Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell...Why?!

So, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell rule is getting some serious discussion and limelight these days. Bah, humbug is what I say. Sure, I'm a Christian, and I believe homosexuality is a sin. I believe it's a choice because men and women fit together a little too perfectly (in every aspect of the phrase) for me to be convinced that homosexuality is a born trait.

At any rate, alcoholism is a sin, too, and I've gotten beyond tipsy a few times in my life. So I'm a sinner, too. I'm a repeat offender in a lot of areas, and nobody tried to subdue my ability to serve in the military. In fact, if I'd turned into an alcoholic while in the military, I would have been provided treatment programs and given special medical attention/counseling.

It's so infuriating to hear people say, "Well, if they (because politicians obviously don't represent their constituents at all, ever, right?) let gays serve openly in military, I'm getting out." Sure you are. The military is one of the most stable, well paying (at any rank, don't believe what anybody says-they just refuse to factor in all of their benefits) jobs available right now. It doesn't take a whole lot of skill to get into the military. Once in, you're taught everything you need to know. You're encouraged to continue your education. You have all sorts of reduced rate products available to you. There are special organizations for any need you can possibly dream of: the Exceptional Family Member Program, the Personal Financial Management Program, spouse support groups, children support groups, etc. And this is just from my knowledge of the Marine Corps. I'm certain the bigger services have even more programs available.

Anyhow, with this issue going to court, I wonder how many people are actually preparing their dissent papers so they can attempt to separate from the service upon Congressional and Supreme Court approval to allow gays to openly serve in the military. I'm guessing maybe 1% of people who feel that way may have even started wondering how to even begin that process. If service members aren't going to go through the hassle of attempting to get out because they oppose the policy, then why is there such a hullabaloo everywhere else? Just let them serve.

Now, I can see where higher level managers might be worried with the logistics of allowing openly gay persons serve in the military. Who are they going to room with? Are they going to be allowed to live out of unit quarters in on- or off-base housing just because of their sexual orientation (this is usually a privilege allowed for more senior servicemembers)? If gay people are allowed to room together, will heterosexual folks be allowed to live together? It could be a logistical nightmare...but if we're saying no to able-bodied people who are willing to serve just because of a logistics problem, well, we've got some serious issues.

And if anyone doubts the ability of a homosexual (particularly in the case of males) to serve well, let's just look at that famous conqueror, Alexander. They called him "The Great" for a reason-he was a military genius, and he loved men as much as I do. Well, I love one man, but you get the idea.

Plus, why is the military getting all hissy on this issue? If the military is so straight-laced, then there should be public outcry against all the strip clubs and bars found within three miles of any military installation. The only area the military is still "conservative" in is that of adultery, and even that is hard to prove.

So I guess my point is, if there is an underwhelming movement for current servicemembers to leave the military upon permission for openly practicing homosexuals to enter it, then let's make it happen. This is the land of the open-minded, isn't it? I mean, if Suzy Q. can sue McDonald's for handing her a hot coffee that she dumps all over herself as she drives away and win the suit, then what gives? We can't pretend we have scrupulous morals when ridiculous lawsuits like that win...or even worse, when legit lawsuits go nowhere because the accused has enough money to tip the scales of justice in their favor. C'mon, let's get real here!

The United States of America was founded on conservative, Christian ideals. The Puritans were all but kicked out of England for being too conservative, for goodness' sake! So sure, we could call this a Christian nation when we were founded. But America is not that anymore. America is a liberal, relativistic nation with no solid foundation for its morals, making us secular. So why are people getting all wrapped up about secular people acting in secular ways?

If Christians want to change the way the nation does stuff, then they need to start acting on their convictions! Christians need to start spreading the Word and loving people the way Jesus did. Because I know Jesus would be the first One to invite Himself over to a rich gay dude's house to show him some truth. Jesus would also the first One to include me in the brood of vipers for adding things to His word. From the beginning, we've been called to love God and love each other as we love Him. That doesn't mean we have to join in the sinning, but it does mean we need to reach out to the sinner and love him or her genuinely. This is a serious case of What Would Jesus Do, and I know the answer: He'd do the radical thing and just love people they way they are and reach out to them, no matter what they have done or are doing. He did it over and over again as a man, and He's still doing it today.

