Monday, 19 November 2007

Dripping with caveats

The house of lords will soon be debating an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The amendment is wide ranging, but includes within it the recognition of same sex couples as legal parents. It will remove the current requirement on IVF clinics to be sure that a father is involved in the upbringing of any child created after he donates sperm.

Forever the optimist, I'd like to think that the bill will receive a fair hearing and be passed by the lords. Perhaps predictably though, the Church has its objections. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head bummer of the English and Welsh Catholic Church said yesterday that the amendment to the bill was "profoundly wrong" and undermined "the place of the father in a child's life". Given that the Christian church has a disproportionate influence in the House of Lords, my optimism may well be ill placed.

Yet for all my antipathy to this moral posturing, I do have some sympathy for Cormac's sentiments. Putting aside his half baked moral code for one moment, there is an argument for monogamous, mother / father relationships being the optimal circumstance for children to grow up in.

By any statistical norm, there can be little argument against the notion of the nuclear family. Children who grow up in stable families, with a mother and father present, do better on all measures than kids that do not.

Just look at me for example.

Hmn, maybe not, let's move on...

Our social world is built upon the premise that the Mother / Father / 2.3 child family is the norm. Houses are built to home us, the government taxes us with this assumption, holidays are priced for us in the same way that people carriers are designed for us.

Naturally, if our world is designed around this notional 'norm', then those that don't conform to this standard will be at a disadvantage.

It takes no imagination then, to see that the nuclear family has a distinct advantage. Conforming to these norms has a habit of being so. However, we should be clear what norms we're conforming to in the first place.

I'm sure we can think of anomalies; the single mother who raises an emotionally stable genius or the gay father who educates a state senator. And fair play to them for bucking the trend. However, despite my philosophical / moral relativist / slightly Marxist leanings, when it comes to my kids, I'm as conservative as they come.

That said, there is one commonality - stability. This I think, transcends all cultural and sexual boundaries. If a child is raised in a consistent way, with parental role models that are there and together, through good times and bad, then the mother and father roles become meaningless I think.

Love, stability and understanding trump the 2.4 median any day.

So let me make this clear - I support this amendment in as much as I support stable families. Gay / Bi / Straight is neither here nor there.


The Grocer said...

"Our social world is built upon the premise etc" , don't you see that changing? We seem to continue our cruise toward individualism being the be all and end all, this will inevitably change the social norm. There is already a sea change in areas such as the lack of tolerance toward children playing or succesive governments avoiding any positive tax breaks for families.

Anonymous said...

Here's an excellent line from the movie "The Devil's Advocate" that follows the Grocer's sentiments.

"You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire; you build egos the size of cathedrals; fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse; grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green, gold-plated fantasies, until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own God... and where can you go from there?"

Our civilization teeters on the precipice of social and self-annihilation. I don't question why so much anymore, but when.

jamon said...

Perhaps you're right. Our cultures are becoming increasingly individualistic as we grow in prosperity.

It's a shame that in general, society isn't any more happy for it.

Ho hum, I'll just carry on my merry little way until it all goes tits up...