Default Families

by Jeff Goode

Some messed up little town council in Utah just passed a resolution touting the natural family as the ideal family. (shudders)

It always creeps me out when religious groups hold up "nature" as a reason for doing, well, just about anything.

Isn’t the whole point of Judeo-Christianism that it’s human nature to lust and hate and covet and rape and steal and kill - but that God wants us to resist the temptation of our natural inclination to do so?

If it was natural not to sin, you wouldn’t need a Bible. Or any spiritual guidance, for that matter.

I don’t think there’s any religion on earth that advises you to do what you naturally would have done anyway, with or without their advice.

The idea behind pretty much every religious movement in history is that: we can do better than nature.

In fact, the whole reason Creationologists are pissed off about evolution is because it makes us just like all the other animals. They hate the idea that we might be part of nature so much that they are willing to ignore all the scientific and biblical evidence to the contrary - because let’s face it, if there is a God, then He created evolution - but fuck God… I ain’t no fuckin’ monkey!

We pride ourselves on the fact that, as moral beings, we are able to make choices that an animal would not. Decisions that go against our nature, but serve the greater good. And the greater God.

So unless you’re a true pagan who happens to worship nature for nature’s own sake, your religion undoubtedly and without exception teaches that "because it’s natural" is a lousy excuse for anything.

If there’s a reason to do things the natural way, fine — like organic foods, or recycling. But nature alone, by itself, with no other justification, is no good reason for nothin’.

I mean, seriously: Would you tell someone jumping out of a plane not to use a parachute because at this altitude it’s more natural to fall to one’s death?

Or refuse medical treatment to people with life-threatening injuries, because the higher mortality rate is much more natural?

Is it acceptable for a man who gets an erection at his daughter’s slumber party to drag one of her girlfriend’s into the next room and let nature take it’s course?

Of course not. Nobody thinks that.

So if you’re telling someone to do something because "it’s natural" and that’s all you got, you’re already way on the wrong side of Jesus.

But the pretend-religious bunch take this sacrilege one step further by insisting that "natural" marriage is not only natural… It’s the ideal!

Of all the possible families in the world, the most perfect combination is: exactly one man, and approximately one woman — thank you, Latter Day Saints - and however many children they would naturally have. (Which is around a dozen if we are to believe the biblical stats.) Regardless of whether that arrangement is good for the man, the woman, or any of the children. And that’s the ideal!

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who came from an "ideal" family. But I know a lot of people who came from traditional families, and the overwhelming majority will tell you… That wasn’t it.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every family unit. In the one-man-one-woman scenario, the advantages are pretty obvious: You’ve always got one parent around for chaperoning your daughter’s slumber parties. And another one for killing spiders. Those are nice perks, but it hardly qualifies this as the ideal family. Wouldn’t a nanny with a good exterminator fit the bill just as well?

Saying that the Man/Woman/Kids family is an ideal for which we should all strive is insulting to every good single parent out there.

Are we really suggesting that a mother who left her abusive spouse after she caught him diddling the little ones would be in a more ideal situation if they got back together?

Or that gay marriage should be banned because the ideal would be for two men who are perfect for each other - to go out and find any two women - perfect or not - and enter into a pair of loveless unions of convenience which will ideally produce kids who will grow up with a really screwed image of what marital love is supposed to look like? "My daddy loves my mommy. But only for her shoes."

The notion that this is the ideal is especially insulting to all the adoptive parents and foster parents who - say what you will - are among the very few people who actually consciously try to create homes for their children that are more ideal than the original one-mother-one-father they were stuck with at the moment of their birth.

And that’s the real problem with this whole natural marriage nonsense:

One-man-one-woman is not the ideal. It’s the default. It’s the "family" that happens to exist whether you’re a part of it or not.

Because no matter who you are, no matter what kind of family you have or have not. Worst case scenario, every human alive can point to: One-man-whose-sperm, and one-woman-whose-ovum, combined to make the zygote that you hatched from.

And if you’ve got no other family at all

Well, you can always call him your birth "father" and her your birth "mother" and boom, you’ve got a "family". In quotes. So, there, everybody on earth has at least that one family, if nothing else. By default. Without really trying. Out of sheer laziness.

And that’s what’s sick about trying to tout the default family as some kind of ideal. We humans — with our God-given ability to avoid temptation and resist our animal nature — with our God-given commandments to go out and make the world a better place than the natural state we found it in - also have the God-given capacity to venture forth in life and build better families.

And before you get all "Secular Humany" on me, don’t forget that good old-fashioned, artificial, man-made family-building is what every single traditional, family-valued family in history came from: A child from an "ideal" family who eventually left that ideal family to go out and form an even better family with someone else.

Nobody here believes that the ideal family is one-man-one-woman and their 40-year old unmarried children living in the spare room over the garage - who never left home, because there was simply no better family out there.

The whole concept of family is about preparing your children to leave the unit they were raised in and seek out the people who will be best for them. And ideal for whatever children they have.

Because "what’s best for the children" is what the ideal family is really all about.

And that might mean: One woman and one man.

But in this day and age, it’s just as likely to mean:

One woman and no man, and an excellent day care provider.

Or one lesbian and her girlfriend. And one gay uncle who stops by when the kids need the feminine touch.

Or one widower and his kids, and their grandmother who moved into the apartment downstairs to help take care of them.

Or one divorcee and her kids and her second husband and his kids. And their exes who takes all the kids on the weekends. Woo hoo!

And, yes, traditional marriage aficionados, it might just mean: One woman and the kids she had from a drunken one-night stand, and the nice guy she met when she sobered up and got married for real. And their children.


The great thing about being a human, and not just a monkey, is that year after year, we come up with better and better ways of doing almost everything.

100 years ago, our idea of transportation was a horse and/or buggy. Now, look what we’ve got.

200 years ago, our idea of space travel was: If a rocket ever pierces the soft underbelly of heaven, God will freak out and come down and destroy us all before we even get close to the moon.

Thank God we no longer harbor those childish notions.

Or the immature ideas about sex we had in the 1850s.

And thank God, there are people in this century, who care enough about families, that they’ve invented better ways of raising them, than the ones we had when we were growing up.

Now we’ve got things like time outs and play dates, and maternity leave. We don’t have to beat our kids with hickory switches, or wash their mouths out with soap.

We’ve learned that couples with problems should talk about their problems. That’s an entirely new concept.

We’ve learned that it’s not moral or ethical to stay with someone who harms your kids in any way. And that one good parent is way better than two bad parents.

We’ve learned because, like children in a good family… We’ve grown.

We don’t have to live in caves anymore. We don’t have to hunt for food, if we don’t want to. And we don’t have to waste entire generations of children stuck in default families, because nobody cared enough to build a real family for their kids.


Way back in the 1950s, the Slinky was the greatest toy on earth. Now it’s not. (No matter how much my dad wishes it still was.)

If you give a kid a Slinky today and tell ‘em that’s the best you could do, they’ll call Child Protective Services on you.

Just because something was popular in the ‘50s, doesn’t mean it’s ideal for today.

And it’s time for the people who wish the ideal family was the same one they had when they were a kid… To grow up.