Why Do People Protest Gay Marriage and Not Divorce

I don’t have any strong opinions on gay marriage, per se, mostly because I’m not gay and I figure gay people have long decided whether they will be making lifelong commitments to their partners for years. The issue at hand is really one of public acknowledgement and more importantly legal financial issues that would allow people to have family medical insurance, the rights of a spouse in inheritance and other matters.

Many people are still fearful of what I call “homosexual contagiousness.” That if I hang around with a bunch of gay people I will suddenly be attracted to other people of my same sex.

As a straight man who works in the church, I’m obviously proof that that little theory is wrong.

Of course nobody will admit that this is the real issue. Instead they’ll focus on things like the collapse of the family and pro-creative issues.

Well…if that’s the case…

I wonder if the same group of people would be willing to stand in front of the courthouse and protest against divorce.

I mean let’s face facts, divorce causes much more “violence” to the family system than probably anything else. No more pro-creative activity will happen between the couple (except for perhaps a desperate late night drunken booty call). And most of all, there are those broken wedding vows that were made not only to each other but to God.

There seems like there’s a good thing to protest, based on the set of assumptions that Prop 8 protesters have been yammering about for the past few days.

Now before the divorced folk start getting on me…

Here’s the real marriage issue that we in the church should pay attention to:

People who get married that shouldn’t. People who settle for one another because they fear being alone. Abusive relationships and marriages that have been coerced in some way. And the most common one, people who marry and have no idea what commitment really means. They think from the start that there are deal breakers. “Well, if she can’t hold a job or if she doesn’t agree with me on x and y, then I can just look for a better deal.”

Perhaps if we straight people didn’t have such a poor marriage record (50% of marriage fail we might be able to make a better case about how marriage should look.

And in the catholic world, if we ministers of the church actually took marriage preparation very seriously as a means of helping people discern early (before the engagement) if they were right for each other, then maybe we’d be able to say “You know, we’re really good at this marriage thing. Let’s start holding up the proper standard for marriage.”

Maybe it’s time that a lot of those protesters started looking at that and putting down the picket signs for a bit. I wonder, how many of the marriages that people on the picket lines have are indeed really healthy commitments?

We in the religion business create a lot of false dichotomies, like this one:

Ok, maybe it’s time for me to shut up. But you get my drift.

Those Wedding Dancers..and The Spiritual Experience of Young People

Deacon Greg pointed me to the Today Show interview of the runaway viral video of the couple who danced down the aisle with their wedding party. Over at Facebook, I’ve seen a mixed bag of responses to the video from people who think it was awesome to others who found it disrespectful and even others who suggested that their marriage might not last because they’re not pious enough!

Oh p’shaw!

None of these responses hit the mark in my opinion. Some people are projecting their own spiritual experience onto others here. Many paint younger people into a corner and expect them to conform to THEIR vision of what ritual is. Young people, in my opinion, seem to be striking back and saying that they have their own thoughts on the matter and that maybe we need to look more carefully at this to see some deeper wisdom in this?

The bride suggested that they do this because “I danced growing up and was a dancer through college and loved dance as a way to express yourself and share joy. So it was something I always thought about doing.”

Dancing as a way to express yourself and share joy…

While slightly self-indulgent to be sure, there’s a lot of deep seated meaning here. God created her as someone who is to be loved and she is expressing that–perhaps unconsciously–and also expressing how much she loves her friends and secondly I found the moment to also express how much her friends love and support her and her groom as well.

Here’s the failure of the day. WE’VE secularized it…not them. From the Today Show’s article:

The 28-year-olds floored their wedding guests by having their whole bridal party — including seven bridesmaids, five groomsmen and four ushers — boogie down the aisle in a choreographed dance more at home in a Broadway musical than in a somber church. (Emphasis mine)

Um…my church is hardly somber, first of all. Contemplative at times–but not somber, even at funerals. So let’s just point that out.

However, I’m also not dumb enough to think that my church is the norm. I’m sure there are some that are really boring and staid–and therein lies another assumption–and one that the young people pictured took a lot of pains to avoid.

Church is supposed to be joyless.

Clearly these people did not want a joyless wedding and often the young think that they simply need to jump through the motions of the religious ritual to get to the party. These people smashed that myth–the wedding ceremony IS the PARTY. In fact it’s the most important part of the party.

