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I have a doozie for you. It’s a hypothetical situation. And you must respond. And I hope some of you lurkers pull out of the dark and at least give some advice. Because I know who you are, and I think you have some interesting and solid advice to give.
Let’s call my friend Sam. Sam is an atheist. Sam’s brother Bob is engaged to be married to Jane. At the moment, I’m not clear if Bob (the brother) is a believer or not, but let’s assume he is.
Let’s assume he’s the Catholic brand of believer.
Bob is an atheist, too. Scratch the bit about being Catholic. (It shows what kind of friend I am!)
Jane is a believer, too. But she is the Muslim brand of believer.
Ahh, the classic story of Romeo and Juliet. Will it ever go away?
Wedding plans are not set in stone. One scenario is a destination wedding to the Caribbean and a reception back at home. Another scenario is that Jane, and maybe more so Jane’s father, would like to have a traditional muslim wedding.
You see, at traditional muslim weddings and church services, women are separated from the men, because women aren’t important in islamic culture. They are inferior and treated as such. It’s very biblical, too. But who’s keeping score?
My friend Sam is shocked and appalled that in 2011, anyone would reach back into non-gender-equality for the sake of pleasing a tradition of asininity. He is shocked that he would disrespect his wife for any length of time. He made a vow of equality with his wife.
Just so I’m clear, I want to give you Sam’s original explanation to me in his words so you know exactly the information I had to respond with:
My brother is marrying a Muslim. She has planned to have a Muslim ceremony, where men and women are segregated. I am really not comfortable with that. To me, it is a slight against my wife and perpetuates attitudes that I cannot support, religiously grounded or not. Yet if I take a stand, I risk alienating her family in the midst of an already strained situation. She has said that she wants a “white wedding” and a “muslim wedding”, but expects me to attend both of them.
What would you do?
What kind of message am I sending my daughter, or worse still, my sons, if I act as if this is permissable behavior?
If I recuse myself on principle, then I put my new sister-in-law in an inenviable position with her family. Her father has already been very difficult, and he will no doubt consider this an additional slight.
And later, after an exchange, Sam wrote this:
[My wife] is the person I have commited to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others, for all the days of my life. She is also the woman who will be sitting separately from her husband because she is a lesser human being.
I told Sam what I think. I’m afraid he wasn’t pleased with my advice. I basically said that the greater good is honoring your brother’s and sister-in-law’s wishes for one hour of your life. If my family would have done what they wanted to do at our wedding, I would have exploded in front of all my guests. I would have alienated myself from them. I would have hated them. But they came in love despite the absence of god in our service and reception. They did everything they could to welcome Tina and to honor me when they probably HATED that we were atheistic in our marriage commitment.
I told Sam that I would devote a post to it here at Le Café, because I know you have an opinion about it. I almost didn’t write my response, because I want your responses to be unfettered.
I hate to call out names directly. And I’m serious about the lurkers. Sign in as anonymous if you want.
I really want your feedback. Please respond to Sam’s plight from within a non-theistic perspective. Sam is who we’re aiming to help, here. Thanks.