六月 2014

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轉貼 Deconstructing the Family By Daniel R. Heimbach

Posted by on 17 六月 2014 | Tagged as: 浩氣

Deconstructing the Family

By Daniel R. Heimbach*

* Daniel R. Heimbach is Professor of Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina.

The notion of the family….is enmeshed in a web…of religious, moral, and theological precepts, all of which serve needlessly, harmfully, and perniciously to bind, limit, and restrain individuals in the exercise of their freedom to enter into choices as to their intimate relationships. — Franklin Kameny

I kneel before the Father from whom all families in heaven and earth have their character.
— The Apostle Paul

No society can survive unless it comes full forward in favor of heterosexuality. — William Bennett

America is currently torn by a Kulturkampf. More precisely, the culture is riveted by a full scale moral war being waged from television screens to the halls of Congress, from newspaper pages to university classrooms, and from offices on Madison Avenue to pews of our local churches.[1] In this war, the most heated line of battle is perhaps that having to do with the meaning, structure, and definition of the family as relevant to law, public policy, education, business, entertainment, and popular culture, to say nothing of deeper dimensions of morality and faith relating to God and the church. Special tension focuses on what is known as the traditional family—the long standing norm for intergenerational family relationships centered on presuming the family ideal consists of two adults of the opposite sex living together in a sexually exclusive, lifelong union, and assuming primary responsibility for each other’s welfare and for raising children either born of their union or added to it by adoption.

That has been a long held standard proven through centuries of practice, by all civilizations, and affirmed and supported by all world religions. But there has risen in recent years an enormously powerful moral-cultural attack on this standard ideal, one led by social revolutionaries—both feminist and homosexual— who are demanding approval of sexual relationships based on thinking that subjective feelings of individual lust are all that ought to determine social acceptance and denying obligation to conform with any set form. Leaders of this attack aim at deconstructing the traditional family,[2] by which they mean destroying all expectations as to gender roles and the importance of sex or age differences between men, women, and children, and opening socially acceptable sexual relationships to any possibility individuals happen to desire. If the concept of family is not abandoned altogether, then these social-sexual deconstructionists would render its meaning so radically inclusive no relational combination can ever be excluded.

Shocking Statements

Voices favoring family social-sexual deconstruction have often been strident, expressing visceral animosity toward relational structures long judged essential for maintaining social health and civil stability. For example, on the militant feminist side, French feminist pioneer Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) believed that “since the oppression of women has its cause in the will to perpetuate the family…, woman escapes complete dependency to the degree in which she escapes from the family.”[3] She also said: “No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”[4]

Robin Morgan, former editor for Ms. magazine, once declared that marriage is “a slavery-like practice” and “we can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.”[5] Feminist author Shulamith Firestone claims, “the family is…directly connected to—is even the cause of—the ills of the larger society.”[6] Feminist social critic Kate Millett has said, “The complete destruction of traditional marriage and the nuclear family is the revolutionary or utopian goal of feminism.”[7] And feminist scholar and University of Southern California professor Judith Stacey believes, “Perhaps the postmodern family of women will take the lead in burying The Family at long last. The Family is a concept derived from faulty theoretical premises and an imperialistic logic, which even at its height never served the best interests of women, their children, or even many men.”[8]

Feminist writer Vivian Gornick proclaimed that “Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession….The choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family-maker is a choice that shouldn’t be,” because “the heart of radical feminism is to change that.”[9] Catholic feminist theologian Mary Hunt has announced, “It is time to live beyond the family, especially beyond the Christian family….I picture friends, not families but friends, basking in the pleasures we deserve because our bodies are holy.”[10] And feminist scholar and New York University history professor Linda Gordon declares “The nuclear family must be destroyed, and people must find better ways of living together…. Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process….Families will be finally destroyed only when a revolutionary social and economic organization permits people’s needs for love and security to be met in ways that do not impose divisions of labor, or any external roles, at all.”[11]

Anti-family stridency has been similarly characteristic among men crusading to normalize homosexual practice. James Nelson, retired professor of Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, explains, “One of the basic challenges of the church and synagogue, I believe, is to end the sexual hegemony of the nuclear family and the resulting temptation to police the sexuality of everyone who does not fit that mold.”[12] Nelson goes on to encourage support for a movement to eliminate “uncritical sanctification of the nuclear family,” because, he argues, “we have been complicit in equating a relative and fairly recent historical development (i.e., the two-parent heterosexual family structure) with God’s eternal will.”[13]

Michael Swift, who styles himself a “gay revolutionary,” zealously declares, “The family unit—spawning ground of lies, betrayals, mediocrity, hypocrisy, and violence—will be abolished. The family unit, which only dampens imagination and curbs free will, must be eliminated. Perfect boys will be conceived and grown in the genetic laboratory. They will be bonded together in communal setting, under the control and instruction of homosexual savants.”[14] And Franklin Kameny, founder of the gay movement in Washington, DC, considers the very idea of family to be dangerously pernicious. Says Kameny, “The notion of the family…. is enmeshed in a web … of religious, moral, and theological precepts, all of which serve needlessly, harmfully, and perniciously to bind, limit, and restrain individuals in the exercise of their freedoms to enter into choices as to their intimate relationships.”[15]

