Sunday, April 27, 2008

Celebrating the Sanctity of Marriage

So, after another big-old-Sunday at All Saints Church I plopped myself down for one of my favorite Sunday (if-I-don't-have-an-event-or-meeting) afternoon diversions: the New York Times. (Don't start with me, Jim White!) Anyway, I'm taking it out of the blue plastic bag and out falls this week's magazine -- and I don't even have to OPEN it to know I'm in for a treat:
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Honest to Pete -- how cute are they?

But wait ... there's more ...

In addition to a delightful article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (entitled "Young Gay Rites: Why Would Gay Men in Their 20's Rush To The Altar?") there was this picture of Benjamin & Joshua -- one of the profiled couples -- in their living room in Boston. (Each 25, they were sweethearts in college and married soon after.)
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Photograph Erwin Olaf for The New York Times; Prop stylist Jeffrey W. Miller
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So here's my question: if this is what undermining the sanctity of marriage looks like where do we get some more of it?

Check this out:

[Writes author Denizet-Lewis] Like many gay men my age and older, I grew up believing that gay men in a happy long-term relationship was an oxymoron...There was a reason, of course, why so many gay men my age and older seemed intent on living a protracted adolescence: We had been cheated of our actual adolescence.
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While most of our heterosexual peers had experienced, in their teens, socialization around courtship, dating and sexuality, many of us had grown up closeted and fearful, our most precious and tender feelings rarely validated or reflected back to us by our families and communities. When we managed to express our sexuality, the experience often came booby-trapped with secrecy, manipulation or debilitating shame.

But young gay men today are coming of age in a different time from the baby-boom generation of gays and lesbians who fashioned modern gay culture in this country — or even from me, a gay man in his early 30s...Many young gay men don’t see themselves as all that different from their heterosexual peers, and many profess to want what they’ve long seen espoused by mainstream American culture: a long-term relationship and the chance to start a family.
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“For many young gay men today, settling down in a relationship in their 20s — or getting married if they live in Massachusetts — will feel like a very natural thing to do,” says Joe Kort, a psychotherapist and the author “10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives.”
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And that's because it is. A natural thing to do.
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So let's get on with it, shall we? Let's get on with celebrating the sanctity of marriage -- not just in Massachusetts (shout out to Byron Rushing for his dedicated advocacy!) but all across this land of "liberty and justice for all." Not just because it's the politically correct or cute or fabulous or even fair thing to do -- but because it's the natural thing to do.
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And let the people say "Mazel tov!" (And "Amen!")

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PS -- Another newlywed heard from ... check out "the 'M' word"

13 comments:

Geof said...

Amen sister, and Alleluia too! I read the same article when I came home from church this afternoon and wished I had someone with whom to share my excitement. God bless the New York Times for allowing this article. Gos bless the daring young(ish) author for his writing the article. God bless the state of Massachusetts (and all the states and nations who are making an effort for marriage equality). God bless us every one, gay and straight and everything in between. Alleluia. Geof Acker, Clinton, MS

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The word on the street and in the air is that New Jersey is next. By the fall. Stories like this one just substantiate the obvious. Well done.

Mike said...

As a gay man who was denied that normal gay adolescence, I did the socially acceptable thing of marrying and having a child; but I struggled with the tension between my inner and outer lives, and what I knew I needed and thought I could have. I didn't come out until I was 45. I have been in a LTR relationship for 9 years now with another "gay dad," and thankfully, can hear God's acceptance above the din of voices which speak of narrower limits than God is prepared to give.

Padre Tom said...

As you said, it is a NATURAL thing to do. This year my spouse, Jason, and I will celebrate our 7th year of marriage. We have been married since we were 26 years old. It's really something: we wait for the church and society to approve of us when God already does. If God is for us then who shall be against us?

LilBearSings said...

I just read that a recent study of GLBT teens showed that a majority of them dream of and expect a life-long relationship and raising children. This goes along with an average coming-out age of 13 - the normal age of beginning adolesence. More and more GLBT kids are getting an adolesence instead of it being postponed until their 20's, 30's or even 40's like in the past. This is wonderful news! But it also means that we, as GLBT adults MUST, MUST, MUST reach out to them, and their floundering Straight parents through GLBT Youth Groups, Gay/Straight Alliances at School, GLSEN, PFLAG etc. It's too bad we can't look to the church for help with our kids, but we can't. It won't. Still, one of the worst and most common things GLBT kids face is persecution by the religious, bullying and violence of every kind justified under relgious pretext, and the message that God hates them. As GLBT Christians it is our commission to counter these messages. God has no voice but ours to tell them they are loved, and they are the children of God.

edav38 said...

