Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category

I will admit to a bit of apprehension about writing this.  This issue is such an inflammatory one anymore that I believe that there is no way to espouse any opinion without angering someone.  However, it’s weighed on my mind for so long now I have to put something down on paper.  I’m asking ahead of time for some patience.  Please read it through and hear me out.

In 1991, I was a 22 year old Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  There had been a debate going on in the paper about homosexuality in the military and I decided to put my two cents in.  Below is a small tidbit of what I said back then:

I have no particular love of homosexuality, but then I’m not a homosexual.  But, as I’ve worked with people who’ve been divorced, had sex before marriage and other activities, which the Bible states are wrong, I see no problem working with someone who is gay.  It’s not my job to take the place of God and judge anyone.  And, as much as the military would think it’s their right, it’s really none of their concern what a person does in his private life, especially if it’s done with another consenting adult.  Let God be God.  If it’s wrong, He’ll let them know.

Not the best worded opinion I’ve ever wrote, but I was pretty young.   However, I still feel this way.

As you might imagine, I received some flak from my immediate supervisor over this article.  (Keep in mind, this was several years before, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.)  The third to last sentence talks about how it’s none of the militiary’s business about this issue.  I was told I had no right to say this in a public forum as a member of the military. In fact, I was ordered to submit any future “opinions” I had to my supervisor before they were sent to the paper.  I may not like to admit this, but as arcane as that sounds, my supervisor was right.  I was in the military and like it or not, your freedom is limited to a degree when you serve.

I wrote this article because I had a very close friend in the Marines that was gay.  He was my first supervisor when I was stationed in North Carolina.  He got out of the military not long after that but we remained friends.  I cared for him and I saw the struggles he went through and it bothered me that he couldn’t just be who he was.  He had to keep it a secret the entire time he served our country and generally most of his adult life.  He struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction and I’m sure that his keeping this a secret was partly to blame.  Today, I don’t even know if this man is still alive.

So you might say that I have a somewhat libertarian view of homosexuality.  I’ve been raised in a faith and then chose a different faith as an adult in which both teach homosexuality is a sin.  I believe that to be true.  But, I also believe it’s not my place to interfere in what someone does in their personal life.  I believe in essence, “each to their own.”  I’ve known several people in my life that are gay and I really don’t care.  It’s their life.  It really, truly is none of my business.

That being said, I draw the line at when the tables are turned and now people who have a spiritual conviction against homosexuality are being told they must ignore their convictions and participate – in any way – in something they feel is sinful.

In both Kansas and in South Dakota there were laws that were debated this winter about protecting the right of a business owner from being sued if they refuse to provide a service to a same sex couple because of their religious convictions.  Both laws never completely made it through their states’ Congress and are now dead in the water.

This is probably a good thing – to a degree.  Both laws were too broad from what I can determine.  It seemed they could be used to allow firing of someone for being gay as well as allowing discrimination against same sex couples for pretty much anything.  All of that is wrong.

It does bring up some issues for me though.  Here are some of the things I think of and my thoughts on each.

Should a business owner be allowed to refuse service to a same sex couple?

If the service is done in regards to a religious ceremony – such as a wedding – then my opinion is yes, that business owner should be able to refuse service if they choose.  Telling a business owner that they are not allowed to have a religious conviction when they choose to go into business is absolutely foolish.  That’s like me asking you to cut off your toe before you go into your career field.  People’s religious convictions are a part of who they are.  You can’t turn that off and on.  If you can, then it’s not a true conviction.

I’ve heard people also argue that it is ok to say a preacher can’t be forced to marry a same sex couple but that a business owner isn’t afforded that same right?  Why?  Just because a person isn’t a preacher, that doesn’t mean they don’t have religious convictions similar to that preacher!  It just means the preacher chose to make his convictions into a career.   The business owner didn’t but his/her convictions are still a part of who they are every day.

So, if a business, such as a cake decorating company or a photography shop was asked to provide their service for a same sex wedding, they should be able to refuse – in my opinion.  But, that same company being asked to provide the same service outside of a wedding or other religious activity, should not be able to refuse the service, even if the people who requested it are gay.

