03 December 2010

ARG: Family- I Can Have One Too

I want to write something concerning a lie that I believed for a long time before and during the process of coming to terms with my sexuality when I was determining what that was going to mean for me and my life. It is the notion that being gay means you will never have a family of your own. I hear this being the reason why so many gay LDS young men want to marry a woman despite the fact that they are gay. When a friend of mine told her mom that I was gay, she said, "the saddest thing is he will never get to have a family." I believed this once. I couldn't imagine being completely fulfilled living as a gay guy because having kids is something I really want. So I figured I should meet some woman who is just unbelievably awesome and would marry me even though I couldn't love her like she deserved to be loved by a man. And then I thought- how selfish of me. For me to have a happy, fulfilled life, kids are in the picture, but the woman isn't. It would basically be like using her for her ability to bare children. If the girl happened to be sterile, I'm not sure I would ever consider marrying her because the marriage part isn't the thing I see as giving me real happiness and fulfillment. That is selfish. I can't believe I thought like that.

Ok, so lets start with the definition of family (in the dictionary). I'm not going to bore you with what we already know about families. But here are some things to keep in mind:

In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children. One of the primary functions of the family is to produce and reproduce persons, biologically and socially. Think about families of today. Is it really based on physical reproduction? Would you not call a husband and wife who both got remarried to each other after their spouses died, and brought in children from their previous relationships a family? What if they never actually reproduced together? Would they still be a family? Yes. How many moms would the kids have? Two. Dads? Two.

What about parents who are sterile? What if they adopt. They definitely didn't physically reproduce. But they are involved in social reproduction. Are they not a family? What about kids who for one reason or another live with relatives. Their grandparents raise them. Are they not a family? Family takes so many different forms. Why is it that we exclude the type of family I can have?

In all honesty, I don't think God is impressed with the ability of a man and woman to physically reproduce. Any guy and girl could hook up in a drunken daze and do it. The physical part doesn't prove anything about your character or learning and progress about life. I think God is impressed with the way some people choose to go about raising those kids, teaching them, being examples to them, socializing them. This concept of social reproduction is interesting: Social reproduction is a sociological term referring to processes which sustain or perpetuate characteristics of a given social structure or tradition over a period of time.

This brings me to the charge to "multiply and replenish the earth." Could it be that we have misinterpreted what this means? I wonder if God is up there shaking his head- "these kids... all they think about is sex." What if what is meant by multiplying and replenishing the earth is that we are to teach our children and help them to become productive, contributing members of society and of Christ's church? Are we not replenishing the earth with individuals who can act on their own and not be commanded in all things to go forth and be a source of goodness and light to the world? Furthermore, what would you say of the abusive drug attics who had sex during one of their crazy highs and had a kid who they ignored and abused as he/she grew instead of teach and guide? These two people certainly physically reproduced and replenished the earth... so does that mean they fulfilled God's commandment? I don't think so. What have they replenished the earth with? What have they reproduced? Another troubled kid who feels unloved and uncared for? Someone who doesn't have the tools to go forth and make positive contributions?

Obviously physical reproduction is necessary and important. But it isn't everything. There are plenty of cases where that is not possible due to infertility, disabilities, health, etc, etc. So can we say that those couples are not fulfilling the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth? I may not be able to physically reproduce with a male partner, but we can adopt or opt for a surrogate mother. We can also be just as effective as (and most likely more effective than) many heterosexual parents in socially reproducing our children.  Which brings me to an argument against the church's charge against gay marriage, etc.

The church would have me live a celibate life without a partner. It would have me refrain from even dating. They would have me live alone. For the rest of my life. Now, if this life is all about learning and progression, to what extent would I be able to learn and progress living a life like that? On the other hand, say I got married to a man. We adopted children. We raised them and taught them the best we could. We experienced trials together as a family, etc, etc. Now wouldn't that experience be far more beneficial to learning and progression? To learn compromise and loyalty withing a valid, loving relationship? To experience the challenge and joys of raising children? I believe I would be much more likely to learn more of what it must be like to be God in that kind of life than it would a celibate, lonely one.

Many would argue with me citing "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I ask you to withhold those arguments. I want to address that document in the same kind of fashion I have been addressing the interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman.

Could it be that one of the reasons God saw it fit to allow the existence of gay individuals was to give loving homes to the thousands of kids without homes? To give those kids a chance at life? I don't know. Maybe.


Too Hard Headed to Give Up said...

i have said similar things. if you fight for your right to be a parent, i have to assume you would love and care for those children far more than a nineteen year old newly wed at BYU who only has children because that is what her friends are doing...

i hope it happens for you.

Gay Mormon said...

@Too Hard Headed- Thanks. I also feel like if gays were granted the right to marry their marriages would probably have a higher rate of success because they have had to fight so long for that right. I'm sure after the initial marriages, the numbers would be equal to heterosexual marriages, but there would be a lot of successful ones. Same goes for kids. These couples have to go through so many obstacles to be able to have kids. They really have to work hard for it. There aren't any "accidents" or unplanned children. So in all likelihood, these homes would be very well prepared for children and the parents would be very committed, simply due to the hardships they must go through to enjoy parenthood.

Steven Lester said...

These are strong arguments. I will need to be careful when writing to you. You are way smart.

bradcarmack said...

I have made similar arguments in the second part of my book! (https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B1u3K43P-3JoYTUzNjYwMGEtNzNmYi00ODkwLTllMzYtNjRlOTVlMWUwYTM2&hl=en) Thanks for articulating clearly. May I quote you?

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