My reflections and musings on the struggle to leave a Christ-shaped impression on the world of law and public policy.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Selling No-Fault Divorce to Moms?

Where shall I begin with my reasons for being outraged by this latest political ad put out by Terry McAuliffe's campaign? McAuliffe wants to be Virginia's next governor, and his strategy apparently involves duping women into believing that his opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, sponsored legislation that would make it harder for "moms" (but not dads) to get divorces. This assumes, of course, that we "moms" place a premium on the availability of quick and easy divorce.

I resent this ad for making a mockery of a sacred marriage vow [note the "Leave It to Beaver"-esque graphic and the old-fashioned, "I Love Lucy"-esque font of "For Better or Worse"]. This is a vow that my husband and I took before God. While we, like most couples, have not kept our vows perfectly, I hope and pray that we will keep this particular one, for the permanence of the marriage relationship is its very essence.

It is repulsive to me that a political campaign would seek to win my support by scoffing at a principle as noble and good as simple loyalty and commitment to one's family.

I refute the ad's deception. The ad makes it sound as if Cuccinelli's bill targeted "moms," making it harder for them, specifically, to get divorced if their husbands object. This is simply false. The bill (of course!) applied the same way for both spouses. Obviously McAuliffe's campaign wants to prey upon a woman's fear of being trapped in an abusive situtation. But abuse is always a legal justification for divorce, and Cuccinelli's bill would have done nothing to change that (for, as it turns out, Cuccinelli is not, in fact, a monster).

What the McAuliffe camp apparently doesn't think we "moms" will figure out is that Cuccinelli's bill would have helped the countless struggling moms who have been left holding the bag when their husbands decided to walk out on the family for no reason other than that marriage was no longer exciting, or that the demands of child-rearing had become difficult.

Finally, I reject the premise of the ad: that no-fault divorce is good for women and that we therefore favor its ready availability. Divorce is one of the leading causes of women and children being thrust into poverty. It is not good for women; it is not good for anyone, but rather is a necessary evil under certain circumstances. This is why I (and many other women I know) believe that legislation like that proposed by Cuccinelli makes good sense. Is it unreasonable to insist that, at least when the marriage has produced children, the divorcing spouse should actually identify a reason for breaking up the family? I think not.

McAuliffe's campaign may think that they have done something really savvy and "progressive" by making the permanence of marriage appear to be silly, oppressive, and out-dated for women. If so, then they are sadly out of touch with the better part of human nature. I have seen enough gray-haired couples holding hands and laughing at cherished family memories to know that I want that "for better or for worse" kind of marriage. I have been married long enough to know that we are all sometimes "better," and we are all sometimes "worse." But if society is ambivalent to whether or not our own spouse sticks with us through the days when we are "worse," then what kind of society is it, and what security does it provide?

No one benefits from laws that make it "easy" to abandon a family. When our society stamps approval upon a parent's decision to break a family--and his own vows--simply because he has changed his mind, we all lose.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

On Being Hated

My last post and Daily News Record "Open Forum" on Martin Luther King, Jr. was shared on VCA's facebook page. Within a 24-hour period, about 1400 people had viewed it, and many of them reacted strongly against it. Here is a sampling of their comments:

"Maybe if your view was not that of an extremist, people would get it."

"Your [sic] nothing more than a bunch of racist. [sic] Judgment is mine says the Lord so who and the hell are you to judge anyone or thing. Your God will own you one day."

"For someone like you, that preaches hate and intolerance, to even reference Dr. King is an obscenity."

"You Christian extremists have no right to discriminate against others and call it 'Religious Freedom'. You hateful, close [sic] minded sheep don't get to redefine marriage for your own purposes."

"You write with the intent to do harm. You write with the intent to destroy. You write with the intent to spread hatred and malice throughout the world. In short, you deserve no respect. You deserve no kindness, and in fact, deserve nothing but to be cast forever into the pits of slime, horned demons and hellfire from whence you have obviously come."

When I read some of these, there is a part of me that screams to the rest of me, “Stop!! Sound the retreat!” I care about being liked, and it is painful to absorb some of these insults, accusations, and general indications of others' desires to see me die in pits of slime!

This may come as a surprise to some, because I do put myself out there on some of the most heated, controversial issues of our time. So yes, in a sense, I am “asking for it.” In a sense we are all "asking for it" when we challenge worldviews that are exalted over what we know to be True.

This time was a little different for me, however. There are plenty of people out there who hate me for my positions on these issues (the pro-life issue, for instance), and I can live with that without losing much sleep. It’s harder for me to live with being hated for being a “racist,” because I am not a racist.

Isn't it just miserable to be misunderstood and wrongly accused? To have our intentions unfairly maligned? But as two different friends, on two separate occasions, have recently reminded me, we are in the service of One who understands us—the good, the bad, and the ugly in us—perfectly.

What to do with that part of us that wants to retreat? It seems perfectly plausible to me. No one is forcing me to speak out or to challenge the hopelessness, confusion, idolatry and futility of the prevailing contemporary worldviews. I could sit here in my perfect health, in my comfortable home, with my healthy, loving family, enjoying all the best that the world has to offer. I could spend the day reading a great classic novel (believe me, this is a constant temptation). But I am simply convinced that God has put me (and YOU!) here to WORK for Him. To point anyone who will listen toward the great Creator. The Inventor of Beauty. The Giver of all wisdom. The Definer of Truth. The Dispenser of Justice. The One who Redeems people like me from the pit.

Every human "good" we observe in this world is but a dim reflection of the One who is the very essence and source of all Goodness. Isn’t it our job to be crying this out in the streets to anyone who will listen--and even to those who will scorn us for it? To be proclaiming that the universal values of mankind--beauty, wisdom, truth, justice, mercy--are but signposts on the pathway toward the Author and Owner of all things “good”?

We will be mocked and insulted, and we will certainly be misunderstood, but we must not be silent.

The Lord of Hosts has been gracious to me, and it is a sweet joy and an honor to do His work. “In [His] service, pain is pleasure, with [His] favor, loss is gain.”