Friday, February 29, 2008

What is a Family?

Who decided what a family was going to be? Above we have the "nuclear" family. It has a husband and a wife and two strapping children that look like they could do no wrong. Anyone recognize this family? I don't.

I don't think it is our right to define a family strictly as that which is shown above. So, two lesbians who love each other want to be a family, let them. Or two non- lesbian women who never married decide to rent a house, can they not be each other's family? Family doesn't have to be limited to just those people that came from the same womb. 

To further illustrate, let's take our two straight women who, for whatever reason, never found "the one" in life. So, they decided to rent a house together and live as strictly platonic companions. Why can't the one share her health insurance with the other? Or her discount at her job, or whatever it is that's important? They have no other beneficiaries, they are alone in the world, save for this person. 

Everyone should have the option to be "married" in essence to whoever they want, and be able to share what they have with the other, regardless of their gender.

And this whole deterioration of the sanctity of the family? It's complete bull! When was the family actually sanctified? It's always been such a dysfunctional entity! Dads running out on their kids for the secretary, the wife living as a personal assistant to her husband, etc. Kids disowning their parents or stealing money for drugs? Yea, dysfunctional! So why can't people who care about each other be a family?

I think the definition of family needs to change hardcore. If you believe in having 20 kids and having a nuclear family, then by all means, go for it. However, if you're not "typical", why not define your own family? Everyone deserves a life long companion. What goes on in the bedroom is no one's business. Really, it's not.

Also, confining family to what it is today prevents us from the potential relationships we could have with people all around us. If we confine the definition to just those who are blood or marriage related, we alienate ourselves from other people in our world, thinking they're not as good because they're not one of "us". But aren't we all brothers and sisters anyways? So by being exclusive, we aren't able to serve one another as lovingly as we could if we considered family to be everyone. 

I know this is a totally sensitive subject for some people, but for me it just makes sense. And in a hundred years they're going to look back and say "I can't believe that back in the day family only meant a man and a woman who have sex!" Because family is going to be open to everyone. It's gonna be a great day!


Beatrix Kiddo said...

I think my biggest problem with the church was always the preachiness on family. I always felt alienated because I didn't have that same sense of family they were talking about. Many friendships I've invested a lot into have dissolved because the other person gets married and then only has time for those who matter; the people that share their blood and their husband/wife. I always thought that was so lame and unchristian.

Janae said...

I don't think the idea that a family is sanctified necessarily means that others are discounted or left out. I think that's merely an individual choice made by people after marriage--an unfortunate consequence. For instance, my boyfriend Tanner's family always has me and all of his friends over for whatever reason. It's his parents, him, his cousin Cody, me, my friend Rachel, Aric, and often times several more people. They are very welcoming, and I think in a way we are a family. It's not limited to blood, and it's not alienating or exclusive.

At the same time, I will never have the bond with Tanner's sisters that Tanner has. There IS something that goes with sharing blood, that goes with being sealed to each other forever (in an LDS family's case, anyway). It's a consequence of having the same parents and very similar experiences growing up together. Of course, two best friends or foster siblings can experience the same types of things also. So yes, family does go beyond blood.

But I think defining a family isn't really the issue you're talking about. Legal rights that come from marriage is an entirely different topic. The argument of a dysfunctional family runs through your own argument--two lesbians who end up adopting kids could split up. In whatever case, dysfunctional situations happen where people are violating the sanctity of the family. How the government decides to define a family is a touchy subject. Legal situations (health benefits, hospital visits, etc.) are difficult for people who have "atypical" family situations, unfortunately. Like I said, a different topic.

I know two straight women who live together. I think they each have their own health options and are pretty independent of each other. But I agree that (if they wanted to support one another) it would be unfortunate that government restrictions might prevent one or the other from living a healthy and full life.

So the question is not "who decided what a family is going to be?". The question is, "how do we make legal, lawful decisions about the benefits and rights that people with a variety of types of relationships have?".

I believe that God decided what qualified a family, and it is, in fact, sanctified. It does not mean that we alienate others or that we can't be welcoming or helpful to others.

That's just my two cents. :) No harsh words or bitter arguments. Just thought you deserved a response from someone who "sort of" disagrees.

Abby said...

Thanks for your comments, Janae. I agree with a lot of what you say. I feel there is way too much pre-occupation in society about what goes on behind closed doors. The only reason two gay people aren't allowed "marriage" or the benefits therein is because we're too worried about what they're doing in the bedroom, because it goes against "my" or "your" religion. But honestly, that's not my business, right? We don't live in a theocracy.

So without being redundant, I'm saying that everyone should be allowed to pick one person as their beneficiary, regardless of if they are related blood or marriage wise. It shouldn't matter, just that they can have a companion in life, and that companion should receive the benefits that I get for being in a heterosexual marriage.

And what Tanner's parents do to include you and his friends is exactly what I think is great! But in myself even sometimes I feel there is a boundary between my family and the people I go to school, I will have my family's back no matter what, and I love them, but I find myself very critical of my colleagues or co-workers. If I considered them more like family, I would have more love for them because I would never think about my family the way I think about Joe Schmoe...follow?

I do think we should question the definition of family, along with the definitions of every other thing we follow, because someone in society decided that's how things are going to be and we just go along with it because it's all we know. But if we say, "why do I take the sacrament? Why do I eat a piece of bread and water in symbolism of Jesus' body?" then we can better understand our religion. I hope I'm not digressing too much, but we should know why we do things so we can know how true we are.

Before I went to college, I went to church every single week, and I thought "hey I love this church, I really believe in it" but then as soon as I got to college, I shortly ceased going to church. When my parents weren't there to get me up, I didn't go. So I learned how strong and real my testimony really was. Now, I go, but like if my husband wasn't here, would I just go on my own??

So I think deconstructing cultural myths is one of the most important things we can do to understanding ourselves. Maybe we will come back saying "yes, this is right" or maybe we will say "who thought of this?". Yes, I'm an English major, so this is a little transcendentalist...

Ok this is so long, I probably should have saved it for another entry! Oh well.