Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Should government get out of the marriage business?

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dina sent me three articles by Jennifer Roback Morse, post on The Public Discourse. The articles answer the charge from social liberals and libertarians that we should “get the government out of marriage”.

Here’s the first article which talks about how government will still be involved in marriage, even if we get rid of the traditional definition of marriage, because of the need for dispute resolution in private marriage contracts. She uses no-fault divorce as an example showing how it was sold as a way to get government out of the divorce business. But by making divorce easier by making it require no reason, it increased the number of disputes and the need for more government to resolve these disputes.

Here’s the second article which talks about how the government will have to expand to resolve conflicts over decisions about who counts as a parent and who gets parental rights. With traditional marriage, identifying who the parents are is easy. But with private marriage contracts where the parties are not the biological parents, there is a need for the state to step in and assign parental rights.

Here’s the third article which talks about how marriage is necessary in order to defend the needs and rights of the child at a time when they cannot enter into contracts and be parties to legal disputes.

The third article was my favorite, so here is an excerpt from it:

The fact of childhood dependence raises a whole series of questions. How do we get from a position of helpless dependence and complete self-centeredness, to a position of independence and respect for others? Are our views of the child somehow related to the foundations of a free society? And, to ask a question that may sound like heresy to libertarian ears: Do the needs of children place legitimate demands and limitations on the behavior of adults?

I came to the conclusion that a free society needs adults who can control themselves, and who have consciences. A free society needs people who can use their freedom, without bothering other people too much. We need to respect the rights of others, keep our promises, and restrain ourselves from taking advantage of others.

We learn to do these things inside the family, by being in a relationship with our parents. We can see this by looking at attachment- disordered children and failure-to-thrive children from orphanages and foster care. These children have their material needs met, for food, clothing, and medical care. But they are not held, or loved, or looked at. They simply do not develop properly, without mothers and fathers taking personal care of them. Some of them never develop consciences. But a child without a conscience becomes a real problem: this is exactly the type of child who does whatever he can get away with. A free society can’t handle very many people like that, and still function.

In other words I asked, “Do the needs of society place constraints on how we treat children?” But even this analysis still views the child from society’s perspective. It is about time we look at it from the child’s point of view, and ask a different kind of question. What is owed to the child?

Children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents. They are entitled to know who they are and where they came from. Therefore children have a legitimate interest in the stability of their parents’ union, since that is ordinarily how kids have relationships with both parents. If Mom and Dad are quarreling, or if they live on opposite sides of the country, the child’s connection with one or both of them is seriously impaired.

But children cannot defend their rights themselves. Nor is it adequate to intervene after the fact, after harm already has been done. Children’s relational and identity rights must be protected proactively.

Marriage is society’s institutional structure for protecting these legitimate rights and interests of children.

I recommend taking a look at all three articles and becoming familiar with the arguments in case you have to explain why marriage matters and why we should not change it. I think it is important to read these articles and to be clear that to be a libertarian doctrine does not protect the right of a child to have a relationship with both his or her parents.  Nor does libertarianism promote the idea that parents ought to stick together for their children.

The purpose of marriage is to make adults make careful commitments, and restrain their desires and feelings, so that children will have a stable environment with their biological parents. We do make exceptions, but we should not celebrate exceptions and we should not subsidize exceptions. It’s not fair to children to have to grow up without a mother or father just so that they adults can make poor, emotional decisions and have fun.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is the story of the woman being stoned for adultery in John 7-8 authentic?

Here’s the leading conservative New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace to explain.

Excerpt:

One hundred and forty years ago, conservative biblical scholar and Dean of Canterbury, Henry Alford, advocated a new translation to replace the King James Bible. One of his reasons was the inferior textual basis of the KJV. Alford argued that “a translator of Holy Scripture must be…ready to sacrifice the choicest text, and the plainest proof of doctrine, if the words are not those of what he is constrained in his conscience to receive as God’s testimony.” He was speaking about the Trinitarian formula found in the KJV rendering of 1 John 5:7–8. Twenty years later, two Cambridge scholars came to the firm conclusion that John 7:53–8:11 also was not part of the original text of scripture. But Westcott and Hort’s view has not had nearly the impact that Alford’s did.

