Saturday, February 09, 2008

It's comments like this

...that make me unsure that I should be called a "traditionalist conservative." Just when I think I'm the traddest of the trads, what with believing women are designed by God to stay home with their children and other such oddball ideas, along comes somebody who lauds as "conforming to natural and divine law" arranged, unchosen marriages of the Medieval period and who cannot see what we would be missing in the U.S. if we didn't have a tradition of freedom of religion.


William Luse said...

I'm still calling you a traditionalist conservative. I've been through that freedom of religion thing with you before, and ain't going through it again, except to say that no freedom is without its boundaries. But if that fellow was arguing for an established Church in this country, he can't have me on his side.

Lydia McGrew said...

Glad to hear that. And I doubt you'd exactly have wanted to say to your daughters, "Here, honey, you're marrying Jack, and I'm having no argument outta you." :-)

(I don't think they'd buy it, either.)

William Luse said...

Nor do I want to hear, "Hey, Daddy, I'm marrying Jack and I don't want any argument from you." It's a dilemma.

Don't you think the guy ought to have to ask the father's permission?

Lydia McGrew said...

Here's how I'd put it: In a family that is working right, a good family, the girl should have so much respect for her dad's opinion, and the dad should so much merit that respect, that she would never even get that serious with the guy if her parents didn't approve, so that the permission-asking would be more or less a formality, because everyone would have been working well together all along.

But that's an ideal. Disagreements certainly can arise. Sometimes those disagreements are the result of a _huge_ mistake on one side or the other--the daughter wants to marry somebody totally bad, behaves stupidly or worse, and won't listen to her parents' warnings. Or the parents are insisting (for example) that she must marry a Muslim, or somebody really rich, or some other criterion that is--shall we say--not especially well correlated with being a good husband, and the daughter doesn't like any of their ideas and picks somebody good, whose merits they refuse to see.

Sometimes the disagreements are less radical and the result of different judgements on matters that really are judgement calls. The girl might think the fact that the guy was in debt wasn't as important as her parents thought it was. Or they might be very concerned that she not marry a Catholic, or not marry a Protestant, etc. The guy might not have a job, and the parents might be understandably bothered by this, but the girl might have a good job of her own and be willing to take the chance. Those differences of opinion on the relative importance of things that reasonable people can disagree about will probably become acute only if or when some _particular_ guy comes along about which the girl and her family disagree for those reasons.

At that point, the family just has to work it out amongst themselves as best they can. For myself, I think it a good and prudent thing that it is not enshrined _in law_ that the guy must have the father's permission, and I would oppose any attempt to put force on the side of the idea that "the guy has to ask the father's permission." There does come a time when young people are adults and must be permitted to make their own decisions, even if they disagree with their parents. However, I would hope that they would be reluctant to do so and would do so only with great care and a lot of prayer. It would be better if the family could be fully reconciled before the wedding takes place. Parental disapproval itself carries a lot of weight. And if the parents think the girl's choice sufficiently misguided, they are of course under no obligation either to pay for or to come to the wedding. "Leaving the nest" and "making your own adult decisions" really does cut both ways.