Thursday, October 22, 2009

Louisiana Judge

A judge in Louisiana has made news for his refusal to marry an inter-racial couple. He referred the black man and white woman to another judge. He said that he always refuses to marry inter-racial couples because of his concern for the possible children the marriage could produce.

I have conflicting thoughts regarding parts of this story. First, I consider the judge to be wrong to refuse to marry a couple based on race.

Second, a married couple raising children in our society is a good thing. Children have a much better chance of growing into well-adjusted, functioning adults when they have the parental love and care and supervision that God provided through a two-parent family. It shouldn't make any difference if the parents are both white, both black, one each, or anything else. The commitment to each other, the children, and God are what will make that family succeed.

Third, the racial component of raising be-racial kids varies based on the location where the family chooses to live. My wife and I have five children. Four are mixed black and white. The other one has black, Spanish, and Asian in her heritage. When we lived in an all-white area we did not have issues of the children not being accepted. We did have issues with the children themselves feeling out of place because they looked different from everyone else. Now that we again live in a diverse area it doesn't seem to make any difference to anyone what the racial component is. My kids attend school with kids that are white, black, Spanish, Indian, and Asian. And the white kids and black kids are not all from America. The judge should realize that America has changed in the last forty years and that diversity is better accepted in many places now than it was then.

Fourth, as someone who performs marriages, I don't want to be forced to perform a marriage if that marriage violates my beliefs. If the judge could not in good conscience perform the marriage, then he should not be obligated to perform it. I appreciate that the judge at least recommended a different judge to the couple so that they could still get married. But if he doesn't want to perform the ceremony, then I am not sure that he should be required to do it. I see this as an issue in a couple of other situations. For example, as a pastor I have standards to be met by any couple that I will marry. One of those standards is that I want them to be in the same place spiritually. My requirement for them is that they should either both be professing Christians or they should both be up front about the fact that they are not professing Christians. Another of my requirements is that the couple be composed of a man and a woman. I would be greatly disturbed if I was required to perform marriages that violated my own conscience. While the situation with the judge is different in that he works for the government, I would like to think that our government would not force employees to violate their consciences either (in this situation it seems to me that the judge's conscience ought to be informed by something other than his limited observations, but those are still his convictions).

Finally, the fact that this story garnered so much attention is significant. The "newsworthiness" of this story makes me hopeful that as a nation there has been progress (slow though it may have been) in our race relations. The story shows us that there is still progress to be made, but the reaction of many people against the beliefs of the judge is encouraging.


  1. I have nothing wise to say regarding race relations but I can contribute on weddings. At my wedding rehearsal, the pastor accidently married my sister to my husband (he had performed her ceremony 2 months earlier and got our names mixed up). It seems funny now but at the time I was horrified. Good thing it was just a practice.

  2. The last comment was from me.

    Pat D.