But What do I Say?J. BUDZISZEWSKI
The gay-activist movement is finding its way into more and more schools — promoting destructive behavior under the guise of tolerance. How can you ensure that the truth gets a fair hearing?
Notice to Reader: "The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."
Public schoolteacher Laura Lopez was an idealist. Although she had plenty of work already, she hadn't minded being asked to serve on the new Committee for Special Programs and Curriculum Enrichment. But now she was having second thoughts. The reason? It wasn't the time and it wasn't the work — it was the issues.
The first meeting of the new committee was consumed by a proposal to add "alternative-family friendly" material to the curriculum. The second meeting concerned a suggestion from the local chapter of the teachers' association to have a Gay Pride Week. The third meeting went downhill when the assistant principal proposed having a speaker from the "Just Like You Coalition" address "the special needs of homosexual students."
In a few hours the fourth meeting was to take place, and Laura was dreading it already. Someone from another school was coming to give a presentation about "gay peer counseling."
Laura was running out of arguments. When she said that the schools shouldn't be in the business of promoting homosexual behavior, she was told, "We're not endorsing it. We're simply presenting it as an alternative lifestyle." When she pointed out that homosexual acts were morally wrong, she was told, "That's just your opinion. Don't you believe in tolerance?" When she said homosexual acts are a bad choice, she was told, "These kids can't help their feelings. Where is your compassion?" When she used what she considered her strongest argument — that the Bible condemns homosexual acts — she was told, "We understand your religious feelings, but church and state are separate. Leave your faith at the schoolhouse door."
Could she counter the gay agenda in her school?
Can you counter it in yours?
You can counter the gay agenda in your school. To do this, however, you need wisdom in at least three areas:
How to speak about matters of importance with people who don't share your biblical convictions;
Let's consider area one. In thinking that biblical teaching was the strongest argument she could present to her non-Christian colleagues, Laura made a big mistake. It may seem "biblical" to knock people over the head with the Bible, but that's not how the apostles spoke with the unconvinced.
The clearest Scriptural model is Paul, "the apostle to the gentiles." When he was speaking with his fellow Jews, he did begin with Scripture (Acts 17:1-2). This was the obvious thing to do, because they knew and believed it already. However, when Paul was speaking to non-Jews, he did not begin with Scripture. It would have made no sense to do so, because they had never heard of it and would have had no reason to accept its authority. Rather, he began by speaking about things they did know. To the Athenians, for example, he mentioned their altar "To An Unknown God." He did this because deep down, they already knew that their idols were somehow inadequate.
Where, then, can you start on the subject of sexuality? What do your colleagues already know about that?
The answer is that they already know something important about their own nature. That's why you can explain to them that the principles of morality aren't arbitrary. We need to live a certain way because we are designed to live that way.1 Human nature is not a mishmash, but a design.
The human design goes all the way down and all the way up. At the bottom of the ladder, in the cells, we find molecules for storing instructions, molecules for carrying messages, even molecules for repairing other molecules — everything for a purpose. At the top of the ladder, in our physical, emotional and intellectual powers, design is equally evident. The function of hands is to manipulate objects; the function of fear is to warn; the function of minds is to know and plan. Everything in us has a purpose; everything is for something. At some level this is plain even to children, though of course they do not have words to express it.
To make proper use of a designed thing, we have to know how it works. That involves knowing its purpose — what it's for — as well as knowing how each feature contributes to the fulfillment of that purpose. In the body, the heart is for pumping blood; each valve, nerve and chamber does its part so that pumping will be achieved. In an automobile, the motor is for getting the car to go; each cylinder, piston and shaft contributes in its own way to propulsion. No sensible surgeon tries to make the heart pump air instead of blood. No sensible driver puts honey in the crankcase of his car, or bolts eggplants to the axles instead of wheels. The reason is simple: When you thwart a thing's design, it either works badly, stops working or breaks. Something goes terribly wrong.
The same is true of the human design.
Take the sexual powers. Like everything else in us, they are part of our design. You don't have to be a Christian to see that they have purposes, and you don't have to be a Christian to see what they are: One is to bond men and women; the other is to make new life. Nor must you be a Christian to see that these two purposes go hand-in-hand: Although the bonding of a man and a woman is wonderful in itself, it also motivates them to stay together and raise the new life they have made.
All of the other features of the sexual design revolve around these purposes. The most important such feature is that men and women are complementary. It's not just that they're different — it's that their differences are coordinated in such a way that each contributes what the other lacks. In every dimension — physical, emotional and intellectual — they fit like hand and glove; they "match." This applies to both the procreative purpose of making babies, and the unitive purpose of bonding the partners together.
