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It is fascinating to me that most people assume (especially Christians) that the current definition of marriage has been consistent for thousands of years. In the post industrialized countries, we assume marriage has always been about two people providing emotional support for each other. However, this is quite a modern concept. Before the industrial revolution, marriage was about one person (usually the female) leaving her extended family to become part of another extended family (or tribe). Her emotional and physical support was from the broad network of women in that tribe, not necessarily her husband.
During the 19th century industrial revolution as men moved from their extended family to work in factories, their wife came with them. Both had now become isolated from the extended tribal family. Now, they depended on other for emotional support. Neither men nor women were prepared for this transition, leading to divorce, alcoholism, and spousal abuse. In the 20th century, we tried to repair this inadequacy by attempting to teach spouses on how to be that supportive partner as well as provide a civil support system in our system of laws. To some extent, it was successful. Yet, much work remains to be done as the divorce and abuse rate is still much too high.
An interesting and unexpected consequence had developed by the late 20th century and early 21st century. We had a large class of people who were same sex attracted who needed the emotional and physical support of the same sex, not primarily the opposite sex. This large group of people had been left behind without the emotional and supportive benefits of marriage. A need arose to provide the same civil and emotional support to those who are same sex attracted.
With marriage as defined today, it makes perfect sense to me that same sex marriage attracted couples should enjoy the same benefits and civil rights as opposite sex attracted couples. I am thankful the U.S. Supreme Court has now agreed.
In the 9th chapter of the gospel of John, we find a man born blind from birth. Christ was asked “Rabbi, who sinned?” It is a powerful question, one that many ask in their own lives. We ask, “What sin did I do to deserve this?” or “Why am I suffering for the sins of my parents?”
The truth is much more of a mystery. We cannot pin the results of sin on any one person. We cannot pin the results of sin upon ourselves or upon others. Creation suffers due to the community of sin, past, present, and future. Sin is communal, and the results are communal. We all suffer from the combined results of a sinful and broken world. Not only humankind, but all creation suffers.
Thankfully, the cure is communal as well. Christ brought the Kingdom of God to Earth to heal the results of the communal nature of sin. He brought healing to all, he is bringing healing to all, and he will bring healing in the fullness of time. Through Christ, we too are to provide healing to all.
The Bible and the Christian tradition speaks much of trust in the Triune God, but not at all about trust between humans. Every human relationship depends on trust, yet our tradition says nothing at all.
This is essential to the timelessness of our faith. Our trust in the Triune God should be present across all adversities and all cultures. But, we must adapt our notions of trust between humans depending on the culture and social structures within which we live.
We are told to live in the present. We must be a good parent today, we must manage money well today, we are to exercise today, we are to enjoy today, we are to enjoy this meal at this moment. But, we are so much more than today. We are past, present, and future. We consist of those who have gone before us. We consist of all that has happened in our lives. We consist of hopes and dreams yet to be experienced.
In our relationships, we often try to experience them in the moment. We are told to forget the past and only focus on today. Relationships are not built in the moment. They are built on experiences past, experiences of the moment, and the hopes of experiences in the future. Relationships are built on trust, built on experiences in our lifetime as well as experiences passed down from generations before us. We so often try to build relationships based on the present, but they are only a shadow what might be.
The most beautiful and awe inspiring sight, a hawk riding the mountain updraft to ever increasing heights.