Pity this man’s patients

[EDIT: In light of a comment from Mr. Ewert below, this post has been edited a bit. Thanks for a Proverbs 27:17 moment, Mr. Ewert!]

I hope to make this quick (because it could be a much longer post if I don’t stay focused). In a small book review article in Newsweek’s August 13, 2007 magazine, there is a completely and annoyingly shallow quote from Columbia University psychiatrist Justin Richardson.

Richardson is co-author of the children’s book, And Tango Makes Three — notorious for being the American Library Association’s “most frequently challenged” book for 2006. Why? Because the story bases itself on the true tale of two male penguins, Roy & Silo, in New York’s Central Park Zoo who bonded with each other instead of with female penguins and who hatched an adopted egg together (the baby female being the “Tango” of the title). Well, this really isn’t the reason that the book is notorious, of course. It gains its notoriety from its using this tale as a chance to teach children about the “validity” of homosexual relationships and same-sex parents.

Now, I am not writing this post to take issue with the book, as tempting as that idea is (hence the need for me to focus).

What I am taking issue with is the ridiculous statement Newsweek quotes Mr. Richardson as making concerning why some (many) parents do not want their children reading such books: “Parents worry that a child who reads a book with a gay character or theme will be more likely to become gay.”

Really? Is that all? I mean, I would like to think that someone who can claim the description “Columbia University psychiatrist” would have a certain ability to comprehend that people’s thoughts and motivation involve more depth than that.

Perhaps the statement was simply a lashing out at critics (or mocking them), without much tempering thought behind it. Or perhaps he is being quoted out of context. The statement certainly could apply as is to some parents, though I would gather that the parents whose concerns could be summarized so simply are in the minority. But regardless of these possibilities, some might take an absurdly oversimplified statement like that to be an accurate and complete depiction of parents such as myself, so I thought it would be worth discussing.

Since we homeschool our children, books like this do not come up as frequently as they may for others (although the issue of homosexuality has not been avoided and has certainly discussed with our children at an age appropriate level). Yet, if this book came up as a recommended read in our homeschooling program, I certainly would not have our children read it (or if we did, it would be for the purposes of deconstructing it, just as we do other cultural propaganda and advertising).

But our avoidance would not be because I fear an increased risk of them choosing to become homosexuals (though accepting the underlying message of such a book does increase that risk). Rather, I don’t wish to treat my children to positive advertising for a lifestyle that I believe God feels negatively about. Should someone write a children’s book in the future positively advertising other negative, sinful addictions, I will likely avoid those books, too.

Why? While I am trying to raise my children to make wise choices (including the choice to avoid sexual sin), I am also trying to raise them to have a Godly worldview.

We all see the world through the lens of our worldview. Some lenses obscure reality by tinting it in a particular, odd color. Others make reality clearer and easier to see by reducing glare or making contrasts sharper.

It is my belief (and that, I am sure, of many others) that books like these have a worldview to sell. And if such authors say they do not, they lie (even if unknowingly).

Whether I want it or not, I know that my children will be exposed to many sinful aspects of life in this fallen world. But I have an obligation to manage that exposure as best I can so that it is done at a pace and in a manner that is appropriate for their growing minds — and for their growing worldview. And at these young ages, I also have an obligation to raise my child in the way that he should go (Proverbs 22:6) — to nurture within him a worldview that allows him to see the world accurately. Mr. Richardson and the co-authors of Tango may argue that theirs is that worldview. They certainly have the legal right to do so, and to buy whatever books they wish for their children. We will act on that same right.

May the best worldview win.

[By the way, Silo — one of the supposedly homosexual penguins — has since become an ex-gay penguin and taken up with a female penguin named Scrappy. Perhaps there will be a follow up children’s book — “Hope for Silo” or “Silo Gets His Act Together” — though I doubt it. And for those who would like to read an excellent op-ed on this (yawn) dramatic turn of events in the animal world, as well as a good commentary about the dangers of extrapolating human morality from animal behavior, check out this essay by Dr. Warren Throckmorten, Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy in the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City (PA) College: “Silo Rains on the Penguin Pride Parade.” (Warning: The article is referenced on a Catholic website. Following Mr. Richardson’s reasoning, perhaps I shouldn’t link to it for fear you all might begin wearing pointy hats and speaking Latin…)]

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5 thoughts on “Pity this man’s patients

  1. Ed Ewert

    Greetings Mr. Smith

    First, regarding Justin Richardson (he can be readily looked up on the web) is a homosexual psychiatrist who propagandizes with the intent to increase manifestations of homosexuality in our society, with apparently a special interest in normalizing homosexuality and homosexual experimentation among the young. It is reasonable to examine every statement connected to homosexuality that he makes as having been shaped with the intent to propagandize for the homosexual cause.

