Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Let's Talk About Family Values

Canada is about to become the third country in the world to legalize gay marriage, taking the next step towards equal civil rights. The rest of the world awaits the inevitable implosion of the traditional family pundits said would take place if gays were granted equal rights.

"Gay marriage infringes on the sanctity of marriage" said Steve Cowel. "The problem with this country is the breakdown of the family."

Once again, the link was made between new fears and the destruction of the family. This made me think of a few things.

1. Christians have had the last 2000 years to keep marriage sacred and have done a lousy job. In a recent poll, 4 out of 5 divorced Baptist women wished their ex-husbands had upheld the sanctity of marriage.

2. Most parents are completely over-worked in our consumer-oriented society. I've known husbands working overtime hours while their wives were sick in the hospital. Often, both parents have no choice but to work, spending less time with their children. The weekend is quickly becoming just an extension of the week.

3. Sending our kids to college is becoming more and more expensive. College costs increase at twice the inflation rate, the average tuition now being $27,677 for a 4-year degree at a private college.

4. 18 year olds are often invited to go into debt. When I was 18 I received credit card offers. 10 years later I am just now paying those cards off. I am not alone: many other young-adults that I know are also deeply in debt by the time they are 22 from either college loans or credit cards.

5. There is no universal health-care system for people who get sick and need constant care. Missouri has just recently cut it's health-care spending, leaving thousands destitute. Medicine is a wonderful thing, but now it often allows people to live long enough to catch a disease like Alzheimer’s which eventually requires 24-hour care and can last for years before killing a person. Families face the grim prospect of having to pay for this care, losing their savings.

A better country would have answers for the problems it already has, rather than waxing philosophical about potential problems if two gays are allowed to have equal rights. I'm tired of hearing about family-values, patriotism, and our country's Christian roots. Perhaps those screaming about the Ten Commandments in schools, and embracing a society that erodes the family should memorize a few more Bible verses.

"Show me your faith by what you say, and I'll show you my faith by what I do."


"I desire mercy, and not sacrifice."

What are the answers to these problems? How come fundamentalists aren't up in arms about the American 45+ hour work week and workaholism? France has figured out that it's better for people to work less, implementing a 35 hour work week. Families have more time to spend with their kids, they are less work-obsessed, and consequentially more productive. France has figured out that what is best for one little child reaping the benefits of having his or her parents around more often is better for society as a whole in the long run.

France, the same country labeled as "secular", "atheistic", "socialistic", and "weak" by Americans, is at the fore-front of family values. We have a lot to learn. Our families fall apart, and religious and social leaders offer no solutions other than to cast stones at gays who attempt to procure equal rights. That is ridiculous. We obviously have no idea as a country about "family values", how can we tell those who want equal rights what is right?

Canada is now taking the next step in their social experiment in civil rights. The Roman Catholic church is concerned to be sure. But then again, civil-rights was never Catholicism's strong suit. Let's watch and see if Canadian families begin to fall apart. Or, maybe it's modern consumerism, workaholism, and selfishness that lead to the destruction of the family. These are habits America has cornered the market on.

Physician, heal thyself.

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