Friday, July 15, 2011

The Marriage Vow

Kendra Marr, writing in Politico reports, “In a year when pledges have become all the rage for Republican presidential primary candidates, The Family Leader's ‘Marriage Vow’ seems to be falling flat.  The 14-point vow asks candidates to pledge ‘personal fidelity’ to their spouses, remove female soldiers from combat roles and recognize that ‘robust childbearing and reproduction’ maintains America's health and security. It calls for acknowledgment that ‘children raised by a mother and a father experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble and less extramarital pregnancy.’ Plus, it requires those who sign to fight prostitution, pornography and Sharia law.”

For a short time, the pledge said that children born into slavery were better off than children born now, but that caused such an outcry that the Iowa-based Family Leader organization removed it with a nuanced apology saying they were sorry the phrase had been misunderstood.  Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum have signed this pledge (while the slavery part was still in it) but so far the other Republicans have refused. 

A quick look at the website of the Family Leader shows it to be an organization profoundly committed to heterosexual marriage.  They ask pastors to sign a four point statement including these two rather odd points:
II. Homosexual behavior is defined by the Bible as immoral and sinful. (Lev. 18:22) It is harmful both to the individuals who choose to participate in it and the society that chooses to accept it. (Romans 1:18-26) Given that understanding, the only truly loving response to the current debate over marriage is to reaffirm the only definition of marriage in Iowa Code – one man and one woman. Keeping in mind that the concept of fairness is subjective, it should never be used as a mechanism to overturn the plain truth of the Scriptures. The laws of Iowa can never be “fair” to everyone, but instead ought to be designed to promote justice. (My italics)

IV. Freedom of conscience is not the issue. We acknowledge that everyone has a right to their own beliefs. The issue is whether or not certain citizens have the right to use their beliefs to redefine that which God has already defined, and then force the rest of society to accept that redefinition. We submit that they do not.
Theirs is an interesting frame:  laws which promote justice cannot be fair to everyone.  And everyone has the right to their own beliefs, but there is no real point in expressing them unless they are completely in agreement with God’s beliefs.  And who knew that God had beliefs?  I would think that one of the advantages of being GOD is that you already know everything, having, for the most part, created it.  Does God believe in God? (OK—that is an old seminary joke which is only funny if you have been drinking Jack Daniels.) 

I am reminded of a woman I knew once who wanted to marry a man who was a quadriplegic.  They were Catholic and their priest refused to marry them, saying that the main function of marriage was procreation and this man’s condition precluded that.   They were shocked and went to another priest.  They told him the story and he said, “I don’t know if the other priest is right, but I will marry you.  Because one thing I do know is that I am to be loving and God is the judge.  I am not the judge.” 

Being loving is a lot harder than being judgmental:  take it from someone who has tried both.  And I like judging just as much as the next hypocrite, but I do remind myself of this priest from time to time and recommit to doing my job.  I am not the judge. 

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