Adam Galluccio 1 has two daddies. Or, to be more accurate, Adam has one parent he calls "Daddy" and one he calls "Father." The state of New Jersey agreed to allow Jon Holden and Michael Galluccio to adopt two-year-old Adam. This decision made New Jersey the first state to allow gay and lesbian couples the privilege of joint adoption.
Holden and Galluccio had already been serving as Adam's foster parents. When they first tried to adopt the boy, their request was denied. New Jersey previously had refused to allow any unmarried couples, whether homosexual or heterosexual, to adopt children who were wards of the state.
After the two men initiated legal proceedings against the state, New Jersey changed its policy. When asked why they didn't adopt Adam individually, as other gay couples have done, the proud new parents said, "This is a family.... That would be unacceptable."
What is a family? Gay parenthood creates unprecedented social and ethical dilemmas. What does a preschool teacher say when a gay couple asks her to endorse their application for adoption? Should you attend the worship service if your lesbian sister invites you to her son's baptism? These are the kinds of questions Christians increasingly face.
The New Jersey policy says something about the changing status of homosexual couples in contemporary society. The gay and lesbian agenda is to get Americans to treat homosexuality as normal, and marriage is one of the last bastions of normalcy in America. The Galluccios are trying to give homosexuality greater credibility. What could be more normal than two men getting married and starting a family? A lawyer from the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund hailed the New Jersey decision as "a statewide recognition that lesbians and gay men make fit and loving parents and that gay couples should be treated equally with straight couples."
To their credit, Holden and Galluccio seem to have been motivated by compassion. When Adam came to them as a three-month-old foster child, he was suffering from liver, lung, and heart damage because his biological mother was a drug addict. They undertook this adoption because they believed it to be in the best interests of the child.
Whether having two daddies is in Adam's long-term interests is debatable. There is the question of stability. The reason New Jersey has refused to grant adoptions to unmarried couples in the past is because families without vows tend to fall apart. Then there are the confusing questions Adam will undoubtedly face about his identity, sexually and otherwise.
But I am less interested in what the Galluccio adoption says about homosexuality than in what it says about marriage. We live at a time when marriage is being redefined. Many people refuse to live within its bonds. Others define it to meet their designs. "Marriage is a personal lifestyle choice," they say. "It is any two people who love each other." They are afraid of making the mistake of a lifetime, so they write their own marriage vows, promising to be devoted to one another "as long as we both shall love."
That is not how God defines marriage. He ought to have the right to define it because He invented it. God is the One who saw that it was not good for man to be alone. God is the One who made a suitable helper and brought her to the man. God is the One who said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). God is the One who defined marriage as one man and one woman united in a love covenant for life.
To define marriage any other way is to abuse it. In testimony given before the Maryland state legislature in March 1997, Robert Knight said,
Giving same-sex relationships or out-of-wedlock heterosexual couples the same special status and benefits as the marital bond would not be the expansion of a right, but the destruction of a principle. One can no more expand the definition of marriage than one can expand the definition of a yardstick and still use it as a reliable measure. 2
America is fast becoming a nation where people can make a yardstick any length they like. When asked if it would be difficult for Adam to be reared by gay men, his new father responded that since only 30 percent of children are now being reared in a home with a father and a mother, "he's going to be in the majority."
If that statistic is accurate, then this is an important time to be a Christian. The more confused our society gets about marriage, the more vital Christian marriages will become. Instead of going with the flow, we have a chance to be counter-cultural. Eventually, uniting as one man and one woman to rear a covenant family may become the most radical of all lifestyles. If people want to know what a marriage is supposed to look like and how a family is supposed to operate, the only place they will be able to go is to the church.
This is a reminder to honor the institution of marriage. Those who are not married should encourage those who are. Singles should also keep themselves sexually pure so as not to undermine their own or anyone else's future marriage.
Those who are married must maintain the vows they have made before God and the church. This means renewing our commitment to love our spouses. It means keeping our promise to stay married until death. We need to remember that marriage means one man and one woman united to a love covenant for life, even if everyone else in the world forgets.
