Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Making an Example of Myself

It's been 4 days since I posted Against My Better Judgment, and once again, conversation in the comments both on the blog and on my Facebook has prompted a follow-up post. 

Douglas, Megandy, and timbarjenbruch all posted related arguments about my last point—the idea that we don't really know what social consequences same sex marriage will have, so Christians (and others who oppose it) are justified in raising concerns that it could turn out badly.

Basically, they caught me red-handed, doing exactly what my post was urging against. I spent considerable time building a case that when we're feeling vulnerable and defensive, we tend to offer arguments that are just a little bit removed from the real issue that concerns us. And that's exactly what I did.

As a writer, I'm kicking myself for doing that. I should have thought through the post more carefully before I published it. I should have had someone scrutinize it for me. Shame on me for being sloppy.

As a sister, friend, U.S. citizen and follower of Jesus, I'm glad I did it, because it opened the door for a real conversation in which people pointed out inconsistencies, gaps and just plain hurtful things in my thought process. Though it rarely happens in online conversations, I think true dialogue really did happen here, and I'm glad for the opportunity to continue it.

The Fallout

Because I violated my own standard, here's what happened: 

I didn't present a clear picture of what I'm really hoping for in the SCOTUS decision. 

I tossed out a few facts and theories that I truly do find interesting. (Especially this WSJ article.) But they didn't really paint a picture of what is bothering me or what I was hoping for. 

Timbarjenbruck guessed at what I was hoping for: He thought I probably wanted a long-term trial of SSM and parenting for the purpose of gathering real data, with the option of backing out if it doesn't go so well. That wasn't my position, just my poor summary of an interesting idea I heard from Jonathan Rauch (who, by the way, is an extremely gracious, social conservative proponent of SSM whom I recently had the privilege of hearing. I was impressed with how well he has listened to people on both sides of the argument, but I couldn't help thinking, "How the heck does this guy vote?" I mean, social conservative and pro-SSM: talk about a conflict of values when choosing candidates! OK, rabbit trail. Back to the subject...)  

The truth is, I don't really know what I'm hoping for, except that I'm hoping there's some way to stem the tide of family breakdown, which is happening across every imaginable type of family. And I know many in the LGBT community honestly hold the same hope. 

Regarding the decision about DOMA (which Megandy rightly pointed out simply tosses the question back to the states), I waver between hoping DOMA will be upheld (more about that in a minute) and feeling that the tide of culture has already turned on this and it is fruitless to try to hold back the wave any longer. That ought to be enough to make folks on both sides of this argument angry at me.

My position didn't account for the real world.

Megandy made the point that similar parenting outcomes are likely to happen whether or not we legalize SSM, because same-sex couples are increasingly raising children together, marriage license or not. (Ergo, my objection to SSM on the grounds that it will produce negative social outcomes was invalid, or at least over-simplistic.) 

I caused unnecessary hurt. 

Douglas (who is parenting one-year-old twins as part of a two-dad family) pointed out that putting LGBT parents under unusual scrutiny is inconsistent with the way we treat other types of parents. Moreover, he let me know that it makes him really self-conscious about his parenting. I hate that, because he is a good dad. And so is his husband.

Yep, I caused all those problems, simply because I wasn't vulnerable enough to say what I was really thinking. Please allow me a do-over, and I'll see if I can be more honest this time.

What I Really Should Have Said Was...

First, because of the way I read the Bible, I deeply believe that anytime we disobey God's commands or disregard his design, it goes badly for us. And I want it to go well for us. All of us. That's all.

That's my one reason for hoping DOMA is upheld. I know it opens up an entirely different, equally explosive conversation about whether Judeo-Christian morality has any place in government. You can start that conversation here if you want to. I probably don't have the emotional energy to participate right now.

Second, I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place because I am trying to respect those on the other side of the argument. I know many of you don't buy the previous idea, so I am trying to find support for my position that you will find valid. (Hence my decision to post an article from a well-respected, fairly neutral publication that appealed to good research and underscored the importance of solid research methodology.) But it's hard, because we're really starting with some fundamentally opposing ideas about right and wrong. I don't know what to do about that, other than to try to be more honest while still trying to find common ground and seek truth wherever it can be found.

So, there you have it. Tell me what you think.

[A final note: I know I didn't address all of the arguments presented by these three commenters, not to mention all the other commenters. I don't have the bandwidth to do that, but I commit to continuing the conversation face-to-face with those I love, and I hope all of you will do the same.]

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