A rather long essay from Orson Scott Card on Homosexual “Marriage” and Civilization with which I largely - and on some points very strongly - agree.
Simply put I do not see homosexuality as an “alternate lifestyle” or somehow an equivalent choice, rather I see homosexuality as a malfunction. Now there are lots of folks with malfunctions of various sorts that get along just fine in society. I am profoundly disinterested in what people do in private, as long as they function reasonably well in public. But homosexuality is still a malfunction.
I do strongly believe that otherwise civilized folks should not be harrassed because they choose homosexuality in private. At the same time I find the idea of homosexual “marriage” as costing more than it is worth. We are human and as a part of being human, marriage is about trying to raise children in the best possible manner. Labelling a homosexual relationship as “marriage” dilutes the meaning of the word in ways that are not in any way helpful.
We need to be clear on the meaning of marriage, and place certain value on raising our children with care.
To some extent I am on dangerous ground here, as a father of three children and divorced. I was married for 16 years and very much believed in the “marriage is forever” meme and was very concerned that divorce would harm my children. Out of concern for my children the marriage endured several years longer - in retrospect - than it should.
In the end I came to understand the my marriage could not - and probably should not - be saved. I am in fact content for Orson and other married folk not to truly understand this notion, as some understanding comes at too high a price.
Since the divorce I find that my children are doing well and almost certainly better than before. The fact that I am very close to and spend equal time with my children helps. The fact I have been able to work from home the past several years helps. The fact I have kept (with some difficulty) a home in the same community - so they could stay in the same school and keep the same friends - this also helps.
The essay also touches on preserving and strengthening civilization. One notion - or moral - that I have tried to teach my children is that civilization does not exist as a “thing” separate from each of us. Civilization is not a body of laws to which we grudgingly comply. Rather civilization is in our minds, and in how one human being treats another. To some small degree civilization is strengthened or weakened by our individual actions. Civilization is found in how we choose to behave when not otherwise compelled. To the greatest degree possible (the word “ruthless” comes near to mind) I will teach my children to be civilized - not out of habit, compulsion or convention, but rather out of thought and understanding.
The fact that Orson is Mormon brings to mind an example. One day my son came home and recounted a story about how the neighbor’s son had to be excluded from some activity because his family was Mormon. The group of kids had mocked the boy for this, and he was visibly upset by this treatment. In some sense this behavior by the group of young children was innocent and simply human. In another sense this represents the dividing line between civilized and uncivilized behavior. I explained very carefully to my son that mocking good folk because of their beliefs is thoughtless and harmful. I didn’t berate him for making an innocent mistake, but I did make it very clear that he should behave differently in future, and should try to help his peers to behave better.
On a lighter note - it is one thing to talk about principles, but I do not expect my children to absorb and internalize somewhat abstract notions all at once. When they act in a civilized manner I am at once a bit surprised and very proud (hey, they are my children :) ).