A couple days back, I nearly broke instagram with a little snap of a super special library book that snuck it’s way into our weekly haul without a proper parental vetting, and then all of a sudden I found myself snuggled up on the couch with a 3 and a 5 year old about to read them a heartwarming tale about gay penguins “whose love was just like the other penguin’s love, but different, you know?”
Whatever your thoughts on homosexuality in the animal kingdom and beyond, you have to admit it’s pretty clever to slip that into an endearing children’s tale to prove your point.
I had one commenter point out the story is based on “the true story of a gay penguin couple” and, therefore, valid and worthy of enshrinement in a taxpayer funded children’s institution. To which I raise my virtual eyebrow and ask, really?
The more disturbing and more common reaction from some of the dissenting Insta commenters, however, dealt with my own great sin: the desecration (actual word used) of public property.
In other words, it was more disturbing that a concerned mother would take a sharpie to a book jacket and issue a frank warning about adult content contained within then that a book promoting homosexuality to children was on the library shelves to begin with.
I can’t remember who said it, but one of the great thinkers of the last century – maybe Chesterton or Lewis – had something to say about how when the great things become unimportant, the little things become too important.
(Wait, I’m going to google it.)
Okay, that’s the first google fail I’ve had in years. 20 minutes and nada to show for it, except that a certain 2-year-old’s nap-aversion siren is going off like a tornado advance warning system.
But the gist of the quote I can’t remember by the great thinker I can’t think of is that when a society has degraded to the point where there are no – or very few – collectively-held incidences of grave evil or injustice, the little things take on a disproportionate great importance.
So when abortion is acceptable, promiscuity is lauded, and every kind of vice is celebrated and encouraged, it suddenly becomes very, very important to Recycle and Eat Local Food and Pick Up Litter.
Not that those things oughtn’t be done, when possible. They are goods in and of themselves! But they are not the greatest goods.
And it is a sad commentary on our collective state of affairs when the outrage my little act of civil disobedience produced was not primarily to do with there being harmful adult content in children’s books expressly designed to indoctrinate them, but that I drew on public property. (Raises taxpaying hand. Cough, cough.)
Anyway, the thing about the whole brouhaha which seemed so disconnected to me was that whether or not it was wrong for me to write a friendly warning in that kid lit volume about homo amorous aquatic birds, the outrage directed at my actions seemed to far outpace any real dismay over the fact that this was a children’s library book.
A book for kids. Meant to educate and inspire and encourage. Meant to feed the soul and enrich the imagination.
And while homosexuality has indeed become increasingly mainstream ala hollywood and prime time television, not everyone, contrary to the belief of the aforementioned media sources, is as gung ho about it as we’ve been led to believe.
It will no doubt get me promptly labelled as hateful and ignorant and prudish and a whole host of other buzzwords that mean “I disagree with your opinion and desire to punish you for it,” but I don’t want my children exposed to the idea that homosexuality is a valid, commonplace lifestyle choice equivalent to marriage.
I also don’t want them exposed to porn, which is why I flip the magazine covers in the checkout line, oftentimes in plain sight of the employees. If pressed, I explain that I’m protecting the eyes of my children, and any others who might come through the line that day. Every time I’ve had this conversation it has led to a sheepish, regretful and even wistful admission that “there’s nothing we can do about it because orders from Corporate, but yeah, we also wish they weren’t there.”
But here’s the thing: if adults do nothing to protect children, they will be victimized by this increasingly sexualized and demonic cultural milieu.
It’s not a matter of “might” or “could be;” they will be.
Sexual deviance in particular is everywhere we turn. And we’re basically, as a culture, in a frog in water situation because we’ve all – me, you, your dad’s friends’s boss – become incredibly desensitized to it by means of the sheer volume of material we’re exposed to every waking second of our lives.
If someone from 1930 could be zapped into modern day prime time and watch 4 minutes of any of our television programing, I think they’d faint dead away. Or maybe throw a hammer through the screen. It’s just that we’re so used to a constant stream of boobs and blood and sexual innuendo and rape scenes and every manner of cruelty and vice, we’re essentially numb to it.
Notice that my aim here is not to condemn the victims of pornography or homosexuality or abortion or any other grave injustice against the human person that we’re currently celebrating as progressive.
Rather, it is to protect my children. Our children. Children whose minds have not yet been formed, whose imaginations are tender and wide open. Who deserve to be filled with truth and beauty and goodness.
I don’t flip magazine covers out of hatred for the women exploited there, but to keep my sons from falling into the legion of men who could one day exploit them.
And I don’t take pen to library books to warn off other parents and young readers out of hatred for those who struggle with homosexuality, but to protect my children from the celebration and normalization of it.
Will we eventually have a conversation that some people struggle with same sex attraction and that their dignity and value is no less than yours, mine, or Mother Teresa’s?
But not over a publicly-subsidized piece of progaganda aimed directly at their innocent young hearts, meant not to encourage and inspire but to indoctrinate and anesthetize.
Because I’m an adult, and one of my greatest responsibilities is to the next generation.