False foundations

Chuck Colson
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Posted: Jun 15, 2006 9:05 AM

Note: The subject matter of this commentary may not be suitable for children. Please use parental discretion.

Earlier this week, the cable network Bravo aired the documentary Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family. The film is designed “to challenge conventional ideas of family,” according to director Susan Kaplan.

Three of Hearts shows two gay men, Steven Margolin and Sam Cagnina, bringing a woman into their relationship. For several years, the director followed Steven and Sam—and the woman they called their “wife,” Samantha Singh. (Sam actually married her, presumably on behalf of both men.) We see them interact with their families, run a business, and have a daughter, Siena. We do not find out until later which man is her father.

Significantly, at least two of the trio come from difficult family situations. In particular, Sam speaks movingly about what life was like with his father in and out of prison. He confesses, “I chose [Steven and Samantha] as my parents. . . . I need someone to try to take care of me.” All three are in therapy, and Sam’s therapist thinks it is likely that as he matures, he may outgrow the relationship—an indication of the immature attitudes that got this relationship started in the first place.

But it is Steven who leaves after thirteen years, just before Samantha’s second child is born. Now, battling over everything from business arrangements to dog-care expenses, everybody has a different opinion of their former relationship. And Sam admits, “I think we were all building a house on false foundations.”

Although Sam is helping Samantha raise both children, he has no legal rights to the little girl. Steven turns out to be Siena’s biological father—but he has her only for a few days every month.

On top of it all, Sam and Samantha no longer have a sexual relationship. Though they are still married, Samantha calls the marriage a “technicality.” On the film’s website, Sam explains, “What we both want eventually is to live next door to each other raising our children together; we will both live with someone we love.” Since Steven already has a new partner, this would give Siena six parental figures and three homes!

If your head is spinning, I don’t blame you. It’s hard, however, not to feel sorry for these unhappy and disillusioned people—but it’s also hard not to get upset with them for bringing children into such an inherently unstable situation. You have to wonder, what on earth were they thinking?

Ironically, the director and her subjects consider this a “political” film striking a blow against defenders of traditional marriage, and legislation like the federal marriage amendment. But if they’re really proposing a mess like this as an alternative to traditional families, they are shooting themselves in the foot. The film makes you root for traditional marriage. If these confused people had had more stable families, they might not have grown into the kind of adults who mess up their kids’ lives just to prove a point.

Although Bravo aired Three of Hearts earlier this week, it will probably air it again. If it does, this is once when I am going to suggest to you that you watch what is meant as propaganda for “alternative” marriage. Get your friends and family to watch it too, because what they are going to see is what a wreck we make of our lives when we ignore God’s plan for marriage and families. And those watching will gain a new understanding of why we must fight to protect and promote marriage.


For Further Reading and Information

Three of Hearts premiered on the Bravo channel on June 12. Read about the film at its website.

Read some reviews of Three of Hearts here.

Joanne Ostrow, “It’s a ‘Three’s Company’ for the 21st Century,” Denver Post, 1 June 2006.

Learn more about the Marriage Protection Amendment and how you can support it.