April 29, 2011
Could there have been a better way to showcase marriage than todays Royal Wedding?
We had every bit of splendorer, splendouras two billion people around the world watched. Hats and horns. Red carpet. We had a gargoyles-eye view of the handsome young Royal Couple as they marched down the center aisle of the thousand-year old Westminster Abbey.
More important than any of the royal state and pomp was the authority and majesty of the Word of God on marriage. The Bishop of London intoned from Scripture and from the Book of Common Prayer the purposes of marriage. For the increase of mankind. For the fear and worship of God. For the nurturing and guidance of children. Marriage, he reminded us is a holy estate. A man and his wife forsake all others.
We took part, not as invited guests, but as a great cloud of witnesses. The Bishop said: Every wedding is a royal wedding. Our generous God gave Himself to us. Love finds its center beyond ourselves. Right on, Right Reverend!
Those vows, so simple to recite, so hard to keep. Prince William answers loud and clear: I Will. Its a pun. He is Will. And lovely Kate. Shall not loveliness be loved forever?
A slight smile comes over her face as she repeats for richer for poorer. Impishly, I think I know whats going through her commoners mind: Well, that part, at least, will be one of the easier promises to keep! But no one can fully know what it means to have and to hold in sickness and in health.
The strains of one of Dianas favorite hymns, Jerusalem, welled up from the oaken pews. It contains this verse from poet William Blake: And was Jerusalem builded here/Among those dark Satanic mills? Blake meant steel mills, the hellish factories only then beginning to scar Englands green and pleasant land, belching smoke and flame.
Today, I suggest, Blakes dark Satanic mills might be propaganda mills. And chief among these might be the venerable Economist. That British journal was founded by Walter Bagehot, the brilliant writer who gave us the most thoughtful defense of monarchy. It is dignified, Bagehot wrote, because it is based on marriage. And marriage, Bagehot wrote, can be understood by the poorest, least educated people in the realm.
Several months ago, however, the Economist hosted an online debate on whether marriage should henceforth be expanded to include couples of the same sex. After a perfunctory discussion, that august publication closed off the debate and declared with proper British solemnity the question was resolved.
How is it that we who say I will were forced to say I will not? How were we placed in the anti position, the position of disadvantage? Propaganda scores its greatest victories before the contest is engaged, by setting the terms of the debate, by its framing of the issue.
I was faced by this framing question fifteen years ago. When our friends in Congress wanted to protect marriage by statute, they came to us at Family Research Council. Were going to win this thing anyway, they said. But the opponents are really offended by the title of the measure, The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)) They say its unnecessarily confrontational. Can we change the title of the bill to the definition of marriage act?
No, I replied. In my only contribution, I argued the title was educational. It teaches everyone who hears it that marriage is under assault. It forces each of us to declare I Will or I Will Not support this essential and endangered institution.
I had read my Bagehot. I was inspired by the British Defense of the Realm Act (DORA). I believe that the defense of marriage is as important to America as defending our republic. In fact, marriage is the foundation for the state. It preceded the Constitution and will survive the Constitution.
Marriage is under sustained assault today. So is the British monarchy. So are all the nations that were formed by the English language, laws, and customs. Every day in Britain, Sharia makes dangerous inroads, eroding the Common Law while endangering all liberty. All the while Britains government seeks to marginalise Christians.
Today, we heard the Word of God about marriage preached to the Gentiles. The Word does not come back void. Billions of people heard it in the most appealing, most engaging way. Muslims around the world heard about Jesus Christ and did not riot.
Sir Elton was among the invited guests. All were urged to attend to the Word. All had an opportunity to consider its eternal meaning. The nations rise and fall, but His Word will stand forever. Will you defend marriage? I Will.