We are going to have to stand up, so let’s do it now
-Katy Faust talks to AP-
Katy Faust is a Christian who lives in Seattle, USA, and is the married mother of four children. She visited Australia in August 2015 where she spoke to federal parliamentarians and found herself at the centre of a media storm over her comments on same-sex marriage. Katy is particularly interested in protecting the rights of children in connection with family life. Her appearance on ABC’s Lateline and Q&A attracted enormous interest from viewers, particularly for the way she defended the Christian understanding of marriage. AP spoke to her recently about same-sex marriage.
Katy, what are the essential biblical principles for thinking about same-sex marriage?
In terms of good public policy we need to remember that Scripture is particularly helpful because it outlines principles for human thriving, especially in relation to marriage and sexuality. For a start, it tells us that we are gendered beings and that the two sexes complement each other.
When I talk to teens about this subject, I say, “The world will tell you that sex is God and that you should sacrifice everything to get it. However, the Bible says that sex is a twofold gift that unites a husband and a wife and has the power to create a new life. And it’s only within God’s design for sex and marriage that the rights and thriving of children are really secure”.
We should remember that Jesus reaffirms the nature of marriage in the Old Testament. He reminds us that the foundational principles of a man leaving his father and mother and being united to his wife are continued in the church (Matt. 19:4-6). All of us are familiar, I think, with the teaching that the husband and wife become “one flesh” in marriage, but we have drifted from seeing marriage as God’s protection for children.
So marriage is not only good for a man and a woman in creating companionship and one-ness; it also serves the critical function of being a safety net for children.
I think many people today have forgotten what the prophet Malachi has to say about the purpose of marriage: “And why has God made the two one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring” (2:15).
Malachi reminds us that we need to have a man and a woman to complement each other to have offspring. However, if children are to become godly people the union needs to be permanent and faithful, that is, with one partner. This is exactly what children need too: the stability of a permanent relationship – a mother and a father as the primary care-givers, and the complementarity of two different-gendered parents so children can experience both male and female love throughout their development.
Why has the same-sex marriage phenomenon become such a big issue today?
The first thing we need to remember is that we’ve now got 41% of all children born outside of the safety net of traditional marriage in the United States. We have a large number of young people – “millennials” – who are choosing cohabitation instead of getting married. We have the prevalence of casual sex –hook-ups – which leads to increased numbers of single mothers. In other words, marriage and sexuality are being assaulted on several fronts and the redefinition of marriage is only one aspect of that.
In my opinion, the assault on marriage policy began with the normalisation of divorce. I don’t think that gays and lesbians are responsible for the crisis in marriage. What happened when Western nations legalised “no-fault divorce” in the 1960s and ‘70s is that we sent the message to everyone that marriage basically exists for the emotional fulfilment of the adults. When you take away the idea that marriage is a permanent union, then the other norms of marriage, like complementarity and exclusivity, also wind up on the chopping block.
Obviously, if marriage is just about adult emotional fulfilment, why does it matter what gender the participants are? And why does it matter how many participants there are? So polygamy is right on the heels of same sex marriage, because if marriage is just about with whom you share love and connection, it doesn’t matter how long it lasts, how many people there are, and what gender they are. So I think this whole process began several decades ago when we brought in no-fault divorce. I think the statistics bear this out.
How do you account for the popularity of homosexuality today, and even choosing your own gender?
A couple of things are going on here. First, there is no formula for becoming gay. There is no formula for: “If all these things happen to you, you’ll be same sex attracted; if none of these things happen to you, you are going to be heterosexual.”
However, when you look at the personal stories and studies that have been done around people who experience same-sex attraction, you’ll discover that in a lot of cases these people experienced a loss of connection in their early childhood with critical same-sex figures in their life.
Let me give you an example. It’s very common for gay men to report that they had little or no relationship with their father, and even experienced rejection by him. This is a very common strand that runs through the stories of a lot of gay men – a father who disapproved, rejected or could not connect meaningfully with his son. And these men often report that they were bullied in school.
“Life is going to become a lot harder for Christians and churches. On the flipside, the Christian life was never supposed to be a comfortable deal anyway.”
