Skies are blue, birds fly over the rainbow… or so the song goes.
Now that the Same Sex Marriage (SSM) plebiscite is over and the ‘Yes’ vote has ruled, SSM will be enacted. The gay community and their supporters are elated. We can only congratulate them and wish them well.
Yet it remains to be seen whether the skies are blue for parental and religious freedoms and freedom of speech, defending or supporting traditional understanding of marriage and gender differences. Concern remains for children’s rights to grow into adulthood without being confused by intrusive legal and social pressures from fundamentalist gays and leftists to become something they are not.
‘Yes’ proponents have tended to denigrate ‘No’ voters as bigots, out of touch and worse. However it is worth examining just what are parents’ concerns.
Many parents, whether Christian or of some other faith, believe, as many have before them over thousands of years, that marriage is the formal joining of a man and a woman, for the joy of each other and the protection of any children they may produce.
Producing and socialising children is both generative and affirming. A child is a living being who evokes love and is loved in return. Parents’ innate need to be generative may be satisfied by passing wisdom onto the coming generation, at the same time affirming the worth of their own life.
Parents’ position is that simple. Beliefs and values they hold are positive ones – not against anyone, gay, single, or any other category.
Many support the gay community’s rights and wish them well, yet still desire to be free to live their lives according to their own beliefs and values without being harassed, vilified or taken to court.
The present situation reminds me of the jest – now so many children are presenting at school as dysfunctional, medicated or overweight, that ‘normal’ children become the object of ridicule – “He/she is normal!” Perhaps that time has already arrived for heterosexual parents and their children. Aware of the pressure to defer to the minority, one small business owner consciously geared services to the 98% of loyal customers rather than gear his approach to the 2% who default. To do so, he believed, would destroy his business.
While not very well articulated, parents are concerned that, against their wishes, explicit and implicit homosexual teachings and practices will be inculcated into their children before the child is cognitively or sexually able to comprehend the teachings. As likely, the child will feel pressured to embrace gender fluidity as normal for everyone and may become confused about who they are, or can become. Parents are better placed than teachers, bureaucrats or Marxists to know, understand and deliver knowledge about the facts of life to their children. They should be able to reserve their rights to protect their children from messages they see could be harmful and untimely.
Tasks of adolescence
Within the short few years of adolescence, many changes occur in the body and mind of a young person. Hormones run riot as rapid physical changes take place as the child grows into adulthood. During this time emotional swings are common as the person grows in awareness of him/herself and others – best girlfriend/boyfriend one day, while on another, developing interest in those of the opposite gender. While a small percentage (less than 2%) will ultimately settle on acceptance of themselves as being LGBTQ, the majority (98%) will find themselves further along the gender spectrum as either male or female.
Intimacy and mutuality are abiding competencies of adult maturity identified by EE and JD Whitehead, as necessary for the developing adolescent to come to a sound sense of self. In effect, intimacy and mutuality are essential to becoming a whole person, the pre-requisite to becoming a committed couple, which is absolutely crucial as the foundation for becoming a family.
Resources developed in the struggle for intimacy are:
- a supple sense of self
- an empathy with other people
- willingness to be influenced by an awareness of others
- creativity and
Friendship, love, cooperation, competition, inspiration and intuition are the experiences that may invoke in the young adult the developmental crisis of intimacy.
- Friendship and love enhance self-development through intimacy, which involves real openness to another (and to oneself). In true engagement mutuality plays an indispensable part.
- Cooperation and competition in work and play aid the development of self-awareness, self-assurance, testing and affirmation of strengths and weaknesses, flexibility, creativity, teamwork, advocacy, conflict resolution, negotiation and planning.
- Inspiration and intuition test receptivity and challenge acceptance of strengths, ambiguities and contradictions. The lack of defensiveness frees one to engage in dialogue of mutual influence that marks adult intimacy.
Mutuality in relationships that endure over time – such as friendship, marriage, collaboration in work – is expressed in common work through which we are brought to care about what is produced. The independent “I am” moves towards the mutual “we are” which itself turns outward as “we care”.
The resources of intimacy and mutuality, so important at adolescence, often need to be refreshed throughout life.
Intimacy is understood as self-disclosure. Competence in intimacy is resolved by working out who to disclose to and the nature of the self-disclosure. Public disclosure to everyone – as under pressure in a classroom, or by promiscuous behaviour with many – does nothing for the development of intimacy in the young adult. Rather than resolution, such intrusions in the extreme, especially when unwanted or untimely, violate the adolescent’s progress to genuine adulthood. Growth to maturity may be impeded and future relationships harmed, with the attendant social and economic costs, which may prove irredeemable.
Therein lays the problem raised by the Safe Schools program and the potential SSM law’s failure to defend parental and children’s rights and traditional marriage.
Raising children to adulthood fulfils parents’ need to be generative – to have their life affirmed and wisdom transferred to those they leave behind when they pass on. Each of us has a natural desire to be generative.
For the LGBTQ community the desire is no different. For committed LGBTQ couples reproduction is an issue that may be resolved by complex means of IVF, Artificial Insemination (AI) or surrogacy, where deep love and care for animals is insufficient.
The risk for the 98% is that if the LGBTQ community cannot reproduce, then it needs to recruit – other people’s children. Doing so affirms their gender status and provides a channel for generativity that would otherwise not be available to them. Therein lays the risk of the Safe Schools program – creating pressure to increase the band beyond those naturally inclined to identify as LGBTQ.
Dark clouds over the rainbow
The left predisposition is not new. Back in the 70s and 80s Marxist feminists who boasted the number of abortions and cats they had, sought to impose their values through the education system and off the street abortion clinics for girls without parental knowledge or support. Parents who cared for their own children were pilloried and penalised.
A couple of decades on and their march through the institutions now seeks to hold all under capture, not just to the leftist agenda, but also to their control of speech and values. Fundamentalism on steroids is harmful to a liberal democratic knowledge economy in that it stifles people, initiative and innovation.
Furthermore, the need to control is a function of immaturity. Immaturity has immense social and economic costs, based, as it is, on untruth that cannot be sustained. Only when the polity is courageous enough to own the truth and mature enough to respect all parties’ position can we advance as a progressive nation.