For a long time, biblical scholars have recognized the poor textual credentials of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11). The evidence against its authenticity is overwhelming: The earliest manuscripts with substantial portions of John’s Gospel (P66 and P75) lack these verses. They skip from John 7:52to 8:12. The oldest large codices of the Bible also lack these verses: codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the fourth century, are normally considered to be the most important biblical manuscripts of the NT extant today. Neither of them has these verses. Codex Alexandrinus, from the fifth century, lacks several leaves in the middle of John. But because of the consistency of the letter size, width of lines, and lines per page, the evidence is conclusive that this manuscript also lacked the pericope adulterae. Codex Ephraemi Rescriptusalso from the fifth century, apparently lacked these verses as well (it is similar to Alexandrinus in that some leaves are missing). The earliest extant manuscript to have these verses is codex Bezae, an eccentric text once in the possession of Theodore Beza. He gave this manuscript to the University of Cambridge in 1581 as a gift, telling the school that he was confident that the scholars there would be able to figure out its significance. He washed his hands of the document. Bezae is indeed the most eccentric NT manuscript extant today, yet it is the chief representative of the Western text-type (the text-form that became dominant in Rome and the Latin West).

When P66, P75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus agree, their combined testimony is overwhelmingly strong that a particular reading is not authentic. But it is not only the early Greek manuscripts that lack this text. The great majority of Greek manuscripts through the first eight centuries lack this pericope. And except for Bezae (or codex D), virtually all of the most important Greek witnesses through the first eight centuries do not have the verses. Of the three most important early versions of the New Testament (Coptic, Latin, Syriac), two of them lack the story in their earliest and best witnesses. The Latin alone has the story in its best early witnesses.

Even patristic writers seemed to overlook this text. Bruce Metzger, arguably the greatest textual critic of the twentieth century, argued that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it” (Textual Commentary, 2nd ed., loc. cit.).

It is an important point to note that although the story of the woman caught in adultery is found in most of our printed Bibles today, the evidence suggests that the majority of Bibles during the first eight centuries of the Christian faith did not contain the story. Externally, most scholars would say that the evidence for it not being an authentic part of John’s Gospel is rock solid.

But textual criticism is not based on external evidence alone; there is also the internal evidence to consider. This is comprised of two parts: intrinsic evidence has to do with what an author is likely to have written;transcriptional evidence has to do with how and why a scribe would have changed the text.

Intrinsically, the vocabulary, syntax, and style look far more like Luke than they do John. There is almost nothing in these twelve verses that has a Johannine flavor. And transcriptionally, scribes were almost always prone to add material rather than omit it—especially a big block of text such as this, rich in its description of Jesus’ mercy. One of the remarkable things about this passage, in fact, is that it is found in multiple locations. Most manuscripts that have it place it in its now traditional location: between John 7:52 and 8:12. But an entire family of manuscripts has the passage at the end of Luke 21, while another family places it at the end of John’s Gospel. Other manuscripts place it at the end of Luke or in various places in John 7.

The pericope adulterae has all the earmarks of a pericope that was looking for a home. It took up permanent residence, in the ninth century, in the middle of the fourth gospel.

Wallace teaches at the ultra-conservative fundamentalist Dallas Theological Seminary, and is the foremost evangelical manuscript expert in the world.

Why is this important? I think it is important because this story is very prominent for a great many Christians, especially Christian women, who use this to justify a variety of positions that are inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. These Christians do not like the idea of anyone being judged and so they are naturally inclined to blow this disputed passage into an entire theology that repudiates making moral judgments on such things as capital punishment. In fact, in another post, I was accused of being the equivalent of one of the people who wanted to stone the woman taken for adultery because I oppose fornication and single motherhood. That’s how far this has gone, where some Christians, especially Christian feminists, have leveraged this passage to redefine the Bible so that women are no longer responsible to the Bible’s moral rules and can never be blamed for acting irresponsibly.

Is WK a big liberal?

As this debate between Peter Williams and Bart Ehrman shows, there are only TWO disputed passages in the entire NT that are theologically significant. The long ending of Mark and this adultery passage. A good case can be made for the long ending of Mark, but it’s best not to assume it in a debate. The adultery passage is difficult to defend as authentic. Dr. Wallace talks about both passages in this Parchment & Pen article (reclaimingthemind.org). Wallace has also debated Bart Ehrman in the Greer-Heard Forum. What that debate showed is that the New Testament text is actually quite reliable except for those two passages, but it’s important to be honest about the two places that are not well supported.

The other other NT passages that are a concern are the earthquake passage and the guard story in Matthew. I think that the earthquake is apocalyptic language and the guard is more likely historical than not.

For a closer look at what the Bible says about capital punishment, look here.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Psychologist claims father is an unfit parent for refusing to yield to son’s demands for fast food

Psychologist Marilyn Schiller

Psychologist Marilyn Schiller

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Saying no to a toddler’s demands for a McDonald’s meal got a father branded an inept parent, he says in a lawsuit claiming a psychologist urged a judge to curtail his parental visits over the dinner debacle.

