Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Defense of Marriage: Part II

Perhaps I have no credibility after yesterday's post.  :-)  But even if I have just a shred, then perhaps I can continue on in my defense of marriage began last week.

After strongly coming out in support of two parent families and the institution of marriage, I did get some feedback including some commentary about single parent households.  Such feedback isn't surprising and is actually appreciated.  It generally went along these lines:

Are single-parent families wrong?   No.
Aren't there instances where it is better for a child (or children) to be raised by a single parent?  Yes.
If a person chooses to stay single, is that wrong?  No. 

As has become the case in our society, whenever you take a strong position on an issue, there is a response that points out the exceptions to the rule.  I have no problem with that because there are always exceptions to the rule.  A mathematician by the name of Kurt Goedel showed this to be the case with any system of thought.  This is why we can never fully legislate our way to morality or close the gaps where people can cheat.  There is always a loophole.

But that is a bit beside the point.   The point, however, must be addressed in regards to single-parent families and the Church's response.  And if you will please stick with me, I will be taking the long route to get there.  It will take some time, but it is important.

If you engage in any sort of moral/theological/biblical interpretative argument these days, at some point and time, you are bound to encounter this response:

THAT IS JUST YOUR OPINION/INTERPRETATION/PERSPECTIVE.

I have come to the conclusion that this statement is used as a sort of "trump" card these days.  Underlying the statement, I believe are a couple of assumptions generally: 1. I'm not winning this argument, so I'm going to bug out in a way to save face.  and 2. No one knows the Absolute Truth, and I'm going to let you know about it.

The first assumption cannot really be dealt with, but the second is important to address.

It is true that no one knows the Absolute Truth.  To say that one does means that one totally and fully knows God and totally and fully knows the mind of God.  I believe there was only one such human who had that ability, and He was actually God Himself.  We are much too limited.

Yet, just because we do not have the Absolute Truth does not mean that it does not exist.  St. Paul says that we "see in a mirror dimly" meaning, we can see there is something there, but we can't see it with absolute clarity.  Furthermore, we must also admit that some opinions/interpretations/perspectives are better than others.

That might seem sacrilegious in our particular neck of the woods.  How can a person claim that one opinion/perspective/or interpretation is better than another?  Aren't they all equal?

Hardly.  In fact, I'd submit that almost no one believes this.

If you say that you do, then you must admit to me that you believe that Adolph Hitler's views of the world and reality are on the same level with Mother Teresa's views of the world and reality.  You must admit that Adolph Hitler's way of improving the world is on the same level with Mother Teresa's way of improving the world.  Do you want to go there?

I am sure that most rational people would not.  Therefore, I have finally discovered what several much smarter people have discovered before me.  The statement, "That's just your opinion/interpretation/perspective," is not the ultimate trump card that it seems.  My response to this statement now is, "Yes, but not all opinions/interpretations/perspectives are created equal.  We must decide which is closer to the Truth."

That leads us to the necessity of debate.  We must be able to articulate why we believe one particular route is better than another.  We cannot be satisfied with simply saying, "Well, that's your opinion.  I have mine.  We must agree to disagree."  Wrong.  That is intellectually lazy.  It fails to resolve any issue and allows for much confusion as to what might be good, better, best or even bad, worse, worst.

Again, perhaps this is sacrilegious in our society.  No one really wants to talk in degrees about things because then someone might actually have to admit that what he or she is doing is not optimal.  Ah, but how will we progress and make things better if we are not willing to admit that the way things are are not optimal?  How will we make things better if we are not willing to admit that we are not acting in the best possible manner?

We cannot.

And so, we arrive back at marriage.  There is nothing inherently wrong with being single.  You can be very fulfilled in doing so.  Yet, if you are single and choose to have a child and remain single so that you can be fulfilled, I do not believe you are acting in the best interest of the child.

