Today, Mitt Romney called the Iowa Family Leader marriage pledge “undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.” He is, of course, correct.
Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty has not decided about his support for it.
UPDATE: Gov. Pawlenty refused to sign the pledge.
A group tied to GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is calling for Iowa legislators to base law on Christian teaching. On their website, the group urges Iowa ministers to sign a letter which says
Because God is God of all, there is no structural difference between religious and civil marriage. The essence of marriage remains the same in both the religious and civil realms. (Col. 1:15-19) The acknowledgement (sic) of, and reference to, marriage in the laws of our state and nation does not create a second realm of marriage that is somehow divorced from the only definition determined by God.
By saying that there is no difference between the civil and religious realms, the Iowa Family Policy Council advocates for what Christian reconstructionists call a theonomy. Most opponents of same-sex marriage propose that negative consequences will occur if such marriages are legally recognized. However, here the Family Leader advances what is primarily a theological argument. In essence, they hope pastors will write their legislators and tell them that the laws of Iowa must be the same as the teachings of the Bible since God is over both.
In the second clause of the letter, the Family Leader casts aside the 14th Amendment.
Keeping in mind that the concept of fairness is subjective, it should never be used as a mechanism to overturn the plain truth of the Scriptures. The laws of Iowa can never be “fair” to everyone, but instead ought to be designed to promote justice.
In other words, the Family Leader wants Iowa legislators to place the Bible over the 14th Amendment and equal treatment under the law. According the Family Leader, the law cannot be fair to all Iowans, just those who believe the right things. In a theonomy, the Bible is the law of the land. Apparently, the Family Leader wants Iowa to be a theonomy, never allowing fairness to citizens “to used as a mechanism to overturn the plain truth of the Scriptures.”
In the fourth clause, the rights of some Iowa citizens to advocate for their viewpoint is considered more important than other citizens.
Freedom of conscience is not the issue. We acknowledge that everyone has a right to their own beliefs. The issue is whether or not certain citizens have the right to use their beliefs to redefine that which God has already defined, and then force the rest of society to accept that redefinition. We submit that they do not.
Apparently, some citizens cannot “use their beliefs” in ways that others can. The Family Leader can use their beliefs to write letters to legislators, urge Iowans to toss out unpopular judges and advocate for candidates that promote their theonomic views. Other Iowans, who don’t believe in the same God or interpret His will in the same manner must not be allowed the same right.
What if the Family Leader used such thinking to other matters such as church or family? Since the New Testament is interpreted by some as requiring women to “keep silent” in church, shouldn’t the Family Leader petition the Iowa legislature for gag laws on mouthy women in their churches, and probably by extension any other situation where a woman might exercise authority over a man? Give a suffragette an inch and she’ll take a mile.
By their reasoning, since God is the God of all, shouldn’t all areas of life be considered a part of the civil realm? Theonomists would answer in the affirmative. Rousas J. Rushdoony, the dean of modern reconstructionism, said in his Institutes of Biblical Law
Neither positive law nor natural law can reflect more than the sin and apostasy of man: revealed law is the need and privilege of Christian society. It is the only means whereby man can fulfill his creation mandate of exercising dominion under God. Apart from revealed law, man cannot claim to be under God but only in rebellion against God
A review of the Family Leader’s letter to Iowa legislators indicates harmony with Rushdoony’s statement that “revealed law is the need and privilege of a Christian society.” According the Family Leader, there is “no structural difference” between the religious and civil realms.
The ready endorsement of Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum to
the materials and pledges of this group exposes them to questions about the role of religion in civil society. Do they want a theonomy?
The Family Leader organization removed a reference to slavery in their “marriage pledge” in the midst of complaints and negative media scrutiny. According to Politico:
A social conservative Iowa group has retracted language regarding slavery from the opening of a presidential candidates’ pledge, amid a growing controversy over the document that Michele Bachmann had signed and Rick Santorum committed to.
The original “marriage vow” from the Family Leader, unveiled last week, included a line at the opening of its preamble, which suggested that black children born into slavery were better off in terms of family life than African-American kids born today.
Given the spokesperson’s explanation, I don’t think the group really gets why they were wrong:
“We came up with the pledge and so we had no idea that people would misconstrue that,” she said. “It was not meant to be racist or anything. it was just a fact that back in the days of slavery there was usually a husband and a wife…we were not saying at all that things are better for African-American children in slavery days than today.”
A husband and a wife who may not live together, with one on one plantation and the other on another.
The Bachmann campaign said Michele Bachmann only meant that she agreed with the pledge part, but not the rest of it. Really? You mean you don’t read what you sign?
A Bachmann spokeswoman said earlier Saturday that reports the congresswoman had signed a vow that contained the slavery language was wrong, noting it was not in the “vow” portion.
“She signed the ‘candidate vow,’ ” campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said, and distanced Bachmann from the preamble language, saying, “In no uncertain terms, Congresswoman Bachmann believes that slavery was horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible.”