As most of you know (and if you don't, where have you been?) Toben and I are getting married later this year. You'd think this would have been what has sparked all the discussion about marriage in my life this year, but actually it has been inspired by a couple of other completely non-related things.
The first was synod. We went to the Argyll and the Isles Episcopal synod earlier this year. Toben was wearing his Warden of a retreat house hat and I wearing my I'm randomly tagging along for the discussion hat. I was mostly interested in the last thing on the agenda: Where do we stand with same sex marriage? I had images in my head of it not going too well, handbags at dawn and all that. I was pleasantly surprised. Apart from one man being inflammatory for the sake of it, everyone was pretty much agreed that it's a church, we're supposed to welcome everybody. One woman at my table even asked why on earth we were spending time on this when there are food banks to run and homeless people to shelter. Toben then went to a conference in Pitlochry to be one of the representatives of the diocese. It was more of the same. Really heartening, positive stuff. The tiniest scrap of faith in the organised church returned.
Then yesterday I was learning about some of the smaller church groups around the world. I find myself infuriated again. Yet again the argument that marriage is between a man and a woman because of the children reared its ugly head. I find this so insulting on so many levels. This is terrible for anyone in a same sex relationship to hear. But there are so many others that churches slap in the face with this.
The widows and widowers trying to raise their kids as best they can after the death of their spouse are turning up to church and being constantly told it takes two to raise children or they become damaged, unstable adults.
The couples who have chosen not to have kids are getting the message that their marriage is irrelevant because the church only supports breeders. What if these people are struggling with being told they are infertile?
A lot of churches seem to be really good at isolating those who need support most, and making them feel alienated and even more fragile. Good job guys.
Also, the idea that gay people can't raise children is ridiculous. I am friends with two women who are in an incredibly loving relationship and are completely devoted to each other. They have a son. He is one of the most well-balanced, accepting, and friendly little blonde haired moppets I've ever known. He is loved and cared for. He is happy. How is this wrong? I am friends with a straight couple whose son I would like to smack across the head every time I see him. I'd like to give him a lesson in no, sit down, please, thank you, and if you push me one more time I'm going to throw you off the jetty. Is this the ideal we're aiming for?
The whole notion of a marriage being solely about procreation is the ultimate insult for any couple that love each other and want to declare that in front of all their nearest and dearest. In all the vows we make during the service, we don't declare that we're only doing this so we can have children. The promises are made towards and about your spouse. If you are willing to devote yourself to one person like this, who cares what bracket you fit in?
Gay, straight, transgender, bisexual, tall, short, fat, thin. Love is love. Get over it.