One of the primary justifications used by advocates for legalizing marriage between members of the same sex is that the legal and financial protections normally accorded to spouses in heterosexual unions is not available to same-sex life partners.
One way to address this without hollowing out the institution of marriage as practiced by people of faith (or rending the American polity) would be to recognize in both law and language a clear distinction between civil unions and religious marriages. A civil union would be a strictly legal binding process, whereas a religious marriage would take place within the laws and customs of a faith. The state would have no power to order a priest, imam, minister, or rabbi to conduct a same-sex union, and each religion/order would be free to address the question independently.
Thus, to the extent that there needs to be a civil framework for unions occurring outside theologically acceptable bounds, we need to arrive at a common (read “national” as opposed to “state”) set of legal principles so as to keep distinct sanctified and codified relationships. This is fair. What is not fair or correct, however, is a state-led effort that by word or deed dilutes the importance or value of a faith-based marriage. While the state may decide to place legal equivalence on faith-based marriage and civil unions, they cannot legislate a moral equivalence. To attempt to do so would see the government operating outside the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.
It is important for us to get past this debate because we must stop focusing on the marital process and turn our focus where it belongs: on the creation and support of healthy, nurturing families.
If men like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens did not exist, we should be obliged to invent them.
For it is the skeptics who force the believer out of the lazy habit of rote belief and sends him on a spiritual hero’s journey. For an untested faith is a weak faith, unbefitting a Creator who merits worship.
If there is a spiritual weakness implicit in Tolkien, it is not the absence of G-d, church, or worship in Middle Earth.
Instead, it is the externalization of Evil. Evil lurks in every heart. It is the fight against that evil inside, not the evil outside, that defines us and reveals our true character.
Adam Daniel Mezei asks via Twitter:
What’s your read on the connections between Chinese and Jews. Beyond obvious factors, what do you think our connections are?
After wondering aloud if I could answer that in 140 characters, I though about it and gave him this precis of an answer.
I think Chinese and Jews look each other in the eye and see something comforting and familiar. It comes not necessarily from a shared set of values, but of common experience: each is the ancient and seminal culture of a civilization, has endured unspeakable hardship/persecution, and each has emerged from the crucible of history with great depth beneath the hardened exterior shared by all survivors.
Therein, I believe, lies the heart of the mutual respect and admiration – and in my household affection – between the two great cultures.
Image via Wikipedia
It demands no great mind of science to deconstruct faith. It requires no saint to enumerate the shortcomings of science.
The truly brilliant will find in Faith a questing of a kind different from – but no less legitimate than – the Method.
And the truly Holy will see in science a new way to know the hand of G-d.
The great minds and the great souls will forge a path of tolerance, of mutual respect, of unity, for tey will apprehend a truth, a shared quest, and the complementarity of their journeys of discovery.
From a fascinating article in The Wall Street Journal entitled “Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation” I discovered this interesting little insight.
Journalist and author Naomi Alderman spoke about the difficulty of having to observe the Jewish Sabbath as a child. Her talk, “What It’s Like to Do Almost Nothing Interesting for 25 Hours a Week,” ended on an unexpected, touching note. “When we learn to tolerate boredom,” she said, “we find out who we really are.”
Superb. It also explains why I enjoy reading Judaic writings on airplanes.