As an advocate for the social normalization of homosexual behavior, Kameny explained, in a 1993 article on “deconstructing the traditional family,” that he thought Americans should not even be discussing “whether or not alternative families can and should be tolerated, legalized, encouraged, and taught.” Instead, he argued, we should realize that American society has always been socially permissive and, therefore, trying to maintain a rigid, unchanging notion of family is simply contrary to honoring the spirit of individual freedom that has characterized Americans throughout history. In his view, resistance to family evolution is not because deconstructing the family in America is somehow anti-American, but rather because “the notion of the family—or, more recently, the traditional family—has been placed upon such a lofty pedestal of unquestioning and almost mindless, ritualistic worship and endlessly declared but quite unproven importance that rational discussion of it is often wellnigh impossible.”[16] But in fact, he alleges, “there is no legitimate basis for limiting the freedom of the individual to structure his family in nontraditional ways that he finds satisfying.”[17] For Kameny and the movement he represents, “human ingenuity is infinite, so the possibility of varieties of human relationships are innumerable,” and so, he concludes, Americans have “an affirmative moral and ethical obligation” to provide young people with models for a wide range of nontraditional family structures presented in a way that makes clear they are all every bit as valid, good, and valuable as the traditionally accepted monogamous, two-parent, heterosexual family model.[18]

Movement Demands

In the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights, changing the meaning of family was a central theme hard for anyone there to avoid.[19] A group labeled “Gay Fathers” marched in the parade. Lesbians pushing young children in strollers were eager to explain they were indeed a “family.” A group representing the Gay & Lesbian Parents Coalition, International chanted, “We’re here! We’re gay! We’re in the P.T.A.!” A banner flew proclaiming, “Love Makes a Family.” And a threesome of one man and two women explained that, since families are all about “love,” and since feelings of “love” are entirely subjective, that has to mean that marriages formed to establish family life really should matter to no one except their participants. For them, family definition had no public significance. And lest anyone miss their aim to radically revolutionize the family, lesbian activist Robin Tyler screamed from the organizers’ podium to the assembled marchers: “WE ARE GOING TO SAVE OUR CHILDREN!!!”[20]

The homosexual plan to radically redefine the family was not only observable on the parade route, or limited to individual speakers. It was, in fact, the main emphasis expressed in the March Platform. Well articulated and widely published, the March Platform made clear that radically redefining the family was central to the homosexual agenda, not merely a matter somewhere on the radical fringe. Out of seven principle demands listed in the platform published for the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights, five were specifically aimed at altering the fundamental structure of family relationships.[21]

Number one called for legalizing any sort of “non-coercive sexual behavior between adults” and replacing age-of-consent laws with more lenient “graduated age-of-consent laws.”

Number three called for removing legal barriers that restrict family diversity and requiring “recognition and legal protection of the whole range of family structures.” This included “recognition of domestic partnerships,” “legalization of same-sex marriages,” and revising child custody, adoption, and foster care laws to remove any preferences favoring the traditional family structure over other possible arrangements.

Number four focused on education and included a call to promote normalizing social acceptance of homosexual behavior “at all levels” starting with preschool children.

Number five called for providing “alternative insemination” services to lesbians at taxpayer expense.

Number six called for ending “religious… oppression” understood to mean the influence of religious teaching that denies the morality of homosexual behavior and opposes the formation of family structures based on assuming the normality and value of homosexual sex.

And finally, number seven called for ending “all programs of the Boy Scouts of America” (and by implication other private sector social programs) that openly favor monogamous, two-parent, heterosexual families and discourage normalizing homosexual behavior.

Deconstructing Marriage

Up through the 1970’s and 1980’s, the stance taken by most militant feminists and homosexuals was firmly anti-marriage with little interest in trying to change the meaning of marriage to include non-heterosexual, non-monogamous categories of behavior. For example, Shulamith Firestone in 1979 said, “The institution of marriage consistently proves itself unsatisfactory, even rotten.”[22] Marlene Dixon, a feminist leader in the 1960’s and 1970’s, proclaimed: “The institution of marriage is the chief vehicle for the perpetuation of the oppression of women; it is through the role of wife that the subjugation of women is maintained. In a very real way the role of wife has been the genesis of women’s rebellion throughout history.”[23] And Helen Sullinger and Nancy Lehman in their Declaration on Feminism, published in 1971, said, “Marriage has existed for the benefit of men and has been a legally sanctioned method of control over women. …Now we know it is the institution that has failed us and we must work to destroy it….The end of the institution of marriage is the necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men.”[24]

As recently as the early 1990’s, Paula Ettelbrick, then policy director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, strongly opposed the idea of making same-sex marriage part of the gay rights agenda, much less a priority. Rejecting marriage, she said, was a long held feature of radical feminism, and encouraging lesbian women and gay men to marry would “assimilate” the movement to American social norms and interfere with their ultimate goal of “transforming the very fabric of society.”[25] Rather, she argued, “being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family, and in the process, transforming the very fabric of society,” and “we must keep our eyes on the goals of providing true alternatives to marriage and of radically reordering society’s view of reality.”[26]

Similarly, Nancy Polikoff, of the American University Law School faculty, in 1996 strongly attacked lesbian promotion of same-sex marriage because the lesbian feminist movement had always rejected marriage as an oppressive institution.[27] Polikoff feared that gay and lesbian promotion of marriage in any form would further support the whole idea of marriage as something good for society and would leave homosexuals at the margins of an essentially monogamous institution, much better she thought to the fundamental legitimacy of marriage itself. And about the same time, Cornell University professor Martha Fineman, another leader in gay normalizing family law, published a book, The Neutered Mother, the Sexual Family, and Other Twentieth Century Tragedies,[28] in which she argued rather than revising marriage to include persons of the same sex, the social-legal category of marriage needed to be abolished altogether.

