The Associated Press on Christians, God's Law, and Terri Schaivo.

An AP article caught my attention has particularly misleading and downright anti-Christian:

Some Christian conservatives and others who want to prolong Schiavo's life do not see why her husband gets to decide her fate. But the role of the spouse as next of kin and decision-maker has deep roots in both civil and biblical law.

"It's odd that conservative Christians would be making this claim," said Christopher Schroeder, director of the public law program at Duke University. "You can find biblical passages that say once you have a union like this, the union's all that matters. The parents drop out of the picture." . . . .

The practice of giving the spouse decision-making authority stretches back to English common law, when a woman basically became a non-person when she married, said Herma Hill Kay, an expert on marriage law at the University of California at Berkeley. Of course, she said, the laws giving one spouse direction over the other's affairs are now gender-neutral.

"Marriage is viewed as a consensual contract entered into by people who have legal capacity to marry, to in effect forsake all other bonds and cleave only to the other person, to take the words from most marriage ceremonies," Kay said.

Clark and other protesters have accused Michael Schiavo of violating "God's law" by withholding nourishment from his wife and by having had two children over the years with the girlfriend with whom he lives.

But the legal tradition now separating Terri Schiavo from her parents' presumed protection also has a foundation in biblical law. In Genesis 2:24, it reads: "Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh."

I understand that the way that the English legal tradition has evolved has had the effect of inverting the Roman idea that the wife was still under under the patria potestas of her father, so that the family is seen as essentially nuclear by means of marriage, rather than essentially communitarian because of marriage. I get this. Yet to make the argument, by ignoring the issue of Michael Schaivo's open adultery, that spousal guardianship is a sort of absolute legal value in vacuo is intellectually dishonest. And to try to point to Christians as ignoring God's law on this point is superficial to the point of parody. But to quote Genesis 2:24 as somehow in support of Michael Schaivo is perverse to the point of callous. It is perhaps the most tragic part of this entire matter.

May Terri Schaivo rest in peace.

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