April 11, 2004
The Sanctity of Marriage
Much ado about Gay marriage and how, if allowed, the sanctity of marriage will erode. Well, the sanctity of marriage already has eroded given the number of divorces, remarriages, divorces after remarriages, etc. that have occurred.
Let's get to the core of this issue. Many heterosexuals are uncomfortable with Gays and the idea of Gays coupling. Some heterosexuals believe Gay's are immoral and doomed to Hell. Some just don't think it's natural. Some are okay with Gay couples. So be it. I say this because forcing one set of beliefs onto another person is very dangerous business. If the Gay community is looking for legitimacy in "marriage" from the heterosexual community then Roman Catholics should expect approval of their faith from Southern Baptists any day now.
Many people of religious affiliation choose marriage in a church, mosque, or synagogue because they want to be spiritually bound in the faith they practice. This is good. States accept this ceremony as proof of a legal civil union. This is good. Spirituality and law are in congruence. How the spiritual side differs from the legal side varies with each faith as it is practiced. This is good.
In some faiths, if one of the flock marries outside the faith, special "permissions" need to be obtained. In some faiths, marrying outside the faith is considered the "death" of the congregation member. Each faith, and within each faith the local practice of the faith, has its view on what constitutes a marriage.
I'd like to suggest we separate the concept of marriage from civil unions. After all, a Roman Catholic couple could get married at City Hall and be legally married in the eyes of the State, but the Church does not considered them married until a proper Wedding Mass is held. Yet, if the couple gets married in the Church, the State automatically recognizes the civil union. Something amiss here. Some states still recognize common law marriages. This is a civil union that is created after certain requirements are met, and the couple is as legally bound as if they were married, yet no church or legal entity performed the ceremony.
If we separate the concept of marriage from civil unions, States could continue to do what many do already - recognize registered domestic partners for various legal protections, insurance coverage, etc. The Federal Government could do the same. Tax considerations, child custody, etc. could be based upon the legal union status of the couple, not the spiritual status. The debates could be over the legal obligations of the couple rather than including the spiritual obligations.
As for marriage, a Gay couple seeking marriage would need to find a church that accepts this practice. Once married in this church, the State would recognize a civil union. Other churches and faiths would be free to view the couple as not being married, yet the State recognizes a legal obligation the couple has to each other. This is similar to the Roman Catholic couple getting married at City Hall. A legal obligation exists, but their church does not recognize the spiritual marriage.
My basis for being comfortable with the separation of marriage from a civil union is because the commitment I made to my wife transcends the bounds of human law. The laws of this earth regulate what treatment we receive as a couple, but only my faith affects the spiritual side. Whether someone else's faith recognizes me as married or not does not matter to me. Whether someone else's faith thinks I doomed to Hell or not does not matter to me. I believe spirituality is an individual journey, and as such is a personal matter.
You may decide for yourself if I'm sane or not. That is your personal choice. Until the State has legal documents as to my lack of sanity, I'm considered sane. Marriage is spiritual and open to personal beliefs. Civil unions are legal matters. Let's separate them.
January 10, 2004
The Redemption of Pete Rose
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, I watched a baseball team about 45 miles away known as The Cincinnati Reds, or as they were called back then in the 1970s, "The Big Red Machine." Many great players were on that team, my favorites being Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion, and everyone knew about "Charlie Hustle," Pete Rose.
Pete played the game intensely, and no one ever doubted his commitment to the sport. I learned much about playing sports in general from Pete Rose. He studied both the game and his opponents' strengths and weaknesses in their play of the game. As a result, he knew the odds of getting to 3rd base from 1st base on a single to right field. The right fielder would have to cleanly field the ball, throw to the cut-off who would have to turn and throw to the third baseman who would apply the tag. Many opportunities for the play to fail, so Pete knew which combination of fielders had a good chance of throwing him out at third, and which combination of fielders did not have a good chance of executing the play.
Little did I realize how much Pete loved to play the odds. One of the things that made him a great ball player also brought him down in baseball. This love of playing the odds didn't end on the ball field. His betting on games as a manager resulted in his banishment from the game. For 14 years he maintained he did not bet on baseball. Now he says he did, and hopes this will get him back in baseball. Does this admission deserve reinstatement into baseball? Is this action worth of redemption?