It would be nice to believe that this kind of article would be the impetus in getting groups like Focus on the Family, and the various State Family Action groups to drop their prejudistic stances that gay or Lesbian couples cannot live in a monogamous relationship. Yet, they persist in the belief that multiple sex partners is the Only way that we can live, and if we are in a monogamous relationship, we will soon stray, and be taken over by our "lusts" for what we do not have.
Yes, it is a sterotype that has relegated us to the "Darkness", and "...believing that God cannot see our transgressions if we are in the cover of night," but it is a very Real attitude that these groups foist upon us at every turn, and every stride forward that we make.
They believe that by our very existence, we have no ability to respect the sanctity of Marriage, because we cannot Procreate, and by trying to marry, we are attempting to basterdize the institution itself, (Those are words I have heard from my brother's mouth, who is one of the Natl. Directors of FOTF, and the president of Colorado Family Action).
I like this article, and it shows a nice potiential future for the ideals that we who desire to one day marry can strive for, yet the realities are, this will be shown by those who are against the rights that we are due as an abberation and not the Rule.

LilBearSings said...

Groups like Focus on the Family vilify the relationships of GLBT people so they don't have to confront the very real mess that the majority of heterosexual couples and families are in. GLBT people have NOTHING to do with the wholesale failure of heterosexual marriages. Every straight couple with children who divorces puts an enormous financial, emotional and spiritual burden upon each other and children. However, Christianity as a whole is not addressing the failure of heterosexual marriages. Instead it points fingers at us, even going so far as to blame those who aren't allowed marriage for the failure of those who are - something that isn't even rational.

Jesus had a lot to say about this kind of behavior. I like the version found in the Gospel of Thomas the best, "You see the splinter that is in your brother's eye, but you do not see the log that is in your own eye. Remove the log that is in your own eye, and then you can see clearly enough to remove the splinte that is in your brother's eye."

Of course Jesus assumes that those with logs in their eyes will want to help out those with mere splinters. In this case those with logs in their eyes want to blame the others with splinters for their own obscured vision. They can't withstand their own test and are damned by their own judgementalism.

They are forced to bear false witness against us in order to divert attention from their own bad attitudes and behavior. They want to hide behind the delusion that they are fine and their only problem is us. Hiding behind lies, fabrications and denial leads to sin. They hurt themselves far more than us.

Jim C.
Rochester, NY

Dusty Parker said...

What an awsome story! I met my partner when he was 21 and I was 26and we will soon be celebrating our 20th together! We are very thankful to have a parish family (in South Carolina, of all places) that see's us as just that-a family!
We have a semi adopted 6 year old fatherless boy that we have every other weekend to help out his mom, and also have my mom living with us. Our chruch just had a new picture directory made and of course, we are all in together as a NORMAL FAMILY. We pray daily that we in some small way can also open up other eyes so that they can see how our natural family is, with the same wants and needs as any other normal, natural family.

Jim said...

On my little blog, a reflection on marriage, weddings, and justice is my topic this week. I wonder why some of us are reaching the topic at the same time? I am not, although I keep applying, an official member of the vast left wing conspiracy, so that can't be it.

FWIW
jimB
Jim's Thoughts

Stuart said...

Hmmm.... I guess I'm the bucket of cold water on all the celebrating. My partner and I read the article together online and his reaction was "look at the pictures of all the skinny white boys."

My partner is Puerto Rican, from a working class family, and a cop in NYC. He was irritated that the New York Times seemed unable to write a profile on young, gay couples that included pictures with people of color and working class young men.

We had a guy from Brown, a guy who's an Assistant Dean at Harvard, etc. It is wonderful that they have marriage rights, but their lives were on the path to privilege already.

My man Hector felt that the article and its pictures reinforce the idea that gay marriage is for caucasian elites.

Do you think that this reaction or argument has any merit, Susan+? Or is any positive coverage better than negative coverage and invisibility?

-Stu

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Stu --

I personally think it's a "both/and."

I would love to see a magazine cover article focused on "gay newlyweds" with more cultural and economic diversity (not to mention some women's stories!) AND I do think the positive coverage is infinitely to be desired over either the negative or the invisible.

And that's because I really do believe what changes hearts and minds about God's inclusive, expansive love are the STORIES about that inclusive, expansive love. Did Jesus craft systematic theology or clever legislation to get his message across? Nope ... he told stories. He offered parables. Lots of them -- each one different than the other but each one the same: the Kingdom of God is here -- among you -- see it -- recognize it -- claim it -- share it.

I see the NYT piece as but one parable in the Good News we have to offer in the stories of our lives and our relationships; our vocations and our victories over bigotry and oppression.

And at the end of the day, if a parable about some Boston twenty-somethings changes the hearts and minds of some "elitists" who are we to say that God does not continue to work in mysterious ways?

Stuart said...

Susan+,

Thanks, powerfully and persuasively said.

I'll share it with Hector when he gets home from work.

- Stu

Richard said...

I thought the article was pretty good, but the pictures, my, my, my. Not only were they only skinny white models (not the real thing), but they were done in such a retro style, I half expected Donna Reed to show up any minute. One last dig. Did almost all of them have to have the s/e (I don't think I can use the whole word here) grin that Smilin Bob has on those stupid male enhancement commercials? Show real people doing the real thing, for goodness sake!