Likewise, if any business is asked to perform a service that is not part of a religious ceremony, then I believe that business cannot refuse service when requested to do this by someone who is gay.  If you feel that strongly about keeping gay people out of your life, then honestly, you need to remove yourself from the public entirely.

Should a business owner be forced to refuse service to a same sex couple?

Absolutely not.  I’ve heard some say that the law that they tried to pass in South Dakota would have done this.  If so, it deserved to die.  What a ridiculous concept.

Should a gay person be allowed to be fired for being gay?

Again, no.  Seems odd that in the 21st century we even have to ask this question.  I truly thought that being gay was a protected status.  Recently, I learned otherwise and that shocked me.  It seems to me to be an arbitrary reason to fire someone.  It’s like firing someone because they like peanut butter and jelly.

As you can see my only real issue is tied to when a business owner is being required to ignore his/her convictions.  I believe that my thoughts on that  as described above could be a viable way to create a solution to the problem – but one voice like mine gets drowned out in the thunderous clamor of screams of “bigot!” and/or “sinner!” that seem to take up so much of this discussion.

I have to pause for a moment and talk about those two words, bigot and sinner.  These two words take up so much of any conversation on this topic that it is difficult to have a rational conversation with anyone anymore.

If you look at a person who has a religious conviction against homosexuality and with nothing more than that to go on call them a bigot, you are absolutely the same as the Westboro group that goes around preaching hate towards everyone.  Seriously.  It’s an inflammatory word that makes discussion impossible.

Likewise, if you look at someone who is either gay or believes homosexuality to be a normal part of life and call them a sinner with nothing more than that to go on, you are the same as the Westboro group as well.  Keep in mind, if you truly believe it’s a sin, you must believe we are all sinners, and that includes you so explain to me why you feel it’s your right to yell it into someone else’s face?

I believe we are on the cusp of a huge change in this country.  Because of the way people are approaching this issue, I truly believe any solution we come up with is going to hurt someone.  We seem bent on either two solutions:

  • Ignore a person’s right to have religious convictions against homosexuality.
  • Ignore a person’s right to live a homosexual life free from discrimination.

This makes me sad.  I think in as country as great as ours, that we should be able to come up with a more reasoned approach.  The older I get though, the more convinced I’m becoming that “reasoned approaches” are a thing of the past.

6 Counter-Arguments

Posted by Doug White under Personal, Spiritual

I have spent most of life not realizing that people like this exist.  I really didn’t.  Now they seem to be coming out in groves.  Last week it was a mother blaming young girls for the lustful thoughts of her boys.  This week it is a man trying to convince people their daughters shouldn’t go to college.

There is a Catholic organization known as “Fix the Family” that this week posted an article called “6 Reasons to Not Send Your Daughter to College” (http://www.fixthefamily.com/blog/6-reasons-to-not-send-your-daughter-to-college).  The title of the article says it all.  This man actually believes it is wrong – and in some cases sinful – to send your daughters to college.

I’d like to discuss these reasons in detail.

1.  She will attract the wrong types of men.  The argument he makes here is that lazy men are looking for “responsible, organized, smart” women.  Ok, let me get this straight.  A woman is only responsible, organized and smart if she goes to college?  And a college woman will only be attractive to a lazy man?  A man who is not lazy is going to be attracted to what?  An irresponsible, disorganized, foolish woman?  This is such a ridiculous concept.  People are attracted to who they are attracted to.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  Going to college or not going to college has absolutely nothing to do with it.

2.  She will be in a near occasion of sin.   I have to admit, this one makes me laugh.  Apparently, this man believes that a woman will be lost in the lustful world of college.  But men on the other hand?  They’ll handle it just fine.   I simply don’t understand the mentality of some people – and these people are usually fairly conservative and religious too which boggles my mind – that men can be excused for their sexual inclinations but we must move Heaven and Earth to protect women from their sexual inclinations.  The author of that article also referenced a Catholic OB-GYN too that said something along the lines that a woman notices a man’s faults while they are friends but once they become sexually active she enters a “dreamy state” about him and ignores his faults.  Really?  REALLY?  Having been married for twenty years, let me just attest to the fact that my wife is in NO dreamy state about my faults.  None.  That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time.

