Dear Mitt: A Reflection on Marriage

Last week President Obama made history calling for the right of Gay people to be married.  Mitt Romney responded at Liberty University by stating that marriage is between one man and one woman and that to rule otherwise is to undermine marriage in society.

As a pastor what are my thoughts?  Now in my 25th year of marriage to Tricia I know the role it plays in my life.  Our marriage began with words of commitment before God and our community.  It marked the beginning of a life that has taken us on a personal and professional journey from California to Ohio to Oregon.  Along the way we have raised two fine daughters, laid to rest three of our parents and shared in times both joyous and painful.

Along the way we’ve leaned on God and each other.  We’ve learned about the capacity of love to restore and renew. Now as we look to our youngest going off to college we are grateful for a love that has sustained us and deepened.

As a pastor for nearly 30 years I’ve been privileged to bless the marriages of many couples.  In more recent years I’ve been privileged to bless the unions of gay couples as well.  I’ve learned that there is no difference between the marriage hopes of straight and gay couples. 

Every couple hopes that their commitment will be for a life-time.  That the love we affirm on our wedding day will deepen and grow with the years.  We hope that we will remember to lean upon God and each other and that our friends and family will walk with us through whatever life brings us.

In the church I serve I think of two beautiful souls, Don and Lee, two men who were together in a committed union for over 40 years.  In their marriage (not sanctioned by the State but a marriage nonetheless) I saw what a monogamous, committed love looks like.  When Lee was diagnosed with cancer I was moved by the depth of their love through the long progression of the illness.  When Lee died we gathered for his funeral at McMinnville First Baptist Church and we comforted Don in the loss of his spouse. 

Marriage promises to teach us much about ourselves and to accentuate both our strengths and our weakness.  Marriage isn’t easy.  Fully half will end in divorce.  Yet the desire to make a life together and deepen in love remains.   This desire is no different for couples whether they be heterosexual or homosexual.  

I don’t know if the state or federal government will legally grant the right of gay couples to be married.  I hope they do because everyone deserves equal rights under the law.  But from a pastoral perspective, I know that people regardless of their sexual orientation will continue to fall in love and seek the blessing of God and community.  I am privileged to do my part in blessing their journey.

9 thoughts on “Dear Mitt: A Reflection on Marriage

  1. Kent, thanks for bold and loving statements here. I remember Don and Lee well, despite the fact I only knew one of them for a few short days. Another for a few short years. Love is love, wherever it may be found.

  2. Larry Sims

    Right on Pastor! I am proud to be part of your congregation. Marriage is an attitude. Marriage is also a great lesson in problem solving. It is interesting that many anti-gay rights groups are also unsupportive of women and minority rights.
    Thanks for all you do and for your courage to speak out.

  3. Asherlee Rhine

    I couldn’t possibly agree more… I’ve always believed that everyone should have equal rights. I have a very difficult time understanding where the mind set comes from that marriage must be between a man and a woman or it violates and ruins the sanctity of the commitment. There are SO many ways that couples ruin their relationships/marriages, so many self-destructive and self-indulgent behaviors that truly do destroy the sanctity of any commitment made; yet, no one seems to be acknowledging those things… just that marrying someone of the same sex ruins the whole tradition of marriage. Even the dictionary recognizes that marriage is not exclusively pertaining to a man and a woman:
    1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.
    b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage. Antonyms: separation.
    2. the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy marriage. Synonyms: matrimony. Antonyms: single life, bachelorhood, spinsterhood, singleness; separation.
    3. the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities: to officiate at a marriage. Synonyms: nuptials, marriage ceremony, wedding. Antonyms: divorce, annulment.
    4. a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction: trial marriage.
    5. any close or intimate association or union: the marriage of words and music in a hit song. Synonyms: blend, merger, unity, oneness; alliance, confederation. Antonyms: separation, division, disunion, schism.

    And those people that use faith and religion as a weapon against these rights make me sad. I fully believe that if Jesus was here with us, right now, in our time, in our cities… he would be for equal rights. He would be telling people to love one another, that the act of loving each other is not exclusive.
    I continue to pray for that there will, someday, be an understanding of agape love amongst all humanity.

    1. Asherlee, agape love as you mention is a love that builds up,that is selfless, that forgives and leads to reconciliation. My prayer for myself is that I can learn to live from this place of love more deeply in my marriage, as a father, pastor, friend. I also hope that those of us who have different perspectives on this issue can do so in a loving manner as well. Asherlee, I give thanks for your expansive spirit.

  4. I am thankful that there is a church community here that is supportive of people regardless of their sexual orientation. As a mother whose daughter is engaged to a wonderful young woman, I am encouraged.

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