But midway through the 1990’s something changed in America to redirect the policy direction of militant feminists and homosexuals with respect to marriage and family life. Gay and lesbian leaders began shifting toward promoting marriage, not because they had different goals, but rather because they began seeing that a radically subjective restructuring of marriage and family would achieve the same ultimate purpose. They began to see that revolutionizing the socially accepted, legally enforced meaning of marriage to the point of making gender identity totally irrelevant and completely severing parenting from the social purpose of marriage would eventually lead toward the abolition of marriage itself as a legally relevant social category.[29]

By the end of the 1990’s most gay and lesbian advocates, including Ettelbrick and Polikoff, had fallen in line to promote same-sex marriage as the new face of the revolutionary movement to normalize homosexual behavior in American culture. That did not mean, however, that leaders of the gay normalizing movement had developed a more hopeful view of marriage itself. While overt statements on abolishing the institution were hushed, this general shift in tone was more a matter of strategy than conversion, and some could not refrain from letting it be known they still desired the demise of marriage altogether. If marriage could not be abolished by rendering it illegal, the same result could be reached by rendering marriage so meaningless there would be no social incentives for getting married in the first place.

So gay normalizing family law specialist Martha Ertman revised Martha Fineman’s plan for abolishing legal recognition of marriage altogether by instead suggesting the meaning of marriage in law should be replaced with a contract system accepting and affirming any combination of sex or number—a plan that would immediately marginalize and ultimately collapse legal recognition for any social convention that treats heterosexual, monogamous marriages as somehow preferable, normal, or superior to any other sexual combination.[30] David Chambers, another gay revisionist in family law, argued in 1996 that supporting legal recognition for same-sex marriage was entirely consistent with the ultimate goal of abolishing the notion of marriage as a publicly recognized social institution.

Chambers argued that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead society away from treating heterosexual, monogamous relationships as socially preferable or in some way superior to other sexual combinations. “By ceasing to conceive of marriage as a partnership composed of one person of each sex, the state may become more receptive to units of three or more.”[31] After society legitimizes same-sex marriage, it will be more likely to legitimize other sexual combinations and will eventually include so many relational categories it will be forced in time to abolish marriage itself as a legal category. By supporting same-sex marriage, the feminist and gay movements would eventually reach the same anti-marriage goal they were seeking all along. As Chambers explained, “All desirable changes in family law need not be made at once.”[32]

Destruction By Deconstruction

In 1989, Andrew Sullivan of The New Republic, while arguing for same-sex marriage, still recognized that “much of the gay leadership clings to notions of gay life as essentially outsider, anti-bourgeois, radical. Marriage, for them (i.e., for most leaders of the gay normalizing movement), is co-optation into straight society. For the Stonewall generation, it is hard to see how this vision of conflict will ever fundamentally change.”[33] But then, only a few years later, nearly every gay and feminist leader was so “pro-marriage” they were insisting gay and lesbian couples had to be included as a matter of social equality. What happened? How could so many social revolutionaries in sexual policy and family law so quickly change their tone in just a couple years from anti-marriage and anti-family to suddenly promoting themselves as pro-marriage and pro-family? The answer to this can be found in the popularity of French intellectuals Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) and Michel Foucault (1926-1984) and their philosophy of deconstructionism which swept through the American cultural elite during the 1990’s.

As a member of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), I myself remember the overwhelmingly positive interest engendered by the new approach these men offered toward social analysis and revision. During the 1990’s, the social philosophy of deconstruction became enormously popular in elite circles. The influence of philosophical deconstructionism swept the country and was quickly adopted by militant feminist and gay activists working in sexuality studies and family law.

Deconstructionism was the philosophical creation of Jacques Derrida, a leader in the postmodern movement in France. Derrida assumed that all thinking is so filled with hidden confusion and contradiction, nothing can be what it seems. Language is itself so impossibly confused there is no hope of finding anything reliably true anywhere in literature, history, or philosophy. To arrive at truth, he instead proposed a new method of inquiry called deconstruction in which all structures defining truth—especially truth serving as the basis of value systems including the organizing moral principles of society—are dismissed and replaced by a form of libertarianism in which nothing is assumed to be either right or wrong, normal or abnormal. As one writer concluded on Derrida’s death, he showed us how to take the world apart.[34]

As a political strategy, deconstructionism combined Marxist social analysis with Freudian psychological techniques to justify removing, or deconstructing, all the main supports of Western civilization such as long held notions of morality, marriage, the family, male leadership, and responsibility. Deconstructionism is sometimes called poststructuralism in that it has mostly to do with taking apart whatever structures have been accepted in a given social context and rarely if ever has anything to do with offering anything to replace what is deconstructed. That is, it has more to do with erasing the concept of structure itself than with merely replacing one sort of structure with another. And of course the implications of such thinking are highly incompatible with any social order whatsoever, be it economic, political, linguistic, moral, religious, historical, or sexual.