Actually, bullying is a common aspect in the stories of those who later identify as gays or lesbian and they usually suggest that they were bullied because they were gay. However, it could be the other way around. Are they gay and lesbian because they were bullied? I think that’s a possible explanation too. In fact, it’s possible to make a case that many of them missed out on their critical, Godgiven need for connections with their same-sex parent or their same-sex peers. It’s not so much a sexual deficit as a connection deficit. They were made for secure relationships with their same-sex parent and same-sex peers, and when they were deprived of those connections, they didn’t stop longing for it. If you don’t have fulfilling relationships with members of your own sex, you don’t stop needing them. The problem is that once you hit puberty your longing to have meaningful platonic relationships with a member of the same-sex can then become sexualised.
So, as we see family breakdown continue, and as more fathers are absent from their children’s lives, children are suffering relationally. Some are no longer receiving what they were made for – the love and involvement of both parents. Those who have only one parent are often getting even less. Children are suffering an “emotional needs” deficit. Social science studies make it clear that we are social beings who are made for connection – especially in the primal relationships with our mothers and fathers, our siblings, and our peers. And when we experience a breakdown in these relationships, there can be a life-long wound.
If the government has given homosexuals who live together the same rights and entitlements as a husband and wife, why do homosexuals feel the need to call their relationship a marriage?
I don’t know. I’m not going to speculate. I think there are many different reasons. I think there are some legitimate things that gay couples are pursuing, but all of these can be achieved without redefining marriage.
Marriage has a very specific, public purpose, which is to encourage men commit to the women with whom they are making babies. Why? Because those babies have rights, and there is a very well established body of social science that says that kids do best when they’re raised by their married mothers and fathers – especially biological ones.
So government faces a big question. Since children have certain rights, and since it’s clear that long-term stability, biological connection and gender complementarity benefit children, how can the state encourage men to commit to the women with whom they are having sex? That’s really the question.
Consider what happens when men don’t commit to the women with whom they are having children. Women raise those children alone. And the government has to step in to become the father and provide for the mother and the child. It is also likely to become involved in disciplining the child. Children tend to have more problems with the law when they are fatherless. And government also has a tendency to become the mother. It provides child-care for the child, so the single mom can go to work. And we all know that the government is not the best mother.
In fact, government is neither a good father nor a good mother. Sadly, when a family breaks down today, government just gets bigger. Someone has to pay when families fall apart, and someone has to protect vulnerable children. So the government has an interest in encouraging men to commit to the women with whom they are having children because there is no replacing a child’s father. Marriage between a husband and wife is the cheapest and best way to reduce poverty, raise academic performance at school, lower teen pregnancy rates, lower the crime rates, and increase mental and physical health in children. Every social ill we face would improve if fathers recognised how critical they are to the family and returned to the institution of marriage.
Why are those today who support traditional marriage under such assault?
Because we have sat on our hands for too long. We have stayed on the sidelines and remained disengaged. We have thought, “I’ll leave you alone if you leave me alone.” Or we have said, “If people can’t see that male and female are different, what’s the point of arguing with them?” So we have just stayed silent and gone on with our lives. Meanwhile, the other side has been tilling the soil for decades. So now the advocates of same-sex marriage are in control of academia, the media, Hollywood, and increasingly, the courts and government. We have totally abdicated our responsibility to speak up on critical issues, and now we are way behind the curve.
How should we develop our arguments against same-sex marriage? Should we simply rely on Scripture or can we also use natural law?
This is a very important question. For a long time now Christians have gone into the public sphere and said something like, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” dropped the mic, and walked off the stage as if they’d won.
Well, there are a few problems with that approach. First, while Scripture is our authority, it’s not everybody’s authority. When I am talking to secular audiences I don’t use Scriptural arguments. Natural law and the Constitution are the authority for everybody in the United States, not Scripture. So when I speak to the public, I appeal to that common authority.
Natural law is made known in the world and through human behaviour, which can be observed and studied (Rom. 1:19, 20). So as Christians we need to have some compelling arguments based on research and data for why we believe in marriage and children’s rights. And the good news is that authoritative social science is definitely on our side.
When social scientists claim that the evidence does not support traditional marriage and a child’s right to a mother and father they are not telling us the truth. Incidentally, these academics have sometimes used sample groups that are skewed in some way; they’re often not longitudinal or long-term groups, or not randomly selected – which doesn’t measure up to good social science.
“There’s nothing unique about same-sex marriage when it comes to family breakdown. It’s just one more way that kids find themselves without one of their biological parents.”
