Reformation, maintained a nominal authority over marriage.rnA commonwealth’s principal interest in marriage was in determiningrnthe legitimacy of children. This concern was particularlyrnacute, wherever (as was common) there were rules restrictingrnthe rights of bastards to inherit property or exercise thernrights of citizens. What possible claim could be made by arnmodern commonwealth, where kept women may sue for “palimony,”rnwhere bastards demand the rights of legitimate offspringrnand get themselves elected President of the UnitedrnStates, where homosexuals claim special privileges as a victimizedrnminority?rnAny federal law on marriage is a step in the wrong direction.rnIn fact, it is time to turn our backs on even the states claimingrna right to license an institution that many Christians regard as arnsacrament. Why not license communion, by either denying orrnguaranteeing the rights of homosexuals to participate?rnIn the long run, it would not matter which position the governmentrntook on communion or baptism, because either way itrnwould be intruding into an area of life where it has no jurisdictionrn—which is exactly the case regarding marriage. This year.rnDole and Clinton—neither one of whom knows what marriagernis—will decide that states do not have to recognize gay marriages;rnnext year, they will say the states must recognize them,rnand before the decade is finished, they will be telling thernchurches whom they may and may not marry, ordain, baptize,rnconfirm, and bury. Who will stop them? Certainly not thernconservatives who are rushing in where angels—and Christiansrn—fear to tread.rnI am tempted to conclude at this point, leaving it (as is myrnwont) to my readers to hnd their own way out of the Slough ofrnDespond into which I have led them. Just this once, however, Irnam willing to sketch out a rough set of directions. In turningrnour backs on the state, we must then turn to ourselves and ourrnown Christian institutions that are so sadly in need of reform.rnIf marriage is, indeed, a natural union sanctified in faith, thenrnwe should begin by repudiating the government’s claim to regulaternit. Weddings should either be private or ecclesial, and wernshould refuse to recognize the legitimacy of any mock marriagernjury-rigged by a justice of the peace. Priests and ministersrnshould refuse to demand proof that an engaged couple hasrngone to city hall for the requisite dog license, and if, to protectrnourselves and our children, we go through the official forms, wernshould treat it with the anger and contempt we reserve for anyrntyrannical invasion of our individual and religious liberty.rnChristian marriage needs William Tells, who will refuse tornworship the Emperor’s hat, and when our children are put atrnrisk by the Emperor’s flunkies, we should remember why Tellrnkept the second arrow in his quiver. <-•rnMedieval FestivalrnAt The Cloistersrnby Marc-Yves TuminrnRespectfully far from churchporch polymaths,rnOld Festival pursuits, and fair-haired daughters.rnYou wander near my bench where trees, by paths,rnGrasp at a wall, which breaks above the water’srnDevotionally irregular cliff-quartersrnOf Fathers fleeced by some less-faithful wraiths;rnFinally toweled off from Absolution’s bathsrnWith spiritual precision by Prayer’s porters.rnBut crowds of sailing ships, and cruising launches.rnBetween the branched transshifting shadows flirt;rnDodging them, drawing nearer, perfume staunchesrnLeaf struggles, sprawling limbs, declivitous dirt;rnA book left on the park bench’s pine haunches;rnMy haste to glimpse the flutter of a skirt.rnDECEMBER 1996/11rnrnrn