Adoption, Abortion and “Gay Marriage” – joining the dots with Jesus

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This is going to be a bit of a ramble. Grab a cup of something and sit down with me…

I’ve been working through the latest government adoption report [pdf] in Australia, prompted by my previous post and I came across this chilling sentence (chapter 4, p.34):

Broader social trends, such as declining fertility rates, the wider availability of effective birth control and the emergence of family planning centres have also likely contributed to a reduction in Australian children requiring adoption (ABS 2009a).

So 3 reasons have led to reductions in adoption:

  1. Declining fertility
  2. birth control
  3. family planning centres

Note how the report distinguishes between 2&3. That’s because “family planning centres” are not the same as “wider availability of effective birth control”. They’re the places where abortions happen. A far more honest report would just state that up-front. There are far less adoptions because abortion is simply much more readily available. I mean, just look at the charts,


(source Australian Bureau of Statistics).

As the adoption report states, this is partly due to “reduction in fertility”, as evidenced here (again, source: ABS):

Total fertility rateAustralia – 1930 to 2010

We ought to bear in mind that the reduced fertility rate has much to do with the prevalence of abortions. There were 297,900 registered births in Australia in 2010 (source: ABS) but there are also (conservatively estimated [wiki]) over 70,000 abortions in Australia each year . The ABS expresses it this way:

The reinterpretation of abortion law in New South Wales in 1971 was associated with a substantial fall in births to young women and an increase in the median age of mothers.

1971. That’s not hard to spot on the fertility rate graph, is it? Similar changes occurred all over Australia. QED.

Now, here’s the crunch. It has often been observed that many of those campaigning most vociferously for “gay rights” (not least in the area of adoption) are also those who are campaing for “reproductive rights”, i.e. the right to abort. There’s a basic disconnect there. On the one hand the push for adoption is couched in the language of “providing loving parents for unwanted children”. On the other hand the push for abortion is all about the disposal of unwanted children.

Which, I suggest, begins to indicate an alternative base motivation that also influences the whole push – that of children as commodity. The push to grant “adoption rights” is really often about our own desire to have the child. When the children are “wanted” then who dare stand in the way of a prospective parent, homosexual or otherwise? When the children are “unwanted” then who dare stand in the way of the soon-to-be-non-parent? Either way, it is the desire of the adult that is the driving motivation to which we are told we must conform, not the needs of the child. This is, of course, particularly acute in the matter of abortion but also, I would suggest, in the matter of adoption too where there are, granted, mixed motives involved.

So is there a better way forward? Surely there must be and it must hang first and foremost on the value of each life and a proper understanding of how life is intended to be nurtured. One of the reasons that “gay marriage” should be so vigorously opposed is not because it is somehow the thin end of the wedge but, more accurately, that it is the capstone that marks the crystallisation of a remarkable shift in our Western culture. We have utterly divorced marriage from procreation and the raising of children. I’m indebted to John Richardson for pointing this out most clearly although I can’t immediately find the comment on another blog. His basic premise was that we are seeing the outworking of this divorce between marriage and children across the board in single parents struggling to raise children, increased abortion, cohabitation and so on. Ask your local school principal what the main source of disruption in their classrooms is and they’ll tell you it’s broken families. As we move further and further away from the way it was intended to be, downplaying heterosexual marriage and child-rearing as normative, we get more and more messed up. People live together and then split up causing immense emotional pain. Children are raised without the optimum parental situation, if they’re lucky enough to be born at all, and so on. All “gay marriage” does is put the cherry on the icing on the cake.

Which is why the debate over “gay marriage” is so important because it’s almost as though we have one final attempt, out of love, to speak to our culture and implore them to stop and think what they’re doing as they continue in the relentless push to endorse self-fulfilment as the great moral good. Every time someone says “why shouldn’t I be allowed to do what I want?” that’s what’s really happening (and there is, perhaps, a word there for our socially-conservative libertarian friends too). Marriage used to be understood not least to be the regulation of those desires for the sake of the weakest parties in the relationships – the women and children. It is, of course, more than that but it is not least that. Now it is to be finally redefined as “me doing what I want to do and insisting that you recognise and affirm it”. Sacrifice and self-giving love has been replaced with gratification and self-fulfilling love. No wonder we’re such a mess.

And into all this Jesus still walks, the One who came to serve, not to be serve. The One who laid down His life for others, not least for His own bride. The One who bid little children come unto Him when others pushed them away as being less important. The One who affirmed that “in the beginning God made the male and female”, indeed the One who made them made and female in the first place.

And, of course, the One who went to those of His own day who had messed this all up so much with their own sin and who suffered from others’ sin – prostitutes, a socially outcast woman at a well and so on – and offered them mercy.

His way is the better way. And Christian let’s never forget; it’s not simply the way of heterosexual marriage and the affirmation of the precious value of life (although it certainly is those things), it’s also the way of the offer of forgiveness and a fresh start. It occurs to me that we are in danger of losing sight of that as the debate intensifies. If you’re a Christian will you resolve with me to not give up on this issue. To not give up out of love for the nation we live in – because we want the very best for the people all around us who cannot tell their right hand from their left. But also not to give up on speaking the gospel rather than mere moralism. We’re pushing towards diagnosing the problem, but the solution isn’t simply trying harder or being better at doing things the way that we were created to do them – it’s forgiveness and a fresh start.

picture: Alas Babylon

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  1. Mark Baddeley

    I think you’re on the money, David. Here’s an article I read recently that makes the same point by analysing the impact of gay marriage on the Nordic countries – arguing that gay marriage is both an effect and a cause of separating childrearing from marriage. It’s American conservative in style, so mileage may vary in your appreciation for its tone and the like, but I think the basic argument they’re advancing looks sound if the underlying facts are right.

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