Monthly Archives: February 2013

Parental Rights

It’s kind of ironic that, here in Texas where citizens scream that they want big government out of their lives, that the government is always welcome 1. in the bedroom; 2. in a woman’s uterus; and 3. at the gun range. So it’s not surprising that a 16-year-old girl, who cannot support herself and is remaining unnamed because she’s a minor, is suing her parents for putting pressure on her to abort her fetus. You can read more about it here.

What strikes me about this article and others I’ve read is the very sad fact that these teenagers are being used by this organization, Texas Center for Defense of Life, to promote their cause. The Center, which is affiliated with the Alliance Defending Freedom (the largest Christian legal group) contacted the young woman and offered her free counsel. A quick look at board for this nascent organization shows that its long list of supporters include Texas judges. Last year, it took on the legal battle for a 14 year old girl.

Most likely, the 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend will need support in order to keep and raise their child. A Texas judge ruled that the girl’s parents must pay half the hospital bill if she is not married to the father. (Wait a second….The parents have to pay for someone else’s baby in a state that openly rejects Obamacare?) I know, you’re probably wondering why the Texas Center for Defense of Life doesn’t have to pay since they have pitted the girl against her parents. And who will pay for the child after the understandably resentful parents have done their duty to pay for half of the hospital bill? Certainly not the girl’s parents, who are being sued. The boy’s parents? Perhaps. If they can afford to take on the support of two minors sans high school diplomas and their baby. Most likely, the housing, feeding, clothing, education and health insurance for that child will fall upon taxpayers. And in Texas, we don’t want to support welfare moms. Or, maybe we just don’t want to support welfare moms of color. I’m not sure which. But I do think it’s incredibly hypocritical.

Minors cannot enter into a contract, yet they can sue their own parents? That hardly seems right. This is not a case of abuse. This is a case of parents advising their child what they believe is best for her. Why hasn’t anyone brought in the “statutory rape” bomb which is so often employed by angry parents? Statutory rape laws state that a person under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to intercourse because they are not emotionally, physically and financially ready to make adult decisions, such as having a baby and raising a kid.  It just doesn’t make sense. If she can’t decide for herself to have sex under the age of 18, if she can’t even be responsible for her own medical bills, then should she have the sole right to determine if she can keep her fetus? But wait….it’s really not the girl or the parents who get to decide here. It’s the people with a cause and the judge who agrees with them.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is just wrong in so many ways. I’m not taking sides on whether abortion is right or wrong or when a fetus becomes a baby. I’m taking sides with the parents, who have had their rights yanked from them for no other reason than they put pressure on the girl to get an abortion so she can continue on with her adolescence. (Because, you know, the Texas Center for Defense of Life is a 100% unbiased organization.) Now the girl’s mom and dad have a parent/child role with the court as they must bend to the will of the judge. To promote an agenda, and for a few minutes of fame, the Texas Center for Defense of Life has intervened in a (not uncommon) family crisis and caused rifts that will, no doubt, change the dynamics of these families forever. That daughter, those parents–they are not just a few clumps of cells–will they ever heal their relationship?

Why do some believe that their way must be everyone’s way? Can they not see the hyprocrisy of their words and their actions? Why is it that those of us labeled “liberal” are sometimes more conservative than conservatives?

The Sex Talk

Christians have made a mess of sex, and not in a good way. They’ve created a Schizophrenic attitude toward a completely natural, human desire. They teach abstinence and guilt and unhealthy attitudes. Sure, blame it on the Puritans, but all of America’s big religions are culpable.

If you think about it, the entire Adam and Eve story is crazy. A lonely God created Adam, who was also lonely. So then God decided to make Eve, only to set them up for a fall with a manipulative snake, a phallic creature that outsmarted Eve. OK. So now they know about s-e-x. They had forty-seven children, but only two boys survived. And you know the question that everyone asks next: Well, how did they have children?

Somewhere along the line, man started figuring out how babies were made. And the guys started to realize, hey how do I know this kid is mine? And the gals started to ask, hey how do I know who my baby daddy is? And the Stone Age came along and man knew that he could fashion weapons and tools so that he could 1. Make stuff and 2. Kill people to take their stuff. So they started “stuff accumulation.” But they needed to know who to give their stuff to when they died. (Bear with me.) So that’s when people needed to know exactly whose baby belonged to whom.