What if we felt that way every time we did ritual? What if we looked forward to the Eucharist with that much joy each week? More importantly, do we ever feel that enthusiastic about our own participation in parish life or even just attending mass at any random church?

I think if we’re honest, we don’t or it’s rare–reserved for high holy days like Christmas or the Easter vigil (and that’s a lot more sedate than what was expressed by the couple) but not for a random Sunday in “ordinary time.”

Our assumption is that if it doesn’t correspond to our usual experience of church it can’t possibly have any spiritual meaning.

But perhaps the question goes deeper…

What these young people are expressing is very spiritual. In fact it is very spiritual and so alive with the joy that God has given to them in the love that they share now in marriage and that they have cultivated with their friends that they can barely contain it.

Our job is to awaken them to that fact. If i were the presider at the wedding I would start out with the following words:

“Clearly the Holy Spirit, the spirit who dances, who animates us into existance, clearly that spirit is alive here today! Clearly the love that is already being expressed by Jill and Kevin for each other is alive. Also the love that has been shared over the many years by their parents and their families and friends who have danced with them through life, that love has brought them to today–the wedding day. And here’s the most important thing for all of us, not just Kevin and Jill, but all of us, need to remember. The love that is expressed by them for each other reflects the love that God has for each one of us. And because God has this great love for us, the greatest love, the love that forgives us of our faults, the love that Jesus shows us by becoming one of us and then entering into the experience of our own human death and going beyond that experience into new life, a love that is completely unselfish and in fact, self-emptying–that is the way God loves us.

Kevin and Jen, today as you come before us in marriage, know that this love you feel for one another is not merely self-indulgent but rather it compels you to understand just how much God loves you both. As a husband loves his wife so too does God us in the same way. Kevin would do anything for Jen and Jen loves Kevin so much that she cannot help but express that by dancing joyfully. And that is contagious! God too, always wants to go that extra yard for all of us and in your marriage may you continue to be aware of that same joy and see God in the love that makes you dance!


(a h/t to the good deacon and to the Today show for the pic)

Gov. Patterson doesn’t let Dolan’s seat get cold

Introduces gay marriage bill:

“What we have is not a crisis of issues; we have a crisis of leadership,” Paterson said. “We’re going to fill that vacuum today. I’m introducing a bill to bring marriage equality to the state of New York.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood by Paterson’s side during the announcement to demonstrate his support for the bill.

“When it comes to recognizing civil rights, New York state has always been a leader,” Bloomberg said, citing the fight for women’s suffrage, immigration rights and equal rights for African Americans. “Keeping with that proud history, I agree with the governor that New York should be the next state to allow same-sex marriages.”

It won’t be an easy road, however. Just yesterday, newly installed Archbishop Timothy Dolan pledged to fight Paterson’s bill for gay marriage in the state. Dolan made his intentions clear at his first press conference when asked about the issue.

“The topic you raise — other topics that are controversial, that the church has a message to give — yeah, you’ll find that I do’nt shy away from those things and I wouldn’t sidestep them,” Dolan said.

Indeed these two along with Mayor Bloomberg will make interesting sparring partners and it looks like the new Archbishop will do so in a charitable way that remains dedicated to church teaching.

Tony Dungy to join White House Faith Initiatives Advisory Council

US News has the scoop:

The White House has invited recently retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy, whose outspoken Christian faith fueled his 2007 support for a gay marriage ban and has won accolades from evangelical leaders, to join its Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. News has learned. The invitation is likely to draw praise from conservative evangelical groups and criticism from liberals and gay rights activists.

Dungy has long been active with evangelical Christian charities like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Prison Crusade Ministry, along with other nonprofit groups, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the United Way. Leading the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, he became the first black coach to win the Super Bowl.

The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials with the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships would not confirm the invitation to Dungy, but his publicist said rumors of the invitation in Washington were true. “I can confirm that Tony was contacted by the advisory council and asked to join,” said Todd Starowitz, a publicist at Dungy’s book publisher, in an E-mail message this morning. “He has yet to make a decision if he will accept the offer.”

The White House is expected to announce the final 10 members of its faith council this week. It had announced 15 members of the council when it unveiled its Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in February.

Dungy is a good guy and is well respected and I think most times level headed enough to be a good addition to the committee. Read more here.