Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Time for Social Conservatives to Do Some Soul-Searching

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 6:10 AM

There was a strange article at The Tennessean yesterday morning about the decline in married couples in our city. It's weird because it keeps referring to a divorced woman's ex-spouse as her husband, and because it makes no mention of the fact that it's practically a cliche that young families who can afford it move to Williamson County for the schools (so of course their ratio of married households to Davidson's is much different).

But what I want to address is Richard Land's comment.

At the Southern Baptist Convention, Land mourned the growing number of unmarried and single-parent households as the result of a “30-year experiment into whether fathers are optional accessories in the raising of their children.”

Here's my question, Reverend Land. Have you faced up to the part you play in ruining marriage? In the grand experiment of "whether fathers are optional," what have you done to make marriage not suck? Have you encouraged gay men to be open and healthy in who they are, and to form loving partnerships with other men — or are you still promoting, "Shut up, get married, and pray away the gay?" What do you think happens in those families when God doesn't "cure" them? Because I know quite a few women whose marriages to gay men failed — through no fault of their own — who are still hearing from their ministers that they failed God and their husbands by not keeping Hubby's hands off other dudes.

And those failed marriages and the spiritual suffering you cause in those families are squarely on your shoulders, Reverend Land.

Have you encouraged men to share equally in the housework and the childcare, or are you still promoting an ethos of "That's women's work"? Because I have to tell you — marriages where the man comes home, turns on the TV and tunes out the household until bedtime? That's the same thing as being a single mom. Is it any wonder when those women decide they might as well make it official?

What are you doing to make your male parishioners excited about being a genuine partner in the household? Or are you still teaching them that a paycheck is enough? And when was the last time you sat down with the adult male children of the-paycheck-is-enough dads and asked them whether that met their spiritual and emotional needs?

I mean, I get why you're not listening to women. But are you even listening to the men who suffer under your policies?

And the next time you all are sitting around debating how best to make sure nothing but abstinence is taught in our schools, or how to get Planned Parenthood defunded, cast a thought to the girls who will get pregnant because you've cut off all means for them to learn how to protect themselves. Ask yourself if you honestly think that a 14-year-old girl who is knocked up by her 23-year-old meth-dealer boyfriend would be better off getting married. Or maybe you can understand why her parents put their feet down and say, "Absolutely not."

And teenage girls who have kids because you wiped out their ability to learn about birth control? I don't think you get to complain about them being single parents, when you basically gave them little choice.

And let's not even talk about the shitty economy. I know young couples who would love to get married but can't risk losing government assistance. What is the Southern Baptist Convention doing to make Tennessee seem like a place to do business, not a corral full of evil yahoos? Oh, right...

So, here is my challenge to you, Reverend Land. The next time you're sitting around fretting about divorce and how single mothers are ruining America, ask yourself, "Have I helped make single-motherhood the only reasonable option for many women?"

And when you hear a still small voice say, "Yes," don't discount it.

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