The Brave New World Says Your Children Don’t Belong To You Anymore

group of children walking near body of water silhouette photography

The spirit of the age is not content with you simply forgetting the truth. You must be educated in falsehood. You must say the pronouns. You must speak the error. You must not worship your God and you must worship the false god being presented to you. This debased mind has wormed its way into our legal analysis, particularly and most recently via Obergefell v. Hodges.

Obergefell held that the right for same-sex couples to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person. That reasoning is, of course, nonsensical. It is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of circles to have no sides. Triangles, according to nature, are free to have points. These liberties are inherent in the shapes themselves. You have such liberties, but the liberty for you to be a giraffe at the zoo is not numbered among them. Moreover, by granting the citizenry a faux and fabricated “right,” the state attempts to strip her citizens of a fundamental one, namely family rights—and this will be explained further momentarily. Obergefell, then, is a gateway drug that results in the state exercising more and illegitimate authority over the people who are strung-out like crackheads needing another faux-right fix. This pattern leads to the dissolving of what truly belongs to you. 

Parenthood is inextricably connected to marriage, so if you toy with marriage, scratch that, if you put a stick of dynamite in marriage and blow it to smithereens, then you inevitably do the same to parenthood. Not long after Obergefell ruled that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marriage, there was an attempt to say that same-sex couples had the right to be parents to children who popped up amid their “marriage.” Now, a normal man would ask, “How in the world does a child pop up in a same-sex ‘marriage?’” Well, in the case of a lesbian relationship, one of the ladies can be artificially inseminated with a random man’s semen. Yes, writing things like that gives you the Orwellian shakes. But, this is what happened in the real world. The Supreme Court case was called Pavan v. Smith. 

Coming up to the Supreme Court from the state of Arkansas, Pavan v. Smith involved a lesbian couple, one of whom was artificially inseminated with a random man’s semen. According to Arkansas, the inseminated woman would be listed as a parent on the birth certificate, but not that woman’s lesbian partner. The ladies wanted both of their names listed as parents on the birth certificate. The Supreme Court of the United States found that Arkansas law had made “birth certificates more than a mere marker of biological relationship,” and they ruled in favor of the lesbian couple. In a per curium decision, the Supreme Court said the following: 

“For the purposes of birth registration,” that [Arkansas] statute says, “the mother is deemed to be the woman who gives birth to the child.” . . . And “[i]f the mother was married at the time of either conception or birth,” the statute instructs that “the name of [her] husband shall be entered on the certificate as the father of the child.” 

. . . There are some limited exceptions to the latter rule—for example, another man may appear on the birth certificate if the “mother” and “husband” and “putative father” all file affidavits vouching for the putative father’s paternity . . . But as all parties agree, the requirement that a married woman’s husband appear on her child’s birth certificate applies in cases where the couple conceived by means of artificial insemination with the help of an anonymous sperm donor.[1]

In other words, the Supreme Court found the Arkansas Code to require the husband of a pregnant woman to be named on the child’s birth certificate, even if he was not the biological father. Then the Supreme Court sunk in the hook, “Arkansas has thus chosen to make its birth certificates more than a mere marker of biological relationships: The State uses those certificates to give married parents a form of legal recognition that is not available to unmarried parents. Having made that choice, Arkansas may not, consistent with Obergefell, deny married same-sex couples that recognition.”[2]

Interestingly, the Arkansas Code stands amid a long legal tradition of assuming that the husband of the pregnant woman is the father. This presumed paternity only stands to reason within the structure of heterosexual marriage. This tradition accords with the sacredness of the marriage institution. But when that sacred institution is mocked and a foolish imposter poses as the genuine article, any attempt to carry over presumed paternity is tomfoolery on its face. The imposter of same-sex marriage lacks the essential components to beget children and thus any natural paternity or maternity for that matter is by nature itself excluded. 

The Pavan case signals a rising change in legal reasoning. Parenthood is less and less being conceived of as a natural status, a sacred right and duty. It is being reduced to a status which comes into existence by mere intention. Intent-based parenting means that you can be a father if you intend to be, and this means that humans will be tasked with the job of determining such intent. So you may very well intend to be father to your child, but maybe someone else does, too. That someone else could have more victim identities than you do. Some of you, in fact, are straight, white, and male, which means you need to sit down and be quiet while we elevate other voices.

Now you might object here and say, “Parental rights don’t seem to be based on intent because in the case above the parental rights were based on ‘same-sex marriage.'” But here’s the problem with that objection. “Same-sex marriage” is not real. No such thing exists. It is a vapor. No, vapor is real. “Same-sex marriage” is less than a vapor; it is a no-thing. The objection above amounts to saying, “Parental rights are based on unicorns.” The true basis in Pavan v. Smith is the “want to” of the lesbian couple (not to mention the fear and folly of the justices). 

Statism permeates this intent-based parenting for it redefines a pre-political institution into a post-political one. Now conservatives are whole-heartedly against such a set up. But most do not see how we have left the door open for such a development. Say the state comes knocking on your door. They are there for your children, and they explain to you that your children do not belong to you anymore. How do you respond? “Well,” you say, “I would respond by pointing to my 12 gauge and kindly reminding the state that the children do indeed belong to me.” If this is your response, then God bless you and may your tribe increase. But aside from the shotgun, on what grounds do your children belong to you? I see two insufficient ways that conservatives would answer this question.

The first insufficient way, and my guess is this would be the less common response, is to claim that the children belong to you because you claim they do—“I feed them. I’ve agreed to be their father. They’re under my roof, aren’t they?” This claim puts the grounding at the level of individual consent (the parent) rather than state consent. The problem is that such reasoning is still based on intent, albeit individual intent. This individual intent approach will inevitably grow into statism for it founds the very category of fatherhood and motherhood merely on the human will. 

