First Rosie O’Donnell. Now Janet Reno. The issue of gay adoptions is not going anywhere – at least not any time soon.
Earlier this month, at a fund-raising event for the Human Rights Campaign, Reno said that if she were elected governor of Florida she would work to end the ban on gay adoption.
“In my state, a gay or lesbian may have the privilege of being a foster parent, a guardian, a pediatrician or a pediatric nurse,” Reno said. “But they can’t adopt. That makes no sense.”
But for a significant number of Americans, the gay adoption ban makes total sense.
Following Diane Sawyer’s interview with O’Donnell, Steven Fitschen, president of the National Legal Foundation, wrote this in a letter to his supporters: “Now is the time to engage the battle. The homosexuals have thrown down the gauntlet. It is not overblown rhetoric to say that America’s children are at risk.”
Though studies, like the most recent from the American Academy of Pediatrics, show children adopted by homosexual parents are “not” at risk. For many conservative Christians, this is not enough. To them, the Bible stands against homosexuality, and they’re not budging on the issue.
The Family Research Council called O’Donnell’s announcement “An attempt to legitimize the gay movement and its impetus for same-sex marriage.” The American Family Association urged its supports to ” Pray that God will restore righteousness in our nation and give us strength to stand firm against ideals that are contrary to scripture (referring to homosexual adoption).”
And Glen T. Stanton, the Senior Research Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality at Focus on the Family, posed this question: “Who is going to help a little girl being raised by two men buy her first bra?”
To more left-wing thinkers, these statements may seem outlandish. But one would be ignorant to dismiss their influence on a large section of our U.S. population. Conservative Christians have longed used the Bible as their handbook for political direction and they lobby accordingly — with quite a bit of money, people power and political clout.
And with gay adoption, they’ll be the first to tell you, “God made Adam and Eve — not Adam and Steve.” Anything against that ideal – to them — is wrong.
But having spent my childhood and adolescent years in a conservative Christian home, I decided to do my own Bible-based investigation into how Christ might have defined family.
And what I found, quite frankly, surprised me.
Not so long ago, the only sanctioned family – according to those on the religious right wing — consisted of “dad, mom and the kids – and usually of the same race.”
What finally forced re-evaluation was the once “dark sin” of divorce.
At one point, divorce was on the list with homosexuality and murder as an abomination to God. But as the divorce rate began to soar, conservative Christians toned down their rhetoric and set in motion their acceptance of single-parent family homes.
But now, the definition of family is at another crucial crossroads, and conservative Christians feel they are losing ground. Allowing gay parents the right to adopt is against everything their Bible upholds.
Or is it?
What I found in the King James Version of the Bible doesn’t define things so rigidly. In fact, Christ sounds somewhat open-minded when confronted with the issue of family.
“While he (Christ) was still speaking…his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. And stretching out his hand…he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother (Matthew 12:46-50 [KJV]).”
Here, Christ takes family outside of its traditional “dad, mom and the kids.” What Christ says here is simple: The bonds joining a family can be social, emotional, financial or in his case — spiritual. Basically, the family is who they say they are.
The people at the tip of Christ’s outstretched hand were not his biological brothers, sisters, or mother. But he bonded spiritually with them. He loved them.
If Christ himself characterized family in such accepting terms, how can so many conservatives be so adamant in their definition — so opposed to people like O’Donnell who genuinely love their children and want to offer them a hope-filled life.
If a gay couple wants to devote their lives to nurturing an otherwise neglected child, I say “Bravo.”
And I think Christ just might say “Amen” to that.
North Carolina native Miles Christian Daniels has been a columnist, documentary filmmaker and Christian youth minister. He served as an associate for The Pastoral Summit, a Lilly Endowment-funded project whose focus was “to find, to help create, and to spread models of local parish excellence.” He studied broadcast journalism at Elizabeth City State University and creative writing and film studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.