Living each day much muchier
Marriage equality was one of the first things that led me to leave Christianity. It was 2007 and I was about as Christian as you could get. I loved God deeply and authentically. I was in a position of spiritual leadership of the congregation as well as worship leading, encouraging the young adult community and hosting bible study at my house. I was also in a broken, deeply unhappy marriage, pretending to all the world that everything was fine.
When my church decided that real marriage could only be between a man and a woman, I struggled. How was my tortured marriage valid and a caring, commitment between two people of the same gender, not? To me, God was love. Where there was love, there was God. Rules guided people toward love in the context of their life and society. God was no Pharisee.
This was a wedge. If the church determined this on behalf of the congregation, what else were we misunderstanding? What other rules and behaviours were we living by rote because that’s how we belong to a culture rather than a truth?
My marriage ended not long after that. I chose to allow us another chance at happiness. He went on to marry again and start a family, which is good. It was exactly the point.
Naturally this rocked the entire foundation of our lives. I resigned from church leadership, questioned everything and stopped going altogether soon after that.
Over the next month, Australians will be given a formal opportunity to say what they believe on the topic of same sex marriage. This is what I believe.
Marriage is not a Christian institution or subject to religious definition. People have been getting married in all cultures, faiths, races and eras since before written record. It’s defined entirely by context.
I actually think that marriage is on the way out in our culture. Its patriarchal foundations in property and inheritance are crumbling into irrelevance and don’t fit society anymore. Families come in all shapes and sizes and so does love.
It’s too early in our cultural journey to claim that marriage is redundant. The strength of recognition for marriage is still strong. It’s the primary way we recognise and celebrate committed love between people and we haven’t replaced it with anything near as meaningful or widespread.
The impasse is this, as far as I can see. Do you believe homosexuality is wrong? Those who see no wrongness, see no problem. Those who do, even if they’re uncomfortable admitting it, find all sorts of reasons to make it a problem. For them, the marriage debate heralds the ruination of Christian community and the proliferation of otherness in our society. I don’t agree, since I’m in the no wrongness camp, but I can understand it. It’s extraordinarily uncomfortable. In fact, I can imagine it’s quietly terrifying.
(Un?)Fortunately, no way of life is ever the final word. Cultures change. Societies change. Empires come and go. Languages, art and beliefs morph over time. It’s a numbers game. How many of us are holding on? How many of us are changed?
We will always have this debate, in different forms, over time. It’s been same sex marriage, segregation, suffrage, abolition and countless social movements throughout history. They all signaled the ruination of the rules that kept society functioning. Each movement was a fight because it forced the privileged to redefine their relationship to other people and by association, themselves.
You may argue that society isn’t functioning, but which social justice would you undo and who would suffer the impact? I don’t know what it’s like to suffer discrimination, not really. I’m a white, educated, employed, middle class, cisgender woman. I enjoy privilege because those before me fought for change. I am not a witch because I am agnostic. I am not in poverty because I am divorced. I am valued in society for contributions other than bearing children. I generally live without discrimination because society changed. I can even marry again if I want to… again and again and again, which is outrageous.
So I vote yes. I am changed and every day, I personally benefit from social change. I vote yes for equal access to marriage. Wherever we go as a society in terms of recognising and validating committed love, then we should all go there together.