A special thanks this morning to my good friend Sally, who posted a fascinating item on Facebook. Michele Bachmann was quoted as saying that wives should submit to their husbands. I jokingly accused Sally of making this up, and then I remembered how many other times I have thought something too stupid for anyone to have said for real. Sally was right. Bachmann apparently did say that in 2006 during a church speech in Minneapolis.
In most cases, this question is unworthy of debate. I am not inclined to waste my time on anyone whose self-respect is so lacking that they “submit” to anyone. In the case of a Presidential candidate, though, saying things like this should prompt scrutiny.
There was a time in this country in which people had some modicum of restraint concerning religion. JFK, to his credit, quickly doused what could have been a firestorm of controversy surrounding his Catholicism by making it clear that he, not the Pope, would be the leader of the free world. I do not recall LBJ making a big deal of religion, or Richard Nixon or Gerald Ford for that matter.
Then came Jimmy Carter.
By the time Carter arrived on the scene, I was in college. Carter’s interview with Playboy Magazine during the campaign was controversial because during it he admitted having “lusted in his heart” for women other than his wife. What first struck me as odd was the location of his lust. I was pretty sure that was not where I lusted, and took a walk to the women’s field hockey practice area to test my hypothesis. Nope, it wasn’t my heart.
Second, I wondered, “Why is he telling us this?” More broadly, “Why do we care about his religion? Should we?” Again, I decided that Carter was confused, a judgment that is confirmed every time I see him in the news.
Since that time, it seems that most every candidate has to assure us that he/she is Christianer than everyone else. Instead of politicians gracefully and matter-of-factly practicing their faith, mostly in private, they wear it like a banner. Since politicians rarely do anything that is not in the interest of getting votes, I wonder why this trend has persisted. The answer I came up with is not comforting.
There are those for whom their beliefs inform their relations with others positively. Some elements of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and many other religions have contributed to human well-being. Religion, per se, is not the problem.
Yet there are those for whom religion has reached in and found that reptilian corner of the soul that harbors hatred and xenophobia. Michele and her husband Marcus’s public statements could be interpreted so. To what kind of voter does anti-gay and ultra-conservative Christianity appeal?
Mostly to the kind of folks who have appointed themselves monitors of the private behavior of others. If reports on her husband’s inclinations are accurate, he is sub-reptilian. Gays are “barbaric” and require “discipline.” Wives should “submit” to their husbands. I am choosing my words carefully here, so listen closely. Bachmann and her husband have the sensibilities of fascists.
Homosexuals do not need discipline. Wives need not submit to anyone, least of all the person they chose to marry*. No, Michele and Marcus, what gays need is to be left alone. What wives need is self-respect. If homosexual relations aren’t your cup of tea, then don’t have gay sex. If submission appeals to you, get a dog. Or be one.
The Republican Party has earned my contempt in myriad ways over the years, but the rank idiocy of our current Presidential contenders thus far (Ron Paul excepted) defies explanation. Where do they get these people? Hopefully, Bachmann’s early success in the polls will turn to outrage as the public learns the real ethos lurking underneath her political agenda. If not, it should make us all a little nervous.
*Michele and Marcus claim not to have chosen each other. God did it for them, just as he moves them to earn certain degrees and run for office. I just don’t have a response for the kind of thing, except to say that if I wanted God as President, I would vote for Him. Ditto for Allah, in case you were wondering.