If you are married and are in an abusive relationship or your spouse is committing infidelity and you have children, it is likely better for you to divorce and raise your child(ren) in a single-parent household.  Yet, we must admit, this is not optimal.

Nearly every study concurs: children raised in two parent households are better off financially and socially.  This is the most optimal unit for caring for children and preparing them for life.

I do not think the church should dial back its rhetoric in its defense of marriage.  Perhaps, since 54% of children are born out of wedlock these days, we need to ratchet it up a bit more.

18 comments:

Kathy said...

My Dear Reverend Haug, I well know that you are not intentionally practicing subterfuge, but the manner in which you verbally conflate issues, at best, confuses me.

In this post, as in many of your posts, you use the words (with or without capital initial letters): truth and absolute truth.

In one place, you say we cannot know Absolute Truth.

"It is true that no one knows the Absolute Truth. To say that one does means that one totally and fully knows God and totally and fully knows the mind of God. I believe there was only one such human who had that ability, and He was actually God Himself. We are much too limited."

In this sense, you equate Absolute Truth with God the Father, and I am sure the folks think: "My, how humble is our pastor! He does not want to claim that he knows Absolute Truth."

I gots news for youse. Jesus Christ came to reveal Absolute Truth. He established his Church to preserve and teach Absolute Truth.

Luther came along, and thinking he was reforming, smashed the Church to pieces. Not good. Even though the teachings of the ELCA are much worse than anything the Catholic Church was teaching in 1517, you refuse to leave the Church of your Fathers. I don't understand why. I would like to think it is because you are acting in a saintly way -- i.e. reforming the Church from within, without smashing it as Luther did.

...why?

Kevin Haug said...

Kathy,

I want you to know that you are beginning to try the extent of my patience in your convoluted sense of theology as well as your ignorance displayed towards Luther and Lutheranism.

First off, "my dear", I equate Truth with Jesus Himself, as He did. Remember John 14? Here's a little reminder, Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Now, "my dear", can you tell me that you fully know Jesus? Can you tell me that you know Him through and through--His heart and mind? Can you? I seriously doubt it.

You see, Jesus didn't come to simply reveal Absolute Truth, He was and is Absolute Truth. To say that any human fully knows Jesus is arrogant. "Now we see in a mirror dimly..." Get it?

Christianity is not about knowing the Truth or possessing the Truth, but it is about being known by the Truth or being possessed by the Truth. The subtle difference is very, very important.

And again, in your arrogance, you refuse then to acknowledge that Luther was excommunicated from the Church of Rome for refusing to recant his writings--the same writings of reform that the Church of Rome has implemented in many circumstances. Yes, there are some that the Church of Rome has not accepted, but it is what it is.

I do not leave the ELCA because no one is seeking my excommunication. No one is breathing down my neck saying, "Recant or suffer the consequences." No, I am allowed to speak the Truth in love without threat of expulsion, and so I stay.

Luther was not given that opportunity. A failure on your part to acknowledge this basic, historical fact is completely and utterly mind boggling.

Enough said.

Kathy said...

Now, now, let's not get testy.

I stand by what I have written.

Let's check history. Luther became very angry. That is a fact. He lost sight of his original objective which was REFORM.

He did not have the humility, patience or enough education to do the right thing.

Erasmus did.

Kevin Haug said...

I'll let history speak loud and clear, and any objective historian will come down squarely on what I am saying.

Luther had plenty of education, patience, and humility. Try turning those fingers at Pope Leo X and his cadre of theologians including Dr.eck who could have been more conciliatory.

Yes, Kathy. History speaks loudly.

Kathy said...

Oh, liten up, Rev. Kev.

There is plenty of blame to go around. I know I am very old, but I was not there (with Lute and Erasmus) and neither were you.

Let's be objective. Let's look at the theology of the CC and the ELCA.

Buy yourself a Catechism. Really, friend, u r making this much 2 hard....

Stop kicking against the goads.

Kevin Haug said...

