Friday, 15 September 2017

Affirming MARRIAGE

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, T and I said I Will and I Do. Now we are saying YES!

I was delighted when I was first exploring Christianity and was given a Bible to start reading from the front - Genesis. When I got to Leah and Rachel, I suddenly realized that the Big God Story in the Bible was not just about European Western cultural privilege. God was quite prepared to work through the stories of other cultures and other family structures. This came as a relief to me because previously Christians had shamed me and my family for having a grandfather with multiple wives and concubines and for having a multitude of offspring. (He was faithful to all of them.)
I discovered that the issue about polygamy was a cultural tradition and that it did not limit God's capacity to bless the family. Now, continuing to read the story, I soon discovered that there were significant disadvantages to being part of that family - not the least being if you were a daughter... poor Dinah. BUT - again, despite the less-than-ideal family decisions (like a genocide of the in-laws and first converts top the Covenant) God continued to pursue prevenient grace (when God loves us before we even know) for a seemingly dysfunctional family anyway.

My point is - much of our reading of marriage in the Bible is what we choose to privilege as relevant. We read through cultural lenses. Now we are challenged to think about how do we bear witness to our faith in a secular society around the creation and reform of secular law.

I value my delightfully monogamous heterosexual marriage. For us, we experience the grace and blessings of God on a daily basis, but it is not about sex, nor is it just about the two of us. It is about the community around us that is committed to us and our commitment to them. It is about our care for each other's siblings and the home we provide for immediate and extended family. It is about household and community and blessing. It is about being part of a Covenantal relationship and a community that honours our commitment to Covenant with/under God. It is about witnessing to the love of the One who invites us all to share compassion and be self-sacrificing in doing so.

There are people in same-gender life-long relationships, including immediate family. I pray for them to have the opportunity to be blessed by God and surrounded by a church community, who encourages them in spiritual life, witness to God's liberating love and service to the world that Christ loves, without the judgment and vilification of people who express hate.

Don't forget that we are talking about real people who read these posts, trying to figure out if they will ever be welcome in a church. Be assured that if we ever feel the calling to rebuke, we only ever get the right to do so because we have earned it with the trusting relationships that arise from extended unconditional hospitality AND because people have invited us to participate in co-accountable relationships of Christian fellowship.

In a secular society, I do not believe Christians should act as if we have the right or privilege of dominating or deciding definitions for others. However, we do have both the capacity and responsibility to contribute to a more generous, kinder society. We are not there to police others, but to be first on the scene when someone needs a hand or a tissue. We should be there when people are hungry, lonely or feeling vulnerable... ah yes - the Beattitudes (T's favorite passage)!

So, today I pray for all married people and all those who wish to marry. I also pray for those who have been married and for whom it didn't work out. I pray for those who missed out on marriage, especially those who have loved and lost. Most of all, I pray for my darling. I wish our marriage could go on for eternity, but I will settle for every day you can give me. Please God - bless marriage!

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