Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Speak now, or forever hold your peace

Dear Hannah,

Although I've seen several bad marriages in my life, 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 caused the bride 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 attended, this brought me to realize that marriages have always been very personal things; things we disagree about just as often as we agree.  Fathers have watched their daughters marry men who aren't "good enough;" old lovers have been known to watch them with broken hearts.  And throughout the process we've always known that love, being many times kind of a mess, has given us many reasons to be upset at lovers.  We simply disagree that whatever they see in someone else actually exists at all.  Which is why we're not trying to marry that someone else ourselves.

We can be thankful this is the case.  If other marriages lead us to think distasteful things, this distaste is the reason we're all here today.  If we all got a crush on the same person, the world would be immediately bathed in fire.  And so we find that if there's anything we can agree upon, it's that nearly everyone else's marital decisions are disagreeable.  It had gotten so bad that a hundred years ago, our great-grandparents were all fiercely debating the idea of eugenics -- or, to put it bluntly, about whether anyone should be in marriages we don't personally approve of.

The outcome of eugenics became plainer than 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 enemies from breeding.  We simply began labeling the people we thought were less educated than us, less pleasant than us, less attractive than us -- less wealthy than us -- undesirable; and if undesirable, then unfit for reproduction.  And lying deep beneath each and every one of us we found a little tyrant, displeased with our neighbors and their displeasing choices, ready -- if we can't overpower them with persuasion -- to simply 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 completely wrong.  And that is to have a lover and a family.

If this doesn't prove that marriages are controversial in themselves then it proves nothing.  A marriage is an acquisition of a lover so honorable in theory and so fragile in the face of so many differing interests and opinions, that it requires backing by law.  Old lovers return in fits of nostalgia.  New aspiring 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 recognition not only of the momentousness of the moment and the necessity of an exit, but of the possibility and likelihood of controversy.  A recognition that any man or woman may 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 varied as our interests, and lovers are frequently responsible for making terrible decisions.

This plain fact of marital controversy, so widely accepted and thus almost 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 man who marries us; not in the houses of our friends, but in the churches of the priests and parishioners we personally offend.   To some men this may be titled equality; just as some men in Lincoln's time preferred to call the cause of slavery their liberty.

And we're quick to misuse our words, because we're quick to misuse our neighbors.  Romance has always been responsible for bringing the best and the worst out in all of us; and we've often been led by the left (despite the fact that they stole the idea from Christians) to believe that love wins.  If this is the case, the leftist ought to remember that our affections are capable of making us do kind things, and equally capable of making us do evil.  In fact 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 is our 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 inherently 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,
-J

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