Friday, February 26, 2010

The General Law of Wives

“All other things being equal, the ideological space between a male writer and his wife will shrink over time, with the husband moving the greater distance.”

Conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg presented his General Law of Wives in a recent Goldberg File, then went on to demonstrate the law in action based on the evolution of Paul Krugman’s writing over the years and a recent profile of Krugman in the New Yorker. Goldberg also cites a former boss of his who had worked in the Johnson administration. Although the law specifically applies to writers, it also appears to hold true for politicians and policy wonks. The James Carville and Mary Matalin union might be the exception that breaks the rule.

I don’t know how, if at all, the General Law of Wives applies to non-writers. If you’ve suffered through my little ramblings, you already know that I’m no writer. The mind of an engineer, my wife will surely tell you, is not like the minds of most other (i.e., normal) people. I like to think that, after 17 years of marriage, I’ve dragged my wife over to my way of thinking. Amy, bless her soul, allows me to persist in that belief.

The Bible supports Jonah’s law. Solomon, for all of his wisdom, was led astray by his wives: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods …” (1 Kings 11:4). It has always amazed me that the gift of wisdom did not protect Solomon from folly. Knowing what is right, good, and true, and doing it are two entirely different things.

Solomon was not alone among the kings of Israel and Judah that were led astray by their wives. Ahab was led by his wife Jezebel to worship Baal (1 Kings 16:31). Jehoram, as King of Judah, turned from the ways of his father, Jehoshaphat, and did evil “for he married a daughter of Ahab” (2 Kings 8:18). Jehoshaphat’s great failure as King of Judah was his alliance with Ahab, the King of Israel, sealed with the marriage of Jeshoshaphat’s son to Ahab’s daughter. The corruption and apostasy of the wife spread to the husband.

Hasn’t that been the story ever since the serpent talked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit?

Truth be told, neither Amy nor I had far to move, ideologically, and our spiritual progress has been in the same direction. We were pretty like-minded when we were married. I hope that a casual observer can see, though, why I worry about my future sons and daughters-in-law. It is important to me that my own children find spouses that don’t disregard religious truth and liturgy. If the General Law of Wives holds true, then I should especially worry for my son(s).

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