MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: by Mary-Louise FowlerNews Weekly
Under threat - the roles of motherhood and fatherhood
, August 2, 2008
A controversial Same-Sex Relationships Bill, designed to afford lesbian de facto partners the same legal status as biological fathers, was passed by the New South Wales Parliament on June 4.On the eve of this vote, Mary-Louise Fowler, NSW president of the Australian Family Association, spoke against the bill at a Dads4kids forum held at Sydney's Parliament House. An edited version of her speech on the complementarity of the sexes and the importance of gender is reproduced here.State and federal laws come and go. They can be altered and amended, sometimes with amazing frequency, according to the particular aspirations or fads of those in power.
State and federal laws are man-made. They can work for the benefit of all, or they can work to destabilise society. They can be fair or they can be unjust.
However there is another law which operates outside the realm of state and federal governments. It has existed forever and, no matter how hard we try to ignore it or corrupt it, it will always prevail; it will never cease.
What is this one law that is both universal and immutable? It is called the natural law.
We humans are rational beings, and according to natural law, we are obliged to use our intellect and free will to live in conformity with our nature.
Human beings are not dogs or insects. They are not governed by instinct alone. A human is a human because he or she can choose. He or she has a conscience.
To quote the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
: "Unlike the things of the mere material world, [man] can vary his action, act, or abstain from action, as he pleases. Yet he is not a lawless being in an ordered universe."
Human beings must submit to a moral code for the good ordering of society - for the benefit of others. To live in accordance with the natural law, a human must choose what is good and avoid what is evil.
We are obliged to observe the natural law even when state and federal governments bring in laws that sanction behaviour that opposes it.
To quote the New Advent Encyclopedia
again: "Human laws are valid and equitable only in so far as they correspond with, and enforce or supplement the natural law; they are null and void when they conflict with it."
One can choose to ignore the natural law; one can choose to defy the natural law; but one can neither suppress it, escape it, nor make it go away.
It is in the light of the natural law that I want to discuss the complementarity of the sexes and the importance of gender.
Let us start by being clear about the fundamentals.
Human beings are made male and female. Male and female human beings are sexual beings.
Male and female human beings are designed to physically complement each other. They are designed for sexual union - to become one flesh in the conjugal embrace.
The sexual union is ordered towards procreation and bonding. It is fundamentally connected to the begetting of children and the forming of a family.
Now let us look at what is not
There is no such thing as lesbian or homosexual union as the requisite complementarity is absent.
Lesbian and homosexual acts are not ordered towards procreation or bonding, and therefore are not conformed to the natural law.
Lesbian and homosexual acts at best mimic the sexual union.
Now let us take a closer look at the sexual union... or the conjugal act, as I will call it.
The conjugal act is specific to marriage. In marriage, the sexual union is the summit of mutual self-giving. It expresses the devotion and commitment made between the spouses.
This intimate sexual expression is only possible because of the physical complementarity of male and female.
In the conjugal embrace, the man primarily engages in the act of giving (of donation) but does so in a receiving kind of way. Simultaneously, the female engages primarily in the act of openness (of receiving), but does so in a giving kind of way.
This one flesh union between a husband and wife is so crafted by nature that it elicits a bonding mechanism that is designed to sustain and strengthen the love between the spouses.
The conjugal act, proper to marriage, actually assists the spouses to remain in love - to remain faithful. It is what underpins a strong marriage and a stable family life, which in turn provides the best environment for the raising of children.
This is no accident of nature; this is
nature. Remember, the natural law obliges us to use our intellect and free will to live in conformity with our nature.
A family, of its nature, is composed essentially of a mother, father and children (in a wider relationship of grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins). Any other arrangement is an aberration.
We cannot say a family is what it is not. A family has one mum and one dad. A family does not
have two mums or two dads.
A single-parent household, for instance, is precisely that - it means the parents are single. It does not mean that the children were begotten by a process of self-fertilisation. No, each child has a mother and a father the way nature intended, even though there may be a breakdown in the relationship between the parents, or one parent may be deceased.Sexual androgyny
For several decades, those pushing the idea of sexual androgyny - that is, downplaying or denying the differences between the sexes - seem to have gathered quite a following. In fact, I was fed the androgyny mantra when I studied health sciences over 30 years ago.
In more recent times, however, brain sex (the difference between the male and female brain) has come to be better understood, and is helping us to unravel the mystery of male and femaleness, and explain why certain male and female attributes are not mere social constructs but are written in the nature of the male and female human being.
We now realise that the male brain and the female brain are wired differently in a way that each complements the other. We now know that, even when men and women do the same things, they do them very differently. Science is revealing to us the genius of gender.
The point I wish to make is this. Precisely because they are different, when men and women work collaboratively, they bring forth a certain wholeness - a completeness - to an enterprise.
This can happen in the workplace, in the arts, in the media or in the boardroom. However, nowhere is this more evident than in the family, and nowhere is it more necessary than in the raising of children.
Sure, dads can change nappies and mothers can mow the lawn. But what they can't do is replicate the way the other relates to their children.
Mothers, of their nature, are oriented to nurturing their young. It is well understood that when suckling her infant, the mother and infant experience a bonding mechanism, and that the mutual eye-gaze and the soft skin contact with its mother is a key factor in an infant's emotional and psychological development.
What is less understood, but must be reinforced, is the vital contribution that fathers make to children's upbringing and welfare, especially their daughters.
Catherine Sheehan, in her recent review of Dr Meg Meeker's book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know
, said: "Dr Meg Meeker, a specialist in paediatric and adolescent medicine... has found that the most important factor in a girl's life is her father.
"The quality of a girl's relationship with her father has a huge impact on the formation of her personality, her level of self-esteem, confidence and happiness, and therefore on the choices she makes in life. A father has the potential to give his daughter something that her mother cannot....
"It is also true that a girl whose father is protective, (e.g., one who sets boundaries and curfews and makes a point of meeting the boys she dates), feels more loved and valued and therefore places more value on herself. A girl who places more value on herself is less likely to engage in risky behaviours, such as casual sex, binge-drinking or taking drugs." (News Weekly
, June 7, 2008).
We know that children do best on a range of scores when they are raised by a mother and a father who are committed to each other in marriage.Aberrations
To entertain the idea that children will benefit from irregular and experimental household compositions is to ignore the evidence. Aberrations are aberrations - you don't legislate them into the mainstream.
Children have a fundamental right to a mother and a father. To legislate to deliberately deprive some children of a father shows a negligent disregard for the welfare of those children.
A government that enshrines in law a set of amendments that dishonours the natural law is a government that has lost its way, and no longer deserves the respect of the people.