Challenge: This is a hard one. Love like Jesus does.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

21st Century Women and Money

I stumbled into an article that bothers me a bit. Strangely enough, there are still a lot of "modern" women in relationships who cede their financial matters to men. (So there, Destiny's Child with your "Independent Women" songs!) Weird. I thought I was the only one who still happily turned over the keys to all family money matters. Apparently not, much to my (selfish) relief:
...It's not just older women who leave the big money questions to their husbands. Despite strides in the workforce, traditional roles are still common at home. Women as young as their 20s frequently defer financial decision making to their spouses or even their fathers.

Why do we do this? No idea about you, but here's my reason: I'm lazy. My grandfather and dad taught me all about budgeting, saving, and giving as a kid/teenager, and I managed my finances rather well during college. I gave regularly to my charities of choice, my IRA was funded, and all of my bills were paid on time. As soon as I got married, which just happened to be the day after I graduated from college, I handed the financial keys over to my husband.

Bless him, he tries hard to keep me in the financial loop and involve me in the two-year budget plan he's designed for us. I'm just not super interested. I know where my investments are, our debts are paid off (praise God!!!), and our budget is detailed enough to let me know where I can "borrow" from in case I overspend on the groceries (what SAHM really needs regular dry cleaning?). My husband does everything he can to give me an equal say in the budget. Since I know he tries so diligently to involve me, I repeatedly scourge my brain to come up with different versions of, "Whatever you think is best." I'm sure it frustrates him to no end, but I hope he's comforted in the fact that I really do trust him that much.

In my own defense, I do my best to keep receipts and plug them into Quicken so we can have an accurate picture of where our money is going. And I track certain sections of the budget in my head and on a white board in the kitchen. But still, I'd prefer to leave all financial matters in my husband's hands.

Why, though? Am I just washing my hands of the responsibility/burden of making financial decisions? Do I not want to hear any semblance of "I knew we shouldn't have done xyz"? Do I think I don't understand financial jargon? I don't know. Maybe I really am just that lazy. This should be an interesting conversation starter for my husband. I'd LOVE to hear his opinion. That's the great thing about being married-you always get the truth, and it's usually filtered through rose-colored glasses. :) And yes, I adore my husband. He's worth his weight in nuclear-grade plutonium.

Here's another thing that really caught my eye within the same article quoted above:
Studies show that parents have the single most important impact on financial behaviors and knowledge...Few families have frequent conversations about money, and when the topic comes up, they "speak to their daughters differently than their sons."
First: Another argument for the importance of having parents who are involved with their kids. Amazing! It makes me glad I'm a SAHM now, though I know there are tons of ladies who do a fab job of working and raising their kids "right." Personally, I know I'm doing a better job mothering as a SAHM than I did when I was working.

We have three daughters, so I guess our financial training isn't going to be too unequal. We've already beaten the idea of saving into their heads. Every coin they find gets placed into our three part bank. The girls like giving to the church the best. The "bank" (savings portion) is second most popular while the spending slot has the least. That's encouraging.

Funny anecdote: I gave our two older girls $1 to spend at a rummage sale. The older one found a pair of princess shoes that she quickly picked up and paid for. The younger one carefully examined everything and talked to me (as best as a 2 y/0 can) about the items she liked. In the end, she decided to keep her $1. A few days later, we were heading to the mall, and I gave the girls another $1. The younger said, "Me have two now!" When my eldest protested the unfairness of the numbers, I had a lovely chance to explain the difference between saving and spending all over again. The point is, despite all the teaching we do, it's our kids' responsibility to put the lesson into action. As parents, we need to make sure we take the time to teach our kids properly.

Second, why in the world would we (parents) talk to our girls differently than we would our boys regarding money??? Most Americans would agree that women are perceived as bigger (that is, more frequent) spenders than men. Wouldn't that make it more of a priority for parents to give their daughters a solid financial foundation?

I'm thankful I had such good financial training as a kid. I understand everything my hubby tries to include me in, and I know I am able to contribute intelligently to financial conversations (should I choose to). How would I feel if I didn't know what was going on, though? It would be a source of constant irritation that would provoke me to one of two courses of action: 1. figure it out (hard to do without a lot of time to invest) or 2. ignore it by letting my husband do everything. It's nice to be able to choose to let my husband everything instead of being forced to do so.

Challenge: Figure out how you feel about finances. If you want to change that feeling, take action to do so. If you're a parent, make sure you provide good lessons (both verbal and by example) to your kids (regardless of gender!) about how to handle money. Check out the budget planning resources from to get you going in the right direction.

-Domestic Goddess out.