First think of the procreative purpose. Procreation takes two sexes. It takes both of them, not only to make the child but to raise and teach him. To make him, both are needed because the female provides the egg that the male fertilizes. To raise him, both are needed because the female is better designed for nurture, the male for protection. To teach him, both are needed because every young one needs two models, one of his own sex, one of the other. Neither Mom nor Dad is dispensable.
As to the unitive purpose, it takes both sexes for the sexual union to be fulfilled. True sexual union is more than intense sexual attraction leading to intercourse. There is something in male emotional design to which only the female can give completion, and something in female emotional design to which only the male can give completion. When the two come together, they balance each other.
Complementarity of male and female is the reason why the sexual desire of the man is normally for the woman, and that of the woman is normally for the man. Each seeks the other; each longs for something that cannot be found in self or what is self-like.
Of course, psychosexual development sometimes jumps the rails; in some people sexual desire is shunted in the wrong direction. In itself, this is not a sin but a misfortune. But now consider what happens when a person who suffers from this unfortunate condition gives in to it — if he uses his sexual powers in ways which deny the complementarity of male and female, in ways which reject instead of embrace the challenge of the Other. Just as with a heart, an automobile or anything else that has a design, when we thwart the design things go wrong. Something works badly, stops working or breaks.
This is easiest to see on the physical plane. Because of disease, habitual homosexual behavior cuts years from the average lifespan.2 Syphilis, for example, is 19 times more common among homosexual than heterosexual women. Male homosexual practices are especially destructive, because the male reproductive organ and the male bodily openings are not made for each other. It's hard to see what is loving about acts that cause tearing, stretching, bleeding, choking, death, disease and pain.
Homosexual behavior makes things go terribly wrong on the other planes too. Both the procreative and the unitive purposes are thwarted.
From a procreative point of view, the most obvious problem with homosexual behavior is that it is sterile. Of course heterosexuals may suffer sterility too, but there is a difference. The sterility of the homosexual act is not an accidental misfortune that befalls some people but not others. On the contrary, it is intrinsic to the homosexuality of the act. Same with same cannot make new life.
It may seem that there are ways around the sterility of homosexual acts: two men might adopt or two women might make use of artificial insemination. But the human design cannot be tricked so easily.
For the reasons explained above, even if it doesn't take both a mom and a dad to obtain a child, it still takes both of them to raise and teach the child. The lack of a dad weighs heavily on every single mom, the lack of a mom on every single dad. Is adding Dad's boyfriend or Mom's girlfriend to the picture a solution? The problem is not that homosexuals cannot give loving care; it is that they cannot model normal male-female relationships.3
From a unitive point of view, homosexual liaisons don't work either, for the "committed homosexual relationship" is a myth. To put it another way, to the advocates of the gay agenda, "commitment" does not mean sexual faithfulness. As the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality reports,"Although long-term gay male relationships do, indeed, exist, studies consistently show them to be promiscuous. In fact, gay researchers and writers most typically say that a sexually open arrangement is essential to a gay male relationship's survival."4 Other research confirms that homosexuals with partners don't stop cruising; they just cruise less.5
An argument is sometimes made that if only homosexuals were allowed to "marry," they would become more like heterosexuals. In the final chapter of his book Virtually Normal, gay advocate Andrew Sullivan, the most well-known proponent of this view, lets the cat out of the bag: It turns out that what he envisions from homosexual "marriage" is not a change in homosexual behavior, but a change in the meaning of marriage itself. Recognition of homosexual liaisons would be good for the broader society, he says, because there is "more likely to be a greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman."6 In another book, Love Undetectable, he releases still more cats from the bag, defending "the beauty and mystery and spirituality of sex, even anonymous sex."7
The long and short of it is this: Homosexuality isn't "gay" at all. It's lonely, unfulfilled and a ticket to early death. To offer it to young people as just another way to live is to offer them emotional chaos, disease and self-destruction.
You recall that Laura's fellow teachers were confused about more than just sexuality. For example they were confused about what it means to endorse something ("we're just presenting homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle"), about the authority to teach right and wrong ("don't you believe in tolerance?"), about the meaning of love ("what happened to your compassion?") and about the relation between church and state ("leave your faith at the schoolhouse door").
What can you do about these other sources of confusion?
