Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mary's Baby

You'd think I would be talking about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given the season. Alas, no. I'm talking about Mary Cheney's baby (or should I say fetus at this point, since it's not really real until it's born).

First, I wish Mary and her partner well. I hope the baby is healthy. I happen to believe that every baby born belongs in this world and deserves love. There is no doubt, this baby will be loved.

Second, I want to make clear that I never voted for Mary Cheney. She is not an elected official. What she does with her personal life (remember Clinton's defense of his personal life?) is personal.

Third, a baby, of course, is a very demonstrable result of two people doing something. When I was first pregnant, it felt like people were staring. Everyone knows how this baby happened! Blush. So it begs the question with Mary. I'm quite sure she wasn't the second immaculate conception. So, curiosity arouses, how did know..... It may be a mystery that is never solved. It's personal.

Fourth, since Mary Cheney is not a political figure, I find it tawdry what gay activists like Andrew Sullivan are doing(and I call him a gay activist because he has lost the ability to articulately comment on anything else). He's using a personal happening for political reasons. She is a real person, Andrew, she is not Murphy Brown. And this is where I disagree with Ann Althouse. When she says this:

Sullivan taunts. It's a political -- and bloggerly -- strategy. Mary Cheney's pregnancy is an occasion. He uses it. That's what bloggers do. There's an event. You note it, and then you play off of it, springing all your usual opinions, making them exquisitely timely all over again. Tagging other bloggers in the course of your writing is a good way to get them to link to you and boost your visibility. It isn't bad -- it's good -- if they are antagonized and they lash back the way Jonah. This is the kind of writing keeps the political blogosphere going. (I realize Andrew's piece is in a magazine, but it's linked through his blog, and it operates by the bloggerly method.)
I find it inhumane, forget bloggerly, to use a private citizen's life for public comment when the person in question has made no effort to bring that part of her life into the public arena this way. Mary Cheney is not a gay rights activist. Would it be bloggerly for me to start hypothesizing about Anne's sexuality, her reasons for divorce, her parenting? (I know none of the above and, as far as I know, none of it has been discussed in her blog or if it has, I've missed it. I'm assuming she doesn't talk about it because it's private. I, on the other hand, have brought the issue of autism out in the public arena, as I have a son with autism. That doesn't give anyone the right to harass my son, but it does give them a right to discuss and disagree with my opinions on autism. Andrew Sullivan has made an issue of his sexuality so it's up for discussion.)

In addition, even public figures, Bill Clinton included, did his best to keep his private life private (in his case, it's publicly relevant when he's screwing an intern in the Oval office) as do many celebrities. When the person in question is a political figure like Dick Cheney, or a public figure like Pastor Whats-His-Name in Colorado, or a Celebrity like Britney Spears or Rosie O'Donnell, fine. Andrew Sullivan is welcome to make his same point talking about say Melissa Etheridge who proudly displayed her partner and twin children on the cover of Us Magazine.

But that's not the point, with Sullivan, is it? He makes his point clear in the title and first paragraph of the New Republic article: "Mary's Baby and the Right: Quite Contrary",
What are Republicans going to do about homosexuals? The fact that this question has been asked repeatedly does not mean that anyone has yet given it a serious answer. There are, broadly speaking, two rival conservative factions on the subject: religious fundamentalists, who want to outlaw or deter homosexual love and sex on biblical or natural law grounds; and old-school conservatives, who want to treat the entire issue as a private matter--supporting public policy hostile to gay people and gay relationships while privately treating gay individuals with tact and respect....

