My mother used to tell the story of when I was a child, sitting at the kitchen table. She gave my older brother a knife. I looked down at my silverware and said, “Girls don’t get a life.” My brother replied, “No, they grow up to be someone’s life.”
Marriage permeates life. The messages we send about relationships affect the youngest among us. They follow us through the discoveries of our teens. They affect our young adulthood, middle age, growing older.
A lot of those messages are good. Be loving. Be honest. Be faithful. Support one another. Be there for each other. Work together. Enjoy each other.
But over the last several decades, the world has been debating another message we send everyone about marriage: Be straight.
The trouble with the “Be straight” message is that not everyone is. And people who aren’t straight fall in love and pair off for what might be a lifetime. And they want to be loving, honest, faithful, supportive, present – everything positive that is associated with marriage.
Then along comes a gang of people – maybe a state, maybe a nation – that votes to conspire to keep the couple from marrying. The reason they provide is that the couple has performed a violation of the dictionary. The couple may protest that the dictionary was made for people, and not people for the dictionary, but the gang doesn’t have to listen because there are more of them.
Now, along come the church people. Some say, “God made the dictionary.” Others say, “Let’s stay neutral.” And some say, “This is wrong.”
Why should the church care about marriage? The church does care about marriage, because it’s in the public eye from our earliest years. Pastors perform ceremonies because the church people believe there is something of God in bringing two people together in love and commitment. So, the church already cares about marriage.
When it comes to sexual and gender minorities, the church should care about other things, too. I think the church should care when one of my trans sisters is violently attacked because of the way she dresses or the restroom she uses. I think the church should care when a young person is bullied in junior high for not living up to other people’s definitions of who they are supposed to be. I think the church should care when people – all kinds of people – are called names that indicate that women and gay men are seen as less than. I think the church should care when people have to hide their real selves and their most important relationships for fear of losing their jobs or their housing. I think the church should care when countries use one verse of the Bible to call for the execution of people who aren’t harming anyone.
I think the church should care about all these things. And we should care about marriage for the same reason.
When we don’t take a stand for love, we are supporting those who hate. When we don’t take a stand for justice, we are supporting injustice. When we are silent as people are being mistreated, we are supporting mistreatment.
Justice work can be tiring sometimes, especially when we try to do it alone. That’s why those who would stand up for people who love each other need to work together. The church is a perfect community to do the justice work together, because the work of the church is love.
Why do YOU think the church should care about marriage?