In Glas (death knell), Derrida systematically deconstructs the concept of family by affirming the power of sexuality, while at the same time denying sexual difference is truly essential to human existence. Derrida claims that “sexual difference is not an essential trait” and “does not belong to the existential structure of Dasein (fundamental human existence).”[35] But then he goes on to say, “if Dasein (fundamental human existence) as such belongs to neither of the sexes, that does not mean that its being is deprived of sex. On the contrary: here one must think of a predifferential (non-sexually differentiated), or rather a predual (non-male/female), sexuality….a matter here of the positive and powerful source of every possible sexuality [my emphasis].”[36] Hence the title Glas (death knell) for this piece of writing. Denying the essential reality of sexual difference does indeed ring a “death knell” for the family.

The openly homosexual, postmodern psycho-philosopher Michel Foucault, under whom Derrida studied at the elite Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, also played a major role in developing what came to be known as deconstructionist social philosophy—especially in regard to persuading Western thinkers to revise thinking on sex and sexuality. Although Foucault came before Derrida and did not use the term deconstruction, he was largely responsible for initially developing the radically deconstructionist postmodern approach to social analysis carried forward by Derrida, and Foucault too has become enormously influential among social radicals in America.

Foucault began by rejecting modernity’s faith in reason and argued instead that true understanding arises not from reason, but from observing relations of power and domination. According to Foucault, so called knowledge is never more than beliefs constructed to justify existing power relationships, and there is no such thing as objective truth on which to base social structures such as marriage and family. Throughout human history, he thought, repression has always been the fundamental link connecting power, knowledge, and sexuality. And therefore, he concluded, the key to all truth is removing sexual repression and pursuing unrestrained sexual desires wherever they go. Of course, to achieve this requires overturning all laws, limitations, and social structures standing in the way of unhindered sexual expression. And since marriage and family are social structures arising from limitations placed on sexual expression, Foucault believed these structures (marriage and family) should either be entirely removed or so redefined as to leave them amorphous—without any essential [objectively necessary] meaning, shape, or content.

Rather than conforming sex, marriage, and family to objective standards—either moral or social—Foucault held that “sexuality (and social structures depending on sexuality like marriage and family) is something we ourselves create—it is our own creation, and much more than the discovery of a secret (unchangeable) side of our desire. We have to understand that with our desires, through our desires, go new forms of love, new forms of creation. Sex is not a fatality: it is a (formless) possibility for creative life.”[37] He also made clear that he rejected the objectivity of all morality, and so denied the existence of any fixed basis for either evaluating sexual activity or defining sexual relationships.

All of which meant that, for Foucault, conceptions of marriage and family are merely illusionary, and clinging to fixed expectations (standards, structures, norms) regarding marriage and family is arbitrary and repressive, serving nothing more than to protect positions of power from those whose freedom threatens that power. “Today,” he said, “it is sex that serves as a support for the ancient form—so familiar and important in the West—of preaching. A great sexual sermon—which has had its subtle theologians and its popular voices—has swept through our societies over the last decades; it has chastised the older [Judeo-Christian] order, denounced hypocrisy, and praised the rights of the immediate and the real [i.e. the sensual embodiment of human life]; it has made people dream of a New City [i.e., a brand new approach to social order].”[38] Obviously, when human sexuality is thus deconstructed, the institutions of marriage and family are either destroyed or rendered absolutely meaningless.

Why Attack the Family?

Why are proponents of the movement to normalize homosexual behavior so bent on attacking the traditional family structure? What about the traditional family so offends them? Why can they not go about freely living their preferred lifestyle and just leave the structure of marriage and family alone? From the literature, four convictions seem most likely to attract the ire of gay or lesbian militants: first, the conviction that the traditional family is uniquely worthy and deserves a place of honor over all other types of human relationship; second, the conviction that morality properly limits sexual relationships to marriage between two, and only two, adult persons of the opposite gender so that the traditional heterosexual family is the only proper venue for morally acceptable sexual activity; third, the conviction that traditional families are necessary to the welfare and preservation of society; and, fourth, the conviction that children are best raised in a traditional family structure and are disadvantaged by lack of something essential or vital if raised in alternative family structures.

An especially good place to study an insider’s view on family deconstruction within the gay rights movement is the 1993 article by Franklin E. Kameny on “Deconstructing the Traditional Family,” quoted above. Franklin Kameny was and is a key player for normalizing homosexual behavior in American culture and was a revered leader, especially at the time movement leaders were transitioning to adopt the strategy of deconstructionism. Kameny, who earned a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1956, was for years considered the most influential homosexual leader in the Washington, DC, area. He founded the homosexual movement in the capital region in 1961, led the first gay demonstration at the White House in 1965, founded the Gay Activists Alliance (now the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance) in 1971, and co-founded the National Gay Task Force and the National Gay Rights Lobby (the first national political lobbying organization for gay and lesbian rights). Kameny, who served in World War II, is personally responsible for launching the national crusade for lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military. He has served on the DC board of the ACLU and was appointed a commissioner on the Washington, DC, city Commission on Human Rights. Thus Kameny’s article, written just as movement leaders were transitioning from their previously virulently anti-marriage, anti-family stance to favoring both, not only shows how insiders in the gay movement came to adopt a deconstructionist approach, but also how their purposes never really changed.

