phrases “gender apartheid” and “toxic patriarchy” to describe the oppression they believe women face in certain denominations. The other significant event is the reception of a study committee report by the PCA’s General Assembly in June on “women serving in the ministry of the church.”
The three women on the podcast are Christina Edmondson, Ekemini Uwan, and Michelle Higgins. Edmondson is the wife of OPC Pastor Mika Edmonson. She serves as a dean at Calvin College, while her husband is the pastor of a church plant sponsored by Harvest OPC. Higgins received a Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and is on the staff of a PCA church. Her biography on the church’s website says she is married to Sean Loftin, but she is still listed as Michelle Higgins. It is not clear where Uwan has her church membership, but the article mentions that she received a Masters of Divinity from Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.
The women complained about “churches where women aren’t allowed to greet at the door, pastors who minimize emotional language in worship, and men who avoid friendship with women for fear of violating biblical standards of purity.” Based on a little Internet research, it does not appear that these women belong to congregations where these issues are a problem. And although I have not conducted a study, I doubt that these are widespread issues in the OPC or PCA denominations. But let’s say for the sake of argument that these are real issues that women face in the church; does this warrant the characterization of “conservative” churches as places where women are as oppressed as blacks were in South Africa under the rule of apartheid?
This claim of “gender apartheid” is both “implausible” and “offensive,” as R. Scott Clark explained in his response to the podcast.
First, those who make the claim did so on their own, public podcast. Under apartheid black South Africans were not freely, without government interference, doing the equivalent of podcasts. Our podcasters were in no danger of authorities breaking down the door of their studio. Indeed, our podcasters have the ability to control with whom they will talk—they block on social media even the mildest critics and potential dialogue partners. Further, our female podcasters were theologically educated or had other advanced academic degrees. Again, for prosperous females in North America, who have earned masters and doctoral degrees, to complain of apartheid is just silly. It is offensive because it demeans the very real oppression that black South Africans suffered under apartheid. It is the equivalent of comparing standing in line at Starbucks to standing in a chow line in prison. It is not a thoughtful way to argue.3
The real issue for these women and, thus, the one these denominations must face, is women’s ordination. Supposedly, the women on the podcast “weren’t pushing for women to be pastors.” Yet, the women openly talked about women’s ordination and their desire for women to have authority in the church. On the podcast Higgins spoke vulgarly and disparagingly about the ordination of only men. During the interview with The Atlantic reporter, Emma Green, Higgins said, “I believe it’s important for my denomination to refuse to demonize people who interpret ordination differently than they do.” Higgins says no to women pastors, but yes to women’s ordination—to what office(s) she does not state (elders and deacons, or only deacons). She is also open to allowing people to disagree with her on ordination. So it is fine with her if members of the PCA advocate for women pastors.
No matter how caring and attentive the church may be to women, as long is it does not ordain women, the church is guilty, so these women claim, of “gender apartheid” and “toxic patriarchy.” Though the women rejected Pastor Richard Phillips’s characterization of their views, he was accurate when he said that the title “gender apartheid” “implies there is a maliciousness and an abusiveness to what I believe is a well-meant desire positively to live out in the church the teaching of the Bible on gender relationships.” Basically, Phillips is saying that these women are charging as sexist those who believe that it is biblical to limit ordination to men. This is an attack, then, on the Bible. And the charge of sexism belongs at the feet of God, not merely the OPC, the PCA, or the apostle Paul.
If the women are not basing their views of the role of women in the church on the Bible, then they are, as Phillips explains, adopting “ideas and positions that are coming out of a secularized culture” and giving them “credence in the church.” R. Scott Clark provides a proper Christian response to the ideas of our culture:
Whatever the prevailing post-Christian (neo-pagan) culture may tell us, Christians may not doubt God’s Word. That is skepticism. God’s Word gives us a place to start whereby we can criticize both the John Wayne persona and the “gender bending” culture trends of the 2000s. Males and females are both created in God’s image. They are both given dominion over creation. They are intimately related and meant to relate intimately. They are meant to “be fruitful and multiply” (v. 28). These are creational basics. It was to this fundamental pattern that our Lord Jesus appealed when it said, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh (; ESV).
I am quickly running out of space. So let me briefly summarize my thoughts on this matter.
1. As Clark’s article points out, this issue of women’s ordination is a serious issue for the churches that belong to NAPARC.
2. It is important for the church of Jesus Christ to maintain in the face of all the pressure of feminism that the Bible limits ordination to men.
3. It is also important for denominations to shut down those who would play gender-identity politics through the exercise of Christian discipline. Those who argue for women’s ordination are not to be demonized. But they are to be disciplined for their false teaching.
The PCA’s report on “women serving in the ministry of the church” will have to wait until next time.
1 www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/homosexual-parenting-is-it-time-for-change (accessed August 1, 2017).
2 www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/truths-tablegender-race/532407/ (accessed August 1, 2017).