Quite a Day, Quite a Week.
And so we have same sex marriage available in all 50 states by ruling of the Supreme Court. This is quite something. I am most moved and pleased by this reality. I live in a state where same sex marriages have been legal for eleven years now, the first state in our union to take that step. And, on this joyous day, this day that has legitimized the choices available to so many friends and family members, I must pause to consider and honor the other side of the discussion, the side that must now feel that the institution of marriage, as they have known it, is dead.
A person very dear to me is against same sex marriage; she is neither ignorant nor misinformed nor mean-spirited nor bigoted. Her religion tells her that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. She published something today about the teachings of her religion on the subject, and I read it – top to tip – because she deserved for me to do so and because I wanted to understand the perspective better that is shared by many of my fellow citizens. And what I took from it was that marriage, as created by God, is to be between a man and a woman. Period. To have a union between same sex couples should not be a marriage, per se, as the institution of marriage is to be between a man and woman, with fidelity, for the primary purpose of procreation. This is what God says. My dear person must now be mourning the loss of the institution of marriage as she believes it should be; she must feel on some level that her nation has deserted her. For that, I am sorry.
I believe that what her nation – my nation, our nation - did today was to stand for the rights of everyone, regardless of religious beliefs. This decision today may not represent the popular feelings of the American people, or it may…but that shouldn’t matter. The Supreme Court – the entire federal government - exists to represent the rights of its citizens, not support populist ideals or enact findings based on majority rules…the federal government is here to represent its citizenry…all of its citizenry…whether the majority believes it should or not.
Where I start having a problem with the discussion of same sex marriage and religion is when the subject of the Word of God comes into it. You see, I am a reasonably good listener, and yet I have rarely been able to get a grocery list right unless it was written down and handed to me. And even then, I usually wind up making decisions that were not in keeping with the wishes of the writer because some of the information was left to interpretation. This is why I go a bit off the rails, you see, with too many “Word of God” directives. The Word of God had to have been given to and interpreted by a human somewhere along the way. Then, there would have usually been a second person involved, and then a third, and then finally a committee, and then someone who said, “Well, I’m not sure, Elaine, what do YOU think God meant by that?” And, before long, you would have someone who said, “Let’s write it down.” And then they would. In a book. And they would give credit, naturally, to God, and very likely to the first person who got the Word from God…but the contents of the book would really be their interpretation, their idealization of the word of God. And then they would want to share that information, because it is, after all, the Word of God, and well…if I truly believed I had the Word of God in my hands, I would probably try to share it with as many people as possible, too. What would I do? Keep it to myself? God don’t like selfish; I think we can all agree on that.
The only thing, though, is that, see, there are no fewer than a dozen major groups in the world as you read this that are killing, maiming, stoning, crippling, and torturing their fellow human beings in the name of God…because those being killed, maimed, etc. somehow go against their understanding of the Word of God and what it says.
So let me enter the ring and give my understanding, my belief, of the Word of God…the Word of God is about love, about grace, about inclusion, about acceptance, about lack of judgment, cruelty, and vengeance, about enjoying life, avoiding guilt, embracing forgiveness, taking responsibility, having a sense of humor, caring deeply and without question for the aged, the infirm, the children…but mostly the word of God is about love. And I feel this Supreme Court ruling today supports the idea of love; it certainly supports inclusion and acceptance. And it certainly feels like a government doing its job, to protect and represent its citizens – all its citizens – even if by doing so, some others feel slighted.
And if I am wrong about the Word of God thing, then I am wrong…but if I am, I will be able to stand at the foot of God when my time comes and, with full heart, explain my actions and my beliefs. And God will understand, even if I am wrong. So, please, let all same sex marriage supporters remember the folks on the other side of the aisle…remember the fact that their ranks are filled with loving, thoughtful, intelligent, graceful people who are mourning the loss of the institution of marriage not simply as they understood it to be, but as they believe God intended it to be.
The LGBT community and its friends and supporters certainly know enough about feeling deserted by the government. So, as we celebrate this momentous day, let’s remember to be gracious to the folks across the aisle and remind them, as we remind ourselves, that we are – now more than ever - one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for ALL.
Quite a day, quite a week.
By Ken Grout