Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rebel at Heart

So, I ask a lot of questions.
I ask questions because I want to know why people do things the way they do things.
I ask questions because I just can't, won't go along with the crowd.

And...I married someone who likes to ask questions as well!
I will never forget the time I was driving home and on the phone with Phil's best man and best friend. I needed to let him know that he would need to drop our marriage license off at the county office while we were away on our honeymoon. It had to be in within nine days and we were going to be out of town. He asked me why we were getting a license....um, because we are suppose to?
I asked him why he asked me that question.
He said that the definition of a license is to get permission to do something that would otherwise be illegal to do.
Hmmm...well, we were getting married lawfully. God had "righteously ended" my first marriage and so I was free to marry again. Phil had never been married and so according to biblical standards there would be no reason for us not to get married. Phil and I talked about this and started questioning the process that pretty much every one just does without question.

So, being the rebels that we are we started to look into not using a marriage license. Phil's friend conveniently did not turn in the paperwork and so we started on the long journey of learning how to tell the court that we were legally married.
We gathered up evidence of our wedding, had our Pastor sign a statement saying he married us, and with forms in hand we headed to the courthouse.
It isn't clearly written in law books how to deal with people like us.
But, we did peak the curiosity of a local county lawyer who finally figured out what was needed...we petitioned the court and on our court date we showed up with all of our info.
After the Judge asked me to get rid of my gum (oops!) and Phil to get rid of a coffee cup we got down to business. We sure thought we would be questioned by the Judge but instead she just looked at us like we were religious freaks and signed the petition.
A few weeks later we were sent our court ordered delayed marriage certificate.

This is really the condensed version! It took a lot of running around, a lot of questions to be answered, and a few intelligent brains to help us forge through the bureaucracy of the government.
So, why did we take the hard, and ultimately expensive, way to record our marriage with the state? Because, when you get a license you are, in essence, giving the State the ability to define marriage. But, God is the only one that can define marriage.
We, as Christians, complain about the ongoing fight for gay marriage...but, we have no right to complain. We have handed over the responsibility to the State to decide who (or what) can get married.
So, petitioning the court tells the court that we are married...we did not ask permission from them. We didn't need their permission. Although we do believe that the State is bound to uphold God's laws by recording our marriage and help with any disputes over the "contract" of marriage. So, they do have a position in all of this but definitely not to license people to get married.
Licensing came about for two reasons. The first was when a sailor wanted to get married before he set out to sea. Here's the history lesson...you had to "publish the bans" and give the public ten days to give reason why the two in the bans could not get married. Sound familiar? Yep, we moved this to the ceremony after the State started licensing people. In the case of the sailor, the couple would not have those ten days so the State community would step in and say they would guarantee that all was right for the two to get married.
Another reason to get a license was when a citizen of this country decided to marry someone who had not grown up in this country. The court wanted to make sure that this particular person understood that they would be marrying into a Judeo-Christian culture. Would they be willing to give up their religious affiliation and practice to live within a different culture?
I can see why these were needed but to expand the licensing to all marriages makes no sense. Again, it gives the State too much authority.

So, we just can't stop there.
I have always wanted a home birth. And, I had one but not without grief from the medical community.
I could not get a Doctor to be my back up so I didn't have one. I figured that if I have an emergency then it really does not matter who helps me when I get to the hospital.
All worked out...I had a wonderful experience.
But, after the birth we found that Sweet Pea has Phil's blood type which is the polar opposite of mine. Yes, I am RH negative and so I had to have a Rhogam shot but in the state of California you have to get this shot prescribed by a Doctor. That meant a trip to...somewhere to get someone to help me out. No, it couldn't be easy. I finally had to go down to the clinic where I was asked why I was there. I mean I had just given birth only twelve hours earlier...they didn't want to see me until I was two weeks post postpartum.
After lots of questions, pushing of contraceptives, pushing of immunizations for a newborn, and $1,000.00 later I finally got my shot.
All the way trying to get the medical community to understand that my choice was not irrational. It was full of thought.

So, our next appointment was to get a birth certificate for Sweet Pea. We made our way down to public records which is the last place you want to take a newborn.
We were questioned by the employees and then sent home to get some info that they wanted. The lady we talked to wanted to know why we had not been in there earlier. I guess the State requires us to be there within the first ten days after the baby's birth...are you kidding?
I couldn't even think about leaving the house within the first ten days!
When I told her that I couldn't find info on how to do this when you have a homebirth. She said "well, COMMON SENSE would tell you to call a hospital to find out how to file for a birth certificate." Seriously? Common sense? Phil had to practically continue to talk so that I couldn't spill out the nasty words I was thinking. Don't mess with a new mom!
We finally did get the birth certificate but not without a lot of questions.
Do you see a trend?
We ask questions about why we do the things we do...
when we get answers we decide to not just go with the flow...
then, we get questioned by those in authority about why we questioned their authority.

