Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How And When To Beat Your Wife

Life is a wheel, man. All the spokes lead to the center. There is no one way. Who is to say that any one faith is better than another?

I remember that mantra from the sixties. I felt spiritually homeless, and investigated different faiths to see where I might feel at home. One guy I spoke to was a friend who was studying to be a Unitarian minister. I asked him what he would do if he were dropped on the top of an Aztec pyramid during a human sacrifice. Would he stop it? He said that he would try to engage the Aztec clergy in a discussion. He would try to persuade them to cancel their human sacrifice. But he would not employ force to stop the proceedings. My friend did a skillful dance step around the question of whether his religion was better than that of the Aztecs who engaged in human sacrifice. I was not impressed. It reminded me of the old country music line. “You’ve got to stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Across the range of the world’s faiths, denominations that water down and sugar coat are losing adherents. Non orthodox Judaism is losing adherents, even as it redraws the Jewish legal definition of a Jew more loosely. Christianity is having the same experience with denominations that take their theology from the New York Times Best Seller’s list.

Like people stranded at sea, spiritual searchers are willing to slake their thirst with spiritual salt water. Anyone willing to say that there is some sort of absolute truth has a lot of people willing to listen and believe. Mainstream religions wonder why religious groups that are demanding and restrictive are experiencing growth. There is a good reason.

In a healthy marriage, spouses are happy to restrict their associations and conduct as an expression of love. These sacrifices strengthen the marital bond and ultimately cease to be burdensome. A relationship with G-d also demands sacrifice. There is an instinct of spiritual awe in the human heart. There is a sense of a Greater Power. People want to act on that. This is how even abusive cults are able to claim devoted adherents.

Some religions are better than others. This is considered a heretical statement in “enlightened circles”. It is, however arguably true. Even those who say that their religion is no better than yours will almost certainly believe that their politics are more enlightened. This is probably because their politics really is their religion.

If you go to a liberal dinner party and say that Islam is inferior, you might not get invited back. The “All spokes lead to the center“. argument has powerful persuasive power. The analogy breaks down when a particular faith falls between the metaphorical spokes or even thrust between them.

I have read passages in the Koran that encourage wife beating. Lest you think that it isn’t meant literally, there are plenty of imams spreading the “good” word to the contrary. There are many videos on You Tube saying that one should beat one’s wife. There are even preachers who will tell you how.

My friend the Unitarian divinity student was willing to cut the Aztecs slack on human sacrifice. How many young clergy are cutting the Muslims slack for wife beating and even “honor killings”? There are plenty of Muslim preachers who will proudly declare the virtue of wife beating. Are we as willing to condemn such behavior? Or is it just an “alternative life style”?

How are we to respect a spiritual leader that votes “present” on these questions? What are we to say of a preacher that praises suicide bombers? Is that also an “alternative life style”?

If people come here and want to live in peace with their neighbors, it does not matter in legal terms what they believe. But when moral relativism spills into civil law, then society breaks down very quickly. America and Canada have already experienced honor killings. Wife beating is already commonplace in many places with large Muslim minorities. According to the London Telegraph, polygamists can now claim government benefits in Great Britain.

Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by ministers means that polygamous marriages can now be recognised formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal.

The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife, as is permitted under Islamic law. Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record.

The decision has been condemned by the Tories, who accused the Government of offering preferential treatment to a particular group, and of setting a precedent that would lead to demands for further changes in British law.

New guidelines on income support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state: “Where there is a valid polygamous marriage the claimant and one spouse will be paid the couple rate … The amount payable for each additional spouse is presently £33.65.”

Income support for all of the wives may be paid directly into the husband’s bank account, if the family so choose. Under the deal agreed by ministers, a husband with multiple wives may also be eligible for additional housing benefit and council tax benefit to reflect the larger property needed for his family.

The ruling could cost taxpayers millions of pounds. Ministers launched a review of the benefit rules for polygamous marriages in November 2006, after it emerged that some families had benefited financially.

Politics and religion have never been completely separate. Our unwillingness to declare moral absolutes and to establish definite rules eventually has civic repercussions. Immigration is raising many questions about how far we are willing to go as a society in accomodating a minority. In the name of tolerance, some most intolerant ideas are gradually being given the force of law.

It is one thing to care passionately and to tolerate differences. It is another matter entirely when one ceases to care, when the spiritual core is hollow.

What is worse, a violent and bigoted social system, or a greater society that tolerates it?

Wife beating and honor killings are accepted in Islam. Are we opposing it or enabling it?

This cached version of the original article on The American Sentinel has very interesting videos I recommend them highly to my readers

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