Monday, July 1, 2013

Defense of Marriage: A Prescription

I've read comments recently that fear a backlash.  That is, some people fear that the newly empowered supporters of same sex marriage may now unload on portions of the Christian community in the same way they have felt unloaded on in years past.  Maybe.  Mostly, I doubt it.  The tug of war in the legal arena is far from over since same sex marriage is still not permitted in approximtely 3/4 of the states.     

But a little history here, dating back to the civil rights struggles of the 1960's and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  For there to be a backlash, there first has to be a lash. Or, to use a term perhaps coined by President Lyndon Johnson, there has to be a "frontlash." I, too, pray that the backlash to the Court's decisions is not a sequel to the frontlash.

Marriage. Civil union. Life partnership. I hope we all ask ourselves exactly what that means. How do we support and encourage durable, healthy human relationships in any form, marriage specifically?

Since I now have the recognized authority to perform marriages that pass legal muster, I find it a sobering responsibility, given the flawed nature of humanity. I worked long and hard to be recognized and vested with the authority conferred by the ordination by my church. It wasn't a cereal boxtop version or an online instant thing. Worked my butt off for a decade in classes, CPE and internship while working full time. Much to the neglect of home maintenance and retirement savings. All to do legitimate ministry in a position that does not pay.

But I can now marry people legally, and also pronounce the blessing of God on couples who wish to have that. I have married one couple, and I felt good about it. I also just "solemnized before God and witnesses" the marriage of a couple who had already legally been married by a judge some time prior. I don't know for sure how to feel about this couple since they both have personality traits that could be very troubling if they don't manage them; plus, they both have a disastrous previous marriage in their past. My prayer is that the sacred ceremony in which they sought God's blessing serves as a sobering incentive to succeed despite their own human faults.

A local columnist who is herself divorced has written several times about the importance of doing things that support and strengthen marriage. I want to call her to account because she has failed to describe what that would be. Should we enact a marriage "death penalty" by making it illegal for anyone who has ever divorced for any reason to remarry... ever?

Absent the columnist's definition, I offer my own. It's the same prescription I give for eliminating poverty, homelessness, drug abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, low graduation rates, DWI deaths, drug cartels, sectarian wars, terrorism and world wars: character formation. Better formed, better built, more fully committed human beings. Ultimately, we have no other and no higher calling but to make more of us who better qualify for the humbling, lofty title divinely bestowed on us: God's own handiwork.

Meanwhile, how many married people can recite their marriage vows 90 seconds, 90 minutes or 90 days after the wedding? Or say what that vow actually means? Instead of blowing megabucks hiring wedding planners, people would do much better to spend a few hours actually being marriage planners themselves.

How do we make life together happen for any of us?  How do we make it better than Civil War? 

More on that subject later this week. 

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