Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Knot

Around here we've been talking about marriage -- about the "What does this mean?" (Fellow Traveler is picking up on this Lutheran stuff.)

To me, like my other theological kinfolk, marriage isn't a state of being that's magickally conferred by the Church upon a couple, but rather a life partnership that the couple enters into; the Church's role is simply to affirm, in Christ's name and on behalf of the faith community, the goodness of the partnership that's already there.

Well, of course, for couples like us a complicating factor in this scenario is the fact that a good percentage of the Christian faith community, as evidenced by the Sturm und Drang in our denomination and our experience in our own congregation, doesn't think that our partnership is good or right; to the contrary,they think it's something evil and horrible, that somehow threatens the integrity of their own committed relationships. Well.

How does a couple react to this? Say, "Well, we don't need you either," and just exchange rings in our living room, sans witnesses from the wider world? Or do we find a sympathetic clergyperson who can be the Church for us as we exchange our vows?

We are actually having something of a difference of opinion. We both feel that we are already in a committed life relationship; that it's "all over but the shouting." For Fellow Traveler, this is enough; we speak our vows to one another at home some quiet, special day, and that's it. Maybe it's just my church geek background, but to me it's important that someone -- someone -- else from the Body of Christ be present to hear these vows.

To me there is more than a little irony in the fact that popular culture -- everything and everyone from Britney Spears to The Bachelor to the wedding-bling industry -- trivializes heterosexual marriage to the point of absurdity, while couples like us, people who get it, who understand what a committed relationship is and are willing to enter into this endeavor publically with God's help, find it so difficult to do so; it becomes a worrisome, exhausting thing instead of the happy celebration it should be.

6 comments:

The Simpleton said...

I'm sorry that this joyous moment has its tiresome aspect.

It seems to me that the moment of promise is something communal: it's much, much too hard for two people to make a lifelong commitment to each other without the support of a community. That may be easy for me to say, because my congregation blesses Holy Unions (and--gasp--writes them in the registry under Marriages). Just as we do in baptism, we ask for the congregation to help take responsibility for the health of the relationship.

I wonder if, barring that, your friends-about-town, churchgoers or not, could be pressed into the same kind of service. Apparently I have strong feelings about this. Who knew?

Anyhow, many blessings on yours and FT's life together. May you love and forgive each other evermore.

RuthRE said...

I say....find a UCC or a UU minister....and have handful of close people...in your living room.

A compromise?

And you're right. You're very right.

LutheranChik said...

Another irony to me is the fact that our household, "multiplying life by the power of two," as the song says, strongly supports our church and our community, in ways that we really couldn't as two separate individuals. We strive to be responsible Christian family members and responsible citizens. So when people in our church cling to a dismissive -- or, worse, punitive -- attitude toward our partnership -- that hurts. I suspect that I'm preaching to the choir here for the most part, but in case some visiting social conservative reads this...try and understand how hurtful your unsupportive attitude is; but also understand that it isn't going to change who we are as individuals or as a couple, nor is it going to change our commitment to our church family or our community, even if that's not always reciprocated.

jill said...

I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Bob Rimbo preached once about the very thing you mention--that those of you who have so many more unfair societal barriers to overcome, and do so with verve, are the very ones the church works to keep out--of marriages, of ordained ministry, etc.

You speak so well and bravely on this. Thank you. And blessings to you and FT...many, MANY of them!

Verdugo said...

For what it's worth (which ain't much) I say: don't settle for "less than". You know your relationship is full, valid, committed, wonderful-- don't be pressured, guilted, or hassled into a secretive "behind-closed-doors" ceremony that diminishes that. With all due humility-- I've never had to fight this particular battle-- I think it's worth the fight in terms of what it says to each other about who you are and what your relationship is. The blessing and support of the community and the symbolism of the church is valid, important and sacred. Go for it.

But whatever way you go, mazel tov, and many blessings on your household.

P.S. an after-thought said...

Maybe we need to separate sexuality from the marriage commitment. There are good reasons for people to have a commitment that has nothing to do with sexuality.

Because my sister had let it slip that she and hubby don't share the marriage bed any longer, but she is conservative on the same sex issue, I recently said something to her about let people be committed regardless of sexuality because we all know that there are plenty of heterosexual people who don't sleep together after awhile. She said, "That would be me." I'm not sure she got my point.