February 17, 2005

Marriage: “sculpt[ing] the raw rock of male aggression and sexuality.”

The day after Valentine's Day, I criticized Arkansas Governor Huckabee's big covenant marriage spectacle. That post was linked by Instapundit yesterday, and I've been getting a lot of traffic -- as you might imagine -- along with a fair amount of email. So I'm going to to go over the more recent news stories on the subject and share a little of the email. But for now, I just want to talk about this article, by David Koon, in the Arkansas Times.
An estimated 6,500 faithful started showing up at 5:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. showcase of Arkansas’s 2001 Covenant Marriage law. (The Huckabees have been too busy before now to make use of the law.) The audience drove in or rode church buses from all over Arkansas to sit in hard folding chairs and listen to the governor preach the merits of the law, which he said puts “speed bumps” in the road to divorce. Thanks to the law, the millions who might divorce every year over hangnails, custody of the remote, who left the toilet seat up and other inconsequential differences of opinion, will come to their senses.

Well put. Of course, staging a spectacle to celebrate traditional marriage creates a forum for those who would like to reform the institution. The article continues:
A group of about 80 gays, lesbians and their supporters got there early as well, waving signs protesting last year’s vote that banned them from getting even the freeze-dried version of what was being sold at Extra Strength inside. A woman handed out pebbles with John 8:7 inked onto them — the one about stones and who should cast them. Another waved a giant cardboard wedding cake. Sheena Alford, 19, of Conway, stood beside her friend, Brandon, holding a sign. What would she say to the governor if she could? “Just support us,” she said. “Our love is just as valuable as theirs is. We’re not any less because we may love someone of the same sex.

I like the pebbles with that scriptural reference. The form of expression is small and subtle, and it calls attention to an aspect of Christianity that is far, far more important that opposition to homosexuality. (I'm not assuming opposition to homosexuality is even a part of the Christian religion, but some people think it is.)

The article quotes one of the speakers at the Huckabee event, Rabbi Daniel Lapin , of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, as saying that marriage is need to “sculpt the raw rock of male aggression and sexuality” into marriage. Yikes! I wonder if much of the opposition to homosexuality is the fear of masculinity: What would happen to this world if the ways of the male are not diluted and modified by the female ingredient?

And, Rabbi, nice castration imagery! Bring on the sculptress to chisel away at the "raw rock."

To what extent is the opposition to homosexuality really -- if the opponents would be brutally honest with themselves -- opposition to male homosexuality? And is your opposition to female homosexuality more like your concern about solitary women: Why are they not performing the necessary work of mellowing and modifying some dangerous man?
The Huckabees recited wedding vows that proclaimed [God] had chosen them for each other. Mike promised to “protect” Janet, and Janet promised to “submit” to him.

No! Why must she submit? He should submit. We need Janet to sculpt the raw rock of Mike's aggression and sexuality!
Later, at a press conference, the governor said “the fact that we have been married 31 years is in my mind her forgiveness and God’s grace. It’s not that we’re an exceptional couple.”

Wait, I thought this whole covenant marriage idea was to get government authority to hold couples together. So is it government or God that will save us from decline? If you really think it's God, why are you moving government into God's realm? Or is God, like your big marriage spectacle, just another device for leveraging your way into political power?

UPDATE: A reader from Arkansas writes:
I have to say (type?) that our governor is not usually into spectacles. He's generally a pretty low-key guy. I think that this current circus is going on because he truly believes that "covenant marriage" will help curb divorce in the state. Among the very religious people (read: Evangelicals) in our state, including our governor, lowering the rate of divorce has become a huge issue. ...

Do I think covenant marriage will curb divorce in Arkansas? No. I don't even know why people would want the covenant marriages in the first place since it's just a marriage that's harder to get. But I just wanted to let you know that our governor is generally likeable and not usually like this. I think he's just particularly impassioned right now.

There are many nice and likeable people who shouldn't be trusted with political power -- especially people who think good intentions are enough. In fact, some of the nicest people are full of good intentions. And maybe they're so nice because the have a sunny attitude that things will work out well because they mean well. So I'm looking out for nice.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I'm getting a fair amount of email informing me that men really are quite beastly. This is being presented as a conservative concept -- an acknowledgement of the Hobbesian state of nature. (I'm also familar the the concept from the feminist anti-pornography movement.) I did not write this post to dispute the observation that men as a group, compared to women, have more violent, dangerous urges. I'm objecting to the idea that women exist to control and civilize men. Women are individuals, not instruments for solving problems you might think men have. Let the men develop self-control and good character. It's not our job to fix them. (Pun intended!)

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