Terrance Heath

Huckabee's Procreative Imperative

Filed By Terrance Heath | December 19, 2007 6:01 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: election 2008, marriage, Mike Huckabee, religion, Republicans, sexuality

As I was catching up on my blog reading this week, I came across Timothy's response, over at Box Turtle Bulletin, to something Mike Huckabee said about homosexuality.

"Let's understand what sin means -- sin means missing the mark," he responded. "Missing the mark can mean missing the mark in any area. We've all missed the mark. ... How we miss the mark is less important than we all miss the mark. The mark is that we have marriage -- men and women, they marry, they create children, and they train their replacements and you have a future generation then that creates their replacements and trains them. That's the mark. If we didn't have that as the ideal, we wouldn't have a civilization that was able to perpetuate."

Timothy's response called the above out for what it was: nonsense. The this is, Huckabee actually believes this nonsense. And so do alot of the folks who created the Huckabee surge of late.

Now the way I read that, Huckabee is saying that sin is missing the mark and that the mark is heterosexual marriage and children. Huckabee is literally saying that not to marry and have children is sin.

This is nonsense and not the teaching of ANY known Christian denomination, even Huckabee’s Southern Baptists. This is, in fact, in clear contradiction to the teachings of the Apostle Paul who set celibacy as a Christian’s goal and marriage as a lesser option for those unable to control their lust.

Oh but he can mean that, and probably does. It's entirely possible, likely even, that Huckabee was saying just what Timothy heard him say. And he wouldn't be alone in saying it either. Certainly not among his comrades on the religious right. It's something I wrote about a while back, and called "the procreative imperative." And, yes, the basic point of the imperative is that not to marry and have children is a "sin." It's the logical conclusion of the combined opposition to reproductive freedom, contraception, comprehensive sex education, women's equality, and LGBT equality. In some way, they all get in the way of the penis going into the vagina and the sperm meeting the egg. (Which, basically, means it's the same logic behind the Maryland Court of Appeals' decision on same-sex marriage; that marriage is only for people who can make, or could possibly make babies together.)

Initially, I thought I invented the term, and thus felt pretty clever. But somebody beat me to it, and provided a pretty good definition of the procreative imperative.

Intimately bound up in the Church's articulation with respect to marriage and family is a heterosexual imperative, a marriage imperative, and a procreative imperative. Further, this articulation is set up as the divine moral order from which all else is gauged. More specifically, a heterosexual imperative is at work which targets individuals, partnerships and ultimately the family. This effectively excludes any alternative expressions of personal commitment in the form of partnerships outside the heterosexual imperative, such as gay partnerships as well as heterosexual partnerships outside of marriage. The heterosexual imperative is further able to exclude and police alternative forms of expression by defining them as other/deviant to the universal/Catholic norm. Therefore, by insisting on a heterosexual imperative, the Church is able to deny matrimony and hence family to that which it defines as the 'other.' Furthermore, prescriptions calling for an unconditional commitment to the transmission of life work to regulate and control both the heterosexual and homosexual laity with respect to sexual activity. The procreative imperative is a theme that is developed further in the Church's position regarding birth control.

That's a lot of very academic-sounding stuff, which basically adds up to the same idea found in "The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy."

God's command to "be fruitful and multiply" still applies to married couples, and He "seeks godly offspring." He is sovereign over the opening and closing of the womb. Children are a gift of God and it is a blessing to have many of them, if He so ordains. Christian parents are bound to look to Scripture as their authoritative guide concerning issues of procreation. They should welcome with thanksgiving the children God gives them. The failure of believers to reject the anti-life mindset of the age has resulted in the murder of possibly millions of unborn babies through the use of abortifacient birth control.

Lest you get the idea that, according to the above, non-Christians and unmarried persons (hetero or homo) are off the hook, even deliberate childlessness is a sin if you're heterosexual.

Christians must recognize that this rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift. The Psalmist declared: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." [Psalm 127: 3-5]

Morally speaking, the epidemic in this regard has nothing to do with those married couples who desire children but are for any reason unable to have them, but in those who are fully capable of having children but reject this intrusion in their lifestyle.

...Marriage, sex, and children are part of one package. To deny any part of this wholeness is to reject God's intention in creation-and His mandate revealed in the Bible.

The sexual revolution has had many manifestations, but we can now see that modern Americans are determined not only to liberate sex for marriage [and even from gender], but also from procreation.

The Scripture does not even envision married couples who choose not to have children. The shocking reality is that some Christians have bought into this lifestyle and claim childlessness as a legitimate option. The rise of modern contraceptives has made this technologically possible. But the fact remains that though childlessness may be made possible by the contraceptive revolution, it remains a form of rebellion against God's design and order.

...The church should insist that the biblical formula calls for adulthood to mean marriage and marriage to mean children. This reminds us of our responsibility to raise boys to be husbands and fathers and girls to be wives and mothers. God's glory is seen in this, for the family is a critical arena where the glory of God is either displayed or denied. It is just as simple as that.

