I admit it. I’m a bit of a TV junkie. I am. I just really like TV. There’s so many interesting and entertaining shows to choose from.
Though I probably know more about what’s on HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, and Nick Jr. than a normal person should, I don’t just enjoy shows that are on the science and learning (or kids!) channels. I also enjoy a lot of the sitcoms and a few dramas on network television. One of the shows we enjoy in our house is Modern Family.
Now, if you’ve never seen Modern Family, here it is in a nutshell – a comedy about the interactions of 3 related family units. Here’s the family tree for the show:
Jay is the father of adult children Claire and Mitchell. Jay is older and divorced. He remarried a younger, beautiful Columbian woman named Gloria. Gloria has a son from a previous relationship named Manny. Claire is married to Phil and they have 3 middle school – high school aged children. Mitchell is married to Cam (another man) and they have an adopted child from China named Lilly. Did you follow all that?
Many of my good, Catholic friends and family members refuse to watch this show because it depicts a homosexual couple who have adopted a child. People have argued with me that if you are watching a show with such elements, you are promoting homosexual “marriages” and are defying the Church’s teachings.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight – I stand with and 100% believe in the teachings of the Catholic church. But, I don’t believe that I am “condoning” same-sex marriages by watching a TV show about family that includes this type of family in it.
Despite the controversial dynamics, the show, is, actually about a family that loves and supports each other through all kinds of trials and hijinks (something not actually seen in a lot of other shows out there). It shows parents loving their children (young and adults) and children realizing that their parents are actually not complete fools.
But, the point of this blog is not to convince you to watch the show. It is, however, about some of the questions that have been raised for me as a result of watching this show. I’m a person of faith living in today’s “modern” society and I am doing my best to raise a child in this world, too.
Not all families are “perfect”
We have to come to terms with it – families with two dads or two moms are a real part of our society. In fact, more people are choosing this lifestyle and even being in committed, monogamous relationships than many conservatives want to accept. And, when I say “committed and monogamous”, I mean people who are together as long and longer than many married couples. They might be in your own family, your parish, or your school. You may not know them, but they are there.
It’s a reality that a “modern” family may have members that are not living in a way that makes sense to others in their extended family or that is recognized by the Church (or, most states, for that matter), but they are still functioning as a family unit.
And, as followers of Christ, we are called to love these people as much as we love “normal” families. As we often say, we are called to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” We may not approve of their lifestyle, but it’s not our place to pass judgement on their eternal soul or discriminate against them. We have to recognize and accept that we will, if we haven’t already, encounter family units that are different than ours.
What about the children?
Inevitably, as a result of this new, modern family emerging where there are two same-sex parents, there are children involved. Some are adopted, some are conceived via surrogacy and others via artificial insemination. Apart from adoption, these are obviously means that we, as Catholics, cannot support as options for bringing children into this world.
However, if children are conceived and born as a result of these methods, they need to be loved and welcomed as much as any other child. God has still allowed life to happen.
And, what about the adopted children? Isn’t it better for them to be welcomed into the arms of loving parents, same-sex or not, versus being left in some sort of government system or abandoned altogether?
I know that we, as Catholics, recognize that it’s not ideal for a child to miss out on the balance of a mother AND father in their lives. But, that issue arises anyways, when parents divorce and a child lives with one or the other. Or, if one of the parents has some sort of issue or addiction that is detrimental to the family and keeps them from fulfilling their role as mother or father appropriately.
So, is it really worse for a child to be born into or adopted by a loving family that wants and loves them, even if it’s headed up by two fathers or two mothers?
(I honestly don’t know the answer to these questions. Maybe a priest or person who is better educated in the faith than I am can clarify the Church’s stance on homosexual relationships and children.)
I guess what it comes down to, for me, is reality. I can’t control who my children will go to school with and I have no doubt they will probably end up with friends who come from a “non-traditional” home. And, as they grow up, they will probably come home with questions about these families or invitations to birthday parties in those homes. Am I prepared to field those questions and give the best, most Christ-centered answers in order to raise a child who is respectful and loving, but understanding of the Church’s teachings?
For me, the plan is this: begin praying and seeking guidance now on the best ways to raise my traditional family in a modern world.
UPDATE: As you probably read in the comments below, someone shared Pope Benedict XVI’s words on the topic of gay couples adopting. Our new pope, Pope Francis, also stands firmly against gay couples adopting children. According to some recent articles:
“However he strongly opposed same-sex marriage legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine government, calling it a ‘destructive attack on God’s plan’.
In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: ‘Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.’”