Marriage Equality

wedding photo

Happiness is spiritual,born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it. – from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

I believe that every citizen – regardless of race, ethnicity, social and economic status, religion, non-religion, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the exact same rights as every other citizen – including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they love.

This weekend my husband and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary.  Every year about this time I find myself thinking back to that happy day and the days leading up to it.

You know those shows you see on television where the bride spends HUGE amounts of time, thought, and bucks choosing just the right ring, dress, caterer, flowers, music, photographer, and reception venue  for her “big day” – those shows where every minute detail  of the wedding production is analyzed, critiqued, and judged for its merits on visual perfection? Where the ceremony is somber and refined and the highlight of the whole shebang is the dress the bride wears?

Yeah. That wasn’t us.

My engagement ring was a little garnet ring I picked out from a small jewelry shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the man who sold it to us was cheerfully, flamboyantly, hilariously gay – he had us cracking up the minute we walked into his shop. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on from the sales rack at our local Bon Marche. Cost me $120. Our minister was a hoot – we’d met with him for a required counseling session, and when he told us that anything he had to say to us would be pretty much useless at this point – because it’s really only AFTER the wedding that the bride and groom realize what they’ve gotten themselves into (we later learned that he’d just recently been divorced), we immediately recognized the man had a sense of humor, and he was, for sure, the minister we wanted officiating our nuptials.

The wedding was a joyful, light-hearted affair in a small Methodist church in Gig Harbor – I remember the minister asking us if we really wanted to hold the service in his church – it was very small – could maybe hold 100 people – and very old (it’s since been torn down and a larger church built in a different location) – but, for our purposes, that little church was perfect – I liked the cozy smallness of it and the stained glass windows – and from the church’s steps we could look out across the water and see Mount Rainier rising above the hills in the distance.  The wedding itself was simple, joyful, and natural. We weren’t too concerned with “perfection” – we just wanted our guests to feel comfortable and loved.

The reception was held in my parents’ backyard – with the sound of laughter, and the smell of daffodils and plum blossoms, filling the air. And we played volleyball in the pasture – the groom’s team won, but it was a close game.  The minister came to the reception, and fit right in with our hooligan families and friends. Before he left he told us that sometimes he’s really worried about the future of the newlyweds he marries – they often seem more concerned about the wedding than the actual marriage – but, after watching us yukking it up with our families and friends, he felt good about being a part of our ceremony.  He knew we were going to be alright. We knew how to laugh.

When I think about that day, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to deny other people the right to a wedding, and to a life-long commitment in marriage with the partner they love.  I can’t understand why any heterosexual couple would feel their own marriage is threatened by giving homosexuals the same rights that they have.  I feel a real yearning for other folks who love one another, and are brave enough to make a commitment to each other, to be allowed to have what my husband and I were allowed to have.

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“Matrimony should never be entered into without a full recognition of its enduring obligations on both sides. There should be the most tender solicitude for each other’s happiness, and mutual attention and approbation should wait on all the years of married life…  Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship…   Marriage should improve the human species, becoming… a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency, and why? Because the education of the higher nature is neglected, and other considerations, – passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride, – occupy thought… The scientific morale of marriage is spiritual unity… Marriage should signify a union of hearts… Beholding the world’s lack of Christianity and the powerlessness of vows to make home happy, the human mind will at length demand a higher affection. There will ensue a fermentation over this as over many other reforms, until we get at last the clear straining of truth… Matrimony, which was once a fixed fact among us, must lose its present slippery footing, and man must find permanence and peace in a more spiritual adherence.” – excerpts from the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

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The Yearning for At-One-Ment

Death ends a life, not a relationship. – Jack Lemmon

Lately I’ve found myself thinking of the final scene in that 1984 movie, Places in the Heart – the scene where all the characters in the movie are brought together in their neighborhood church to share in communion. As the wine and bread are passed around amongst the congregation we see a husband and wife who had come close to breaking apart, tentatively reaching out for each other, and then clasping hands. The camera pans down the pew and we see other characters, some of whom had been antagonists in the movie, sitting side by side, and sharing in the communion.  The camera continues to pan, and now we see characters who had died in the movie sitting next to their loved ones once again. And it suddenly becomes clear that this communion is not your typical communion. This isn’t just church tradition and ritual – this is a coming-together, a beautiful depiction of love.

Recently I’ve felt a sense of separation from people I love. There’s been death. There’s been physical distance. And there’s been estrangement. And I’ve felt these yearnings to draw close to those dear to me, and to commune with them, and to re-connect with those with whom I’ve been separated.

Life seems to be a process of embracing and letting go, and embracing and letting go. The embracing-part is easy for me. The letting-go-part has been a little more challenging.

I think I’m making progress, though.

Here’s my latest thought about it all: I think the love we create in our relationships with others continues on, forever and ever, even after we’re “separated” from each other, physically, and even after we’re gone from this world.  And maybe the love we create with each other adds to the world’s collective consciousness of good and its human stockpile of kindness and compassion – maybe the love we express to each other helps bring the waves of love ever closer to the shore of the human yearning for peace.  I don’t believe the love we share with each other is ever wasted.  Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science: “Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven.”

Do all men and women have a yearning to connect with one another? Does all of mankind feel a yearning for atonement – at-one-ment – with Love? I know I do. And I know I’m not alone in this yearning.

In the Christian Science church we don’t have the wine-and-bread kind of communion.  Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God. Our bread, ‘which cometh down from heaven,’ is Truth. Our cup is the cross. Our wine the inspiration of Love, the draught our Master drank and commended to his followers.”

“ATONEMENT,” Eddy writes, “is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated   man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective. He did life’s work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals,- to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility… Are all who eat bread and drink wine in memory of Jesus willing truly to drink his cup, take his cross, and leave all for the Christ-principle? Then why ascribe this inspiration to a dead rite, instead of showing, by casting out error and making the body ‘holy, acceptable unto God,’   that Truth has come to the understanding? If Christ, Truth, has come to us in demonstration, no other commemoration is requisite, for demonstration is Immanuel, or God with us; and if a friend be with us, why need we memorials of that friend? If all who ever partook of the sacrament had really commemorated the sufferings of Jesus and drunk of his cup, they would have revolutionized the world. If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross, heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, – the receptive thought, – they will bring in the millennium.”

Oh my. For me, there is a sense of urgency to those words. It seems imperative, for the good of mankind, that we seek at-one-ment with Love.  And now would be a good time to do that.

We worship spiritually, only as we cease to worship materially. – Mary Baker Eddy

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 3: 38-39

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uQCyxBL2O8