We are facing many important social issues today but I think this question of the nature of marriage underpins them all. And the reason why I think Christians need to nail this is because it is this issue that often stops people from even considering Christianity and joining a church. We must understand what the Bible says about human sexuality, the institution of marriage, and how that ties in with the thriving of society, the individual, and the child. And we must also match that with reason, common sense and social science. If we don’t offer a full explanation grounded in both Scripture and natural law, we are not likely to be persuasive. We have got to have both: Scripture, on the one hand, and compelling evidence-based arguments on the other.
If Australia accepts same-sex marriage, what’s likely to happen to marriage overall in the community?
Well, again, I don’t think that the push for gay marriage is primarily responsible for the mess we are in. In terms of policy, I think that it can be attributed to the changes we introduced in divorce law decades ago. What same-sex marriage has done is remove gender as a basis for marriage. And, because government’s interest in marriage isn’t romance but children, when you redefine marriage, you redefine parenthood. So when you redefine marriage, you are now saying, “We no longer need both mothers and fathers for marriage. They are optional, and neither is necessary.”
Now that is a sociological lie. It’s a lie that any study that is looking at a child’s well-being is going to reject, for several reasons. First, whenever a child loses a parent there is trauma. Whether it’s abandonment, third party reproduction, divorce, or death. It doesn’t matter how a child loses a parent, it always inflicts a wound. Second, whenever you’re not talking about same-sex marriage, studies show that mothers parent differently than fathers. And those differences have incredible benefits to children. Third, biological connections matter for kids. Obviously, when you are in a household with two moms or two dads, you’re only going to be biologically related to one or neither of them, and that’s a problem. Because biological connections are what kids are made for, and adults who are connected biologically to their children tend to be more invested, more permanent, and more protective of the children in their household. We know all of this because outcomes for kids with single parents are bleak – the deck is stacked against them – and that does not necessarily improve when the single parent remarries. Further, outcomes don’t improve for that child just because there’s a step-parent in the house. So it’s not just about ‘any two will do;’ what really stacks the deck in favour of kids is to have two biological parents – and the only way to do that is to have a mom and a dad – not two of the same.
I am an adoptive mom (I have three biological children and one adopted), and I am the biggest champion of adoption that you’ll find. But when those kids come to their adoptive home, they do so after undergoing incredible loss, so we cannot take a casual approach any time a child has to lose a biological connection with his/her parents.
Can you share with us what it’s like for a child who has same-sex parents? What kinds of struggles do they face? How are they disadvantaged?
Really, I don’t think that there’s anything unique about same-sex marriage when it comes to family breakdown. It’s just one more way that kids find themselves without one of their biological parents. So we’ve got kids who are experiencing loss in a lot of different ways – and same-sex parenting is not unique in that sense. We’ve been told that kids raised within same-sex households fare “no differently” than those raised in intact biological homes, but that’s not true. There is a difference, for all the reasons that I have just mentioned.
Some things really matter to kids: gender complementarity in parenting matters, biological connection with both parents matters, and trauma, in terms of losing a parent, matters to them. So kids in same-sex households will have a deficit in all three of those areas. Kids will be struggling through the loss of a parent, or at least the loss of a partial relationship with their parent, because they’re not living with both of their biological parents full-time. They’ll be missing out on maternal or paternal love, and be without a biological connection with at least one parent.
Too often kids growing up in same-sex households are told that it’s wrong to long for their other biological parent. I have heard some of them say, “I want a father.” However, the message from the LGBT community is “kids just need love and stability.” For example, when I went to Canberra with Millie Fontana to address federal parliamentarians on this issue, she said, “I told my two mothers (she’s donor conceived) I want to know who my father is.” And they said, “Why do you need a father? You’ve got two mothers.”
So there is this father-hunger that takes place in the life of these kids, and it is not unique to kids with same-sex parents. This happens any time a child is without their father. This can even happen in military homes! I have friends whose husbands deploy for a year, and their kids go through this longing for a connection with their father – and that’s because kids are made for it. Kids really need to be known and loved by both their mothers and fathers, and when they don’t have it, there is loss.
What will happen to children over the long term in a society that freely condones same-sex marriage along with adoption rights?
You’re going to have more and more family fragmentation. And I say more, because again, this has been going on since before same-sex marriage was on the scene, but now it’s being reinforced by this idea that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and that neither of them is necessary. Underlying this false assumption is the lie that kids don’t long for a biological connection with their parents – and this is being reinforced by the narrative that two moms or two dads, or one mom and one dad, or whatever, is really all that kids need and want.
