A new study published in June, 2011, suggest that children whose parents practice homosexual behaviors may have more problems than children in traditional families. This contradicts previous studies that showed no difference. The study found twenty-five differences out of forty measured, including lower income and more social and emotional problems. As is standard in social-science studies, it did not evaluate causation, since these studies often serve as information-gathering that set the stage for more in-depth research.
The study differed from previous studies in that it involved a much larger sample and was not relationship-based, meaning the study was done through traditional sampling methods and not by interviewing someone the researcher knows and then that person’s friends. It also compared more similar families. In previous studies, financially stable lesbian mothers were compared to low-income mothers who were not lesbians, which meant poverty, education, and financial instability were factors in the results that showed no difference. The study also interviewed adult children whose parents were homosexual rather than asking the parents about their children, as previous studies had done.
Lead investigator Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at University of Texas Austin’s Population Research Center, told the Deseret News:
“Nor does the study tell us that same-sex parents are necessarily bad parents,” “Rather, family forms that are associated with instability or non-biological parents tend to pose risks for children as they age into adulthood.”
It has been suggested that previous studies demonstrate bias, since they used methods that violated traditional research methods. This included evaluating homosexual families who enjoyed more favorable situations in terms of income but choosing non-homosexual women who had less favorable situations. This “stacks the deck” in favor of non-traditional families and does not lead to an honest evaluation.
The study’s author stated that families with a lesbian mother were most similar to step-families and single-parent families. He does not state that homosexuality was the cause of the findings, since he did not evaluate cause, but he did eliminate for economic differences, political viewpoint, gender, location of the family, bullying, and race, leaving fewer possible causes for the differences found.
Studies have consistently shown that children in a stable biological family with married parents have the best outcomes.
It should be noted that for Mormons, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such studies are helpful but not definitive. They can inform prospective parents considering bringing children into a non-traditional marriage and they can reinforce the correctness of God’s plan for families, but God does not make decisions based on the results of studies done by mortals. God’s plan is based on eternal truths and focuses on our needs for eternity, not for this life alone.
When asked about the potential causes of homosexuality, Mormon leaders stated that the church has no stand on that and the cause was unimportant from a spiritual standpoint. Elder Lance Wickman said:
Whether it is nature or nurture really begs the important question, and a preoccupation with nature or nurture can, it seems to me, lead someone astray from the principles that Elder Oaks has been describing here. Why somebody has a same-gender attraction… who can say? But what matters is the fact that we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important.” (See Same-Gender Attraction.)
In the same light, whether or not children of homosexuals turn out well is unimportant simply because that family structure violates eternal truths. Mormons believe homosexuality did not exist prior to birth and will not exist after death and the marriages and families cannot continue after death. This means a homosexual couple will have no attraction to one another in the eternities. Mormons believe marriage and parenthood are eternal, not just for this life. To encourage families to exist that simply cannot continue into eternity is, from this standpoint, cruel to both the couple and to the children.
God established the rules for families with the very first family He created and the biological creation and his teachings on reproduction demonstrate both His plan and the scientific and spiritual need for traditional families. It is these eternal truths that determine doctrine. Eternal truth is not subjected to fads, votes, or even studies because truth is not impacted by relativism. It is based on eternal principles and what is best for everyone not just from our limited perspective as mortals, but by what is best for our eternal outcomes. Whenever we follow God’s plan, we enjoy the best possible outcomes.
Read more about the study:
Studies challenge widely held assumptions about same-sex parenting By Lois M. Collins, Deseret News
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.