Santorum In Defense of the Family

December 12, 2011 | By | 5 Replies More

This is an unscientific response to a ridiculous claim.  Rick Santorum, who wishes to be the next Bishop In Charge of America (or whatever prelate his church might recognize) recently made the claim that Gay couples are going to destabilize the family in America in order to accommodate their lifestyle.

We’ve all been hearing this claim now for, oh, since gays stopped sitting by and letting cops beat them up on Saturday nights without fighting back.  Ever since Gay Pride.  Even on my own FaceBook page I had someone telling me I was blinded by the “Gay Agenda” and that the country was doomed—that because of the Gay Agenda little children were being taught how to use condoms in school and this—this—would bring us all to ruin.

So….okay.  How?

If we collectively allow homosexuals to marry each other, how does that do anything to American families that’s not already being done by a hundred other factors?

I’ll tell you what destablilizes families.  And I’m not genius here with a brilliant insight, this is just what anyone can see if they look around and think a little bit.

Families are destabilized over money.  Mainly lack of it, but sometimes too much will do it, too.  But lack of it will do a number on a family worse than almost anything else.  We’ve all grown up hearing the “love is all you need” line that never seems to run out of gas that a lot of people find out fairly quickly once they start living on their own is patent bullshit.  It is true that in order to have a fulfilling life, you need love.  But in order for love to last, you need everything else.  Housing, food, clothing, some degree of security, a smidgen of leisure activity.  Without money—someone’s—you don’t have all that.

And that love thing, heterosexually?  Children tend to result from one of the basic activities, and they cost a lot of money.  A lot.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime, and the more you have, the more money you need to maintain a level standard of living, and believe me, this is not cynicism, this is the way of human nature, when your standard of living erodes, this is not the source of great joy.  It becomes a grinding, frustrating daily chore to make due with less.

Love has a very difficult time surviving such stress.  It can be done, it is done, millions of people probably manage it, but one should envy them their devotion rather than assume something is broken inside all those who can’t manage it.

Money aside, children will destabilize a family.  Let’s be real for minute, not everyone is constitutionally able to be a parent.  Living day in day out with one other person can be a challenge, even if that person is an adult.  If you find that hard, then adding more to the mix, especially if they are not adults, is probably a recipe for craziness.  While lack of material resource exacerbates this condition, it is not necessary for it to be the case.  Some of us are fortunate that we recognized early on our own unsuitability to be parents, for many people, riding on the promises of the romantic fairytale we grew up with, this fact is not discovered until it is too late and there are children who, while perhaps fine people in and of themselves, nevertheless drive the insanity meter up and up and up.

Was a time it didn’t matter.  We had no choice.  People got married and no matter what their circumstances, they didn’t have the option of divorcing and starting over, they were stuck.  We have in many ways romanticized this fact as some indication that modern people lack values.  Nonsense.  If they could have, our forebears likely would have divorced at as high a rate as we do.

Why?  Because like it or not, people change.  We are not the same today as we were ten or twenty years ago.  It is the height of unreasonableness to think we could or should be.

But that doesn’t mean the changes automatically drive us apart.  What it means is that when we get together in the first place we didn’t pay enough attention to who we were then to realize that in five or ten years certain traits were going to drive us or our partners nuts.

Which brings us to one of the most fundamental reasons families fail.  Basic incompatibility.  Let’s be honest—that is what we’re trying for here—there are, have been, and will be many people who pass through our lives with whom we want to spend time with.  Some of those people, the time spent will be intense.  That doesn’t mean they will be lifelong arrangements.  Shall I be blunt?  Okay.  There will be many people with whom we  will want to have sex with, but that doesn’t mean we’d make good longterm partners.  Too many people confuse lust with love.

Worse—too many people confuse love with like.  Longterm is not sustained by love—love is a peak experience and the high is not sustainable.  It may come in waves.  We may “fall in love” with our partner time and time again, but there will be troughs, and in those periods it is not love that carries us but like.  Friendship.  Too often no one tells us this.  Your life partner, if you’re going to have one, has to be your best friend.  You have to like them.  A lot.  It’s different than love.  Love is great, but the fires die down.  The embers rest in how much we like each other.