Kameny claims the traditional family structure does not truly merit the place of honor that has been accorded to it historically. He savages the social preferences, legal protections, and moral standards used to encourage the formation, stability, and permanence of traditional family commitments. But in presenting his case, Kameny ignores the basic physiology of human reproduction, transcultural moral principles, scientific studies relating the traditional family structure to social strength, and centuries of historical experience. Instead, he supports deconstructing the family by severing the whole discussion from anything objective and only appealing to subjective considerations. In particular, Kameny simply asserts: (1) the universal priority of individuality over society; (2) the unworthiness of all tradition, social or otherwise; (3) the ultimate subjectivity and essential irrelevance of all morality for public policy; and (4) there is no risk to so radically deconstructing the meaning of family as to include “any relationship entered into freely, openly, informedly, and without coercion.”[39] We will now consider each step in Kameny’s methodical deconstruction of the traditional family structure.

Exalting Individual Desire

The first step in Kameny’s deconstruction of the family is denying that individuals ought ever to subordinate their desires to the common good. Individuals, he believes, live independent of social norms unless individuals themselves accept such norms as favoring whatever they view as personally desirable. He thinks the very notion of society is simply a linguistic construct designed to serve and benefit certain individuals.

As such, he believes, society “has no legitimacy in its own right and no rights to which the interests of the individual need properly be subordinated.”[40] For Kameny, society is something radically tentative, subject to the fancy of individuals who just happen to be living in proximity. He alleges, “There is no legitimate basis for limiting the freedom of the individual to structure his family in nontraditional ways that he finds satisfying, on the basis of the alleged interests or supposed preservation of a society that has any other raison d’etre beyond the promotion of his satisfactions.”[41]

Kameny elevates individual autonomy to such extremes we are left to wonder how society exists at all. Is there anything at all about which a random set of individuals ever fully agrees? Unless society as a whole can constrain individual conduct at some level—unless some sort of limit is set upon individual desires—society is simply impossible. And, if society does not exist, then of course there can be no common effort to achieve goals transcending individual abilities, no economy of effort to magnify individual resources, no legacy to outlast individual lives, and no heritage by which individuals might benefit from those who have gone before.

Though heroic individuals must at times stand against the group when society becomes corrupt, thinking that individual desires ought never to submit to any higher good can only create a Hobbesian state of anarchy in which men are doomed to lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” The family as the most necessary of all social units is so because it is finally the most important social structure for defining how individual desires should be restrained, disciplined, and directed toward the common good.

Trashing Tradition

Kameny’s second step in deconstructing meaning and purpose of family life is denying there is any good reason for ever respecting traditions of any kind. He objects to ever supposing “that those things that are deemed traditional are good and desirable on that count alone, and that the longer a tradition has existed, the less reason there is for changing it, when actually, precisely the opposite is true.” Kameny believes it is far preferable always to start by supposing traditions are ill-advised or outmoded until proven otherwise. That is because to favor tradition makes “millennia-old, backward, and benighted cultures the model to which we are supposed to aspire,” and he believes “anything that has lasted long enough to have become traditional has, on that ground alone, become potentially obsolete, outmoded, and archaic.”[42]

Rather than thinking tradition could be a distillation of practical wisdom proven by experience, Kameny argues that tradition of any kind is at best outmoded and is very often a mixture of superstition and prejudice. So Kameny believes tradition proves nothing by itself and should be reason for rejecting any standard unless validated on other grounds. He claims that “characterization of anything as traditional should render it suspect and should trigger a heightened, intensified, skeptical scrutiny.”[43] Consequently, Kameny thinks that merely observing how the traditional family has been around a long time is no reason to give it special honor. What counts is what appears to make sense here and now, regardless of what past humanity has experienced.

But Kameny’s case for automatically disfavoring tradition, especially tradition regarding family structure, is strictly an abstract exercise consisting of nothing more than reversing suppositions. It is neither based on factual experience nor on any record of proven success. If there ever has been a social experiment proven through human experience, it is the proven value and social necessity of traditional structuring of the basic family unit. Tradition distilled from so vast and varied a basis in human experience is neither arbitrary nor irrelevant. The traditional family structure has endured from before the beginning of recorded history. It has been proven by experience across every society, culture, and civilization to be the most viable, stable, and secure arrangement for nurturing children, cultivating intimacy, honing moral character, and disciplining individual desires so they promote and do not disintegrate the strength and stability of social order.

Denying Moral Foundations

The third step in Kameny’s deconstruction of social preference favoring the formation of monogamous, two-parent, heterosexual families is denying the reality of objective moral authority and therefore also denying that society needs moral foundations, on which to base laws and policies governing any social institution including the structure of marriage and family. For Kameny, all morality is voluntaristic, idiosyncratic, and therapeutic. That is, he assumes that moral claims are never objective and so never can be properly used to evaluate the legitimacy or value of individual behavior. Individuals should be free, he believes, to select their own moral standards and should do so according to whatever satisfies their individual sense of well-being.

