Posts Tagged ‘Same-Sex Marriage’

How times change

November 30, 2014

marriagevia xkcd

I grew up in Williamsport, Md., a little town on the Potomac River, in the 1940s and 1950s, and was taught by my parents, teachers and Sunday school teachers to judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

It was not so far south that expressing this opinion would have caused anybody to be run out of town, but I do remember many arguments in which the supposed clincher was, “Be honest, Phil.  Would you want one of them to marry your sister?”

My answer was, “Well, if I had a sister, which I don’t, I wouldn’t want her to suffer all the grief she would have to go through if she married a Negro.  But, if she really loved him, I guess I would still love her and respect her decision, as unwise as it probably would be.”

In truth, I thought the question was a red herring.  I didn’t think interracial marriage would ever be common.  I thought it was just a talking point to justify the denial of equal rights.

In the 1960s, in Hagerstown, Md., in the same county, I attended the marriage of my friend Jim Yeatts, who was white, to Georgianna Bell, who was black.  A detective from the city police department sat in a police cruiser outside the church when the ceremony was performed.

That night the chief of police phoned the newspaper publisher, who was my employer, and informed him that I was among the guests.  The phone call didn’t have any consequences.  I mention it as an example of something that happened then that would be unthinkable now.

What was unthinkable then was same-sex marriage.  If somebody had asked me a question about this back in the 1960s, I wouldn’t have known that they were talking about.

The ideal family

May 16, 2012

The conservative Christian writer Rod Dreher believes that the ideal family consists of a man and woman committed to stay together and to raise their children to be healthy, responsible adults.

My good friend Walter believes the ideal family is more than that.  It includes two sets of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins as well as brothers and sisters.   He thinks children need all kinds of people in their lives – a crazy uncle, a sympathetic aunt, an adventurous cousin and so on – that they can relate to and they can see as examples, good and bad, of how to live.

I think Walter is right.  Sadly, though, this ideal isn’t always attainable.  I have divorced women friends and a widower friend who’ve had to bring up their children on their own.  It was a lot tougher than if they’d had a partner to share, but the children turned out all right.

Click on Some Burkean Thoughts on SSM for Rod Dreher’s argument that a society disintegrates when people regard marriage as a contract rather than a sacrament.  My problem with his argument is that, even if I were convinced he is right, I believe or disbelieve in religion based on what I think is true and false, not on what I think is theoretically best for society.  Maybe that shows I am a product of the individualistic American culture whose bad side Dreher deplores.

Anyhow, the data indicate that families are most stable, divorce rates are lowest, fewer children are born out of wedlock, etc., in the so-called blue states where social attitudes are most liberal than in the states where conservative Christianity is strongest.  That is not necessarily a criticism of conservative Christianity; as Jesus is quoted as saying, it is the sick and not the healthy who need a physician.   I take Dreher’s argument seriously, but, at the end of the day, I am not willing to make good people suffer in the name of a theoretical ideal that may or may not be valid and may or may not be attainable.