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.