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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Family Values

The Religious Right has been running the "Family Values" meme for many moons and it is time for that tripe to take two to the dome, so let's cock the rhetorical Glock and get ready to roll. There are innumerable avenues of attack but let's begin with the basics: what family is to be used as the model for Family Values? Bobby Brown heads a family and they have a set of values - should their values be the gold-toothed standard to which all families affirm fidelity? How about the values of Ozzy Osbourne's family? Just whose family values should American families value?

Perhaps they really mean that America should value families. That would mean that the Religious Right would have supported the Family Medical Leave Act. That would mean that they should support a livable minimum wage such that families can earn a living and take care of their children. That would mean that they would support universal health care so that families don't have to choose between food and medicine. They don't support any of those measures, so clearly they don't mean that America should value families.

So what does Family Values really mean to American politics? The Israelite Theocracy of the Old Testament never involved itself in marital matters - that was the purview of the family. The Aaronic Priesthood and the Levities had nothing to do with marrying Israelites - it was purely the purview of the family. In the Old Testament neither the Church nor the State had anything to do with sanctioning marriage, so why does the Religious Right insist on America's government sanctioning marriage? It is not a New Testament teaching or tradition either - the Catholic Church considers marriage to be a sacrament, but that was not the practice of the early church. Marriage is purely a function of the family - not the Church, not the State.

Besides, why would Christians spend so much effort on something that has no eternal value? Jesus said, "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." Jesus' response to the Sadducees' hypothetical question about marriage in eternity was essentially that there is no such thing. If marriage is of no eternal value then why are Christians so concerned about it? Marriage is merely a means to an end - "It is not good for the man to be alone" - so why are people trying to sanctify the practical? Marriage has no "sanctity" - it's greatly practical and Jesus did have some things to say on that matter - but God initiated the practice of marriage, not the institution of marriage. Shouldn't Christians be concerned about the main thing - the Great Commission?

Finally, what ever happened to personal responsibility? If the people of the Religious Right would focus on their own families instead of everyone else's families then they might be able to do something about the divorce rate within the Church - it's identical to the divorce rate outside of the Church. There's a speck-plank thing going on there that the Religious Right needs to address. They should focus on their own families - they're obviously in need of some attention...

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 2:00 AM

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I couldn't spell "embed" either...

Posted by Blogger Athanasius @ Tuesday, July 19, 2005 5:22:00 AM #

hi oscar. welcome back.

reading this post, i'm surprised that "value families" isn't the common progressive retort to the "family values"

Posted by Blogger Quintus Jett @ Tuesday, July 19, 2005 9:54:00 PM #

Thanks Q. The "Value Families" retort does indeed seem to be the natural response, but there is also the individual angle. Families are not the basic unit of American society - the individual is. Families don't vote - individuals vote. Paychecks aren't cut to families - individuals get paid. If someone commits a crime he/she alone is punished - his whole household/family is not sent to prison for his/her crime. That would be a logical response to the value families retort, but it wouldn't play well with most folks so we should be good to go with using it. The problem, of course, comes with defining a family. Those waters get real muddy real quick.

On a lighter note, some editorial cartoons:

Mickey D's
Stay The Course
Pandora's Soapbox
Spin Doctored
Dressed & Covered
Sword Play
Four Corners
Cost/Death Benefit Analysis

Posted by Blogger Athanasius @ Wednesday, July 20, 2005 3:42:00 AM #
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