3.  She will not learn to be a wife and mother.  Apparently going to college is bad because it doesn’t teach you to cook, clean and change diapers.  He’s right.  It doesn’t.  So.  What.  I know that I’m going against a lot of masculine religious superiority beliefs that a woman is required of God to stay at home and take care of the house.  I’m at a point in my life that I don’t really care.  I’m not sure I ever did.  I flat out reject the idea that God intends all women to stay at home.  To be fair, I also reject the idea that there is anything wrong with a woman who makes that choice to be a stay at home mom.  The woman should be able to make that choice.  When my wife and I first married, she had her college degree and I did not.  I was still going to college.  Apparently I was the lazy guy he mentions in #1 that looked for the responsible, organized and smart woman.  (Thank God I found her!)  By the time I earned my college degree we had a 1 year old baby.  When I was hired at my first job, my wife told me she had decided that she wanted to stay at home and raise our daughter.  I was actually a little unsure.  I thought we couldn’t afford to live on one income but we found a way and our daughter (and our second daughter) were both beneficiaries of that choice.  However, that was a choice that we made.   It made sense for our family and may not be the right choice for your family.  When it comes time for my own daughters to make that choice, I’m going to encourage them – as I believe God intends me to – to make the choice that is best for their life.

4. The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup.  Here he goes back to the same argument he made in #2.  It’s a bad thing for the woman, but not for the man to incur a significant cost by going to college.   He also seems to imply that a man can bring a more valuable skill to the workplace than a woman.  I am a software developer, which is a profession that pays fairly well.  In my particular field, men outnumber the women.  But I can assure you, the women I’ve known in this field are equally as marketable as any man and in some cases, more so.  Gender has nothing to do with it.   Yes, college costs are inflated and are becoming more and more difficult to repay.  But that also has nothing to do with gender.  Trying to tie the cost of college to a gender simply makes no sense.

5.  You don’t have to prove anything to the world.  The author of this article made this statement:  But the confounding thing is that they went through all this effort to raise and educate their daughters themselves but don’t give their daughters the opportunity to do the same by locking her into a career.  Again, I have to ask…why is gender the culprit here?  If parents are locking their daughters into a career, aren’t they also locking their sons into ones?  There’s a common theme in this article and it is this:  women need to be protected from their choices.

6.  It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents.  This argument goes towards a belief that as a non-Catholic, I simply don’t share.  His argument on this one is that parents who bear the cost of college tuition for their daughters will then decide to not have more children because they can’t afford it.  Once again, we have the theme that parents will do this because they send their girl to college, but won’t because they send their boy.  That’s the first ridiculous aspect of this.  But the second is the apparent idea that married couples are required to do nothing more than keep popping out children for as long as they can.  I respect the fact that this is a religious belief that some have.  I will fight for your right to have that belief.  I am one who abhors the idea that the government is mandating that you who have this belief must, by law, pay for the birth control of others who don’t have this belief.  But the argument here is being used as a guilt trip on the parents.  Logically and generally speaking by the time your daughter is going to college, the parents are at an age where they are done having kids.  This argument for most people is a non-argument.

There are two other reasons he lists in his “6 reasons” not to send your daughter to college (apparently his schooling failed him as that makes “8 reasons” not 6.   I don’t feel like going into them.  I think I’ve demonstrated the silliness of his general arguments pretty decently.

In a blog not that long ago, I made a comment that a few liberal friends of mine reacted quite negatively too.  In that blog I said I “abhor feminism”.  I made this statement because my own experience with feminism hasn’t always been that great.  What I’ve seen with some feminists is the idea that they need to be “more than” a man, instead of “equal with” a man.  I reject that like I reject all of what this man has to say.  I personally would like to see no “ism’s” but rather a sense of treating everyone as an equal.