One spring we went to the Azalea Garden at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and we found a little playground on the other side of Kelly Drive. When we got there, Josh, who was almost four at the time, managed to climb up to a place from which he could not climb back down, and he spent the rest of our time being too scared to let me help him get back down to the ground. When he finally gave in and trusted me enough to let me lift him down, I said, "There. Now, was that so bad?" Josh told me that, yes, in his opinion, it was so bad.
Here is another example. I wanted to take Josh to the mall north of the Liberty Bell to play hide-and-seek in all the archways. Josh had other plans. He couldn't remember ever going to that mall before, and he couldn't quite see the point. So I said something like this:
Look, I want to take you to a new park to play some new games together. It's going to be great; it's going to be even better than the Stage Coach Park, but you're going to have to trust me. I know you've never been there before, but I've been there, and trust me, it's going to be great.
Eventually we did go to the mall, and it was great. We played hide-and-seek, tennis-ball tag, soccer, and basketball. On our way home we had a conversation that went something like this:
"Thanks for going to the mall with me, Josh. We had the best time, didn't we?"
"Now, before we went, did you trust me that we were going to have a good time?"
"No, you didn't! You didn't even want to go, but I was right, wasn't I? You have to learn to trust me."
God the Son said much the same thing to Simon Peter after he took his little excursion on the Sea of Galilee: "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31).
There is another little conversation Josh and I have had dozens of times. My big speech in it goes like this: "Have I ever let you down before? No, seriously, Josh, have I ever dropped you before? In your whole life, have I ever dropped you, even once?" God has a speech like that too: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5b).
My other regular speech is even shorter: "Stop whining." That is what the Lord God said to the children of Israel when they were grumbling in the wilderness (see Exodus 16:1-12), and what he said to the Philippians: "Do everything without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14).
We keep having conversations in which Josh sounds like me talking back to God, and I sound almost like I am quoting God from Scripture. What I am learning from these conversations is that the basic problem with sons is that they want to be dads. Often they don't believe that their fathers know what they are doing, and so they want to be the dads of their lives. (Daughters have the same basic problem.)
We came in from playing outside one evening, and Josh didn't think he was ready to go to bed yet, so he said, "It's my choice. I can do whatever I want to do." I was reminded of Jeremiah 6:16, in which God says,
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' "
Sons tend to be skeptical, argumentative, and headstrong. They are better at complaining than they are at trusting. In short, they are an awful lot like their dads. Their dads have trouble being good sons to their heavenly Father for all the same reasons.
The only difference is that sometimes dads can see things from a father's point of view. This means that we get a taste of what it is like for God the Father when his sons and daughters grumble, argue, and wander. It is heartbreaking.
What fathers want from their sons is trusting love. Every once in a while, I feel as if I am actually getting through to Josh. "I trust you, Daddy," he said not long ago. "I know you won't let me down. I can trust you because you love me. You're the best daddy in the whole world!"
That is what fathers always love to hear from their sons and daughters, and our Father in heaven is no exception.
Some sociologists have identified a generation they are calling the Millennials, or the Bridgers. These are children born between 1976 and 1996, and they represent one-fourth of America's population. Generally speaking, the Builders were the generation that won World War II; the Boomers were the last generation to have stay-at-home moms; the Busters are the Generation Xers in search of an identity; and the Bridgers are the bridge to the new millennium. 1 For at least the next half century, they will be the most influential people in the world.
Many dads have Bridgers living in their homes. But not all dads, because many Bridgers do not live with their fathers. At any given time, nearly one-third of all children eighteen and under don't live in the same home with their fathers, and less than half spend their entire childhood with both of their parents. 2 Our country is fast becoming a fatherless America.
