To hear them tell it, it was an epic moment in the history of progress—right up there with the four-minute mile, the moon landing, and the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kittyhawk. For the first time ever, a newborn child would have three dads listed as parents on her birth certificate.
It began mundanely enough. Long before Baby Piper’s birth in 2017, one of her future dads (Ian) began dating another one of her future dads (Alan), while both were studying medicine in Boston. After graduation, Ian and Alan—now a couple—moved to California, where they met another gay man named Jeremy working in a local zoo hospital.
Sparks flew, and before long, Ian and Alan had both begun dating Jeremy. Shortly thereafter, Jeremy moved in. After five years as a “throuple,” all three agreed they were ready for the next step: parenthood.
Of course, there was the little problem of men not having wombs, but that could be solved easily enough. The wealthy, aspiring, gay-dad triumvirate threw a few grand at a sperm bank to collect and preserve their semen. They then paid a female friend named Delilah to receive the semen deposit and act as babymaker. And when Delilah’s pregnancy didn’t work out due to complications, they just hired another friend named Meghan to replace her.
Yes, the legal side was messy. Parenting agreements are complex things. All three aspiring dads needed their own lawyer, as did Delilah, and then Meghan.
But after hours of legal wrangling and many thousands of dollars in legal fees (not to mention the rental fees for Meghan’s womb), the trio and their hired babymaker finally came to terms. It was time to conceive the baby.
A Weak Movement
Nine months later, shortly before Piper’s birth, Ian, Alan, and Jeremy won the legal right to have all three of their names listed on the birth certificate. One child, three dads. Never before in history had there been any such government document. And now, four years on, Piper proudly shares with her pre-school friends that while they only have two parents (poor souls), she has a whopping three.
Clearly, this is a story for the ages, which is why Daddy Ian has now immortalized it in print. His new book, Three Dads and a Baby: Adventures in Modern Parenting, comes out next week.
I mention this recent news story, not for the purpose of expressing either approval or disapproval, but rather to note how striking it is that in a nation supposedly full of devout Christians, these sorts of outlandish stories should be as common as they are. In a nation full of social conservatives, why is social conservatism, as a movement, so politically weak?
I daresay it’s because the whole thought-world of modern America is rigged against social conservatism. I don’t even think social conservatives realize how true this is. This thought-world saturates everything, however imperceptibly. It entails a certain constraining logic that cannot be transcended except by breaking and replacing the thought-world in toto. By determining the rules of thinking, it makes certain conclusions inevitable and others unthinkable. And as long as this thought-world reigns, it will continue to erode the moral order social conservatives believe is vital. Social conservatives will continue to lose.
Take the story above.
To provide any sort of intelligible—let alone persuasive—argument, within our thought-world, against gay-dad throuples who use hired women as babymakers, you’d need to invoke reason or science to show there was something harmful about the practice, or show that this arrangement relied on a violation of consent.
Why? Because the Enlightenment liberalism which spawned America’s thought-world stipulated it. It proclaimed reason as the ultimate arbiter of law and government. It also proclaimed adult consent as the ultimate criterion for permissibility. Those are the rules.
The problem for social conservatives concerned about a shared moral order is that all the adults did consent, and nothing in reason or science indicates being raised by three gay dads, with your surrogate mommy relegated to an annual visit, necessarily harms you, as weird as it all may seem.
Time for a Do-Over
Even worse for social conservatives is that the basic premises of Enlightenment liberalism, if anything, endorse the story. In it, three individuals exercise their “inalienable rights” to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The contract between the three dads and the surrogate comprises a social contract, motivated by rational self-interest, consented to by all parties. Locke, Hobbes, and others portray that exact act as something sensible and good. And in the end, all the adults involved seem pleased with how it all worked out.
But even worse for social conservatives is that in proclaiming reason the ultimate arbiter of law and government, Enlightenment liberalism (and its modern American incarnation), by that very fact, deny legitimacy to rival arbiters like tradition, moral intuition, religious authority, sentiment, scripture, culture, and faith.
In other words, America’s thought-world delegitimizes the entire basis of social conservatism from the get-go. It doesn’t help that its emphasis on the individual and his rights completes the social conservative demolition job by denying legitimacy to any invocation of the common good.
All of which is to say, again, that the whole thought-world of modern America is rigged against social conservatives. That foundational rigging is why social conservatives lost the universal suffrage battle and were always going to lose it. It’s why they lost the divorce battle and were always going to lose it. It’s why they lost the pornography battle and were always going to lose it. It’s why they lost the sexual revolution battle and were always going to lose it. It’s why they lost the sodomy battle, the gay marriage battle, and the gay adoption battle and were always going to lose them. It’s why, one day soon enough, they will lose the group marriage battle. It’s why they will also eventually lose battles to stop other consenting adults—including incestuous adult couples—from doing what they wish, no matter how outrageous. The thought-world we’ve all bought into just guarantees it. There’s just no way for social conservatives to win.
Unless, that is, social conservatives switch from fighting battles within the existing thought-world to trying to change the thought-world completely.
And so, as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris busy themselves initiating the American Ragnarök I predicted in August, I suggest the time is now for social conservatives to imagine what a reconceived America would look like and how it could be achieved. They can envision new premises, new goals, and new designs. They can, and should, in their own way, start America all over again.