Sunday, September 14, 2008

Marriage

Last night we had our regular Integrity meeting. As we celebrated the eucharist, each of us administering to the other, I overheard one of our members say to the spouse, "Beloved, the body of Christ given for you." The beauty of that statement stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds.

While on holidays in August I received a phone call on my message manager which asked if I would consider presiding at a wedding in the middle of September. The short time meant that the couple could not take one of the weekend marriage preparation courses. I did the preparation with them.

The second question I ask a couple is, "why the church? Why not a marriage commissioner?" (The first is - Why marriage? Why not just live together?) We spend some time looking at Christian marriage and that is often referred to throughout the course.

I look at these two events and think about Sarah Palin's daughter and her upcoming marriage. Why is the daughter getting married. From the sounds of it - soley because she is pregnant.

I sit here shaking my head. Over ten years ago I read a right-wing magazine - not something I do often but this one was free and it had an article on teen-age dating trends. It spoke of serial monagamy bemoaning the fact that our teen-agers were having sex at such a young age. As this had currently become a huge issue in my own family, I read on. The article then put forth the idea that we should lower the age of consent for marriage so the children would not have sex outside of marriage.

They lost me at that point. My concern was about children having sex and their's was about children having sex outside of marriage. They were suggesting that children, who already showed a tendancy to serial monagamy, should get married. So what happens when the first flush of romance dies or that burst of lust is no longer. The marriage will end - but hey, the children at least did not have pre-marital sex.

I look at this way of thinking and I think of the complaint that if we allow GLBTTs to get married we will make a mockery of marriage or we will start the downfall of marriage.

Excuse me! The couple last night at eucharist is a same-sex couple and I would say their relationship is a beautiful example of what Christian marriage should be. It is clear that God is very present in their relationship and that the relationship has borne much fruit both within itself and for those who know and love them. One of the things I stress when teaching about Christian marriage is that outward flow of the gifts that God has given them in each other. I teach that marriage is a sacrament and we explore what sacrament means - an outward and visible sign of God's inward and visible grace. I can see that in spades in last night's couple. I can see it in the couple I recently did marriage prep with.

Now it may also be pressent in Sarah Palin's daughter and her fiance. I don't know them so I can't say that it is not. But the point is there is more danger of making a mockery of marriage or contributing to a downfall of it by getting married solely because one is pregnant. It is not to say that this particular marriage will not work out or that it will not be as beautiful example of Christian marriage - it may well be. I will admit to having my doubts based on the experience of many other teen-age marriages.

But this could show us that the problem is not about same-sex marriage per se but about same sex sex. Are we actually against two people committing to each other or are we against the idea of two people of the same-sex having sex?

Maybe I'm nit-picking.

On the way home, I started mentioning some of these thoughts to my husband. He asked the question - do people get as uptight about two women together as they do about two men? I don't think they do. There is a very real focus in the writings that abound on two males rather than two females. There is little mention of the non-sexual aspects of any relationship which actually form a larger portion of the relationship time.

From my conversations with various people and from the reading that I have been doing, I would say that the biblical basis and doctrinal basis are being used to mask an over-all discomfort with sex itself and even more - a society that still has not come to accept the equality of male and female. Sex should not occur outside of marriage and no man should take on a perceived female role.

A few years ago the Anglican Church of Canada passed a resolution saying the we recognize the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships. We have decided to look at the relationship as a whole and recognize that God is indeed present in many same-sex relationships just as God is indeed present in many opposite-sex relationships. We are not cheapening marriage. We are holding an ideal up. That ideal is not about legimating sex. It is about thinking seriously what it means to be in a relationship truly blessed by God. It is about what it means to be in a healthy committed relationship where the vows are taken because the couple recognizes God's presence and gift in their relationship. I have yet heard one couple - homosexual or heterosexual - tell me that they want to get married so they can have sex. Instead what I have heard is about committment and celebrating and acknowledging God's presence in their relationship. Indeed - it is about Christian marriage and all that it entails.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I hope and pray that all will get a chance to read it. God Bless

toujoursdan said...

Beautiful. The right-wing Christian obsession over regulating sex you meantion, seems to send a message that how things look in the surface is much more important than how things are.

Anonymous said...

Your lack of theological understanding is really astonishing.

kevin

Ann Marie said...

Thank you Anonymous and Dan. It comes from the heart.

Kevin,
Specifics would be nice because then we could at least discuss what you see as my lack of understanding. Your statement means little to anyone who reads this when it is not backed up by something substantial. I may lack in traditional understandings or my theological understanding may be flawed but I do not lack in theological understanding in the general definition of the word.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie