Two of the most amazing families I know rose out of failed marriages. Now, to be fair, there are many amazing conventional families out there. But these two stand out as personally inspiring for me.
One family endured unbelievable abuse from their father. He was dealing with alcoholism and a family history of abuse, which does not excuse what he did, but helps explain why it may have happened. The mother finally got herself and her two children out of this terrible situation and away from this man. It was a difficult road that included government assistance. But this person slowly re-built her life and raised two simply amazing children. She is currently a supervisor in human services for a local county (giving back!!). Her daughter now works in the human services field and runs a dance studio out of her home and her husband is pursuing his master’s in psychology. Her son made a personal decision when he was in college to join the Army, because he felt adrift. He joined the Army, served in North Korea and Iraq and now is working as a patient liaison at one of the nation’s top hospitals. His wife works in a laboratory in the same hospital. What she and her children have achieved is truly amazing. And she did it as a single mom. I could not be more inspired by this family.
The other family is a mom and her three sons. They are all incredibly talented and, what’s more important, incredibly kind. I have not met a family as open and willing to help others as this family. She is a recent single mom, and finds time to keep instilling a sense of respect and kindness in her sons. She always makes time for all their needs and activities. They are remarkable young men, she is an amazing woman, and I feel lucky to have met them.
The common thread linking both of these situations is a strong extended family that helped when needed. Both families were able to rely on an extended family unit that offered stability when events were anything but stable.
My point… I fail to see where the resilience and strength of these families are in any way threatened by the advent of allowing two people, no matter their gender, to enter into marriage with each other. As is plain to see by these two stories, heterosexual marriage is not an infallible institution by any means. Sometimes, we as humans connect with the wrong person. Thankfully, good things can come out of that, but marriage is not a perfect thing. So, where is the threat to expanding the definition of marriage to include the love and commitment that exists between two men or two women? How in any way does that demean the institution of marriage? Marriage is, and can be, a beautiful and wonderful thing. But not always. That is why divorces occur. I also know people who have stayed together in marriage even though the love was gone. Marriage is difficult and challenging and sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. So where is the threat? Seriously. Shouldn’t we allow everyone the opportunity to be together, to be happy, to thrive as a unit, to make the world a better place with their love? Honestly, who do we think we are to deny that to anyone? What kind of arrogance is it that allows us to believe that certain people do not deserve to pursue happiness? As a Christian, I cannot stand by while a group of people are persecuted for no other reason than being exactly who they are.
I understand that some of my more conservative friends will be alarmed at my position. They will contend that the Bible declares homosexuality a sin. I would like to point out that the Bible also commanded unmarried male Israelites to marry their sister-in-law if their brother died. It lays out the punishment of stoning for adultery. It constantly refers to the keeping of slaves. The Bible must be read within the historical context of the events it relates.
Modern interpretations of homosexuality in biblical terms tends to center on Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the men who wished to rape the angels who had taken refuge with Lot. Most anti-gay activists plant themselves upon this in order to illustrate the debauchery of homosexuality. This is not a story about the sinfulness of homosexuality, but the certainty of the punishment of those who are not righteous. What most anti-gay Christians neglect to mention is that Lot offered his own daughters to appease the crowd. He was willing to have his virgin daughters raped. Why? Because hospitality was a primary requirement of every person. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah had violated this sacred requirement by even suggesting they wanted to assault Lot’s two guests. Lot knew it would have been more sinful to violate this duty of hospitality than to turn his own virgin daughters over to the crowd to be raped. Imagine that – the bible suggesting that it is better to allow your own daughters to be raped than to allow the same fate to befall your guests. Places some interesting perspective on the story, doesn’t it? The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they were not righteous. Their sexual debauchery was only one instance of their sin. They also engaged in horrible works of cruelty – including donating money to beggars, refusing to sell them food, and then reclaiming their money after the beggars had starved to death. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah, according to the Mishnah rabbinic tradition, were destroyed because they lacked compassion. “Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” —Ezekiel 16:49-50
Men and women who are gay are not abominations, are not debauched (anymore than any of us are), and are not deserving of disdain, inequity or persecution. It is long past time to acknowledge the beauty of love and embrace the truth – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13