Well, it’s official.
Marriage equality has arrived in America. It seems appropriate to mark the occasion, seeing as the issue hits so close to home.
Where to start? First, I’ll begin by saying that I am happy beyond words that gays and lesbians throughout the Nation, finally, will have the exact same civil benefits and responsibilities everyone else is afforded. It is proper and right that we should have them.
No government of a nation dedicated to treating its citizens equally under the law should be allowed to discriminate against its own citizens. Moreover, no nation that claims to pride itself on valuing property rights can dare to deny to citizens the basic right to enter into a contract. That being said, this decision, the debate leading up to it and the aftermath that has followed, is not something I feel like dancing and smiling about. You will not find my profile pic draped in a rainbow flag.
I’ve heard too much and have seen too much of what went into marriage equality to smile. Coming, as it does, on the heels of recent legal actions that seek to force Christians to act against their conscience, this decision reeks of politics as usual, not as an historical achievement or moral (or even legal) necessity.
I have had my say about where I stand on the issue of gay folks forcing people to associate with and labor for them. I’ve written also about the moral intimidation used by the political class to force folks to submit to the whims and whips of ‘marriage equality or else’. There is no need to rehash, except to say to my gay brothers and sisters who support these offences against decency and fairness: you are NOT serving the causes of freedom or civil liberties, you are destroying them.
No, this is too personal for me to be political, so I’ll not rehash old arguments. Instead, I’ll speak instead of things one ought to speak of when talking about marriage.
This issue is very, very personal.
I adore the very premise of marriage. It pains me to see it turned into a political policy to be toyed with by fascists of any ideological side. Marriage is not a game. Marriage is not a policy. Marriage is certainly not just a civil contract, though what the Courts have recognized that gays are entitled to IS the contract portion of marriage. Marriage is, however, far far more than just a simple contract. Christians and indeed anyone with common sense and intellectual honesty know this.
Let me tell you a story.
I learned this week that the man I have been in love with for quite some time married someone else last year. We live, fortunately, in the State of New York, where marriage is not just available to heterosexuals.
We’ve not ever been a couple. I’ve not told him how I felt. When I learned he had been married my heart broke, yet I am so happy he has found someone who loves him and wishes to dedicate his life to him that when next we see each other I will offer he and his husband not only my congratulations, but my absolute support in their new life together. I will do this without bitterness or sadness because I have no right to claim I love him while simultaneously denying him the choice that is his alone to make.
I learned of this marriage, by the way, from his husband. His husband and I had not previously met. He had no idea of how I felt, nor can he know that this love remains.
I had made a promise – I’d promised myself and my God that I’d spend my life protecting, serving and honoring this one person. That I have no claim on him and will not ever be with him now is not relevant. My love remains. It is unlikely I will seek another, though I have no idea what God has planned for me. What I know is that I married this man before I told him what I felt for him and before I had the chance to ask him to solemnize a promise before God and guests. Marriage is not just a contract, it is a covenant…a covenant between people and between people and the God who created them. I made that covenant. I know because I felt it every time I looked at him and I feel it every time I think of him. I feel it even as I write this. I made my promise and have no regrets in doing so, though it has not worked out as I expected.
I recognize and I respect that many do not value my promise and my covenant. I recognize and respect that many do not believe God values either of them. I recognize and respect their right to think and believe as they do because I know that God alone chooses what and who to value. I know that God alone decides whether my promise and covenant is valid. I know also that religious liberty means that others are free and must be left free to believe as they will and that I am free and must be left free to do the same.
It pains me to know that many in my own community choose to diminish the value of marriage down to a contract they can pick up at any clerks office. I know that they have little regard for marriage as a covenant because I see that they have so little regard for Christians who seek to keep it as one. Most Christians who have fought against gay marriage do not have ill will towards gay people. They do, however, see marriage as more than a civil contract.
They recognize marriage for what it is.
That many Christians have also conflated marriage with the contract recognized by, regulated by and protected by government is irrelevant. Most do NOT seek to deny this civil contract, but instead to deny the covenant that they recognize as marriage. It pains me that they would do so, as I fail to see what business it is of theirs who I promise myself to. More importantly, that covenant is not theirs to deny – it is God’s and only God’s choice to recognize or to deny recognition. However, the guilt they own pales in comparison to the guilt of those who would call Christians evil because they see marriage as more than just a contract.
We have come to a very deep and dark place when, instead of the solemn and sacred promise that it is, marriage has been diminished by so many down to empty slogans, insults, and tacky and sadly ironic rainbow lights thrown on the side of a house.
The debate over marriage equality is not politics as usual, but we have made it such.Marriage equality is NOT a political issue, it is a moral one.
In my admittedly minor and perhaps naive opinion, marriage equality is the most profound moral issue I’ve seen debated in my lifetime. With everything I am and everything I know and believe I also think it is the most profound moral issue we have faced in thousands of years. We have treated its import as on par with Red v Blue, tax policy and hashtag advocacy. We have dealt with marriage as if we would any policy discussion. We have turned a covenant between ourselves, our Creator and the person we promise ourselves to into a political tool to beat our opponents with.
May God bring us back into the light.