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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What a married, gay couple taught me about my marriage

On Sunday, I asked Rev. Dr. Scott Jones, one of our guests on Darkwood Brew, what gays could teach us heterosexuals about marriage? (Check it out here, about 1:25:40 into the clip) I loved his response.

I am not willing to admit that heterosexuals have understood everything there is to know about marriage. In fact, given our human propensity to lie to ourselves, we probably even haven't scratched the surface. For this reason alone, apart from the obvious equal rights argument, we should allow gays to marry. With over half of  marriages ending in divorce, and so many enduring in painful ways, why not let gays and lesbians try to show us hetero-married folks what a marriage might be?

Dr. Jones' answer was quite instructive for me. First, I wonder what "stereotypical roles" Chris and I have fell into over the course of our marriage? We could never afford her not working, and so we have always been both employed, until recently in my "semi-retirement." (Which, curiously, seems to be moving farther AWAY from retirement with each passing day.) We have spent the better part of 25 years consistently challenging and pushing the envelopes of marriage since the day we said "I do." In fact, the person who read scripture at our wedding greeted me at the reception with "You'll do for her first husband." I am still trying to get it right so she can get on with it!

Secondly, Dr. Jones noted that "everything is up for negotiation." I love that. I remember having a conversation about 10 years ago with a group of guys who were in the 70s. The tennis players Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi had recently been married, and they wondered how that would work out? How could she watch the kids? Go grocery shopping? I pointed out to them that Steffi Graf was worth about $100 million at the time, and her new husband wasn't that poor either...they could probably hire an nanny or two, and order their groceries online. It would probably work out if they negotiated well.

That's the thing about marriage--in a world where women are no longer the property of men, negotiation of rules and roles of marriage is a necessity. I noticed that a lot of couples whom I married over the years had already begun this process even in the marriage planning, especially if she earned more than him. (Money has a way of equaling the sexes in spite of stereotypes.) So whether you are negotiating who's paying what bill, who's to whose in-laws for Christmas, or the best way to change a light bulb, marriage nowadays is a constant conversation, and if it's not, it's probably in trouble. (And I realize there are lots of way to be in conversation as a couple, and some even involve talking...a gentle reminder for my Nordic-based readers.)

I fully support gay marriage because it is just for those gays whom God calls to the office, but also because-- just maybe--my own marriage will become the better for it.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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