I’ve been married twice, to two different genders, and have no kids. That’s not because I don’t like kids: in fact I do, and at different times in my life I’ve actively been involved in teaching and supporting children. But the opportunity for having my own progeny just hasn’t availed itself. I was in school while married the first time, so Kim and I didn’t; my current marriage is to another man, so Tim and I can’t. And beyond that, considering our political current climate we live in, and the environmental situation we’ve created, I’ve never really wanted to bring another child into the world. I’ve thought about adoption; but in different times and places it’s not been legal for gay couples to adopt, and I’ve never pushed the issue. Now in Canada, it is legal: but I’m getting a bit old. Yet the thought of adoption has always been close to my heart.
Thus I was deeply offended: shocked, outraged, annoyed… when I read these comments by Pat Robertson. I mean, I know the man is an idiot. But he’s a rich idiot, with a TV show and a following, and that makes for a combination that produces something about as close to the Biblical concept of “abomination” as I’ve come across in my short lifetime.
A man doesn’t want to take on the United Nations, and this woman’s got all these various children and blended family. What is it? And you don’t know what problems there are. I’m serious. I got a dear friend with an adopted son, little kid from an orphanage down in Columbia. Child had brain damage. You know, grew up weird. And you just never know what’s been done to a child before you get that child, what kind of sexual abuse, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation, etc, etc, etc. So, you’re not a dog ’cause you don’t want to take on that kind of responsibility. You don’t have to take on someone else’s problems. I mean you really don’t. You can go help people, you can minister to people. We minister to orphans all over the world, thousands of them. We love orphans, we love helping people. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m gonna take all of the orphans around the world into my home. (from video via RightWingWatch on YouTube)
As a brain injury survivor myself, I’m aghast at the comments about the boy with “brain damage” who “grew up weird.” There are so many assumptions in those statements that I don’t know where to start. Pat continues the false prejudice that brain injury survivors must face every day: that because of our experience, we will be “weird”. That’s not true at all, and I like to think of myself as an example. If anything, I would think that growing up with someone who is a “dear friend” of Pat Robertson would be enough to make anyone “weird”.
What I find fascinating, of course, is that Mr. Robertson is an outspoken advocate against the right for gay people to adopt children (The Advocate, 2009). So… he would rather someone adopt with his kind of selfish perspective toward adoption, than allowing someone to adopt who will do so unconditionally, without concern for how they’ve been previously treated. That’s disgusting. Remember that word, Mr. Robertson: unconditionally. It’s how you’re supposed to love your children. It’s how God loves us, remember your preaching? God loves you unconditionally, even when you say things like this.
Exactly who should be barred from adoption, Mr. Robertson?
I would suggest he look up what the Bible has to say about this subject. What about James: 1:27: Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. I suppose I does ask us to only “visit” and not to “adopt”. And I suppose this is exactly the letter of the law, rather than the Spirit, that Mr. Robertson clings to. As long as he gives some unnoticeable fraction of his wealth to orphans, and spends a couple of hours with them on a show, I suppose he can feel he’s fulfilled the command.
I was pleased that some in the Evangelical community had the same response I did. (They’re not all idiots.) “Russell Moore, theology dean and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky… said Robertson’s recent comments go beyond ‘just a statement we ought to disagree with… This is of the devil.’” (Associated Baptist Press, 2012) I couldn’t agree more. And I think we’re both being literal.
A few days later, Christianity Today printed a retraction, of sorts… although the magazine editors carefully fell short of any kind of condemnation of the errant Mr. Robertson’s television quip. “I misstated my heartfelt dedication and commitment to helping orphans. For decades, I have supported adoption, and have helped tens of thousands of children worldwide. I wanted to say, but it didn’t come out the way I intended, that adoption is not for everyone.” (Christianity Today, 2012)
Yeah, right. That may be what you want us to believe, Pat… and it may even be what you want to believe yourself, but I think we got a glimpse into what really lies in your heart of hearts during those TV moments. Adoption is fine… as long as the kid isn’t “weird”. As long as the parent isn’t “tak[ing] on someone else’s problems.” As long as any issues with the kid can be kept at arm’s length… or further, as in the case of the “tens of thousands” of children Pat’s helped “worldwide”. (That’s pretty arm’s length.) It must be great to be able to give such a tiny fraction of your fortune to “help” so many kids around the globe… and then be able to brag about it nationwide. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:5, you “have [your] reward in full.”
I still think those kids would rather have a parent. Even an adoptive one.
And even a gay adoptive one, at that.