Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Tonight, former Congresswoman (and candidate to take back her seat) Melissa Hart of the 4th congressional district* (western PA) said of Mike Huckabee: “He’s a very fine man.” I told her I agreed.

I’ve pointed out Mike has deviated from extremist evangelicals on many issues, including the full meaning of “pro-life,” immigration, and taxation without representation in D.C. He’s challenged conservatives generally with his great comment that he’s a “conservative, but [he’s] not mad at everybody.

It may surprise some of my fellow Christians, but we’re not the people with all the answers. Consider one of my favorite passages, the one about the woman “taken in adultery.” Jesus refuses to “condemn” her. He doesn’t authorize the Pharisees who brought her to Him to stone her to death – the punishment under Mosaic Law. He doesn’t berate her for her sin – if in fact she committed one. He writes something in the sand, which may (or may not) be the sins of the Pharisees. He tells her, “Go, and sin no more,” even though he recognizes that sin is the nature of human beings. (As Paul says, “For all have sinned, all haven fallen short of the glory of God.”)

The tale of the “adulterous woman” is used to make all sorts of points. However, the story remains – 2,000-plus years later – cloaked in mystery.

Which apostle did Jesus ask to reveal His resurrection? Trick question. He asked Mary Magdalene, a woman, in an era when rabbis refrained from even looking at a woman not their wife. And when she told the apostles, who occasionally seemed clueless, they didn’t believe her! Seeming, in their attention to Jesus’ teachings, they’d missed the part about his resurrection.

I’ve been critical of Mike Huckabee on his response to a story about his stand on gay marriage (and, apparently, civil unions).

Little Rock, AR -- Former AR Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee today issued the following statement in response to a news story stating that he is "open to state-sponsored civil unions that would bestow the legal rights of marriage on gay and lesbian couples": "He said, This report is simply inaccurate. I do not support legal recognition of alternative unions. I strongly, firmly and unequivocally believe that the traditional definition of marriage is for 'one man, one woman, for life.' That is why I worked hard in Arkansas to enact legislation at the state level to protect traditional marriage, and why I have vowed to work hard for federal language as President. "While I believe that people have a right to decide how they live their personal lives, they have to respect not changing the definition of marriage."

I think Getrude Stein, poet and friend of Hemingway, would say, "A marriage is a marriage . . . is a marriage." Not great poetry, but very good sense.

Mike’s response didn’t strike me as especially Christian. Jesus didn't say, "Love they fellow evangelicals." Instead he told us to love our "neighbors," of whom there are six billion and counting.

A key element in loving our neighbors is respecting their differences – and acknowledging that they should have the same rights as everyone else. If people decide to “live their personal lives,” to use Mike’s words, as a married couple, then he – and we – should let them. After all, they’re not asking to get “hitched’ in our church.

Thus, I think Mike dropped the ball on this one. He’s coming out against gay marriage apparently because his base insists he do so. But at the same time he seems to be coming out divorce (“one man, one woman, for life”), which is certainly justified in some cases. His comment suggests he doesn’t understand that simple fact of life.

Does he mean to suggest that s sham marriage, like the one involved Hillary and Bill Clinton, is preferable to a divorce, amicable if possible, un-amicable if necessary..

Is he aware that only a minority of families in the U.S. are involved in "traditional marriages?" What does he propose to do with majority who are not? Tell them they've failed? On his responses to such issues Mike reminds us why he's still a minor candidate.

Certainly, no church should be forced to marry a gay or lesbian couple. But at the same time, churches should not band together to prevent a state – check out the 10th amendment – from marrying a couple of any gender.

Conservatives should not be fair-weather federalists. If gay or lesbian couples want to get married – or united – we should throw rice, not brickbats.

Mike needs to rethink his position on this issue. He's a very good man who on rare occasions says very bad things.

Stephen R. Maloney

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