These issues are prickly — make no mistake. You'll find, though, that if only your colleagues can be brought to understand the human sexual design, their other confusions will be a little more manageable. The best time to explain this design is in private conversation, before your committee meets to make decisions. Why? Simple: in the meeting itself, there won't be time. Not only that, but you'll be interrupted constantly, and if your colleagues don't have a good understanding of the issue already, your energy will be dissipated in "putting out fires." Another good reason to make the most of private conversation is that tempers are less likely to flare between two people than in a group.
When you converse, be gentle, be patient and listen carefully — but stick to your guns. It's all a matter of getting back to the basics of design. If your conversational partner is open to hearing about the Designer, too, that's great! But if not, don't worry about it — that may happen some other time. Your task at the moment is to resist the gay agenda.
If you've explained the human sexual design in private conversation, then the "sound bites" to which you'll be limited in committee meetings will have a better chance of hitting home.
By "sound bites" I mean just two or three sentences that get your point across fast before you're interrupted. If people don't already know about the subtleties of the human sexual design, of the procreative and unitive purposes, this isn't the time to go into them. Focus on the obvious — on death and disease. Be blunt. Don't be reluctant to repeat yourself. Let your opponents speak, but don't let them change the subject.
If your colleagues say in a meeting, "We're not endorsing homosexuality, we're just presenting it as an alternative lifestyle," then don't even argue about what it means to "endorse" something. Just say something like this:
Okay, you're not endorsing; you're presenting. But we all know that not every lifestyle is "presentable." Homosexual behavior is a ticket to disease and early death. Sexual acts that kill should be no more "presentable" than drug addiction.
If your colleagues say in the meeting, "Morality is just a matter of opinion — don't you believe in being tolerant?" then don't even argue about the meaning of morality. Just say something like this:
We all believe in tolerance, but we all know that tolerance doesn't mean being open to everything. Habitual homosexual acts cut years from one's life span, and despite all of our teaching about "safe sex," those who practice them are thousands of times more likely to get AIDS. As teachers, how can we tell kids not to commit suicide — but to go ahead and commit suicidal forms of sex?
If your colleagues say in the meeting, "Homosexual kids can't help their feelings — haven't you any compassion?" then don't even argue about whether they can help their feelings. Just say something like this:
If I didn't believe in love and compassion for our children, I wouldn't be a teacher. But love and compassion mean doing what's good for them. Condemning them to a life of pain, disease and early death is the most uncompassionate thing we can do.
If your colleagues say in the meeting, "Church and state are separate — leave your faith at the schoolhouse door," then don't even argue about whether expressions of religious belief should be permitted in public schools. Just say something like this:
This isn't about the church, because even atheists oppose needless disease and death. We teach students in health class to avoid sweets so they won't get cavities; why shouldn't we teach them to avoid homosexual acts so they won't get syphilis or AIDS?
There are three more things you can do.
Remember that the best defense is a good offense. Don't just respond to the proposals of gay advocates; get in there with your proposals first. Remember that explicitly religious speakers and programs have no chance of approval. That's all right; your immediate goal isn't conversion, but saving students from deadly propaganda.
Keep parents informed of everything the school is considering. Do this in the open, so that you can't be criticized. Remember, most parents want to protect their children even more strongly than you do! The problem is that they don't know what's going on.
Organize. Get together with like-minded people in your own school as well as others. Be willing to cooperate with anyone who opposes the gay agenda, whether or not he shares your faith. You mustn't compromise your faith, but that doesn't mean you should throw away potential allies.
Laura Lopez can counter the gay agenda in her public school — and you can counter it in yours. You just have to be prepared.
J. Budziszewski. "But What do I Say?" Teachers in Focus (October, 2000).
Reprinted by permission of J. Budziszewski.
J. Budziszewski (Boojee-shefski) earned his doctorate from Yale University in 1981. He teaches at the University of Texas in Austin, in the Departments of Government and Philosophy where he specializes in the relations among ethical theory, political theory, and Christian theology. The focus of his current research is natural law and moral self deception. J. Budziszewski is a former atheist, former political radical, former shipyard welder, and former lots of other things, including former young and former thin. He's been married for more than thirty years to his high school sweetheart, Sandra, and has two daughters. He loves teaching. He says he also loves contemporary music, but it turns out that he means "the contemporaries of Johann Sebastian Bach." He deserted his faith during college but returned to Christ a dozen years later and entered the Catholic Church at Easter 2004. Among a number of other books, he is the author of On the Meaning of Sex, The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction, Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students, Ask Me Anything 2: More Provocative Answers for College Students, How to Stay Christian in College, What We Can't Not Know: A Guide, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man, and Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law. J. Budziszewski is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.
Copyright © 2000 J. Budziszewski.
Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.