May 14, 2004
Her steely eyes shoot laser beams over the bench. “You got it wrong!” she lashes out to her targeted victim. “WRONG!”
The camera pans around the courtroom past a young lady at a podium, moves across an aisle and a gallery of spectators, and lands on a young man at another podium. His shoulders sag an inch, and his eyes fall to the ground.
“Look at me!” Judge Judy’s sharp voice commands. She has lost her sense of humor. And it’s hard to blame her.
Week after week, her courtroom is filled with young men and young women fighting it out to the bitter end. Lots of young men and lots of young women, but their stories are the same sad song.
They fell in love. He moved in. They had a baby. He moved out. And now, standing on opposite sides of the aisle in a courtroom, they are laying out all the reasons why the other person is awful. It’s all his fault. Or her fault.
“I only want what’s fair,” the young man says. “I paid the rent for a year.”
“But he said he would support me,” the young woman challenges. “And then I caught him with another girl.”
All the while Judge Judy shakes her head. Impatient…she taps her pencil on the papers. She looks at her bailiff Burt. “Do I look stupid?” she asks him.
Smiling, Burt shakes his head.
“Stop!” the Judge snaps. “Stop, I’ve heard enough.”
“But I haven’t finished.”
“You don’t need to finish, Madam.”
“But he wrecked my car and he said he would fix it.”
“But I paid her rent, and she owes me half.”
“STOP!” The boy and girl stand silent, and the audience giggles. They know what is coming. They’ve heard it all before.
“You got it wrong, Sir. Young lady, you got it wrong. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes boy and girl with a baby carriage.
“None of this makes any difference. You aren’t married. You decided to do things your own way…out of order…and you created this mess.
“The saddest part of this is that you now have a child together. The baby is going to pay for your mistakes.
“No. If you had been married, then you would have had an agreement. Marriage means there are certain obligations and definite rules about how to start a marriage and make it work. Then we could talk.
“But you have nothing. That’s it. You had a friendship, and now you don’t. Case dismissed.”
It makes for entertaining television. But it makes for tragic lives.
If members of Congress really want to know why marriage is important, they need to watch Judge Judy during each lunch recess. They will have a front row seat to witness the endless stream of young girls and boys who never learned the natural order of life, of producing families, and of creating marital harmony.
America abandoned marriage in the 60s for the promise of “real love,” and now we have a culture where order doesn’t matter. Fall in love, get pregnant, live together, move out and start over again, it’s a new modern order that never gets down to the basic question of life. What about the children?
The traditional order of love and life was not an arbitrary structure forced upon society by some mad social scientist. It is a natural order established in all world cultures over thousands of years, an order that recognizes the basic desire of humans to fall in love and to build families. It’s an order that we used to teach our children, an order we used to honor in our own lives as their parents.
The young people in Judge Judy’s court room are funny to watch when we treat their problems as entertainment. But they and their problems are tragic when you think of what we have failed to teach them. We have failed to address the true path of building life together with another person and planning for success.
Order in the courtroom: first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Dad and Mom with a baby carriage.
See April 23, 2004: m…m…m…Married?