Since the time of the Black Sox scandal, pro baseball athletes, managers, and management have known the consequences of betting on games. Pete knew this, and he bet on the game anyway. He may have an illness, and I hope he is working on recovery, but he does need to face the consequences of his actions. Redemption does not mean returning to what a person was doing as if nothing had happened.
I do feel Pete should have the opportunity to go into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his story should be represented in full including the positives and negatives of his gambling ways. I do not think Pete should be reinstated into Baseball. His days in the pro game are done with his gambling on the game. If he can find something related to pro ball, fine. At some point, we should expect some kind of integrity in our pro sports. I realize we have many problems in pro sports, and it is for this reason we need to hold the line on this issue. Gambling in Baseball is forbidden, and Pete crossed that line.
Baseball Hall of Fame, yes. Reinstatement into pro Baseball, no. Redemption means a redeeming of oneself. Pete, consider teaching at youth baseball camps. The kids could learn a lot about playing the game, and about what happens when a person bets on the game.
January 1, 2004
What is Tolerance?
As I traveled to visit family this Christmas, I had the opportunity to read several papers in different states, and to think at length about tolerance and its benefits and problems. Tolerance comes into play whenever different people live together. Think of your family, and think about the peculiar traits each person in your family exhibits. Some are tolerated while others are not. This is the nature of tolerance. It's not an absolute, but it is necessary for people to live together.
What issues in our society require a determination of tolerance? I'll start with a seemingly simple one.
Have a Merry Christmas!
How many of you were offended? How many of you welcomed this wish? I've struggled with this a lot as I live and work with people of different beliefs, as many of us do. When I say, "Have a Merry Christmas," I'm actually expressing a genuine wish from my heart to others based upon my beliefs. I'm not saying, "Adopt my beliefs or die!" This means I'm okay with others wishing me whatever is genuine for them. I do not interpret their expression as commanding me to embrace their belief, but about the fact they are willing to share with me something very meaningful to them.
Of course, no guarantee exists people will simply share what is meaningful to them. Some are trying to force beliefs upon others, but this too may require tolerance. What if someone is commanding me to embrace their belief? I am free to choose to accept this or not, but now I possibly may feel uncomfortable. Perhaps the person should say "Happy Holidays" in order to remove any sense of commandment, but I prefer others say what is meaningful to them and remove the sense of commandment. Wishful thinking, I know, but this is the form of tolerance I like in this situation. Let me know what you feel, but don't make me feel as you do. This requires tolerance from both of us.
Moving onto a more complex tolerance issue, what should be the separation of church and state? What's wrong with the Ten Commandments taking center stage in a public space? If the community believes in the Judeo-Christian tradition, shouldn't the community represent itself publicly? I believe the community should publicly state religious beliefs, but within privately controlled spaces such as the front yard of a home. Even though I believe in the Ten Commandments, I am unwilling to have my government, at any level (local, state, or federal), endorse a particular religious belief. I believe this because I don't want some religious belief contrary to mine to have the weight of government behind it; therefore, I need to tolerate the idea that in order to protect my religious beliefs I cannot have my government endorse them. By not endorsing any particular religious belief, our government protects all of our religious beliefs. Yes, I know we have many religious sayings in government issued or endorsed items (e.g. "In God We Trust" on the back of the dollar bill, or "under God" in The Pledge of Allegiance), and these may need to be removed only to ensure that our government continues to protect the religious belief of trusting God. Seems strange, I know, but what if Judge Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court had put the tenets of some other religious heritage in the court building? Would the same groups come to his defense, or would they use separation of church and state to remove his chosen tenets?
When dealing with tolerance, examining both sides of an issue and thinking them through to their conclusion helps with deciding on which side of the tolerance issue we will reside. At the very least, considering both sides of an issue will make us more tolerant of the other.
December 14, 2003
How We Move Forward Defines Who We Are
Many changes have taken place in our world over the past few years. Our country has reacted to these changes, and has set a new course not only internationally but domestically. As we look at the changes that have taken place and the change being proposed, we should ask ourselves is this the way we wish to be defined?
Whether we agree with the changes or not, we should realize we are setting the stage for many years to come. Make sure your voice is heard.