Let's be clear: this is not an argument about homosexuality.
Homophobia in the Church, especially among evangelical circles, is as real as it is wrong, and there is an element of hypocrisy there, too: the Church of England, and, dare it be said, the Catholic Church probably rely more on gay people than they do on 'little old ladies'. And if, as a member of a minority group, you aren't welcome in the church, where are you welcome? As Cardinal Basil Hume once said: 'In whatever context it arises and always respecting the appropriate manner of its expression love between two persons whether of the same sex or of different sex is always to be treasured and respected.'
Similarly, gay adoption, legalised in this country in 2002, is here to stay.
None of this takes away from the fact – fast forward to yesterday – that there was something curious about the reporting of the news that the diver Tom Daley and his husband Dustin Lance Black are 'having a baby'.
In a carefully managed public relations move met with blanket acclaim, they both posted on social media pictures of themselves holding aloft a photograph of a baby scan in a womb with messages wishing their followers a happy Valentine's Day, while Daley's publicist issued a statement on his behalf saying, merely: 'Tom and Dustin are thrilled to share that they are expecting their first child in 2018.'
The original wires report of this development, on the Press Association, made no mention at all of the mother. Nor did most of the follow-up coverage, including page 3 of the popular free-sheet Metro today. There was no detail on how this is possible.
And that – let's be clear again – is all that is being pointed out here.
Agree or disagree, it should be noted that our society accepts without question a world in which women can be used to give birth – a hugely emotional experience, no doubt – having been air-brushed out of the equation for the sake of promoting in the media a couple whose marriage was described by Daley only in December as 'far from perfect'.
Daley and Black are not the first high profile couple to do this. The millionaires Elton John and his husband David Furnish reportedly paid a surrogate mother £20,000 for a child or children.
Because there were no details released, we do not know if money has changed hands on this occasion. But questions should be raised about babies becoming commodities, the result of transactions. After all, what more appropriate mark of our transactional society is there than that?
Of course it is not just gay couples who use surrogate mothers. Heterosexual couples have done it, too, and as the first British surrogate mother told The Independent: 'The headlines were terrible. "Born to be sold", "No better than prostitution", "Sold for carpets and curtains".'
Thankfully, there was no such reaction to yesterday's story.
But instead, there was no mention of the mother in question, who may of course have requested anonymity (in which case the papers ought to have said so). Nonetheless, that is worth recording as a sign of the times.
As are the distinct disadvantages.
As Elizabeth Howard of Catholic Voices, who speaks from unique personal experience, tells Christian Today: 'A baby is always a blessing and someone of inestimable value. However, Tom Daley's baby will be deliberately deprived of a mother, and no matter how much Tom Daley and his partner love the baby, it will not make up for the enormous loss inflicted on him or her.
'As a donor-conceived person, I know myself that to grow up without one's genetic parent means a huge loss of identity and often leads to a sense of not belonging. Not only that, but donor-conceived people aren't even allowed to feel or express a sense of loss. We're basically told to "shut up and be grateful", because the focus is completely on the adults' needs rather than the children. Elton John himself has said that it will be "heartbreaking" for his son to grow up without a mother.'
You do not have to be opposed to gay adoption to be concerned for the woman at the heart of this publicity. You do not have to be homophobic to spare a thought for her, and her blessing of a baby.
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