Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Family Ties and the Cheapening of Humanity

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo Da Vinci, public domain

Right now I'm trapped in Fort Collins, CO. Every Greyhound route in to Washington State, to see my parents, is closed. I'm here seeing my grandparents on my way back from Atlanta and desperately want to see them, but mother nature has intervened, so I must spend more time with my grandparents.

I've been thinking about family, among the most natural and essential of human unions. There are fewer relationships that define us more profoundly then family, and family in turn is defined by sex. Man and woman come together, join together two households, give birth to children, who in turn are brothers and sisters, and the brothers and sisters of the man and woman are aunts and uncles. Even if no children are had, sexuality itself is more then powerful enough to create a sacred brotherhood -and sisterhood- among two houses.

The first relationships you have are family. Your parents, your brothers and sisters, your grandparents. There are even very close friends who, after some time, almost become part of the family, adopted brothers and sons, sisters and daughters, but these only carry in themselves - their relatives are still, for the most part, outside. Your family teaches you a way of seeing the world, a way of seeing life, rules, regulations, ways of punishing and regulating yourself, morality, honor, ethics, and the way you categorize all those outside of the family in to your thousands of relationships you keep made for every person in the world in your mind. Family can create, and family can destroy, family can sow love and hate. A peaceful family makes for a more peaceful community, and an unpeaceful family leads to a destructive community. When family members separate themselves from each other, you can see it in the eyes and actions of the victims, both seperated and seperator. And when family roles and rules are broken, the anger and antagonism can carry through town.

Sexuality, also, is a very definitive part of our nature. It's the source of many of our dreams, many of our symbols, much of the way we see the world. It's the basis of many emotions, and it itself can conjure up every feeling, thought, and attitude in the human character. It makes us our best and our worst, and everything in between. When you drown out the emotion related to sex, you drown out the emotions period, harden your heart, deep freeze the world before your eyes in to a palace of ice, with statues of all those near you holding still in front of your eyes.

Adultery divides households, families, people. It is the breaking of a sacred trust between man and wife, or wife and husband, a lie, a betrayal of affections, a stoker of jealousy, a maker of hellfire. It can also pit children against their parents, and make human honor, a vital part of our nature, worthless against the breaking of the most important promise anyone ever makes. It degrades all involved in it, and cheapens sexuality, making it little more then either burden, hyper-personal, or entertainment depending on the attitude of he or she involved. The family is cast out of the mind of the transgressors.

Premarital sex is a cheapener. Those who partake in it will find less loyalty, less love, and less romantic fire with whomever they marry. It too cheapens sexuality, making it hyper-personal, a burden, or entertainment, removing the human face, removing the family ties, cutting away alliegance, loyalty, neighborhood and romantic love.

As you remove the honor, sanctity, and ritual in sexuality, you increasingly convey that a major part of our nature really isn't worth that much.


Before I even mention homosexuality, I want to point out in anger and all grumpinesss that nothing I say should ever be taken to in any way, shape, or fashion excuse those who hate, murder, destroy, oppress, manipulate, lie, steal, fire on federal agents, be inhospitable or sow the seeds of discontent out of homophobia. These people have done what homosexuality will do, and much more severely, by methods far more abominable, hateful and destructive. They too have broken ties, cheapened relationships, and created a disposable, hypocritical, judgemental attitude towards their fellow man that destroys all real community. The fact that they did it with anger, guns, contempt for all things humane and honorable, and cruel lies makes it, indeed, worse then a simple weakness of the flesh, for with the flesh it is only the ends that are an issue.
Homosexuality is an understandable mistake, like the kind that all of us make as we walk through this life, and though I hope we can work through it with them, and there's always a suspicion that within all of us both desires exist, even if we can't, they still are fellow human beings, every bit as deserving as everyone who has ever screwed up with their finances, raising their child or their education, or anything else that important to your life.

Now then:

Incest is a clear break of family authority, family respect, and proper relationship. It breaks sacred bonds, and mixes one kind of love (Agape) with another kind of love (Eros) that are often contradictory to each other. All of us need a balance of both of these in our life. The love pertaining to sexuality comes with it's own set of conditions, dependencies and expectations that make the love of a mother, father, brother, sister, son, or daughter impossible. Needs bring us close but they also create insecurity - add too many together and the result is oppression and no room to breathe. It creates a dilemma, as love has been cheapened, but the risk of birth defects in an incestious child is very high, and to leave would also cheapen love, relationships, and trust and loyalty in the future. Further it prevents the bond between families, distorts gender roles with a pre-existing status within the family, gets a person more in your mind then they need to be, and creates antagonism and insecurity among relatives.

Homosexuality is a confuser. It creates antagonism and insecurity among relatives. It confuses by breaking the traditional roles of gender, removing the balance of genders that creates clear hierarchy and authority, and balance within the house. It also makes establishes deep bonds within families difficult, as for the males no daughter is gained, and for the females no son is gained, for either house. Sometimes homosexuals seem to take the role of the opposite gender, distorting the individual to balance out the collective. It also leaves the homosexuals in the dilemma of either continuing this clear break of family mandate, or going back to straight sexuality with a cheapened view of erotic love. I'm still not entirely sure what the solution to this issue is, but I see their dilemma, and advise all those considering such a lifestyle to find any way possible of avoiding it.

We, America, are missing family ties. Superficial families make superficial friends, superficial friends make superficial towns, and superficial towns make a world where no one can depend on anyone else, loneliness and silence spread to any space in which they're allowed, and the human being himself is devalued to being an object, an animal, a customer, a worker, a product, a dollar amount. We are made to love, respect, listen, learn, talk, improve, teach, and be our brothers keeper, and yet now we sit in cubicles, even in large offices as apart as can be, and see outsiders as a nuisance. We try to avoid burdening each other in all possible ways, and see only the harm that we do to each other, until finally, we hate humanity itself. With our cheapening of sexuality, we have cheapened ourselves and all of life. The damage is done, but hopefully we can avoid running up the bill further.