No, Kathy. I am not allowing you to get off with that comment.

Your M.O. is to jump on here, call Luther names and deride what he did, and then, when I call you on it, step back and say, "There was plenty of blame to go around." No. And just because you and I were not there doesn't excuse your commentary. There are more than enough documents and historical facts around to allow us to make honest judgements about what happened during the Reformation. History has shown Luther to be mostly correct in his theological assertions--a fact that you yourself even attested to when you agreed with nearly all of the Augsburg Confession.

And as to comparing the ELCA to the Church of Rome--not a good comparison. The ELCA represents a minority of Lutheran thought--the far left kind. If you want to do any comparing, we must talk Book of Concord versus the Roman Catholic Catechism. Lutheran doctrine and theology is sound and solid despite what some in the ELCA have done with it.

Kathy said...

really, aren't we back to square one?

There is little or no difference between Luther's true thought and Roman Catholicism. I have always known this.

I'll tell you a little secret: When I was in Opus Dei I used to preach about how much Msgr. Escriva (now saint Escriva) was like Luther.

I hate the divisions in the Church. That's all. Come home. Rome.

Kevin Haug said...

Dear Rome,

You first.

Kathy said...

WHaaaaaa? What the &%*^ would we call that church??

you tell me.

don't be so #$*&^! stubborn!

Kathy said...

seriously, what would you call it?

The Berlin Catholic Church? The Chicago Catholic Church? The German Catholic Church?

The True Church is called "Roman" because the Bishop of Rome unifies it -- according to the words of Christ -- Matthew 16:18.

This is Absolute Truth. It will not change -- not until the close of the Age, which may be soon is Malachy is right.

Kathy said...

Wait... did I misunderstand you? You said "You first."

I entered "Rome" on April 20, 1974, when I was received into the Church.

Kevin Haug said...

How about we just call it "The Church," which it is anyway just with many denominations.

And just a curiosity on my part: why, if the head of the Church was supposed to be headquartered in Rome was the early headquarters in Jerusalem? And why did Paul defer to James and not Peter?

Ooops.

Kathy said...

ok. it is 5:14 PM EST and I am pissed.

if you can show me some obscure Bible verse to show that Paul defered to Peter, fine, but I will show you 50 more to prove that Peter was ALWAYS the Head of the Apostles.

Your position does not hold water, and I can prove it.

Maybe I will do a blog post on this -- but tomorrow, for obviou s reassons.

Kevin Haug said...

Step 1. Read Acts.

Step 2. Read it again.

Step 3. Read it once more.

Step 4. Come back and visit with me about this topic.

Kathy said...

ABSOLUTELY. This is the "key" so to speak.

Kathy said...

Duuude -- are you kidding me? Read Acts? That's the first thing I am quoting in my post ... on the day of Pentecost -- the birthday of the Church -- Peter stood up with the eleven and addressed them.

Ya need more proof? -- you'll get it.

You are going to be a great Catholic!!!

Kevin Haug said...

You obviously did not do your homework. Do so. Answer my questions, and then answer this final one:

Why is it when the new heaven and new earth are created, there is not a new "Rome" coming down out of the sky, but a new Jerusalem?

Kathy said...

I have done my homework. I am thoroughly familiar with the New Testament.

I think your question about Rome and Jerusalem is excellent and germane to our discussion.

I will give you the answer I hear in my mind, without consulting experts.

Once again, we are talking about the Visible versus the Invisible, the Spiritual versus the Temporal. Jerusalem is the eternal spiritual city: Ariel, the Threshing Floor. It is a symbol, the spiritual city, a great symbol of Heaven.

Rome, by contrast, is a piece of sh**. It is a rather dirty city in central Italy, where St Peter happened to have ended up. In Visible, Temporal terms, it is the physical center of the Visible Church. One day it will be destroyed -- maybe soon if Malachy is right.

Rome is Temporal.

Jerusalem is Eternal.

Capisce bambino?