It was an Easter Sunday a few years ago when the phone lit up with my mom and dad’s number. We hadn’t spoken in quite some time, me being an abomination and all. I didn’t pick up the phone, let it go to voice mail and then, as the kids were counting their chocolate eggs, peeps and speckled malted-milk eggs, I wandered off to the kitchen to listen to the message. I braced myself against the cold kitchen counter, prepared for another blast of heartbreak, but that’s not at all what I heard. “Kimberly, we miss you, we love you…” were some of the words I heard before the tears of disbelief and joy began to salt my coffee. I took a chance and called back and my mamma answered. “Kimberly, the first bible verse I was taught to memorize in Sunday school was ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ we miss you, we love you…” and she invited my whole family, actually speaking the name of my wife for the first time, to come to their home, my home for dinner. Love resurrected on Easter!
So yes, Holy Week has many sacred layers for me. As we journey through what is perhaps the most sacred week of the Christian calendar there could be no better week, no better time and place for people of faith to stand up in faith, for love. As a people of The Way we are called to engage this most holy of journeys with our hearts and minds more intentionally and intensely attuned to God. I believe God is still speaking, I have experienced God so tangibly in my life and know deep in these weary bones the God who does nor force, the God who invites and beckons is waiting for us to respond to the extravagant welcome of love of by extending radical grace to all of our sisters and brothers.
As Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite says in her post today “… because it is Holy Week when these cases will be argued, the extravagant impossible possibility of love triumphing over hate should give us hope for a sweeping win for equality in the most important civil rights cases in a generation.”
Marriage is more than a word. It’s a concept saturated with complex meaning for many people. It is a word in which our cultural system is steeped, a cornerstone of our society, we have been told. To quote James Dobson (I know, right?) “Despite today’s skeptics, who claim that marriage is an outmoded and narrow‐minded Christian concoction, the desire of men and women to “leave” and “cleave” has survived and thrived through times of prosperity, peace, famine, wars, epidemics, and every other possible circumstance and condition.” Indeed, it has survived and there are people who so deeply believe in the institution that we are willing to go to the highest courts in the land to secure this fundamental human desire, this right for ourselves.
More than a word, marriage is a civil right. As long as marriage is unequally granted to those who seek it, it is a word that blesses some and damns others. Those who want to hoard marriage for mixed-gender couples are proclaiming, often in the name of the One who loves all and married none, that we are not full citizens in our own country. Those who are stingy with marriage insist we are not worthy of equal protection under the law. Those who reject marriage equality are saying that we are not are endowed by our Creator with unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In essence my friends, they are saying we are not fully human. And while I do not believe that one group has the right to rock the theological foundation or determine the theological trajectory of any other group (yep, that goes both ways I know), I do believe with all my heart and mind that no evangelical or fundamentalist Christians of any denomination should determine the laws of the land for all citizens. Here me now, I do not need your church to bless my marriage (I have one thanks), I do not need you to believe anything differently about my marriage, but I do expect to be afforded the same legal protections under the law as any other tax-paying citizen of this country.
More than a word, marriage is a sacred covenant. And a sacred covenant IS precisely what my relationship is. As a Christian woman, I understand my commitment to my wife as a covenant between she, I, God and our community grounded in faithful love, forsaking all others, in sickness and health, ’til death do us part. What God has blessed let no man, no woman, no law put asunder.