This piece might seem picayune on my part – I’ll accept that as a valid criticism, but you know me, I usually am found where angels fear to tread, so this is a easy one for me. Heh!
I am not particularly enamored with the GOPe leanings of his colleagues at his site, but I like Rod Dreher, and his thinking in his book The Benedict Option – although I believe his thesis would go quite wobbly, as he himself has wondered in other columns, with American Evangelicals. I also have a beef with his seeming historical ignorance or revisionism of the nature of the Reformation, me being a Confessional Lutheran and all. I will address that in a coming post still under cranial construction.
But using his very positive post about the Pences today he writes the following, which seems to be – to me – a disconnect. Now, even moreso in that he has gained fame, his marriage would seem to need even more of what the Pences practice. Yet he writes:
“Again, this is not a set of precautions I, as a Christian, would take, or feel it necessary to take, but I admire the Pences for the seriousness with which they take their marriage vows. Mike Pence is willing to be thought a countercultural weirdo for the sake of doing right by his wife, his kids, and his God. That’s totally admirable in my book.”
Those precautions Dreher would not take (although if you notice, he qualifies that by being a Christian), are in reality, not precautions, but necessities! Even the average Joe who gives a rip about his marriage and family would want to consider emulating the Pences, but how much moreso by a man in the public’s eye, and thus, under its scrutiny?
Anyone who has even glanced over here knows what my career was, and still is. I am a Lutheran Confessional Pastor, Em. (“Emeritus is really a misnomer!). I am not reticent about saying so whatsoever. I love it! But hells bells, Bubba, if the average Joe understands and practices this, how much more Dreher – and he has traveled Evangelicalism personally, swam the Tiber to Rome, and now has swum the Bosporus and is of the Orthodox faith, writing of matters theological. The Pences’ precautions ought to be writ large on the opposite wall of Dreher’s office!
I, along with every Brethren of the Cloth I know, take great pains to avoid the hint of wrong-doing or potential scandal, even if unimaginable to me and the Brethren. I have never counseled a woman alone, with my office door closed, or anywhere else where we might be seen together (a restaurant, for instance). It’s not merely bad form, it could be career ending! Young widows had to come to the office. Older widows or single women I would visit their home, but I would take my wife. And yet, even with all the precautions, I was occasionally propositioned. I understand sin and its nature, and the old but true prayer – “Help me to avoid the near occasion of sin! – is quite legitimate!
So my secretaries might hear us talking, but they wouldn’t understand the words. Besides, Marion and Marcia, the secretaries I did have, were sworn to secrecy anyway as a job condition. But both of them more than understood. It helped both of them had great marriages. They instinctively understood.
I know Mr. Dreher will probably never read these words, and thus, not change his exceptions taken to the protective approach the Pences or countless other Christian couples take, but his fame and reputation rest on his faith and the legitimacy of his words, and were I him, I would take no chances. There are many public figures, within the Church and without, who have been flattened by false accusation. They get enough of them anyway, without adding additional potential fuel to the fire.
Thus endeth the Epistle. 🙂