Threat to Marriage

It is unclear to me why same-sex marriage is a threat to my heterosexual marriage or even the institution of marriage. What is clear to me is a recent mock wedding that is discloses an insidious threat to the institution of marriage. I read about it in a newspaper column by a funny guy named David Allen; he writes for the Daily Bulletin in the Inland Empire.

Apparently, a council member of the City of Pomona was recently married in a ceremony at the refurbished Fox Theater. Unfortunately for him and his bride to be, his divorce wasn’t yet final. They went ahead with the wedding, after all, they’d invited their friends and family to this great party. It was decided to keep hidden the mock nature of the wedding. Although, given the costume of the mail order licensed officiate (shoulder length wig and aviator glasses) perhaps it was intended as fantasy anyway: a staged performance in a theater.

As a member of the clergy, I’ve presided at a few weddings. I’ve observed that the wedding ceremony is less and less important. The reception replaced the ceremony as the all important activity of a wedding; the ceremony is just the hoop the couple jumps through to get to the party. Do I sound cynical? Maybe it’s because about 50% of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce. Maybe a party isn’t enough to signify the seriousness and depth of the obligation of a covenant between two people.

Don’t get me wrong. There should be a party and a celebration, but it shouldn’t supplant the vows, the promises made whether in a theater, a church or at the beach. And for those of us in the faith community, the vows made take on an added component. They are promises we make before God and the community of faith, recognizing that a marriage needs the support of community, just as individuals do. It is also a recognition of our obligation as a couple to the community to be a sign of forgiveness and healing in a broken world.

I’m disappointed an elected official in the city where I live has such a cavalier attitude toward marriage and like David Allen hope he’s more careful with city business. But the bright side is when people claim same-sex marriage is such a threat to the institution of marriage, I have a great example of why that isn’t true.

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