Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Think the Thought Whole

I've had just about all I can take of the same-sex marriage debate right now. But I just have one quick comment to make. Today at lunchtime I caught a short segment of Talk of the Nation in which Jim Garlow, who's the pastor of some megachurch in CA, made this claim "a child has a right to both a mother and a father, and we're dedicated to protecting that right." Or something like that. I was driving and eating a burrito and digging under the seat for my phone, so I may not have gotten this word for word, but that was the gist.

So let's think about this idea that a child has a right to both a mother and a father. As anyone who's studied judicial history concerning rights-to, this stuff can get tricky. It's much easier and more clear-cut to legislate and judiciate on rights-from than on rights-to. Think about the policies that would follow from a statement like Garlow's. If every child has a right to both a mother and a father, then children of single parents should be removed from their custody and placed in suitably heteronormative foster homes. This would at bare minimum apply to families in which the parent is single due to abandonment or death of a spouse. But I would suspect Garlow and his type think that having two parents who live in different households is pretty much the same as not having both a mother and a father. So this would mean that children of any single parents ought to be "reassigned" to properly intact families in order to protect their right to have both a mother and a father.

In one of Kierkegaard's musings on the church and it's teachings, he writes that the clergy often begin to delve into a biblical passage, but then they glimpse the implications, which are distasteful to them, so they back off and "fail to think the thought whole". This is an example of the opposite situation - Garlow and his type routinely fail to even consider the implications of their words, and because of intellectual laziness or denial of the logical implications that their position entails, they fail to think the thought whole, and thus end up defending incoherent (or at least very objectionable) positions.


  1. I too, can't take much more of this crap right now. To me, the simplicity of "equal under the law" does not require decades/years/days on end of debating...having said that, when I signed my hetero-marriage documents, it did not say I was required to have children or that if I did I must remain with said partner. Iowa Supreme Court ruling (69pages!!) addresses the "children" issue quite well, a summary of which is on my blog http://femography.blogspot.com/2009/04/gretchen-from-iowa-gives-her-two-cents.html

  2. Danica5/26/2009


    Exactly! Where's the clause in hetero marriage documents requiring parents to stay together, or the police force that rounds up unmarried parents and forces them to marry for the sake of the kids? The hypocrisy would be stunning if we weren't already so acclimated to it and so cynical.

  3. Seriously now... nobody blogs about Kierkegaard. Actually, I love it that you do. I bet your students are like "WTF, is there some obscure philosopher with a relevant quote on every single current event?!?"