Already passed by the California Senate and presently in committee, SB1476 is a bill that would amend the California Uniform Parentage Act and threaten to re-define the term parent to a state of meaninglessness. Couched in terms of providing for the best interests of children, the bill, if passed, would allow the courts to appoint any number of adults as legal parents responsible for the support, safety, and nurturing of minor children. Such a law, rather than protecting children, would open a Pandora’s box for parenting possibilities and allow children to become pawns in any number of experimental approaches appealing to the adults in their lives.
Like many such ploys that seek to tinker with the fundamental principles of society, the bill is grounded in situational ethics. Situational ethics is an approach to ethics, standards, and morality based on circumstances rather than fundamental principles. In this case, California Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) says he decided to introduce the bill after he was touched by the plight of a little girl relegated to foster care when her lesbian “parents” became unable to care for her. (One went to jail; the other, to the hospital.) The court declined to appoint her biological father as a “legal parent” because the child already had her quota of legal parents.
Leno claims, “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ families today.” The increasing pressure to allow parental rights to same-sex couples combines with the skyrocketing divorce rate to create a disturbing variety of novel situations for children. These children often become victims of the decisions made by those most responsible for their welfare.
Despite the glowing terms in which Leno describes the supposedly rare situations in which the bill would be applied, the legal ramifications complicating these children’s lives, combined with the lack of data on the long-term impact of “radical families” on children, are a concern to many, from legal experts to conservative groups taking a stand for the traditional, biblical family. In addition, “People in the adoption world get very concerned about a law like this,” according to Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. He points out that the focus should not be on redefining the meaning of parent but on creating a law that simply “permits the child to get what he or she needs.”
For millennia, cultures and families have found ways to allow members of extended family genuinely concerned about children to care for their needs when appropriate. How many have benefited from the helpful ministrations of grandmothers and granddads, aunties, uncles, and even “godparents” unrelated by blood but approved by parents? Yet these people have served the best interests of children for centuries without re-defining parent.
If the legislatures wish to make laws allowing particular individuals in a child’s life to act as “foster parents” or in some other capacity when difficult situations arise, they can do so without changing the meaning of parent. Frankly, in the situation Leno presented as his sympathy-gendering type-case, the problem arose because the laws have already redefined parent by permitting same-sex couples to have parental rights. If this biblically aberrant arrangement had not been legally sanctioned, the child’s biological father would have already been in a position to assist her. Furthermore, while the changes would apply whether the “parents” being defined were homosexual or heterosexual, the bill’s co-sponsorship by the National Center of Lesbian Rights reveals much of the real agenda behind it. There are better ways to care for children—legally, morally, emotionally, and spiritually—than by further destroying the institution God intended as the ideal protection for them.
Biblically, parents (whether biological or adoptive) occupy a unique place in a child’s life as those ultimately responsible for his needs and nurturing. Biblical principles—those provided for us by our Creator who loves us and truly knows what is best for all—would not even permit the possibility of same-sex couple being married and functioning as legal parents for a child. Biblical marriage is a commitment between a man and woman. The institution of marriage was—according to Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:4-6)—created by God in the beginning, though the effects of sin have taken their toll on the nurturing environment of the family. But the cure for the disastrous effects that family breakup has on children is not to further deconstruct and redefine the family and its parts but to return to a commitment to the kind of family God appointed from the beginning of Creation.
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