Because he thinks we must respect “an inescapable moral relativism” in public policy,[44] Kameny argues there is no legitimate reason for restricting the pursuit of individual happiness with laws favoring one family structure over others. He believes “The only position that can validly be taken, consistent with basic American principles, is that morality and immorality are and must remain matters of personal opinion and individual religious belief…upon which American governments at any level may take no explicit positions at all….[government] may not properly intervene [by limiting the definition of family] upon a claim of immorality alone.”[45]

Again, we should look very hard at where Kameny’s case for family deconstruction must lead in the end. All decisions about value or non-value, all judgments about right or wrong, all evaluations of good, better, or best—be it in private or public life—are exercises in moral judgment. Some moral reference is presupposed. Unless some moral reference is in fact employed, the decision, the judgment, the evaluation made is entirely arbitrary and capricious. But Kameny also thinks that American government has a duty to encourage the formation of families based on homosexual relationships, and he cannot have it both ways. Kameny’s denial that there is any legitimate public basis for making value judgments in matters of public policy does more than disqualify laws supporting the traditional family structure he dislikes. It necessarily eliminates the possibility of laws and policies he would have enacted as well.

Whistling in the Dark

The final step in Kameny’s deconstruction of the family is denying there is any risk to society of dismissing fixed notions about the preferred structure of marriage and family as social institutions. He says that removing the traditional family from its place of special honor and protection in law and social policy and opening the notion of family to include all possible arrangements will actually enhance the common welfare of society as a whole. “Homosexuality,” he says, “is affirmatively good in every sense of the word good, morally, culturally, [and] societally.”[46] That is because “variety and diversity in family arrangements add zest to our communities and make them exciting and stimulating, to the benefit of all, to the detriment of none, to the enhancement of our individual and collective happiness.”[47] The reason Kameny admits no risk is because he thinks removing all structural expectations of what the family means enhances “the happiness of the participants as they perceive that happiness” and “contributes to the most fundamental purposes of…our nation and, in fact, is the very raison d’etre for our nation.”[48]

Addressing this last step, we must ask why Kameny is so sure. History has many stories of societies that have endorsed homosexuality in their waning years only to see it hasten their demise. Where has there ever been a society, much less a civilization, that grew strong and expanded without strong taboos favoring the heterosexual family? The heterosexual family is the one social unit without which no society can endure. Societies have survived at times without the protection of strong armies and have endured very weak economic conditions. But no society has ever endured, much less thrived, without strong taboos favoring the formation of heterosexual families.

The social conditions Kameny proposes come from supposing a homosexual utopia that has never before existed. It has no basis in proven reality. In other words, he asks the American people to take a gamble that has never yet succeeded and simply wants us to accept his personal assurance regardless of the facts. In the light of history, Kameny’s proposal is not only fraught with risk, but comes bearing the highest of all possible stakes. If it does not succeed as he imagines, and if historical experience is correct, then the survival of American society as a whole will be put in very serious jeopardy.

The Social Risk of Deconstructing the Family

In the early twentieth century, the British social scientist J.D. Unwin conducted a massive study of 6 major civilizations and 80 lesser societies covering 5,000 years of history in order to understand how sexual behavior affects the rise and fall of social groups.[49] The study Unwin conducted included every social group on which he could find reliable information. He set out expecting to find evidence supporting Sigmund Freud’s theory that civilizations are essentially neurotic and destroy themselves by restricting sex too much. But to Unwin’s surprise, all the evidence he discovered pointed exactly the other way.

Freud had said, “It is natural to suppose that under the domination of a civilized morality (one that restricts sex) the health and efficiency in life of the individuals may be impaired, and that ultimately this injury to the individual, caused by the sacrifices imposed upon him, may reach such a pitch that the civilized aim and end will itself be indirectly endangered.”[50] This led Freud to think civilization was unstable and perhaps self-defeating, so that he once wrote Albert Einstein saying he feared by limiting sex, civilization “may perhaps be leading to the extinction of the human race.”[51] Freud especially feared total sexual abstinence outside monogamous marriage. Some restriction might be tolerable, but that was dangerous.

According to Freud, “It is now easy to predict the result which will ensue if sexual freedom is still further circumscribed, and the standard demanded by civilization is raised to the level…which taboos [prohibits] every sexual activity other than that in legitimate matrimony. Under these conditions the number of strong natures who openly rebel will be immensely increased, and likewise the number of weaker natures who take refuge in neurosis…[When] civilization demands from both sexes abstinence until marriage, and lifelong abstinence for all who do not enter into legal matrimony,…. We may thus well raise the question whether our civilized sexual morality is worth the sacrifice it imposes upon us.”[52]

Freud was not a social scientist and never proved his theory. But he did think someone should try, saying, “If the evolution of civilization has such a far-reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends?…we should have to be very cautious and not forget that, after all, we are only dealing with analogies….But in spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture on this research into the pathology of civilized communities.”[53]

Unwin accepted Freud’s challenge, setting out to study how sexual morality affects civilization and especially whether Freud was right about restricting sex to monogamous marriage threatening the survival of societies. He did indeed find strong evidence linking “the cultural condition of any society in any geographical environment” with “its past and present methods of regulating the relations between the sexes.”[54] But rather than being injured by restricting sex to marriage, Unwin found in every case the “expansive energy” of a social group comes from restricting sex to marriage, and sexual license is always “the immediate cause of cultural decline.”[55] In other words, all the evidence he discovered showed that the survival of civilization or society depends on keeping sexual energy focused on supporting family life and not allowing individuals access to sex in ways that do not support family life.