Australians need to know that when Canada legalised gay marriage they went one step further. They removed biology altogether as a basis for recognising parentage, and replaced it simply with legal parentage. Now the Canadian government determines who the child belongs to. And I think that’s frightening. It won’t take much for a state, especially a politically correct one, to add some kind of ideological test as to who can parent.
If Australia decides to go down the same-sex marriage path, what do you think it’s going to mean for church leaders and for Christian parents?
Well, life is going to become a lot harder for Christians and churches. On the flipside, the Christian life was never supposed to be a comfortable deal anyway. Christianity has always been about being counter-cultural. It has always been about standing up for truth when other people won’t. When John the Baptist stood up against immorality he ost his head. So, get ready. We may lose our rights. We are going to lose our charitable status as churches.
I remember listening to a Chinese pastor 10 years ago talk about the persecution that his church had undergone. An American said to him, “We’re praying for persecution to end in China,” and he said, “We’re praying for it to begin in America.” The church in most of the West has become fat and lazy because it has been overfed truth and done nothing about it. So it’s time to get off the couch!
Well, if sex doesn’t matter in marriage, it doesn’t matter anywhere. It doesn’t matter in bathrooms; it doesn’t matter in parenting. Get ready for the abolition of sex differences everywhere.
We are seeing that in full force right now in America with the transgender bathroom issue. If sex doesn’t matter in marriage, why should it matter in public bathrooms or in locker rooms? These differences between men and women are just social constructs, they say. If men can mother and women can father, why can’t a man who feels like a woman go into the changing room and change in front of a little girl? Get ready for the abuse: “You bigots! What’s wrong with you? You haters! Get used to seeing naked men. What are you? Victorian-age prudes?”
“Australians should also prepare themselves for a significant rise in anti-discrimination and hate-speech actions. There will be all sorts of coercive measures.”
We are going to have to stand up at some point so we had better do it now. Be prepared for the state to move in and redefine the nature of parenthood. If Canada has already done it, what’s stopping Australia from going down this path too?
Australians should also prepare themselves for a significant rise in antidiscrimination and hate-speech actions. There will be all sorts of coercive measures to control speech. Just recently a professor in Oregon in the USA successfully sued her co-workers for not referring to her as ‘they’. She said, “I identify as something. The pronoun you should use for me is ‘they’”. And she won. Her co-workers have to pay her $60,000 for not referring to her as ‘they’.
I have an Irish friend, who happens to be gay, who supports traditional marriage and opposes surrogacy. He wrote a piece on Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, which is illegal in Britain, because it talks about how David Furnish has been philandering around the globe. But the British government has said it’s illegal to write about the infidelity in their marriage. And so they threatened to shut down the site – an American site – and successfully said, “You either take that article down, or we’re going to shut down your website.” And they did. They had to take the article down because this website didn’t have the money to fight Elton John’s lawyers.
If you are in business – say, a photographer, baker, printer, reception centre or whatever, and you don’t want to participate in a gay wedding, watch out. You could be sued if you decline involvement in that event. The list just goes on and on.
The first thing we have to do is become informed. I work for an organisation called CanaVox – CanaVox.com. Look it up, it’s awesome. It’s just a group of moms who got together and said, “Enough! We are going to be cheerful, loving, solution-oriented, but it’s time for us to know these issues so that we can talk with our friends about it in the way that is grounded in natural law.” Our leaders have very different backgrounds– we’ve got Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, even Muslim reading groups. We mainly encourage women, but we also have men’s and couple’s groups that meet in homes to study these subjects. We’ve pulled the very best free, short, natural law-based readings off of the web, and we train people to lead reading groups in their homes.
Unfortunately the media, Hollywood, the government, and the schools are not going to do this for you. We need to do it. The CanaVox readings cover everything from same-sex attraction, divorce, cohabitation, the hook-up culture, transgenderism, religious liberty, to sex education, and all of that. We look at every place where marriage, family, and sexuality are under assault. We have gathered the best readings on the web, and then we empower people to get their friends together and study them. So that’s it. This is how we cultivate and renew a marriage culture. It’s by being experts. We need to do it in a relational environment with great information. If you’re looking for great articles on these subjects, go to CanaVox.com – they’re excellent, carefully chosen with a really great balance of statistics, studies and personal stories. It’s there that you will find the facts with a personal side to them.