Somewhere, years ago, I heard the tongue-in-cheek definition of justice as, “worrying about what God worries about when God gets out of bed in the morning.” While oversimplified, the obvious point is to share in God’s concerns as if they were our own, if indeed justice matters to us.
The church should care (or worry) about marriage, as a matter of theological justice. Marriage is the recognition and establishment of a relationship, and I would argue that relationships matter to God a great deal. Imagine hearing God say, “I don’t care about your marriage,” or, “Your wellbeing doesn’t matter to me.” Quite the contrary, from the cradle to the grave, we preach and teach that every life matters to God. Widows and orphans in the Bible are the quintessential example of those for whom God showed special concern, because the relationships that sustained and protected them were lost. It was not merely a matter of happiness or privilege, but a matter of security and sustenance.
It might be more helpful to ask how the church should care about marriage. This question begs tangible action to back up our claims. If the church cares about marriage enough to write policies about facility use and fees, do we make provisions to ensure the facilities are fully accessible and welcoming to all couples and their families? If the church cares about marriage enough to require pre-marital counseling, is the counseling appropriate for all types of couples? If the church cares enough to call a pastor who will perform marriages and counseling on their behalf, is the pastor free to counsel or marry any couple? If the church cares enough to celebrate the marriages and anniversaries of its members in newsletters and directories, pastoral prayers and wedding showers, are all couples and dates celebrated, or only the “legitimate” or traditional marriages? If the church cares about the marital happiness and health of every couple, are there safe avenues within the church for theological discussion and education, support, and even advocacy?
We should care when human legislation is severely prejudiced in its interpretation of relationships which are granted the right to marry, leaving thousands if not millions without the same right to marry. But we also should begin by ensuring all couples and families within the church a safe, nurturing, and encouraging atmosphere in which to grow theologically as well as socially. Let’s not put off worrying about it until tomorrow morning. God doesn’t.
Why do YOU think the church should care about marriage?