Tragically, when we look at the problems Bridgers are going to face, almost all of them turn out to be problems that dads are supposed to solve. Experts say that Bridgers face a future of economic uncertainty; they lack moral boundaries; they live in a culture of rising violence; and they are unclear about their gender roles. Those are exactly the kinds of things that fathers are for. Fathers are supposed to provide for the material needs of their families. They are supposed to teach the difference between right and wrong and to show what it means to be gentle as well as strong. Fathers, more than anyone else, teach their sons what it means to be men and their daughters what it means to be women.
Many of the problems Bridgers face stem from being fatherless. That is also true of their most serious problem: a crisis of faith. Bridgers are being reared in a world without absolutes. Although they have some interest in spiritual things, they have little or no interest in organized religion. One young man spoke for many when he said, "You know, to me God means the 'main guy.' And the 'main guy' means different things to different people. I got friends who find God in ways that are totally different from me. But ultimately it's the same — it's God." 3
Bridgers have been inoculated against the idea that one religion is any better than any other. In fact, they have been trained to be suspicious of anyone who claims to know the truth. "I get real angry," said one Bridger, "at these Christians who tell me that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I mean, what kind of arrogance is that?" 4
Given these attitudes, it comes as little surprise to learn that while 60 percent of their grandparents, 40 percent of their parents, and even 25 percent of their older siblings claim to be Christians, only 4 percent of the Millennial generation will profess faith in Jesus Christ. 5
What can dads do about this? To put the question another way, What can a father do to promote the spiritual welfare of his home?
The first thing a father can do is improve his own spiritual welfare. Generally speaking, the best way to strengthen a family's faith is to strengthen the faith of its father. Whatever spiritual changes need to take place in a household must begin in a father's heart. Christian fathers constantly need to rededicate themselves and their families to the glory of God.
Another thing a father can do is cherish his wife. All the love in a household flows through the love a father has for the woman he married. More than anything else, what gives children confidence to face the world is the absolute certainty that their dad will always care for their mom. A father's love for his wife may even be more important to his children than his love for them. Children learn what love is from their father's heart. This is part of what the prophet Malachi meant when he promised that God would "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children" (Malachi 4:6).
What else can a father do to shore up the foundation of his household? He needs to provide for his family, of course. The importance of this is sometimes overlooked, but providing for his family is a father's God-given responsibility (see 1 Timothy 5:8). However, even a hard-working dad needs to spend time with his kids. Lots of time.
Sadly, the average American dad spends only fourteen minutes a day with his children. I am convinced that one of the ways children take on the image of their fathers is by gazing into their father's face. That requires eye contact, which means that fathers need to engage their children face to face. Fathers should talk to their children. They should teach them and play with them.
Fathers should also worship with their children. The best way to teach children that knowing Jesus Christ is the most important thing in the world is to treat it as the most important thing in the world. That means spending time in family worship. There are plenty of ways for families to worship together. But the key is for the father to be the worship leader, not in a pushy or legalistic way, but as the natural outflow of his heart's desire.
Most fathers can do a lot better in most of the areas I have mentioned. But start somewhere. Keep in mind what a good father does and, more importantly, what God he serves.
Notes for Adam Has Two Daddies
1Details about Adam Holden Galluccio come from articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 1998.
2In At the Podium, March 12, 1997, page 3. "The Importance of Families and Marriage," given before the Judiciary Committee of Delegates, State of Maryland, on HB 609, HB 398 and HB 431.
Notes for Fatherless America
1See Tom S. Rainer, The Bridger Generation (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1997).
5Data from the Presbyterian Church in America, Atlanta, Georgia.
Copyright 2005, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
Revised 2007, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Philip Graham Ryken, My Father's World: Meditations on Christianity and Culture, 2002, P&R Publishing, Philipsburg, NJ 08865
All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Demonstrating Dr. Barnhouse’s acute understanding of Romans and his heart for effective preaching, these messages skillfully and reverently expound even the most difficult passages in a clear way. Dr. Barnhouse's concern for a universal appreciation of the epistle fuels this series and invites all listeners into a deeper understanding of the life-changing message of Romans.All Sermons by Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc