Easter Day 2: Honesty, Integrity and Stability

My name is Rick, I currently serve as the Associate Pastor at Central Woodward Christian Church (CWCC) in Troy MI. My partner, now husband and I have been together over 18 years. Four years ago we adopted our son and we were blessed last August to legally marry in New York State by one of my Disciples of Christ colleagues.

The church stresses the need for honesty and integrity among many virtues that Christians should hold most closely; however when it comes to the topic of same gender marriage there is often a disconnect. While many congregations are welcoming and/or affirming of LGBT people in the membership many are torn by the need for marriage.

There are many reasons for same gender marriage and why it should be important to the church. Perhaps one of the first and most important is the ability of all of God’s people to be honest and live with integrity in our relationships. One thing the LGBT community is criticized for is promiscuity. The same people who criticize are often the ones on the front lines fighting against marriage, very institution that encourages stability and fidelity.

At a church council meeting last fall the subject of marriage equality came up due to a pending court case in Michigan. There was never a question of IF clergy would be able to perform same gender weddings, the question was would the church facilities be available for same gender weddings? Most of the discussion centered on the legal issues being debated in the court.

During the discussion one member asked a simple yet important question. “Why does it have to be Marriage?” The question was followed by a few deep sighs and then most if not all the eyes in the room looked to me, the openly gay person in the room. I replied by giving one personal example. The state of Michigan bans same gender marriage in the state constitution. Therefore only one of us can be the legal parent to our son. If something were to happen to that legal parent our son could be placed into the foster care system and the “non-legal” parent have no parental rights to him. The court could choose not to follow the wishes of the legal parent’s wishes of guardianship, since the non-legal parent is a “stranger” under the law. This to me would be unconscionable! For many people in the room this was shocking! That the state could negate the parental relationship that has been there since birth simply because we aren’t “legally” married. In our case, the state could ignore the fact that we are legally married because our state chooses to not recognize our marriage performed in New York.

The church should care about marriage to empower everyone to live our lives honestly and with integrity. Marriage is a cultural construct that among other things is meant to promote stability of families. The church should care about marriage because marriage helps to ensure equality, legal protections and a more just environment for all of God’s children.

Why do YOU think the church should care about marriage?