Derek said...

Well i hope you make it to see your parents! But I'm sure the time with your grandparents is good too. In all honesty I didn't do a very close read of the post, but I think I got the basic ideas from looking through it, and I agree. If I'm not mistaken, "Focus on the Family" is probably on the same page with a lot of what you're saying. I think FotF would say that family is society's most fundamental and important institution (particularly b/c it is God-ordained). And I agree. When we begin to cheapen families in any way we harm ourselves personally and we harm society as a whole. That's not what God wants, and we have every reason to seek God's desire for family--we will be happier, and we will please Him!

Pierre said...


Firstly I have to say this is an interesting post. However, I fundamentally disagree with you on your point regarding homosexuality.

Homosexuality does not in all cases cause strain in family bonds. Yes it's true that once a gay family member comes out the family is affected and relationships strained. But, usually these relationships are repaired and the bonds are much tighter and deeper than it was before.

My husband and I have been together now for 12 years. We have excellent relationships both with our families and in-laws. Even though our family is not traditional it does not differ much from others as all the fundamental elements are present - love, respect, pride and unity.

I am a bit perturbed at your statement discouraging homosexuality. It's not a choice one makes and neither is it a switch one can turn on and off at will.

Jeremy Janson said...

Thank you so much for stopping by, I looked forward to hearing your response. My point is not so much that immediate family suffers but that the EXTENDED household, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousin et cetera end up being thrown off kilter. Obviously, however, we all must live with our own choices. As for homosexuality not being a switch, there are so many things in this day and age that we have convinced ourselves are not our choices, but even so, you're in a relationship now, and further distortion would only antagonize further. I'm glad that your families seems to be working alright for you. I'm really glad that you've kept a good relationship for 12 years.

I've been rethinking a lot of things lately, and will definitely consider these words. I may put up a new updated post in the future.

Anonymous said...

I extend the concepts of family and support to community. As overpopulation, unemployment, food shortages means that procreation is as harmful as beneficial, shouldn't we welcome homosexuality? As an aside, in all countries (even those that actively outlaw homosexuality) 2-4% of the population is gay. This number is thought to have stayed pretty stable for several generations. This is something many people would call proof that 'choice' doesn't bloody come into it!

I would also argue on the matter of premarital sex that women should be allowed to be sexually aware. I agree with you in principle, that waiting till marriage does increase the bond between man/wife and deepens the experience. However, without knowing one's own body a woman is far more susceptible to rape within the marriage, or accepting a sexual experience she doesn't find appealing, thinking she has no choices or that she has something wrong with her. You can expect more from sex and experience better sex without loving a person less.

Jeremy Janson said...

@Alice: Thank you so much for stopping by, I would like to reply to your second point first. While I understand your concerns about sexual innocence, it's worthy of note that the women within an extended family have a great tendency to get together to talk about such things, and would be more then able to coach each other through such situations. One of the marvels, in fact, of deeper clan connections, and better relations with aunts, greataunts, grandmothers, mothers-in-law that I believe a stronger EXTENDED family would provide is that, in the end, such things would be less of a danger because women would have a greater support net of other women within the household to consult and, if neccesary, apply pressure to their husband with. The husband can't be too abusive if his entire extended family is breathing down his neck. I would also point out that much of what you worry would happen in marriage already happens in High School among girls in our current society. At some point or another, girls have to be innocent, and it's better if they have someone to turn to, talk to, lean on when they are so vulnerable.

And this goes back to my point about homosexuality. Part of the reason that what you describe is even a fear to begin with is because the CLAN, the larger family, more then just husband and wife, has become so weakened, and I currently believe that homosexuality, with its betrayal of gender balance, one son gained for every daughter and one daughter gained for every son, makes it very difficult for a rigid, traditional, and thus, tight-knit extended family to exist off of which Sisters-in-Arms could depend upon each other.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the relevance of your second point there...I feel you are drawing connections without substance. A person could easily have two daughters, neither of which marry, or two sons. I don't see any real gender balance issues within families with gay kids. My family is very balanced - three females and three males, and there is only one marriage in the whole bunch, the rest of us are single.

Jeremy Janson said...

Probably wasn't the most clearminded thing I've ever said, in part because I'm trying to deal with the fact that you still seem to be seeing this as father, mother, two kids, rather then a large multigenerational extended family, but basically, it comes down to this: the added gender is from another house, this creates the gender balance and uses it to draw the two houses closer together. Eventually, you get a very tight-knit EXTENDED family. Note that this whole time, when I refer to family, I am NOT referring to the so-called "nuclear" family, but the multigenerational CLAN, from which a newly married female could easily draw support. Without the gender balance, there's no real draw between the two houses. I agree that a family can function without its two sons marrying, but the creation of gender balance unites the households sort of like two ionized elements forming a salt crystal that is nearly impossible to melt.

Anonymous said...

hmmm I fundamentally don't see the validity of your argument. A friend of mine recently got engaged to her girlfriend - their families are very close. In fact they live with and care for her girlfiend'f elderly father, regularly care for her two nephews, generally taking part in both clans - supporting and being supported by their extended family. What is gained/lost by this union being two women, rather than a woman and a man? Gender balance is still not an issue I can see factoring in here.

Jeremy Janson said...

I'll think about that and get back to you. Maybe I have been too legalistic. In any case, thank you for this beautiful discussion, I can tell you that I have learned a lot.