Everyone in the United States who reads or watches television now has or will soon have an opinion about the Promise Keepers. The group, which has grown from its inception in 1990 to several million men, staged a huge rally in Washington, DC last weekend. Hundreds of thousands of men arrived by bus, car, plane, and bicycle to participate in a ceremony named Stand In The Gap. Promise Keepers, founded by Bill McCartney, the former football coach of the University of Colorado, has an admirable goal: to make men responsible to their wives and families, to become better fathers to their own children and those children whose fathers do not live with them, and to reintroduce and live by Christian principles that have almost disappeared from American life.

Whatever galvanized McCartney into action, whether it was of divine origin, awareness that a large segment of our society was not responsibly raising its young, or guilt that he had not been close enough to his own family, seems somewhat of a moot point to me. I am certain that making men in our society conscious of their failings as fathers and husbands will benefit family life. Personal acquaintance with many men deeply immersed in their careers to the exclusion of virtually everything else permits me to make that judgment honestly. My general feeling is kudos and AttaBoys to McCartney and his associates.

That is why I am perplexed at the viewpoints I've heard from the National Organization of Women, and from men's Gay Groups. I haven't examined the creed by which the Promise Keepers operate, but understand it is generally Christian. Only an outright atheist could seriously question it. What then is the basis for what I have sensed is a deep vein of fear-tinged criticism being made by NOW and gay men of the Promise Keepers?

Our Bible was written many centuries ago, and indisputably relegates women to a secondary position in life. It is also anti-homosexual. The Scripture's clear meaning can be explained in two ways: either God desires mankind to live like that and has so directed us with His word in the Bible; or the men who wrote the scriptures from which the Bible was taken expressed the religious, cultural, and ethical norms of the day. If it was the former, neither NOW nor Gay Groups' objections have much validity. In the event the latter is true, reasonable and intelligent men will modify the Biblical tenets by which they are trying to live in accordance with the religious, cultural, and ethical norms of today.

I suspect that the Promise Keepers, unable to prove the former, will temper their behavior to avoid subordinating women and making pariahs of gays. Their purpose seems to be pointed toward improving the conduct of men, not denigrating women or making scapegoats of homosexual males. In fact, what has bothered me is the inability of some women's groups to be genuinely pleased by the concept of men assuming more responsibility for the multitudinous tasks that have, by default, fallen to overworked and undersupported women. To the extent that Promise Keepers can unify and increase the number of functional, heterosexual familes, they will have served their society and their God.

If all this sounds rather preachy and optimistic, it is. But having watched the widespread acceptance of lying, the breakdown of family life, the meaninglessness of a man's word, disregard for the most basic of traffic laws, disbelief in our own form of government, contempt for private property rights, and a feeling it is permissible to rip-off the system grow unimpeded for half a century, I'm happy to have a newly formed national institution that is trying in good faith to correct these evils.

Perhaps my thoughts were formed in the old school, but I was long ago taught not to look a gift horse in the mouth. There is Good and Bad in this world, but the word perfection seldom applies to any organization formed by man.

Sam Orr sorr@metrolink.net
World Traveler
and Philanthrope
(Location Unknown)