SBC leaders grieve court's expansion of parenthood
WASHINGTON (BP) -- The decision by New York's highest court to expand custody and visitation rights to "de facto parents" serves as evidence same-sex marriage advocates desire to overthrow humanity's oldest institution and as part of "a major turning point in human history," Southern Baptist leaders said.
-- Russell Moore
The court, which overturned its own 25-year-old opinion, found its previous limitation of "parent" to a relationship based on biology or adoption "has become unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships" -- relationships that apparently refer primarily to same-sex unions.
Ruling in a legal dispute between lesbians who were formerly an engaged couple, the Court of Appeals said, "[W]here a partner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agree to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the nonbiological, nonadoptive partner has standing to seek visitation and custody," according to The Times.
Describing the decision as "a tragedy," Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said in written comments for Baptist Press, "Advocates of marriage redefinition told us repeatedly that they wished merely to expand the family, not to undo the oldest institution in our common humanity. This ruling shows otherwise. And, as usual, children will pay the highest price.
"Children need the stability and rootedness that comes from having a father and mother, adopted or biological," said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
R. Albert Mohler Jr, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said it is difficult "to imagine a story more important than this" from a Christian worldview perspective.
"This is a major turning point in human history, not just this one court case of New York, but the larger turn that we are now experiencing in Western cultures towards the redefinition of human sexuality, of gender, of personal identity and inevitably, of course, marriage and the family, including parenthood," Mohler said in his Thursday (Sept. 1) podcast, according to a transcript of "The Briefing."
The New York court's opinion indicates "there is no adequate or objective understanding of what it means to be a parent at all," he said. "We're talking about adding to the historic understanding of biological parents and adoptive parents" those whom the court describes as "de facto parents."
Some legal experts, Mohler said, "are recognizing that this could create a situation in which virtually anyone who has a relationship with the child can claim that they are ... 'de facto parents.'
"[T]his is exactly what has to happen, legally speaking, when society tries to conform itself to the sexual revolution it has now adopted, normalized and celebrated," he told listeners. "When it comes to the explicit effort to try to overthrow traditional sexual morality, what you see is that what is enabled, what is then authorized, is not something else, but inevitably and eventually almost everything else."
The case involved Elizabeth and Brooke, who became engaged in 2007 but did not marry. Elizabeth became pregnant by artificial insemination in 2008 and gave birth to a boy, with whom Brooke had a close relationship, The Times reported.
The couple broke up in 2010, and Elizabeth sought to end Brooke's contact with her son three years later. A lower court ruled against Brooke's attempt to gain custody and visitation rights.
Eric Wrubel, a lawyer who argued on behalf of the boy, told The Times the judges "clearly see that the bright lines of biology and adoption just don't fit today with marriage equality. They understand that couples and families these days are not just mom and dad, and husband and wife."
The court decision actually enables New York to catch up with other states, according to The Times. Courts in most states already allow "de facto parents" to seek custody and visitation rights, it reported.