Saturday, November 18, 2006

Frustrations with "Family Values"

Recently I was forwarded an "Action Alert" email from a friend, which I discovered was orginally sent out by the American Family Association, "America's Largest Pro-Family Action Site" (or so their website tells me). What frustrated me was the content of the email, for the alert was announcement that Wal-Mart was supporting the "homosexual agenda" with thousands of dollars and therefore must be boycotted by Americans with real "family values."

We can debate whether this "homosexual agenda" is a good or bad thing another time though, for what especially struck me was the fact that this "Pro-Family" organizaiton was only now speaking out against Wal-Mart, as if the insidious corporation has done nothing to seriously harm families in the past. Homosexual marriage and other issues may be important to some degree in relation to families, but I seriously question whether they are more important than people being paid fairly, provided with basic health-care needs, and respected in their communities, all three of these things that Wal-Mart is notoriously known for violating. Frankly, I am much more convinced that when these conditions are not met adequately families will struggle more, than I am that increased homosexual activity will tear families apart.

Examples like this also force me to ask, how did "conservative" and/or "religious" groups ever develop a notion of "family values" so narrow as only that which is sex-related? These same types of people seem to blaim our culture for being too sex-obsessed, something that may be true, but perhaps they also need to look at where their own criticisms lie. As far as I can tell, even if a general excessive sex-craze is one of the problems in the world today, it is far from the only one. In the end, I suppose what I'm trying to say then, is that if the American Family Association is really pro-family, they should have been protesting and boycotting Wal-Mart a long, long time ago.


At 11/19/2006 11:10:00 PM, Blogger JZ said...

I'd like to know exactly what the "homosexual agenda" is. It seems like the people with the agenda are these radical right wing groups, sponsoring boycotts.

Nice post Chris.

At 11/20/2006 11:47:00 AM, Blogger Brad said...

I have hated Wal-Mart since undergrad and I try and avoid shopping there at all costs, but mostly because they price-gouge to shut down local mom-and-pops.

At 11/21/2006 12:13:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

I think I'm okay with Wal-mart, mainly because their customers make about us much as their employees anyway.

Usually any organization that uses the word "Family" in its title is really a Christian organization with their own religious agenda--one of them forbidding homosexuality. The agenda, as they see it, is the legalization of gay marriage. Side stepping the pros and cons of the thing itself, the battle against gay marriage is what gives otherwise unintelligent and bored zealots a purpose--and tax exempt status.

At 11/21/2006 12:21:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Financially speaking, the AFA is calling for a ban of Wal-mart for an entire 48 hours! Talk about really sticking it to them. I guess it's unrealistic to expect their supporters to sacrifice "big savings" for core Christian family values.

At 11/21/2006 07:11:00 AM, Anonymous Sarah Jane said...

Good thoughts here, Chris. Too bad the American Family Association isn't likely to listen to educated and intelligent Catholic bloggers who read actual books and have actual opinions. You're awfully far from their target demographic here. ;)

I'm generally pretty troubled by the "family values" label that the anti-homosexual agenda is giving itself these days. As you say, it seems pretty obvious that this is NOT about family values, but about sex. And it really begs the question -- how does the activity in your neighbors' bedroom affect the values of YOUR family?

I don't have an answer for that one. You?

At 11/21/2006 05:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have a point. It seems a large part of Christian organizations seem to target their pet issues--the "really big ones"--while perhaps ignoring the more subtle. But are they (those problems with Wal-mart you addressed) actually more subtle? They seem rather actually more common place--so why do they seem more subtle? Great thoughts Chris.

At 11/26/2006 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

"I think I'm okay with Wal-mart, mainly because their customers make about us much as their employees anyway."

Steve, how is that a good reason to be okay with Wally World?

Sarah, as for you your question, to be honest, I don't have any real answer at this point. On the one hand, I do think it plays a smaller role than other issues like the ones I mentioned above. On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to say that how people are having sex has no effect whatsoever on the people around them. That's about all I can say right now though (anything more will probably require several pages).

At 11/28/2006 01:45:00 PM, Anonymous Sarah Jane said...

That's a fair answer, Chris. I agree with you that it probably doesn't have zero impact -- I guess I believe that all things are too connected for that to be the case -- but it's hard to untangle all the issues.

My gut reaction would be to say that the KIND of sex people are having (tender, aggressive, playful, coercive, guilt-ridden, none at all...) is probably more important than who they're having sex with. But of course those two issues aren't completely inseparable, because the nature of the relationship is going to reflect on the nature of the sex. But I'm guessing that the difference between long-term commitment and a one-night stand is more important than the difference between a couple of different genders and a couple of the same gender.

At the very least, it seems to me that there are plenty of heterosexual couples who are legally married and who have incredibly troubled relationships... and yet the "family values" proponents aren't going out of their way to try and help them.

Okay, I'm not sure that I'm adding much to the conversation here, but I did want to answer you. I'd be interested in reading more about this, if you're willing to write.

At 12/04/2006 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I apologize for the slow replies, but thank you for the excellent points Sarah. I may write on this in the future, but it would definitely have to wait until the break. As I hinted at before, I have mixed feelings on this issue and my perspective on it is definitely in development, as it likely always should be, but here I especially mean that I have no clear take on things at this point. I'll keep you posted if I do post any more thoughts.

At 12/04/2006 07:34:00 PM, Anonymous Sarah Jane said...

As always, I eagerly await your response. ;)

I, too, have mixed feelings on the issue and have refrained from posting on my own blog because I don't really like to incite conflict. When it all comes down to it, though, it simply DOES NOT MATTER what my own feelings are, for two simple reasons. One is that, while my opinions may change, the truth (which is what really matters) does not. And the other is that it's not for me to judge, regardless of what the truth is.

Maybe that's a cop-out, but it's a stance that I've taken pretty comfortably for a few years now. Actually, though, I'd be interested to hear your critique of it.

You know, in your spare time.

I, after all, am TOTALLY procrastinating by writing on here. Oy.

At 12/05/2006 01:48:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Wal-Mart is a good place to work if you're one of the following:


I don't have health benefits or 401 K plans, and I went to college and worked hard. Why should people expect to get their cake and eat it too for much much less?

At 12/06/2006 08:02:00 AM, Anonymous Sarah Jane said...

Dear Steve --

Are people who are dumb/lazy/students/old/crippled/insane any less human or any less intrinsically valuable than you are? 'Cause that's sure what it sounds like you're saying.


SJ, Who not only went to college and worked hard, but is going to graduate school and working even harder. Should I then be the most deserving of them all?

At 12/06/2006 09:35:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...



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