What Do We Mean When We Say “Marriage?”

Art by Mirko Ilić Corp.
Art by Mirko Ilić Corp.

Can we finally lay to rest the myth of this being the “end of traditional marriage in the United States?” My marriage hasn’t ended or even changed with the ruling. However, none of my friends have “traditional” marriages, at least as far as I know. I keep seeing references to “traditional marriages” existing for hundreds or even thousands of years between men and women. I suppose they have, but the traditional marriages going back that far are ones I can do without. I married for love. I married to have an equal partner, and I married the person I chose to marry.

If this week’s Supreme Court ruling says to some that traditional marriage in the U.S. is a dead institution, I have to ask where they have been hiding the last hundred plus years. The traditional marriages referenced by many in this case lost popularity long before gay marriages became an issue.

Growing up, I had a couple of years of religion classes at an Episcopal school before 6 years of religion classes at a Catholic school. On Catholic gay marriage, the question I have asked many but not received an answer that seems logical to me is “If the priest’s role in the sacrament of marriage is to witness, not give, the sacrament, then why does anyone assume the sacrament is withheld from the gay couple marrying?” If I close my eyes and plug my ears, does that mean my kids and wife no longer say they love me?

I always come back to wondering what a gift from God would look or feel like.

Would it feel like complete acceptance?

Would it comfort me at times it seems the world has forsaken me?

Would it give me the strength to attempt the difficult and even succeed occasionally?

Would it be a balm against the loneliness of this existence?

You know what? If I could receive such a gift, I suspect I would pity the religious people their inability to recognize God’s gifts despite their enviable faith.

Come to think of it, I have received the sacrament of marriage as I conceive of it, even if it was witnessed by no clergy outside of my sister-in-law who became an ordained minister over the internet just to marry us. What’s more, the benefits I listed above are what many gay people claim, above and beyond all the legal rights of marriage. Who am I to deny they have been blessed? Maybe there is more to be experienced in a marriage witnessed and officially approved of by a church, but for now, I will remain content with the gifts I am lucky enough to experience.

Share