Friday, April 10, 2009

National Organization for Marriage

I left a note on the National Organization for Marriage blog that I wrote carefully, in response to their ad.  Here it is:

One of the big problems I see is that when kids are taught that it’s okay for other people to marry anyone they want, they naturally apply that same logic to themselves. So teaching tolerance can end up advocating homosexuality. The big message of this ad is that gays aren’t just asking for tolerance any more, but instead want to evangelize their lifestyle in a (manditory) public venue.

I think the really scary thing happening in school is that we don’t have full control over the values that our kids develop. Some of them, exposed to a message of tolerance, are going to go past that tolerance and experiment with a homosexual lifestyle, against the wishes of their parents. It’s plenty hard just teaching kids the basics, like a sense of justice and fair play. State mandated messages in school open a can of worms that would probably be easier to deal with a few years later when the kids are adults and have their value systems more fully formed.

If we’re going to be teaching tolerance to the children of people of some faiths, who believe that homosexuality is an abomination, then we need to get the message in school clear that, while homosexuality should be tolerated and is part of the “normal” spectrum of human behavior in the larger world, it is NOT acceptable and NOT normal if you are going to be a member of these faiths. Then at least the kids can wrestle directly with the issue that their parent’s faith requires a stricter set of behavior than society at large does. That leads to questions of faith which can then be directed to a priest, elder, etc.


About the marriage license thing: you are part of many groups. Some large, like your state, which grants marriage licenses. Some less inclusive, like your faith. The norms of the more inclusive groups have to be broader. That’s why your faith can say no to homosexuality while your state may say okay. Since lots of people get married in a church, they tend to think of marriage as being something granted by the church. But that hasn’t been true for a long time. As my pastor pointed out, I was legally married to my wife BEFORE we got to church, just by the process of getting a marriage license.

Lighten up about the imprimatur of your approval. If people want to know how you feel about homosexuality they’ll look to your faith before they look to your state, and that’ll be clear enough.


  1. Nicely put. I hope they eventually actually post your comment.

  2. You say: "I think the really scary thing happening in school is that we don’t have full control over the values that our kids develop."

    No one is forcing you to put your kids in public schools, nor are they forcing you to tell your kids everything they're taught is what you believe. If you believe it's ok to hate someone for who they are and what they believe, then tell your kids that; I'm sure they'll pick up on your bigotry really quick.

    Sunday school is where kids should learn what is or isn't acceptable to their religion; not public school. Do you want public schools also making a point about what other religions do and don't believe about things like evolution, or psychology? "Kids, if you're a Scientologist, this psychology class is evil to you."

    Also, I'm pretty sure you're not legally married till after the license is signed by an officiant and witnesses.

  3. Funny thing, though, there's probably not one faith whose leaders ostracize gays and lesbians, or condemn homosexuality, that doesn't have an active internal debate about whether that is the right path, the righteous path. There are gay Catholics, Baptist, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, you name it. Maybe there's even more kids could learn in school, especially about how to live in world without giving up what they feel inside themselves.

  4. I wrote that post carefully, in order to say just the points that I think are compelling to serious people both for and against gay marriage, without just saying that I'm personally fine with gay marriage. And if we're going to purge peanut butter from schools because 0.1% of the population has a nut allergy, then I think it's fairly reasonable to teach the civic issues around a minority of 5% or 10% or whatever it is of the population.

    I think it's interesting that Mr. Atheist seems to think I'm against gay marriage. Perhaps I'm misreading his comment. Just because I think something is scary doesn't mean I won't do it. I just pay more attention when I do scary things.

    One interesting anecdote: I actually know two couples who are gay, and neither are interested in marriage. I think the issue in both cases is that the gay marriage thing is too politicized. In any case, my principle reaction is that if I were in a relationship with someone for over a decade, I'd want to make some big commitments, like a house, kids, deciding where in the world to live, etc. Somehow the institution of marriage says to me that two people are ready to take on commitments that either one of them, alone, probably can't do. I think there really is something to a ceremony where you make promises to each other in front of essentially everyone you know personally, after some counseling and meditation about the significance of the decision. In both cases the fact that these couples I know are not married makes me uncomfortable. It seems just weird to spend that much time together and not be married. I know a hetero couple who have been unmarried now for over a decade... same thing. I keep wondering, are they serious, or not? Why can't they figure it out?