Speak now, or forever hold your peace

Dear Hannah,

Although I've seen lots of bad marriages, there's really only one time I felt forced to attend a wedding, and it involved a woman I love marrying a man I never trusted.  I spoke at the wedding, and did a damn good job at it.  I even bought a gift for this couple despite the fact that I knew he'd ruin everything and I'd be out a good chunk of money.   The wedding cost me my dignity and my money.   It left the bride with a broken heart and a divorce.  And shy of shoving her fiancĂ©e off a cliff there was nothing any of us could do to stop it.

Alongside other horrible weddings I've been to, this made me realize that marriages have always been personal things, and that we disagree about them just as often as we agree.  Fathers have watched their daughters marry men who aren't "good enough."  Ex-lovers have to watch them with broken hearts.  And we've always known that love, which is usually messy, has given us lots of reasons to be mad at lovers.  We just disagree that whatever they see in someone else exists at all.  Which is why we're not trying to marry that someone else ourselves.

I'm actually thankful this is the case.  If other people's marriages lead us to smirk or scowl, this distaste is the reason we're all here today.  Imagine if we all got a crush on the same person.  Would this love be better?  Or would it be war?  Thus if there's anything we can agree about, it's that nearly everyone else's marital decisions are disagreeable.  It got so bad that a hundred years ago, our great-grandparents were all actually debating whether anyone should be in marriages we don't personally approve of.

The outcome of eugenics became plain as daylight thanks to Hitler.  The "matchmaker" that everyone always assumed was himself suddenly began to look like everyone else -- because everyone suddenly became interested in keeping their less "worthy" neighbors from breeding.  We simply began labeling the people we thought were less educated than us, less pleasant than us, less sexy than us -- less wealthy than us -- undesirable; and if undesirable, then unfit for reproduction.  Thus we found inside each and every one of us a little tyrant, unhappy with our neighbors and their unacceptable choices -- and if we couldn't overpower them with persuasion, eugenics said we could rob them of the only thing the poor, the outcast, and the intellectually sub-par can lean upon when everything else seems to have gone wrong.  And that's to have a lover and a family.

If this doesn't prove that marriages are controversial then it proves nothing.  A marriage is an acquisition of a lover so contested in the maelstrom of opinions and interests that it requires backing by law.  Old lovers return in fits of nostalgia.  New lovers are around every corner. Daughters and sons make terrible decisions, and mothers and fathers are forced to watch them make them.  And through all of this we hear that single statement, that speak now, or forever hold your peace -- a formality steeped in the idea not only of the momentousness of the moment and the need for an exit, but of the possibility and likelihood of controversy.  A recognition that any man or woman could object for any reason (and I mean for literally any reason at all) -- and that he has a right to do so, because our reasons are as diverse as our interests, and lovers are known for making terrible decisions.

This plain fact of marital controversy, which we all accepted so totally that it's been invisible for centuries, is completely ignored by the gay marriage radical.  He claimed he wanted equal rights, and then bullied for more than any straight man or Christian ever bargained: that his marriage should be above criticism -- not even above the passive bystander or the parent or the past lover, but of the cleric who performs the marriage; not in the houses of our friends, but in the churches of the priests and parishioners we personally offend.   Is this equality?  Or is it slavery?

The gay rights crowd forgets that the only time we can be hateful is when we're loving.  It was Hitler's love of Germans that caused him to trample Jews.  It was the Roman's love of Rome that make him enslave the Greek.  The communist's affection for the distraught took the last of what they had and threw them into gulags.  Romantic affection caused Amnon to rape his sister Tamar, fatherly affection caused King David to pardon Amnon, and brotherly affection for Tamar caused Absalom to try to kill King David.  Our affections cause us to ruin our neighbors and countrymen, drives some men to incest, others to patricide -- still others to acts of war and atrocity and robbery and tyranny.  And it's Americans' love for gays -- sometimes righteous and other times backward -- that leads us to be hateful towards Catholics. 

To clarify my position, nobody in America gets hurt because two men decided to get married.  But we can do lots of damage to people and principle when two men can force others to marry them.  There's a way for both Christians and gay men to live in harmony, and it is, first, for Christians, beyond the walls of their own churches, to not be able to obstruct a marriage between two members of the same sex.  The second is for two members of the same sex to never force Christians to facilitate their marriages.  If marriage is controversial, then I say let's be charitable; and if we can't be charitable, then at the very least let each of us be tolerant.

Your father,


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