The church must help this society regain its sanity on the gift of children. Willful barrenness and chosen childlessness must be named as moral rebellion. To demand that marriage means sex--but not children--is to defraud the creator of His joy and pleasure in seeing the saints raising His children. That is just the way it is. No kidding.

(That was from Huckabee's fellow Southern Baptist, Alber Mohler, who also has some interesting ideas about preventing homosexuality in the womb.)

So, you see, it's very simple. To start with, it's a sin not to be a Christian. Or, to be a non-Christian is to be in state of sin without hope of redemption. So, everybody should be Christian.

It's a sin to be homosexual. As far as some people are concerned, even a celibate gay life is a sin. So everyone should be heterosexual.

Now, unless you're planning to become a monk, a nun, or a priest and thus take a vow of celibacy, if you're Christian and heterosexual (which you should be), you must marry. Not being married isn't quite a sin (I don't think), but it's at the very least it's a dicey situation because your natural human desires are a constant invitation to sin. It's better to marry than burn with desire, after all.

And if you're a married, heterosexual Christian (all of which you should be) then you must have procreate if you're able to do so.

It sounds strange, I know. But to Huckabee and others like him, it makes perfect sense. Of course, these are the same people who sincerely believe that if LGBT equality and same-sex marriage become reality, people will simply cease to make babies.

What will happen to American civilization then? Marriage is a universal human institution. We do not know of any culture that has survived without a reasonably functional marriage system. Perhaps stray reproduction by single moms plus immigration can sustain America over the long haul. A look at Europe, however, does not make one sanguine. The attempt to substitute the state for the family leads not only to gargantuan government, but to miniscule families: If marriage and children are just one of many private lifestyle choices, people stop getting married and they stop having children in numbers large enough to replace the population. (One child is enough to make you a mother. When marriage is unreliable, just how foolhardy do you expect women to be?). The U.N. is now issuing urgent warnings about European depopulation.

...The future belongs to people who do the hard things necessary to reproduce not only themselves, but their civilization. Marriage is not an option, it is a precondition for social survival. Not everyone lives up to the marriage ideal in this or any civilization. But when a society abandons the marriage idea altogether as a shared public norm, do not expect private individuals to be able to sustain marriage.

(Note how the emphasis here seems to be that Europeans or, perhaps more broadly, people of European descent will cease to reproduce in sufficient numbers.)

That's Maggie Gallager above, but Huckabee sounds the same alarm.

GQ: Is the strategy shifting because social conservatives are losing on those core issues? Ten years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have gay marriage even in liberal Massachusetts. Now it's there.

Huckabee: I don't think the issue's about being against gay marriage. It's about being for traditional marriage and articulating the reason that's important. You have to have a basic family structure. There's never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived. So there is a sense in which, you know, it's one thing to say if people want to live a different way, that's their business. But when you want to redefine what family means or what marriage means, then that's an issue that should require some serious and significant debate in the public square.

So, yeah, he means that not to marry and have children is not just a sin. Not only does your eternity depend on it, but so does the survival of Western civilization.

Update: I updated the beginning of the post after I realized I might have given the wrong impression of Timothy's post.

Crossposted from The Republic of T.


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Now, unless you're planning to become a monk, a nun, or a priest and thus take a vow of celibacy, if you're Christian and heterosexual ...

Actually, I don't see any exception carved out even for religious celibates --- after all, Southern Baptists do not require their clergy to be celibate. So as I read it, Huckabee and Mohler et al. are saying that even being a member of the Roman Catholic clergy is sinful.

Both need to read Matthew 19:10-12 where Jesus speaks with apparent approval about the natural occurrence of "eunuchs" within the human male population --- a passage that has been heavily quoted by MCC and other GLBT Christians, but which Mohler, and apparently Huckabee, would like to pretend doesn't exist. Easy to see why: How thoroughly inconvenient for Jesus himself to directly refute the "heterosexual imperative" they are attempting to concoct!

Finally, they totally ignore the culture of the Middle East during Biblical times. It is true that an able-bodied married woman being childless was considered shameful, but not for the reason Mohler gives. Children were prized because of their economic value, not out of duty to raise the next generation of God's followers. At a very early age children became (1) farm and household workers, and (2) the males became soldiers and defenders (note the passage above "they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate" --- meaning, have lots of children so they can help defend you as you grow old), and (3) the females, who were far less valued, at the proper age could be traded off for a wedding dowry --- in other words, daughters were considered to be the father's property, about the way a slave was, and thus an addition to his material wealth.

(Interestingly, Leviticus has a long list of how certain relatives should not have sex with each other --- but it does not include that fathers should not have sex with their daughters! Perhaps Leviticus itself was written by a tribal priesthood made up of daughter-molesting fathers?)

Clearly, there is no shortage of elements of Biblical family life that modern societies would be wise not to hold up as "ideal".

Huckabee just keeps digging himself into a deeper hole. Perhaps this is why the powers-that-be weren't too happy with a Huckabee candidacy and instead have spent time talking up Romney and Rudy. (Wouldn't that be a ticket with great potential for a sitcom or made for TV movie? I can see it now "Rudy and Romney: The Great Train Adventure."