Unwin found, without exception, that if a social group limited sex to marriage, and especially to lifelong monogamous marriage, it would always prosper. There was “no recorded case of a society adopting absolute monogamy without displaying expansive energy.” He said, when sexual standards were high, “men began to explore new lands…commerce expanded; foreign settlements (were) established, colonies (were) founded.”[56] In contrast, if a social group lowered standards so that sex was no longer limited to marriage, it always lost social energy. And again he found absolutely no exceptions, saying, “In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial [premarital] and post-nuptial [extramarital] continence.”[57] In every verifiable case, he found once a group became sexually permissive, “the energy of the society…decreased and finally disappeared.”[58]

He came across the same pattern over and over. A society would begin with high standards limiting sex to one partner in marriage for life. This produced great social strength and that society or culture would flourish. Then a new generation would arise demanding sex on easier terms and would lower moral standards. But when that happened the society would lose vitality, grow weak, and then die. He explained that “In the beginning, each society had the same ideas in regard to sexual regulations. Then the same strengths took place; the same sentiments were expressed; the same changes were made; the same results ensued. Each society reduced its sexual opportunity to a minimum and, displaying great social energy, flourished greatly. Then it extended its sexual opportunity [lowered standards]; its energy decreased, and faded away. The one outstanding feature of the whole story is its unrelieved monotony.”[59]

Therefore, based on overwhelming evidence, Unwin decided, “Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation.”[60] Not only was Freud wrong, he was dangerously wrong. No matter how strong, no society can ever avoid losing social strength once it lowers sexual standards, and once it does, signs of growing weakness appear within one generation. Freud thought restricting sex to marriage threatened the survival of civilization and might even threaten survival of the human race. But Unwin discovered that restricting sex to the traditional marriage structure makes societies strong and that easing sexual standards supporting the traditional family structure always leads to social collapse. Based on Unwin’s findings, there is no other outcome, and if we heed his findings, it means we must realize that deconstructing the family to justify lust will certainly threaten the strength and survival of American society as a whole.


We have taken a close look at the main strategy now underlying the movement to normalize homosexual behavior in America and have exposed and criticized the deconstructionist approach to remove social preference for the traditional family structure. After considering steps proposed for deconstructing the family as a defined social institution, we have to conclude the effort will not only abolish the family as a meaningful social category, but will lead to a level of weakness and instability incompatible with long run social survival. Should Americans ever adopt the deconstructionist social agenda presented by activist homosexual leaders like Franklin Kameny, it will not only jeopardize good government, but threaten the future of American society as well.

Kameny and other leaders of the homosexual agenda would have Americans believe their vision of sexual relations without social or moral biases, their vision of a nation that encourages an endless variety of family structures, is a vision consistent with historic American ideals and is one that can be achieved without risk for the benefit of all. But thinking Americans ought to recognize, before it gets too late, that the vision presented by leaders of the gay normalizing movement is dangerously utopian and does not accord with social reality. We must not let ourselves be blinded to the realities of social survival—to the fact that social strength depends on restricting individual sexual desires, to the fact that the traditional family structure is already proven worthy through millennia of human experience, that objective moral standards do exist and are essential to social order, and that throwing all this away will assure the demise of any society foolish enough to experiment.

If Americans are persuaded to gamble on family deconstruction to normalize the idea that sexual differences mean essentially nothing, that lust is the ultimate arbiter of institutions essential for social survival, that sex and number are irrelevant to marriage, that parenting is essentially unrelated to the meaning of family, that family is essentially unrelated to the meaning of marriage, and that none of this has any real importance to public life in American society, then it will be a sucker’s bet in a game that is impossible to win. For anyone willing to see, the deck is stacked, and only those blinded by lust and ignoring sound advice would ever consider risking what we cannot afford to lose.


1 For a good analysis see James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America: Making Sense of the Battles over the Family, Art, Education, Law, and Politics (New York: Basic Books, 1991). For an analysis of the deeper moral crisis underlying the culture wars see Os Guinness, The American Hour: A Time of Reckoning and the Once and Future Role of Faith (New York: The Free Press, 1992).

2 Deconstruction is the philosophical term applied for this enterprise. For more detail, readers are referred to the highly influential works of French philosophers Michel Foucault (1926-1984) and Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). See also: Franklin E. Kameny, “Deconstructing the Traditional Family,” The World & I (October 1993): 383-395. The World and I is a quarterly magazine published by The Washington Times.

3 Quoted in Anne Taylor Flemming, Motherhood Deferred (New York: Random House, 1996), 24.

4 Quoted in Christiana Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), 256-257.

5 Robin Morgan, Sisterhood is Powerful (New York : Random House, 1970), 537.

6 Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (New York: Bantam Books, 1979), 254.

7 Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970), 35.

8 Judith Stacey, In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age (Boston: Beacon, 1996), 51.

9 Vivian Gornick, The Daily Illini (Urbana), 25 April 1981. Also quoted in Francis Beckwith, Politically Correct Death (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 175.

10 Mary Hunt, “Re-imagining Sexuality—Family,” Re-imagining Conference (World Council of Churches: Minneapolis, 1993).

11 Linda Gordon, “Functions of the Family,” Women: A Journal of Liberation (Fall 1969).

12 James B. Nelson, Body Theology (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1992), 25.

13 Ibid., 91.

14 Michael Swift, “Gay Revolutionary,” Gay Community News (Washington, D.C.), 15 February 1987. Reprinted in The Congressional Record, 15-21 February 1987, E3081. Swift later dismissed this statement as a joke. But it was not offered as being insincere when published in Gay Community News. Even if it was meant to be humorous as latter claimed, that does not mean Swift’s statement should not be taken seriously. Because Smith wrote for homosexual activist readers who were most certainly eager to redefine social structures, any honestly intended “humor” could only be of a sort offered to soften acceptance of a risky proposition.

