Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Kids are NOT All Right

The movie "The Kids are All Right" is coming to a theater near you soon, and the Oscar hype is already building. The movie has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Annette Benning), and Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo). The premise for those who haven't seen the trailer is this: two lesbian women (Benning and Julain Moore) use the sperm of Mark Ruffalo's character to conceive two children. They raise the kids, but then Ruffalo's character starts to come back into the kids' lives when they are teenagers, upsetting the harmony of the lesbian characters' relationship.

This post is not about homosexuality. I covered the Church's take on that elsewhere (click here to read). What this post is about is the arrrogance on the part of society today when people pretend to know how decisions affect others, especially children.

Last year as a first year theology teacher I had in my head the classes that were going to be difficult to teach; the classes that the students were going to get fired up about. In my mind, I was ready for battle on issues like evolution, contraception, and abortion. Interestingly, my seniors were pretty okay with the Church on those issues. The issue that they were most fired up about, which surprised me, was the issue of adoption of children by homosexual couples.

The mantra that has been beaten into society's brain is this - if it wasn't for homosexual couples adopting children, then orphanages would be overrun with children. People ask how it could be a bad thing for a kid without a home to at least be surrounded by two parents who love the child.

These myths about orphanages and "gay-parenting" are addressed elsewhere, and so what I'd like to look at here is the problem which is suggested by the title of the movie mentioned above - "The Kids are All Right." The title suggests the following - we are all messed up, we live in a big ambiguous and relativistic world where right and wrong are merely constructs of our culture, and some of us are gay, and some of us are straight, but we're all completely messed up, and we just hold on for dear life and try and look for the silver lining....but at least the kids are all right!

What arrogance on our part!!! Nobody thinks they are being arrogant, of course, but peel back the surface just a bit here and I hope you will see that this mindset is teeming with arrogance. The mindset that "the kids are all right" suggests that no matter what we do as a society, no matter what environment a child is placed in, no matter what type of a mess they find themselves in, kids are fine - AND I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE. So our arrogance ascends to new heights as we now claim for ourselves omniscience - the ability to know all things that, for countless centuries, was only attributed to God.

"Kids are resilient" we tell ourselves, kids can handle whatever we throw at them, and we thus dismiss and excuse ourselves from the last thing that would tether us to some kind of moral behavior - responsibility to our children and young people. One of the many key components to this mindset is the denial of the idea that my actions affect anyone else, and so that is one of the problems that needs to be addressed. Do we think that our actions affect others, even those who may seem unaffected, like, for instance, children?

Kids are not ontologically and de facto "all right" - trust me - I work with kids - and a lot of them have serious issues that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Were some of those issues caused by hetersosexual parents - you better believe it, but the issue that I'm speaking about in this post is the fact that we believe that the kids are all right. I am certainly acknowledging that heterosexual parents sometimes also take on the mindset that "the kids are all right" as well, which is equally damaging to their children - and which is also scandalous in that the failure of heterosexual parenting is often the central argument for ALLOWING homosexual couples to adopt, and so the failure of heterosexual parenting in this regard becomes a scandal in the true sense of the word.

For a long time in this country the idea was prevalent that we sacrificed for our kids, that we protected and nurtured and raised our kids; there was an understanding that children are vulnerable and actually were in need of some guidance. Now we arrogantly presume to tell ourselves that no matter what we do or how we act - "THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT." How truly disgusting and weak and lazy on our part if that is our mindset. May the arrogance of our society dissipate and may we once again see children for what they are - in need of our help, and may we start taking responsibility for our kids again, and may we stop allowing ourselves to live whatever self-absorbed and morally untethered life-style we feel is best for us.