Sullivan uses Mary Cheney because he thinks she epitomizes the Right's hypocrisy. Let's get down to brass tacks. Andrew Sullivan is angry that people don't see Gay Marriage his way. The way of "reality". As a conservative (socially conservative and otherwise liberal--Sullivan in contrast is as progressive as Al Gore), there are enduring cultural and religious reasons that Sullivan isn't going to win the battle between "ideology" and his "reality" anytime soon:
  1. Christians, by definition, are Christ followers. To Christians, the Bible is still the Good Book and even if not viewed literally in every jot and tittle, no jot or tittle has passed away. So, the sanctions against homosexuality are as equally valid as the sanctions against divorce and the sanctions against fornication (promiscuity) and the sanctions against adultery.
  2. Christians, the "mere ones" as C.S. Lewis says, are quite comfortable with loving the sinner and hating the sin. Therefore, they can maintain friendships with divorced people, adulterers, gays, fornicators. And, they can stand to look in the mirror because they know they are sinners, too, forgiven by God.
  3. Christians, just because they try to live in love, does not mean they condone or would want to state sanction that behavior. I, for one, do not believe it was good public policy to make divorce more easily available and socially acceptable. Must we count the ways this SIN has hurt families? Poverty, unsocialized children being raised without the benefit of a mother or most times, a father. To wit, only 36% of black children live with both their mother and their father. Are we to look at the desperation to be found and not condemn the causes? Adultery, fornication, divorce, sins all, have hardened hearts and hurt children and ultimately hurt society. So yes, I condemn the state for reinforcing these unhelpful actions. (Shhh, sins.)
  4. Even nominal Christians do not favor changing cultural norms and definitions. It is the warping of the language and meaning which is problematic for even some people who do not object to gay marriage on a theoretical level. Gays want to superimpose their culture on the culture at large. This is not a matter of being open-minded or inclusive or diverse. This is a matter of changing a socially accepted construct to fit their definition. I'm surprised the gays are surprised at the push-back. Marriage has been, for millenia, by definition between a man and woman.
  5. No one is discriminating against gays by keep the marriage definition the same. I could call myself a man. Of course, by definition, I'm a woman, but I'm free to say whatever I want. It's not going to make me a man unless the definition changes to mean anything can be a man. Gays are welcome to call themselves married. No one is stopping them. They are free to express themselves.
  6. The laws are no more oppressive to gays than to anyone else. Unmarried heterosexual people do not get "partnership benefits". If I am on my deathbed, anyone I choose can be my durable power of attorney. Anyone I choose to will my belongings to gets them. Gays are free to have this paperwork, too.
  7. With 60-70% of people, 80% in some states, putting up marriage amendments, it's not just the Republicans who are dealing with this question, Andrew. You're not so dull-witted to not know this. By framing this topic this way, you ignore the 20-60% of Democrats who voted for these amendments. Aren't the Democrats the ones who pissed and moaned about the fact that Democrats are religious, too?
Speaking of intolerant, this is how you describe my aforementioned views:
On Mary Cheney, they are forced to take a stand. But any stand either attacks the base of the party or attacks someone they know and love. So they have no alternative but to stand very still, say nothing, and hope that someone changes the subject. It is as close to intellectual and moral bankruptcy as one can imagine...
Accuse me of being morally bankrupt, if you will, you condemning jerk, but I'm content with my views and the views of my fellow Americans. America is remarkably tolerant to people of different religious and ideological stripe.

When a lesbian friend gets pregnant, I'll buy the baby a gift for the shower. I'll give the new mom a hug. I'll love them both. I'll mourn for the child who is being raised without a father--especially given that my friend had a horrible childhood with an abusive father. She knows what a difference a good father could have made. My friend will know that I disagree with her choice, but that I love her and her partner.

It is the very same thing I did for a single parent mother friend of mine. While disagreeing with her choices, a baby is coming and it's reason to rejoice.

My stance here is no different, than the sadness I feel about my friend who is divorced, raising teenage boys on her own while her husband cheated and went off with another woman. This man did a despicable thing. He destroyed a family and hurt his children. He was selfish. I still love him and hope he can soften his heart toward his children.

My stance is no different, than being angry with a friend for cheating on his wife. The damage done has been incalculable even though they're making it work. I am still friends with and love him.

My stance is no different, when I look in the mirror and think about my harsh words, impatience, hateful thoughts, and other bad behavior. I regret them. I get frustrated at my own weakness. I'm humbled by the need to be forgiven over and over every day.

Let anyone who is without sin, cast the first stone. I will leave the stones. That doesn't mean that a sin isn't a sin.

Andrew Sullivan wants homosexuality to be taken out of the sin sphere. He's not alone in that attempt. He wants to redefine marriage. He wants America to be a secular society with religions rather than a Judeo-Christian society that tolerates those who hold different beliefs. I hope Andrew Sullivan is denied his wish.

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