Perhaps I have no credibility after yesterday's post. :-) But even if I have just a shred, then perhaps I can continue on in my defense of marriage began last week.
After strongly coming out in support of two parent families and the institution of marriage, I did get some feedback including some commentary about single parent households. Such feedback isn't surprising and is actually appreciated. It generally went along these lines:
Are single-parent families wrong? No.
Aren't there instances where it is better for a child (or children) to be raised by a single parent? Yes.
If a person chooses to stay single, is that wrong? No.
As has become the case in our society, whenever you take a strong position on an issue, there is a response that points out the exceptions to the rule. I have no problem with that because there are always exceptions to the rule. A mathematician by the name of Kurt Goedel showed this to be the case with any system of thought. This is why we can never fully legislate our way to morality or close the gaps where people can cheat. There is always a loophole.
But that is a bit beside the point. The point, however, must be addressed in regards to single-parent families and the Church's response. And if you will please stick with me, I will be taking the long route to get there. It will take some time, but it is important.
If you engage in any sort of moral/theological/biblical interpretative argument these days, at some point and time, you are bound to encounter this response:
THAT IS JUST YOUR OPINION/INTERPRETATION/PERSPECTIVE.
I have come to the conclusion that this statement is used as a sort of "trump" card these days. Underlying the statement, I believe are a couple of assumptions generally: 1. I'm not winning this argument, so I'm going to bug out in a way to save face. and 2. No one knows the Absolute Truth, and I'm going to let you know about it.
The first assumption cannot really be dealt with, but the second is important to address.
It is true that no one knows the Absolute Truth. To say that one does means that one totally and fully knows God and totally and fully knows the mind of God. I believe there was only one such human who had that ability, and He was actually God Himself. We are much too limited.
Yet, just because we do not have the Absolute Truth does not mean that it does not exist. St. Paul says that we "see in a mirror dimly" meaning, we can see there is something there, but we can't see it with absolute clarity. Furthermore, we must also admit that some opinions/interpretations/perspectives are better than others.
That might seem sacrilegious in our particular neck of the woods. How can a person claim that one opinion/perspective/or interpretation is better than another? Aren't they all equal?
Hardly. In fact, I'd submit that almost no one believes this.
If you say that you do, then you must admit to me that you believe that Adolph Hitler's views of the world and reality are on the same level with Mother Teresa's views of the world and reality. You must admit that Adolph Hitler's way of improving the world is on the same level with Mother Teresa's way of improving the world. Do you want to go there?
I am sure that most rational people would not. Therefore, I have finally discovered what several much smarter people have discovered before me. The statement, "That's just your opinion/interpretation/perspective," is not the ultimate trump card that it seems. My response to this statement now is, "Yes, but not all opinions/interpretations/perspectives are created equal. We must decide which is closer to the Truth."
That leads us to the necessity of debate. We must be able to articulate why we believe one particular route is better than another. We cannot be satisfied with simply saying, "Well, that's your opinion. I have mine. We must agree to disagree." Wrong. That is intellectually lazy. It fails to resolve any issue and allows for much confusion as to what might be good, better, best or even bad, worse, worst.
Again, perhaps this is sacrilegious in our society. No one really wants to talk in degrees about things because then someone might actually have to admit that what he or she is doing is not optimal. Ah, but how will we progress and make things better if we are not willing to admit that the way things are are not optimal? How will we make things better if we are not willing to admit that we are not acting in the best possible manner?
And so, we arrive back at marriage. There is nothing inherently wrong with being single. You can be very fulfilled in doing so. Yet, if you are single and choose to have a child and remain single so that you can be fulfilled, I do not believe you are acting in the best interest of the child.
If you are married and are in an abusive relationship or your spouse is committing infidelity and you have children, it is likely better for you to divorce and raise your child(ren) in a single-parent household. Yet, we must admit, this is not optimal.
Nearly every study concurs: children raised in two parent households are better off financially and socially. This is the most optimal unit for caring for children and preparing them for life.
I do not think the church should dial back its rhetoric in its defense of marriage. Perhaps, since 54% of children are born out of wedlock these days, we need to ratchet it up a bit more.