Whew. Then church came along: The Roman Catholic Church, which was not, of course, the only church, but it was sure big and powerful. The more kids parishioners had, the more members the church had. And the more money it had. But that worked best in families, where there was income that could be used to support the family as well as tithed to the church. The church became adept at controlling women: no, you cannot participate in the service; you cannot be a priest. You cannot use birth control. You cannot decide to terminate a pregnancy—any pregnancy. You cannot. You cannot. You cannot. You have to model yourself after the Virgin Mary. Pure. Chaste. Not slutty like those prostitutes in the Bible.

So, that is the very, very short version of why we have so many issues with sex in our country, which has since been aggravated, as I mentioned, by our Puritanical roots. So how do we help our kids develop healthy attitudes about their bodies and about sex, especially since we don’t have religion to throw at them?

I agree with Christians on one thing—our bodies are temples. I’ve told my kids this over and over and over again. It’s the same for boys and girls. You have to respect it—not only in the way you treat it, but how you feed yourself and whom you share it with. I started this talk early because I didn’t want my kids to learn about sex from someone else, a kid in class or some stranger in the park. Sex is serious business. It is good business, but something you should not enter into unless you’re an adult. By then, you will have (hopefully) established good relationship skills. By then, you should be able to list out the reasons why you like a girl or a boy. Christians got it right in teaching their kids to save themselves—but not because it will keep them “pure.” Because sex is not bad or dirty. They should save themselves because sex is emotionally costly and physically risky. You do not want a kid you’ll have to live with or a disease you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. These are the things I tell my children.

I hope they will wait until they find someone really special. Because they want to share this experience with someone they know and really like, not just share an experience with a stranger. Sex is not something given or taken, but shared. For both genders.

Feel free to share how you do it (the sex talk) at your house.

Sunday Mornings

Sunday Mornings are nice. The family and I get out to restaurants before the church folks, so we can get a table without an hour wait. The unchurched have longer weekends, and on Super Bowl Sunday, that’s even better (I was tempted to say “super.”)

It’s one of the few times in the week when the four of us actually get to sit down to a meal together. In the past, I’ve used Sundays as a time to talk about religious topics, though of course, religion and God experiences are woven into our weeks by the people we encounter. The thing I have in mind to discuss today is an article on CNN called, A killing, a life sentence and my change of heart, by Jeanne Bishop. In 1991, the author’s pregnant sister and husband were murdered by a 16-year-old with a “history of violence.” The kid bragged about the killing, even attended the funeral, and the murder victim’s family was glad when the he was put away without parole.

We should be, too. One less violent criminal on the streets and in our neighborhoods.

But then Bishop had a change of heart—and this is not a new story—she repented and recanted her stance on juvenile life sentences. She thinks that her sister’s murderer deserves a second chance, and you have to wonder if juveniles who have been incarcerated, who have lived among our nations most violent criminals for the majority of their lives, even have the ability to be rehabilitated. Ever.

It’s this Christian ideal that “God makes people for a purpose” that is the impetus behind Bishop’s change in ideology. She, and others like her, believe in loving the killer, but not what he did. God wants his followers to forgive everyone, even the most violent, most innately evil people. In theory, it’s a wonderful idea. But I want to know this: if you have ever been in a loving relationship, what does it mean to love? Does it mean treating someone with kindness, speaking gently, taking care of each other? Can you truly love someone you don’t know, or are you just loving an idea, a concept, an image?

Why do I bring this up? Because statistics show that within 3 years of release, 67% of ex-offenders are back in jail. Do we really want kids who kill, who’ve never learned how to be good, who’ve been brought up in the violent prison atmosphere, to be released to live amoung us and our families? What good can come of it?

So Bishop—and others—believe that juvenile life sentences should be abolished because no one “is beyond the forgiveness and redemption and purpose of God.”

And it’s this logic that concerns me, because if a god redeems and forgives and gives man purpose, then why was this young man, as a teenager, forsaken by god to begin with?

It seems to me that this god makes people do stupid things sometimes. The idea that you have to forgive because HE wants you to: that defies common sense. How can you forgive because a stranger you’ve never met “wants” you to? People show who they are through their actions and their words and to assume they can be someone else is naive.

This is what I want to ask my kids: When and why should we forgive? What are the costs and benefits of forgiveness? Are some people irredeemably bad?