David E. Schorr says psychologist Marilyn Schiller pronounced him incapable of caring for his nearly 5-year-old son after he offered a choice — dinner anywhere but McDonald’s, or no dinner at all — and let the boy choose the latter. He then took his irate son home to the boy’s mother’s house early from their Oct 30 dinner date, according to a defamation suit Schorr filed Tuesday.

[...]“Normally not a very strict father who rarely refuses his child McDonald’s,” Schorr put his foot down Oct. 30 “because his son had been eating too much junk food,” the suit said. Schorr himself didn’t immediately return a call Friday.

He quickly regretted his stance when his son threw a tantrum, but he felt that giving in would reward bad behavior, so he offered the elsewhere-or-nowhere “final offer,” as his court papers put it.

“The child, stubborn as a mule, chose the ‘no dinner’ option,” the suit says. And the father promptly carted the boy back to Bari Schorr’s building, still trying to entice the child into changing his mind as they waited in the lobby for her to get home from work, according to the suit.

Schiller told a judge the fast food flap “raises concerns about the viability” of the father’s weekend visits with his son and asked a judge to eliminate or limit them, his lawsuit says.

The NY Post reports that the brat’s mother immediately took him to McDonald’s.

Excerpt:

Adding insult to injury, he said: “My wife immediately took him to McDonalds.”

[...]But the son apparently tattled on his dad and his wife flipped out and called the shrink, according to the suit.

Schorr claims that Dr. Schiller only interviewed the child and his mother and never asked for his side of the story before telling the court she was gravely concerned about Schorr’s parenting.

Bari Yunis Schorr sued her husband for a divorce in 2011, just four years after they married in a lavish ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.

Now does this situation happen a lot? I mean a situation where a mother goes to the feminist authoritities (psychologists/social workers/lawyers/teachers/judges) in order to overrule the father’s parenting authority?

Another case from Canada

Here is a story from Canada that shows why we need to be careful about enacting compassionate, non-judgmental, feminized social policies.The more you reduce the male role and male authority in the family, the fewer men will want to take on the responsibilities of being a Dad. We need to be careful not to replace husbands and fathers with big government social programs and intrusive, anti-male courts.

Excerpt:

A Gatineau father lost an appeal Monday after a lower court ruled last June that he had issued a too severe punishment against his 12-year-old daughter.

The case involves a divorced man who says that in 2008 he caught the girl, over whom he had custody, surfing websites he had forbidden and posting “inappropriate pictures of herself” online. The girl’s father told her as a consequence that she would not be allowed to go on her class’ graduation trip to Quebec City, even though her mother had already given permission for her to do so.

The girl then contacted a legal-aid lawyer who was involved in the parents’ custody battle, who convinced the court to order that the girl be allowed to go on the trip with her class.  The father appealed the decision on principle, although his daughter went on the trip in the meantime.

The appeals court reportedly warned in its ruling that the case should not be seen as an open invitation for children to take legal action against their parents when grounded.

The girl now lives with her mother.

You may think that this would be overturned on appeal, but the father LOST his appeal, too.

So, what the daughter, wife, prosecuting attorney and judge (all feminists?) are all telling this Dad that he can donate sperm, pay bills, and pay taxes for feminist social programs, but that he cannot PARENT his own children. He cannot have any moral authority to guide the child into becoming a man. That job is for child care workers, single mothers and public school teachers. Men need to butt out of parenting – except they can pay for all these experts through taxes, of course.

Questions:

  • Does anyone care what men want from marriage and parenting, or should we just be ordered around like little boys?
  • Do we really think that state coercion is going to make men be more involved with their marriages and children?

I think that marriage should allow men to express themselves as fathers, just as much as women can express themselves as mothers. Parenting should be an equally shared responsibility, and the father should have at least as much parental authority as the mother.

Compassion vs standards

Here is a pretty good article by Jewish scholar Dennis Prager that argues against compassion and for moral standards. He tells a story of a team losing a baseball game 24-7, when the scoreboard is reset to 0-0 DURING THE GAME. He then asks what beliefs would motivate this action.

As is happening throughout America, compassion trumped all other values.

Truth was the first value compassion trashed. In the name of compassion, the adults in charge decided to lie. The score was not 0-0; it was 24-7.

Wisdom was the second value compassion obliterated. It is unwise to the point of imbecilic to believe that the losing boys were in any way helped by changing the score. On the contrary, they learned lessons that will hamper their ability to mature.

He lists the lessons that the winning and losing boys learned from this compassionate act, and how they will act in the future. Then he continues his list.

Building character was the third value trumped by compassion. People build character far more through handling defeat than through winning. The human being grows up only when forced to deal with disappointment. We remain children until the day we take full responsibility for our lives.