So, our latest episode with the bureaucracy was at the Social Security office.
Now, this one is fresh in my mind and so you are going to get the full story!
We had to sit for an hour in a long room filled with chairs all facing the same direction.
They were facing the security guard...not the windows where you would eventually get to talk to an agent.
I asked how long the wait would be and if I couldn't just make an appointment.
No...I had to sit there with baby waiting...feeling a part of the dull masses that just follow the rest of the crowd.
When it was our turn I handed all the paperwork to the agent and was told that they could change my name on my SS card but that they would not be able to help me get Sweet Pea a number. Not that I really want to give Sweet Pea a number but that is how we do things in America. I would rather not follow the masses on this but the repercussions are not great.

Anyway, the agent said that we needed proof of "continual existence". Seriously.
Continued existence.
They would not take the California birth certificate as proof of her existence. Let me remind you that a birth certificate is a legal document.
This is what they wanted instead...an immunization card or a medical insurance card.
These are not legal documents...in fact, I could just create my own if I was so inclined.
Yes, you guessed it...we do not immunize and we choose to not have medical insurance.
So, where does that leave us? No SS number for Sweet Pea at this point.
We did get a letter from our Chiropractor (oh, I also had to tell the lady that yes, indeed Chiropractors are licensed Doctors!) stating that Sweet Pea is a patient there.
But, now we are questioning whether or not we should give her a number.
I know, I know, we wouldn't get to claim her on our taxes but maybe we should let her decide if she wants to have a SS number someday.
Anyway, we are in the questioning stage again.

Our church has on its website
Semper Reformanda
meaing always reforming.
That is what we believe that we are doing when we question why things are done a certain way.
We are always learning, always reforming, always growing.
Its hard work going against the grain,
swimming upstream...
I don't see it changing anytime soon.


Shhfamily said...

My daughter and sil chose not to get a license either, instead they did a Quaker wedding certificate. It's a personalized, beautiful certificate that is signed by the pastor, wedding party, family and themselves. It's a commitment between them and the Lord signed it the presence of witnesses. It's actually legal and binding. They did eventually get one thru the state just to make paperwork a bit simpler. They also dealt with the same issue when they had to get a birth certificate for their home birthed baby...who still doesn't have a ss number. lol

Katie said...

I'm looking forward to the post you mentioned about sharing with others financial and emotional issues you have been dealing with. Are you still planning on writing about these? Just wondering because I am anxious to hear and learn. Thanks!

Julia Harriyott said...

Heather, just wondering how you square this with bible verses about being subject to rulers and authorities. I think I know what you're gonna say!!

SarahF said...

I find you fascinating, Heather!

Sarah Fiodorova

Crayl said...

You bring up a good point about the marriage license, I always questioned it myself. California is ridiculous for red tape and with home births and all that...so ridiculous.

Victorianlady8 said...

I know this doesn't help, but in America, we are the government! You know, how it goes, something like this, for the people by the people....I understand your frustration because I have done it too. I had three children at home in CA. and one at home in Oregon. definitely much easier here in Oregon. I think it is amazing the gull of government workers....sorry, I think a lot of not great thoughts about how they can treat people, you know what I mean, the government for the people BY THE PEOPLE!

Sarah said...

Hi Heather,
We have done the same with our marriage, although we did go to Mexico to have it done. Some countries do separate ceremonies for religious and civil weddings. We only need God to recognize our union!
Same kind of birth as yours with our kiddos. We have not gotten the papers, but do have baptismal certificates. We have decided to let them choose on their own if they want SS numbers.
I can't tell you how excited I was to read your post about this. Although most people seem to think we are insane, it means I am in very good company!!

Anonymous said...

Go,Heather and Phil!!!!!! Please keep it up. The rest of us NEED folks like you!!!

Ginger said...

Love this post. I feel the same way.
I've had all homebirths and the midwife has always filed for the birth cert. I'm wondering why you had to do all that?
Sweet Pea doesn't have to have SSN now. She can file for that when she's an adult if she wants a job.
It is hard going against the grain. People look at you like you're the idiot for not going along w/ the other herrings. That's what cracks me up. I'm the one actually thinking here, why am I the idiot?

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