The second insufficient way that conservatives would respond to the DCF agent at their door is as follows. The father would say, “These are my kids because they have my eyes, can’t you see?” His argument would run along biological lines, “I don’t need a theology degree. And I don’t need a political science degree. I slept with their mother however many years ago and nine months later this little one came out.” This rationale grounds parental authority in the paternity test and it is rooted in the notion of blood. Americans far and wide maintain the notion that blood is thicker than water. They understand kinfolk. But this approach, while grasping an essential and significant point, is insufficient. Many people may be surprised that I claim this second attempt to ward off the state’s encroachment is insufficient. What is the problem with merely claiming the biological or blood relation?

Let me say first that the biological or blood relation is remarkably important. God has designed the world to run this way. The covenantal solution that I commend is not at odds with the biological or natural family. They are in need of no reconciliation for they are good friends, close friends. I in no way want to introduce discord into a harmonious relationship. Moreover, we are in a time where our nation is being given over to a debased mind to do what is contrary to nature. Christians, then, need to give three cheers for nature, and that includes the natural family. The Apostle Paul understood how important kinfolk is, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). But the Apostle Paul also knew there was something that was more significant even than kinsmen according to the flesh. John the Baptist knew that God had a way of creating children supernaturally, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9). In other words, covenant family and the natural family are intended to be one in the same. Even so, the covenant family entails more than simply the biological.

Let me take another stab at detailing our present predicament, coming at it from another angle. This illustration may seem a little far afield, but stick with me. It will circle back around and hopefully land home. I’m going to tell you about four men in a bar: Christian Man, Rational Man, Postmodern Man, and Pagan Man. The man who grounds his parental authority merely in blood is the same man as Rational Man in the coming illustration. And take careful note of that word merely in the previous sentence. Mere Blood Man and Rational Man (who in essence are the same man) do not have the necessary resources to fight the good fight that is manifestly upon us. Far too many Christians have drifted to think and live as mere Rational and/or Blood Man and hence, we are in the trouble that we are in. Now for the illustration.

A Christian and a Rationalist walk into a bar. As they sit, they observe that there is in fact a blue chair beside them. Both men are agreed on the point, but for very different reasons. The Christian man explains that the chair is blue because God has made it so. God sustains it. And God’s gracious hand so works that the two men can ascertain through human reason that it is so. Rational Man chuckles at the religious fervor of his friend and says, “Bud, the chair is blue, and it is self-evident that the chair is blue. I do not need all of this mumbo jumbo about God, creation, providence, and the present operation of his kindness in order to ascertain the simple fact that this most certainly is a chair and it is blue.” This is the situation in which Americans have found themselves for some time. It was Christians and those who had some common sense. And everything was quite peaceful in this bar.

But eventually Postmodern Man walks into the bar and joins the conversation. He tells the two friends that they need to lighten up. The object in question may be a blue chair to them. But it might be a yellow sofa to someone else, and to another it might even be a green futon. Who is to say? To each their own, as the saying goes. Now Christian Man and Rational Man both know that Postmodern Man is out to lunch. But they have decided to put up with him. It seemed fine enough to put up with him because he was not holding a gun to anybody’s head. He was just being a very strange man. At the end of the day, while the intellectual unity is falling apart in this friendly establishment, no one is throwing chairs or breaking beer bottles yet. We have been meandering along in this situation for a good while now also. But a new development is upon us.

A fourth man has walked into the bar and he goes by the name Pagan Man. As he enters, that old western duel music begins to play, the bartender ducks down behind the bar and the ladies scatter. He looks at the three men in the bar and says, “You are all wrong. That object there is a pink elephant. And you will all acknowledge it to be a pink elephant or off to the Gulag with you.” Postmodern Man, who has been smoking the wonky weed this whole time, stands up to say, “Hey bro, lighten up because . . .” but he was swiftly backhanded in the mouth by Pagan Man, after which he fell to the ground mumbling something about it being OK because to somebody somewhere that slap was an act of love. Rational Man, observing the present threat, begins to inch closer and closer to Christian Man. He’s starting to think he needs to hang his observations on something more than human reason. Christian Man is the only stable citizen in the bar who will stand up to the Pagan who insists that we all now call down up, the sun the moon, and Bruce Jenner a mother.

If I might put it in a nutshell, we Christians have walked far too many miles thinking like mere Rational Man. We have been living as if life on earth is unhitched from the heavenlies. And the chickens have now come home to roost. 

With the rise of Pagan Man, we have been reminded that man cannot truly decouple life on earth from the heavenlies. You might as well attempt to disengage the Old and New Testaments, the soul and the body, the Spirit and the Word. It shocks us to see that Pagan Man calls upon his heavenly deities. He is hooked up to the wrong side of the heavenlies, but hooked up he is.

The only way forward is to call upon the Living God, remembering that your children are yours because the God of heaven gave them to you—“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: And the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3). 

Your children are yours, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD. The household is supernatural. It is the product of a divine action. To object to it, or to attempt to dissolve it, is not only contrary to nature. It is demonic rebellion against the Living God who rules the kingdom of men. It is an attempt to disband the covenant. One reason the present attempt to undo the family is seeing such success, is because Christians have for some time now disbanded the covenant themselves. The Brave New World says that our children don’t belong to us anymore. And they’re getting away with this heretical doctrine because Christians have forgotten the God of heaven, the One from whom children come. 

(This post is an excerpt from my new book The Case for the Christian Family. It is available for purchase here.)

[1] Pavan v. Smith 582 U.S. 2 (2017).

[2] Ibid., 4.