Finally, though, some relationships have a natural lifespan and it is silly to expect them to shamble on past their demise.  Yes, it hurts.  Yes, it’s usually only one not both who realize this.  But it’s true and it would be wrong to insist on maintaining something that has died.

If you have built a family on the basis of eternally staying together, you may find that all these factors will bring about a lot of hurt and destabilization.  What destabilizes beyond a fundamental lack of the resources to maintain is a violation of expectation.

Now.  In all that, where’s this bullshit that allowing gay people to marry will impact your marriage?  How does that work?  I get the impression that Mr. Santorum thinks that expanding the marriage franchise will somehow debase it and make it something worth too little for people to want to participate in.

Image by Flynt at Dreamstime.com (with permission)

But if that’s true, then it is already worthless.  If the idea of it is that fragile, then preventing gays from marrying will make no difference, it’s already trashed.

But if it was worthless, then why would gays want to do it?

Mr. Santorum most likely wants to see people forced to remain married.  He likely wants to see the end of divorce.  In order to do that, he has to wage war on freedom of choice.

Everyone’s freedom of choice.

The fact is, factors that have little to do with venerable institutions and traditions work to destabilize relationships.  Making the claims he does shows that he doesn’t want to talk about those things.  Because talking about the realities opens the door to all the other things he has come out against to be discussed openly.  People aren’t getting divorced now because gays live the way they do.  They get divorced because they can’t sustain their marriage—because there’s no money or they should not have become parents or the dreams of one or both partners have changed or they frankly should never have gotten married in the first place.  It’s what is between them that is at fault, if fault there is, and the circumstances in which they live.

On the other hand, what exactly does he mean by destabilize?  Because there are many families that have suffered divorce that continued to be families.  The new mates were added in, a larger pool of siblings was created, Christmas cards and birthday wishes go out to a bigger list, and while mom and dad may not be together anymore, no one is fighting and everyone talks and sustains each other.  The family changed shape, it didn’t collapse.  Families survive, albeit in different configurations.  Divorce doesn’t destroy the family, it causes it to evolve.

Oops.  That’s another thing Santorum doesn’t believe in.  Evolution.  No wonder he doesn’t recognize what I’ve just described.

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Category: American Culture, Bigotry, children, Civil Rights, Community, Cultural Evolution, Culture, Current Events, Economy, Friendships/relationships, ignorance, Politics, Sex

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (5)

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  1. Romany says:

    BRILLIANT.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    “In a nutshell, Rick Santorum is promising to use the platform of the presidency of the United States to tell people who use contraception that they’re wrong, because they’re not treating sex the way it’s “supposed to be” treated, according to the personal religious beliefs of Rick Santorum. As Time’s Michael Scherer notes, Santorum is denigrating the sexual morals of about 99 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the Guttmacher Institute. As far as politics goes, it’s a rare thing to see a major presidential candidate so out of touch with popular opinion.”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/02/rick-santorum-contraception-birth-control-sex.html

  3. Karl says:

    Is it possible in a moral sense for less sex to be better? I certainly hope so.

    I tend to think that too much of what humans call a good thing can actually lessen the very fundamental value of what one considers the quality of the goodness.

    • It varies from individual to individual, which is why we talk about choice in this context. But to take your point and turn it around, is it possible for too little to be morally destructive? If the natural expression of love and attraction between consenting adults is thwarted, can this be damaging, not only to the people in question but to society as a whole? One need only look at the Victorians to see an answer to this, which while on the surface was the very model of sexual propriety and probity, surmounted a seething pit of unacknowledged vice, disease, rape, and early death, much of it simply because none of them could even talk about sex.

      I can agree with the idea that too much a good thing can be unhealthy, but there is a lot of space between too much and what Mr. Santorum seems to think is just enough. Suffice it to say that I surely do not want to live in his idea of a moral country.

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