Saturday, May 21, 2011

Orange, Connecticut

I’ve been feeling some qualms about writing such a political post last weekend, but I feel another one coming on. Everyone else wears their politics on their sleeve, why can't I? I’m at my aunt’s house because it’s wedding season—my baby cousin is getting married after graduating from the Coast Guard Academy this week. Obama was there to personally give him his commission—on a Coast Guard cutter based in Kittery, Maine. I’m a bit jealous of his next five years at sea, but not enough to enlist. At least not right now.

I've been following hometown Chattanooga girl Lauren on American Idol this season, so this week I also watched the promo for the Beyonce video “Run the World (Girls)”. It was an attempted feminist manifesto, and in some ways it was. It makes me happy that I live in a culture where a female musician can make a statement like that, where a housemaid has as many rights as the world’s most powerful financier, where a politician’s wife has the courage to stand up and leave in the face of betrayal.

Women are standing up for themselves, but nothing seems to change. Was that video as much a feminist manifesto as it was a chance to ogle a dancer’s booty? It’s so ironic as to be almost laughable when women clearly don't rule the world. Asserting something doesn’t make it true. What does the culture at large say when a housemaid accuses a powerful man of rape? She must be lying. It must be a conspiracy. Our world is still one where politicians betray their wives, no matter how beautiful, intelligent, or graceful.

Every time I attend a wedding, I ask why I haven’t made the choice to be married myself. I had plenty of friends who made it their sole aspiration, in high school, college, and after. I scoffed at them because what they longed for was the state of being married, a family, children, rather than an individual to share their lives with, an equal partner for life. The key, I believe, is to find that person first. First comes love, THEN comes marriage.

Song of Solomon 3:5: “Do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases…”

I heard a pastor recently say: “family is the reward of the righteous man.” That’s been the perspective of the evangelical church for a long time now, with their focus on the family. But it’s not true. 1 Corinthians 7:8: “...I say to the unmarried, it is good for them if they remain even as I am [single], but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.” It’s only the weak that marry, according to Paul, those who "burn with passion."

The highest ideal for a Christian is a single-minded pursuit of God Himself, nothing else. Anything else, even family, is merely a distraction. Family can’t be a goal in and of itself, at least not according to Scripture. As Paul also says, I don’t judge anyone who makes that choice.

But it’s a choice, and not one everyone has to make.

I’ve struggled with marriage not because I haven’t found someone that I want to marry, but because I can’t make peace with the concept. There are so many aspects of traditional marriage that seem to convey aspects of ownership. The ring: is that a symbol of love, or an indication of a claim being staked? A proof that the lowly female has a provider with adequate income? Why do so many of the women I know choose to take their husband’s names? Why is it that even Prince William doesn’t have the joy and privilege of wearing that ring if it’s only a “symbol of love”?

If I want a companion for the rest of my life, I’d almost rather incorporate. At least then I’d have equality written into my charter.

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