    But, here’s the thing regarding his statement that “Parents worry that a child who reads a book with a gay character or theme will be more likely to become gay.” I clearly understand that this statement is made in order to make parents who oppose books for children that have homosexual characters in them, to appear ridiculous, not smart, old-fashioned, etc, yet I will agree that some (not nearly enough) parents have this kind of concern. It seems reasonable to me that the heavier the exposure to this, the more likely there are children who may choose to sexually experiment in this way, or at least to decide it represents a legitimate alternative way of living one’s life (and that’s bad!).

  2. Howdy, and thanks, Mr. Ewert.

    I really appreciate your observation, and it prompts me to clarify myself a bit. In my attempt to attack a ludicrous oversimplification, I may have obscured an important point.

    When our children begin to see harmful things as acceptable, they may be more willing to experiment with them, and that is a legitimate danger and concern. That is definitely one reason why I want my children (actually, all children) to see the truth about sin.

    Most all children go through an age in which they experience confusing and conflicting feelings, especially in the area of sexuality. During those ages, they need parents to actively guide them in the right way and along the right paths — parents who will not be teachers hidden away in a corner, but who will step in and say, “This is the way, walk you in it” (cf. Isa. 30:20-21). What they don’t need is someone saying, “Hey, you might be just like Silo and Roy!” Children do not have the maturity to see where their next foot should be placed, let alone the foresight to see the consequences their choices will bring thirty years later.

    So, please forgive me if I communicated poorly. I should say that I am not primarily driven to avoid such books in my children’s education because I am afraid that the book might somehow increase the odds that they will choose to become homosexuals, though I absolutely *do* recognize that such a risk exists. I am personally more concerned with what I believe to be a more probable outcome of digesting such nonsense: that they will simply approve of those who do such things (cf. Romans 1:32).

    I appreciate your comments, Mr. Ewert, and I think I will edit my post a bit to reflect what you’ve said. Thanks for your insight!

    Best regards,
    Wallace Smith

    P.S. I did make some edits. Let me know what you think!

  3. Ed Ewert

    Mr. Smith, I appreciate your dedication to precision and clarity!

    You say, “The statement certainly could apply as is to some parents, though I would gather that the parents whose concerns could be summarized so simply are in the minority.”, and I certainly agree with you. A common tactic among many who espouse a godless, anti-law view is to ridiculously oversimplify to the point of gross misrepresentation, viewpoints they don’t care for. A good example of this: I have read on the internet complex statements about how the God of the Bible opposes homosexuality, only to receive a reply of “You’re just a homophobe, and you hate homosexuals!”.

  4. “I have read on the internet complex statements about how the God of the Bible opposes homosexuality, only to receive a reply of “You’re just a homophobe, and you hate homosexuals!””

    In the defense of those who respond that way, they’ve been conditioned to do that over the last few decades. I refer to it as the “Junior High School Locker Room of Life.” Our political discourse has been reduced to the same level of your average junior high locker room. Just stick a label on someone and then you can dismiss and harass them.

    The people who are trying to openly rationalize the sin of homosexuality cannot come back and debate the issue rationally because they know that the Bible says what it says. The only way they can justify themselves is to say those who disagree with them hate them. We just have to show them genuine love and concern in return and trust that God will let them see there’s no fear of them or hatred.

  5. Steve

    There is a relentless drum beat in our society to make homosexuality seem “normal.” Movies, televsion, and newspapers continually bombard our nation with images for that very purpose. Do you remember the recent “gay marriage” debate? Did you notice how the media always include photos of homosexuals kissing and holding hands? That was no accident. The relentess bombarding of images is designed to numb the sensitivities of the average person.

    A parent must address these issues with his children at some point. Unless you are hiding in a cave somewhere, your children are getting hit with this endless stream of images. The children must be warned – because they are the ultimate target.

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