I was listening to a morning radio show which included a segment called ‘Six on Sex’. Ordinarily, a contestant (usually a young girl) is asked six very personal questions about her sex life while her father is listens to his daughter’s exploits. If he can make it through all six questions and answers without hanging up, she wins a prize. Rather than a young girl on this particular day, it was a young gay man.
A few things stood out to me. Oddly, through out the call, the father sounded eager about hearing about his son’s sex life. He made sure to constantly tell his son how much he loved him and supports him and his sexuality. Though it was subtle, there was a sense that the father was trying to convince his son that he supported him as enthusiastically as he projected. Then toward the end of the call, the father confessed that he used to be “really anti-gay” but after his son came out, he changed his mind. Do you oppose same sex marriage or think homosexuality is morally wrong? Would you change your mind if someone close to you told you they were gay? Maybe or many not. But a lot of people do, like the father from the call.
This isn’t uncommon. Often when someone’s child tells their parents they’re gay, maybe not immediately, they change their tune and suddenly they no longer fells that homosexuality is morally wrong. But what changed, what’s different? Just because now it’s your child who says they’re gay, it’s no longer immoral?
I’ve been asked this before by others and even my own daughter. I explain that my view on the issue doesn’t change. It’s still morally wrong no matter who claims it as their identity. And why should it? If you hold that homosexual sexual relationships are immoral for principled reasons, then it shouldn’t matter who ‘comes out’. I would suggest that if that factor alone changes your mind then you didn’t hold a principled objection, rather, it was a personal one.
The same goes for abortion. Usually, though, defenders of abortion frame the scenario to ask if I’d support abortion if my daughter or wife was raped or believed they “needed” an abortion. My answer still doesn’t change. We don’t take the lives of innocent human beings simply because one of their parents is a criminal. Sure, half the child is the rapist’s, but the other half is your daughter’s — and it’s my whole grandchild.
This really applies to any moral issue. And I think it happens more than we notice. We think certain things are wrong when someone else does them, but for ourselves, there’s some justification as to why we (or someone close) is given a pass. If we hold our moral convictions for principled reasons, and not just superficial matters of taste or preference, then someone close to us engaging in that immoral behavior doesn’t change anything.