Book review: Jephthah's Children
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust reviews 'Jephthah's Children: The innocent casualties of same-sex parenting', which tells personal stories of the negative effects of being raised by same-sex parents.
"This book is an uncensored chronicle of everything that has gone wrong because of the movement to normalise same-sex parenting." So Robert Lopez commences his Preface to a volume that tells the stories of people with firsthand experience of being raised by same-sex parent figures. Both of the editors were themselves brought up by lesbians and they write to help the general reader to understand why something which is viewed as beneficial by so many has been harmful to so many more.
There are some pithy quotes. For example: "A society that compels people to think things that aren't true, say things they do not believe, and live in fear of retaliation, is one that will lose whatever war it thinks it is waging." And: "Parenthood was designed to entail grown-ups sacrificing their own ambitions and desires for the sake of children. Not the other way around."
Over many years, Robert Lopez has worked with adults who were raised by same-sex couples. Here they have the opportunity to tell their stories.
He notes: "Generally they are respectful and grateful to the adults who raised them, but they are also keenly aware of the extent to which such adults may have used, abused and manipulated them for their own selfish purposes. They can love and feel fondness for a guardian and still know the person was self-absorbed and callous to their personal hurt. And many of them are mad about what happened."
Lopez writes out of a burning passion for the protection of children:
"Lesbian mums have done something cruel by forcing kids to grow up with a gaping void that their peers never feel. There are children whose fathers die, of course, but most often these children have a tombstone to visit and their widowed mothers will sit them down and tell them sentimental tales about what their father was like. That's not like having a lesbian mum who can't bear the thought of your dad, the reflection of you as a male, sharing your home and actually being part of your life.
"I used to be timid about criticising lesbian mums, but not anymore. People have been too reserved about telling them to their faces that their families are abusive and their decision to deprive children of fathers a gross crime... Every child has a father. The lesbian couple raising a child has simply decided to steal the child from his father and to steal the father from his child. That's wrong."
Dawn Stefanowicz relates how around 30 per cent of children raised by same-sex couples subsequently identify as homosexual or bisexual, and almost all children raised in such homes experience some degree of sexuality confusion. She writes of the challenges that she has had to overcome and is conscious that she will never be entirely free from the negative consequences of not growing up with a married mother and father.
Jephthah's Children includes brief accounts of the stories of dozens of people raised by same-sex couples, together with reflections by other writers, addressing assisted reproductive technology and surrogacy among other issues. With over half the volume authored by Robert Lopez, the book has something of an uneven feel.
It is nonetheless of immense value for giving a voice to people who, hitherto, have had to suffer in silence. The short chapter by Stella Morabito is particularly insightful. She argues that:
"Social acceptance of genderless marriage is guiding society towards a major shift in power from individuals to the state… Since same-sex couplings depend on third parties for reproduction, they invite government regulation on a massive scale, not just for same-sex couples, but eventually, in the name of 'equality', for all families."