15 Kameny, “Deconstructing,” 384.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid., 385.

18 Ibid., 394, 395.

19 I was myself in Washington, D. C. and personally observed the 1993 March for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights.

20 Documented on film by the Traditional Values Coalition. See Gay Rights/Special Rights: Inside the Homosexual Agenda (Anaheim, California: Jeremiah Films, 1993).

21 See “Platform of the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.” Printed by march organizers and distributed to Congressional staff, the media, march participants, and interested members of the public at large. Copies are available from the Family Research Council, Washington, D. C.

22 Firestone, Dialectic of Sex, 254.

23 Marlene Dixon, “Why Women’s Liberation? Racism and Male Supremacy,” edweb.tusd.k12. az.us/uhs/APUSH/2nd%20Sem/Articles%20Semester%202/ 8%20Dixon.html. See also: Marlene Dixon, Why Women’s Liberation? Racism and Male Supremacy (Chicago: Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, 1963), 9

24 Helen Sullinger and Nancy Lehmann, Declaration on Feminism, www.spiritone.com/~law/ hatequotes.html, originally published November 1971. Quoted in Francis Beckwith, Politically Correct Death (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 175.

25 Paula Ettelbrick, “Since When Is Marriage a Path to Liberation?” in William Rubenstein, ed., Lesbians, Gay Men and the Law (New York: The New Press, 1993), 401-405. Quoted in Stanley Kurtz, “Beyond Gay Marriage: The Road to Polyamory,” The Weekly Standard, 4-11 August 2003, 29.

26 Ibid.

27 Nancy D. Polikoff, “First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage, then Comes Queers with a Baby Carriage: The Strange Logic of the Hawaii Same-Sex Marriage Trial,” GNC: National Queer Progressive Quarterly 22/3 (Winter 1996): 12-14. Quoted in Kurtz, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” 29. See also: Nancy D. Polikoff, “We Will Get What We Ask For: Why Legalizing Gay and Lesbian Marriage Will Not Dismantle the Legal Structure of Gender in Every Marriage,” Virginia Law Review 79 (1993), 1535-1550.

28 Martha A. Fineman, The Neutered Mother, the Sexual Family, and Other Twentieth Century Tragedies (New York: Routledge, 1995).

29 See documentation provided in Kurtz, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” 28-30.

30 Reviewed in Kurtz, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” 29. See also: Martha M. Ertman, “Viva No Difference,” Northwestern University Law Review 91/2 (1997): 642-646.

31 David L. Chambers, “What If? The Legal Consequences of Marriage and the Legal Needs of Lesbian and Gay Male Couples,” Michigan Law Review 95 (1996), 447-491.

32 Ibid.

33 Andrew Sullivan, “Here Comes the Groom: A Conservative Case for Gay Marriage,” The New Republic, 28 August 1989.

34 Edward Rothstein quoted in William A. Borst, “The Meaning of Is,” Mindszenty Report 47/1 (January 2005).

35 Jacques Derrida, Glas, in A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds, ed. by Peggy Kamuf (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 382.

36 Ibid., 387-388.

37 Michel Foucault, Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth (New York: New Press, 1997), 163.

38 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1, An Introduction (New York: Random House, 1990), 7-8.

39 Ibid., 395. Emphasis in the original.

40 Ibid., 384-385.

41 Ibid., 385.

42 Ibid., 387, 389.

43 Ibid., 389.

44 Ibid.

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid., 392.

47 Ibid., 395.

48 Ibid.

49 Joseph Daniel Unwin, Sex and Culture (London: Oxford University Press, 1934); Sexual Regulations and Cultural Behavior (London: Oxford University Press, 1935); and Hopousia: Or the Sexual and Economic Foundations of a New Society (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1940).

50 Sigmund Freud: Collected Papers, translated by Joan Riviere, vol. 2 (New York: Basic, 1959), 76.

51 Sigmund Freud, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Strachey in collaboration with Anna Freud, vol. 22 (1964), 214. Also note, ibid., vol. 11 (1957), 54, 215 (London: Hogarth).

52 Freud, Collected Papers, 87-88, 99.

53 Sigmund Freud, Gesammelte Werks, vol. 14 (London: Imago, 1940-1952), 504-505. Also: Freud, Standard Edition, vol. 21 (1961) 110; and Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, vol. 3 (New York: Basic, 1957), 346. My translation follows Ernest Jones.

54 Unwin, Sex and Culture, 340.

55 Unwin, Sexual Regulations, 31; and Unwin, Sex and Culture, 326.

56 Unwin, Hopousia, 82-83; also see Society and Culture, 431, and Sexual Regulations, 20, 32.

57 Unwin, Hopousia, 84-85.

58 Unwin, Sex and Culture, 382. See also: ibid., 380, 431; Sexual Regulations, 21, 34; Hopousia, 84.

59 Unwin, Sex and Culture, 381.

60 Ibid., 412.

Source: http://profam.org/pub/rs/rs_2207.htm