…The fourth value that compassion denied here was fairness. It is remarkable how often compassion-based liberals speak of “fairness” in formulating social policy given how unfair so many of their policies are. It was entirely unfair to the winning team to have their score expunged, all their work denied. But for the compassion-first crowd, the winning team is like “the rich” who earn “too much” and should therefore be penalized with a higher tax rate; the winning team scored “too many” runs to be allowed to keep them all.

The standards that are undermined by compassion can be moral standards or standards of rationality. The former is under attack from moral relativism, and the latter is under attach from postmodernism. But I guess parents don’t really care enough to teach their children about these ideas, and when the children grow up, they vote for the policies that follow from moral relativism and postmodernism: policies of the secular left.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Judge bars prosecution from introducing evidence of Nidal Hasan’s jihadi motives

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Lawyers representing the family members of those killed and injured in the Ft. Hood shooting rampage were outraged today when an Army judge limited prosecutors from introducing evidence, including emails to a known Al Qaeda operative, that would establish accused shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan’s “jihadi” motives.

The judge’s rulings could inhibit the ability of the victims’ families to claim in a civil suit that the shootings were an act of terror. Federal lawyers involved in the civil suit claim that the people shot during Hasan’s murderous rage were victims of workplace violence, a designation that could sharply limit the damages in a civil suit.

“This is first degree mass murder case and motive is absolutely relevant to prove premeditation,” said Neal Sher, a lawyer representing many of the victims and their family members in a separate civil suit against the government.

Prosecutors have sought to portray Hasan as a Muslim extremist, motivated by Islamist ideology and in touch with known al Qaeda member Anwar Alwaki.

“He didn’t want to deploy and he came to believe he had a jihad duty to murder soldiers,” lead prosecutor Col. Steve Henricks said in his opening statements. He wanted to “kill as many soldiers as he could.”

The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, ruled today that prosecutors could not mention Hasan’s correspondence with Alwaki, an American born al Qaeda recruiter and organizer. Osborn also barred prosecutors from mentioning Hassan’s interest in seeking conscientious objector status and drawing parallels to a 2003 incident in which another Muslim American soldier attacked U.S. troops in Kuwait, according to the Associated Press.

[...]Many of the victims and their family members have filed a civil suit against the government, arguing that the attack should be classified as a terrorist attack, allowing victims to receive combat medals, like the Purple Heart, and receive better benefits.

The government maintains that the attack was an incidence of “workplace violence.”

Wow. Maybe this explains why our foreign policy has basically set the entire Middle East on fire. If we can’t identify radical Islam as a threat, then what hope do we have of winning a war against them?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Mark Steyn: Nidal Hasan trial shows we are not serious about national security

From National Review. This one is a must-read. It was hard to even find the “best part” to excerpt.

Excerpt:

On December 7, 1941, the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked. Three years, eight months, and eight days later, the Japanese surrendered. These days, America’s military moves at a more leisurely pace. On November 5, 2009, another U.S. base, Fort Hood, was attacked — by one man standing on a table, screaming “Allahu akbar!” and opening fire. Three years, nine months, and one day later, his court-martial finally got under way.

The intervening third-of-a-decade-and-more has apparently been taken up by such vital legal questions as the fullness of beard Major Hasan is permitted to sport in court. This is not a joke: See “Judge Ousted in Fort Hood Shooting Case amid Beard Debacle” (CBS News). Army regulations require soldiers to be clean-shaven. The judge, Colonel Gregory Gross, ruled Hasan’s beard in contempt, fined him $1,000, and said he would be forcibly shaved if he showed up that hirsute next time. At which point Hasan went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which ruled that Colonel Gross’s pogonophobia raised questions about his impartiality, and removed him. He’s the first judge in the history of American jurisprudence to be kicked off a trial because of a “beard debacle.” The new judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, agreed that Hasan’s beard was a violation of regulations, but “said she won’t hold it against him.”

[...]Maybe this Clinton-era directive merits reconsideration in the wake of Fort Hood? Don’t be ridiculous. Instead, nine months after Major Hasan’s killing spree, the Department of Defense put into place “a series of procedural and policy changes that focus on identifying, responding to, and preventing potential workplace violence.”

Major Hasan says he’s a soldier for the Taliban. Maybe if the Pentagon were to reclassify the entire Afghan theater as an unusually prolonged outburst of “workplace violence,” we wouldn’t have to worry about obsolescent concepts such as “victory” and “defeat.” The important thing is that the U.S. Army’s “workplace violence” is diverse. After Major Hasan’s pre-post-traumatic workplace wobbly, General George W. Casey Jr., the Army’s chief of staff, was at pains to assure us that it could have been a whole lot worse: “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty.” And you can’t get much more diverse than letting your military personnel pick which side of the war they want to be on.

It’s so depressing. I guess we can only hope that we come to our senses before the next attack.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

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