But I will tell you, after the last couple weeks, I am starting to feel like I can see the point of some feminists.  I stated at the beginning of this article that I never realized people like this guy and the mother from last week actually existed.  I’m seeing more and more people like this and when I look at my daughters and I think of what I want for their future, I feel like I need to stand up and call these people out.  If that puts me on the side of feminism, then so be it.

 

A few weeks ago Catholic churches were dealt a significant blow in regards to the new health-care mandate that President Obama’s administration has thrust upon America.  The churches themselves will not be required to provide birth control to their employees.  However, if the church runs a business – such as a hospital, which many Catholic churches do – they will have to provide birth control to their employees.  This goes against the tenets of the Catholic faith.

I am not a Catholic – I used to be one but converted to the Baptist faith 20 years ago.  Likewise, I frankly find the idea of birth control being a sin to be somewhat ridiculous.  But I stand with the Catholics on this one.  It’s not my place to tell the Catholic Church what they can and cannot believe, and it’s not President Obama’s place either.

How do you tell a religious organization that teaches one thing that they must pay for something that goes against the thing they teach against?  How do you do that in a country that has as one of its principal freedoms the right to practice the faith that you wish?  How do you do that and claim you are not attacking that very freedom?

I’ve heard all the arguments over the last several days.  Well what if a Jehovah’s Witness church wouldn’t pay for a blood transfusion?  What if a Christian Scientist church wouldn’t pay for any health care at all?  Great questions and 100% not related to the point at hand.  I agree with the idea that church cannot endanger a person’s life.  So, I’m ok with and look forward to the courts determining what exceptions there are in regards to these types of arguments.

Not taking birth control does not guarantee you are going to die.  I’m sure there are people who will inundate me with cases where birth control is needed to regulate a problem a woman is having and not to prevent a pregnancy.  But I will argue back that in many of the cases where the Catholic Church is being asked to violate their belief system those women are not taking birth control to save their life.  The primary use of birth control is to prevent pregnancy and that is also done by other means.  Protection for the man.  Abstinence.  Paying for the birth control yourself.  Quitting your job and working for a place that does pay for it.  There are options.  The idea that this is the only option is just plain silly – and goes a large way in showing the mentality of many that demand that others provide for their needs.

The other thing that is truly frightening is the military response to this.  Last week, the Catholic Church had its priests read a letter indicating they will not obey this unjust law.  This was to be read by the military priests too.  Except leaders in the military tried to prevent it from being read.  Some priests openly defied those leaders and I commend them for it.

Before anyone says that the military leaders did the right thing, let me ask you a question.  Back in 1991, while I was in the Marines, I wrote a letter to the local paper lambasting the military about the fact they don’t accept gays.  This is a position I held as a young man that I hold to some degree today with minor changes because the issue is more complicated than my 21 year old self realized.  I was taken to task severely by the NCO in charge of me and told I could not write any further letters without having them read by him.

Was he wrong? He told me I could not take a pro-gay point of view because I was in the military and the military at that point was not pro-gay.  If he was wrong at that point, then the military is wrong now for their trying to suppress the rights of the Catholic priests for speaking about something they morally object to.  It can’t be ok only if the reason the military did this is for the reason you agree with.

One other thing.  I’ve also heard that many Catholics also do not agree with the Church’s position on contraception.  This is not a valid argument for allowing this to happen.  Every person of faith has the right to determine if their beliefs coincide with that of their church.  That’s between them, the church and God.  That doesn’t mean the government gets to step in and say that it is time to change because many of your faith don’t practice this anyways.  What is happening here is a very subtle attempt to incite a rebellion in this faith.

I think the Obama administration has seriously miscalculated their position here.  I grew up Catholic and I truly believe the Church will shut down these businesses before they violate their principles. They did it with adoption agencies not too long ago and I really think they’ll do it here.  Then many people will be out of work and without health care access at all.  How’s that going to play out on an election year?

This is a ridiculous law and it needs to be removed.